The school of rock

He’s so relaxed and so welcoming that you almost forget that he’d reached that level of fame.

A world famous rock star is probably not someone you'd expect to find on the ANU campus, as NATASSJA HOOGSTAD HAY, BA (Hons) '08, BAsianStudies '08 discovers in the new ANU Reporter.

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It's a long way from stadiums full of screaming fans, TV studios and other trappings of fame to the corridors of Llewellyn Hall, where faint musical notes drift through the hallways.

But after iconic Australian band INXS decided to take a step back from performing in 2012, songwriter Andrew Farriss was looking for a new direction.

When an invitation from ANU arrived last year, Andrew Farriss said he mostly felt confused.

"I was approached mid-way through 2014 to come to ANU as a HC Coombs Fellow. At first, I wasn't quite sure what that was supposed to be about," Farriss recalls.

From INXS to ANU

Although he was accepted into university after finishing school, Farriss never ended up going because INXS hit the big time.

But after a little convincing, Farriss decided to call the ANU School of Music home during 2015 as the HC Coombs Creative Arts Fellow.

His approachability and wealth of experience as a performer, songwriter and composer has embedded him with performance and composition students alike.

Being creative and earning a living isn't easy though and Farriss has also been teaching the business side of the industry. Although, by his own admission, the way creativity and business intertwine is complicated.

"I've been very fortunate to have had a platform for many years to be expressive, I feel incredibly fortunate," he says.

"There's a gap between people's dreams, aspirations musically, their talent and making money out of it."

Advice for young musicians

Being able to draw on Farriss's industry and creative know-how has been invaluable for students Hugo Lee, Alec Brinsmead and Rosemarie Costi, who have been workshopping their music with him.

"He's so relaxed and so welcoming that you almost forget that he'd reached that level of fame. He's very humble, understated and down to earth," says drummer Brinsmead.

A highlight for saxophonist Lee was rehearsing and performing Never Tear Us Apart with Farriss and his classmates.

"He has such good composition advice. Even the smallest difference, it might be a slight change in the melody or a different lyric or something and it'll bring out something new in the song," adds Costi.

As for his advice, Farriss says staying true to your creative self is key.

"Ultimately that will be the thing that gives you an amazing individual thing creatively as an artist."