On November 2nd, 2011 Tyler Foundation Director and Co-founder, Mark Ferris, was interviewed by Guy Perryman of Inter-FM about the new CD album, Shine On! Songs Volume One. You can download the MP3 here (2.3 MB) and below is our transcript of the interview.
Guyperryman.com, Shine On! Songs of Inspiration
GUY: It’s great to welcome on board Mark Ferris, the Director and Co-founder of the Tyler Foundation. Hello!
MARK: Hi Guy! Good to be here. Thanks for having me today.
GUY: Very nice to meet up with you again.
MARK: It’s nice to be here and I’m a little bit nervous about being on your esteemed radio show but I’m going to do my best.
GUY: We can edit you, don’t worry. Actually, before I talk about the CD, Shine On! – years down the track – of course – you are the father of Tyler – does it get easier?
MARK: Yes and no. I think time heals a lot of things but I think the key thing is to stay distracted and then you don’t necessarily address things in the detail that you want to. But I mean, I look back and I think of so many positives that have occurred because of Tyler both on a personal level and on a family level and I’m just grateful that we had Tyler. So that’s how I feel.
GUY: And he does shine on. It’s just such a wonderful thing and so much has happened over those years. But today we’re specifically talking about the CD, “Shine On!” songs inspired by the Tyler Foundation. I see Volume 1. Congratulations!
MARK: Thank you. We launched on October 1st and it was probably a year in the making to sell them and a lot of the times we were not quite sure what we were doing, but we persevered and we were fortunate to get some wonderful artists involved, and we’re happy with what we’ve produced here.
GUY: I’m looking at the names on here and some huge names in the world of music, of course Julian Lennon, Mark Ballas, Wendy Parr, Maxi Priest, Monday Michiru, lovely lady here, Rie Fu as well. But I’m also looking here, you’re not only the Executive Producer, but you’ve also written the music. Tell me about your role here.
MARK: Well, I’m an amateur composer. I’ve always enjoyed composition and going back many years I’ve been doing composition. But you know, the impetus for this project was that Tim Rice, actually Sir Tim Rice and Alan Menken, who are two very esteemed internationally renowned musicians donated two songs to the Tyler Foundation. And we thought, “That’s very cool, how are we going to monetize these and create awareness for our activities?” And honestly we didn’t know what to do. And then a good friend of mine, Nick Wood, who runs a company called SYN in Japan, a music business; he said, “Well maybe we can make this the basis of an album.” So one of their songs appears on the album and other songs; I’ve written nine of the songs and Nick has written another two of the songs.
So they’re all quite different in genres but hopefully some of them appeal to some people out there. That’s what we need to try and accomplish.
GUY: It’s a rare thing as well. I think we’ve got big international names of the music world on this CD, but this album specifically in the Tyler Foundation is to help people essentially only in Japan.
MARK: Well all of the Tyler Foundation Programs are in Japan and that’s because Kim and I decided, Kim’s my wife and Co-founder of the Foundation, we decided that this is the environment we really understand when it comes to helping kids who are suffering from serious illness. So we’ve really narrowed our focus on Japan. There’s still such a lot to do here that we wouldn’t want to dilute it by being active elsewhere. But yes, you’re right. All of the proceeds of this album, and I stress all because any expenses associated with the album were donated by the artists or by other people, will go directly to the Tyler Foundation to support in these programs in Japan.
GUY: Now over the years with the Tyler Foundation, what changes have you seen here in Japan and obviously what good have you done? How have you instigated change?
MARK: Well you know, when we started out we thought that raising money was going to be really hard but spending it in hospitals to help kids was going to be really easy because we had identified very clear needs in those hospitals because of our experience. And in fact the opposite was true because, well I won’t say raising money is easy but we’ve kind of figured out how to do that, but entering hospitals which didn’t know about us and didn’t know about our programs and didn’t know about our approach was a really difficult thing to do. They asked us to go away and kind of come back in three years and maybe they’d be ready for us at that time. Well we didn’t, we persevered slowly through our team of medical doctors who are all Japanese and quite esteemed in their professions. And just by persevering we continued knocking on their doors.
And now, we are in 14 hospitals across Japan with a plan to be in another six in about the next four months. So we’re really pleased with how we’ve been able to spread in Japan. And I think a lot of your listeners probably have this experience where things are really hard at first but as you gain credibility and as you gain momentum then doors really open. And that’s what we’re finding is the case now.
GUY: The Foundation is called Shine On! It’s a positive word. What have you seen or what’s being one of the best things that you’ve seen as a result of your work? What’s shining in your mind through all of this work?
MARK: Well you know as you ask that question what flashes across my mind is lots of happy kids. Happy kids who maybe in very adverse circumstances because of illness or more recently we’ve been involved in the Tohoku region working with kids who are affected by the tsunami and earthquake. And I guess the most gratifying thing that we experience is either through photography or video or when we visit the sites ourselves, we just see smiling kids. And they’re not really aware of the gravity of their situation in many cases, but they’re not complaining and they’re delighted to experience something in that moment. And that’s a very special thing.
I think also organizationally we’re really maturing into something. You know Kim and I didn’t found this as a kind of hobby for us or something to entertain us. It’s an organization we’d like to have a life way beyond our involvement. So seeing the organization mature in various ways and have a personality that’s probably way bigger than Kim’s and my combined personality is a very gratifying thing too.
GUY: Music is healing and I presume music has played some role in healing you over the years. But also with the CD now, do you think this will have a healing effect? Obviously, when people buy the CD, the funds go to the Foundation; but do you see the music healing as well?
MARK: Part of the Shine On! ethos is that we’ve got to have fun with the stuff we’re doing even if we’re dealing with tragedy and major calamities like Tohoku and things. We have to be having fun otherwise people are going to stop doing that. And so, everyone who’s been involved in this project has really been energized by it. I think the artists and the arrangers and the musicians and me as composer, everyone has been really excited. And we want to pass that onto our listeners as well. We hope people will say, “That’s a cool song.” And not focus on, “Yeah, but is this for kids with cancer?” I think if they can just revel in the music and find happiness in the music, then we’d be delighted with that outcome.
GUY: Well you’ve certainly shone some hope on me in a positive way today. I can’t wait to hear all of the CD and play some right now but it’s just been a real pleasure. Mark Ferris, thank you so much.
MARK: Thanks for having me Guy. It’s wonderful to be here.
For more information about Guy Perryman, please see www.guyperryman.com