Broke college students often have to be creative in order to scrounge enough funds for a Lolita’s run.
Sheeran Fahrai and Fedra Ramirez decided to put their creativity to work by playing music in San Diego’s Gaslamp District. It was a decision that paid off.
Fahrai and Ramirez christened themselves On Fifth, named after the street where the pair first busked. They have performed at Hard Rock Café, House of Blues and Lestats. On Fifth was also the closing act at Bonitafest in September and in October won Bonita’s Got Talent.
Both women play acoustic guitars in a range of styles including funk, folk, jazz, blues and classic rock. Fahrai grew up listening to her father’s Persian music and her mother’s ‘80s American pop. Animated films sparked her interest in singing.
“Apparently I sang ‘Everybody Wants to be a Cat’ when I was little,” she said.
Ramirez grew up in Mexico City and lived in Miami before moving to Chula Vista. Rhythm is important, she said, and her Latin heritage combined with her father’s love of singing and acting influenced her music.
Both women sang in their middle school choirs and met in a drama class at Bonita Vista High School.
“We liked the same type of music so we became friends,” said Fahrai.
Roger Churley, their high school drama teacher, said his former students are gifted.
“Ramirez and Fahrai were the best actresses Bonita Vista has ever had and were incredibly talented,” he said.
Fahrai and Ramirez performed together in “Absence of the Cello,” and Churley said that Ramirez was a natural while Fahrai knew how to take direction while building her performance.
Out of the 14 shows he directed in his seven years of teaching at BVH, Churley said, Ramirez had the most memorable moment when she had a line that ended a play. He also loves their singing, he said.
“Ramirez and Fahrai have sweet voices, “he said.” Their resonance, depth and their complimentary voices give them a nice full sound.”
After that class together On Fifth began to take shape.
“I always wanted to do music and always thought it would be cool to have a band,” said Ramirez.
Performing in the Gaslamp District did not come easy. Venue owners would often ask if people could dance to their music.
“It sucks,” Fahrai said. “Can’t you just appreciate the music for what it is? I mean, you can move, but move from the inside. You don’t always have to feel the urge to dance.”
After forming the band they took voice lessons in Old Town with retired opera singer Carolee Thornburgh, who helped them synchronize their voices and develop their songs, said Ramirez.
“We want a broad following, whoever wants to listen, old to young,” she said.
Their music has developed into a combination of older sounds with modern ideologies that millennials can relate to, explained Fahrai.
One original song, “Disease,” focuses on how society tends to label simple behaviors such as absent mindedness with ADHD. Although the two want to keep an eclectic sound, they said that they would also like to work on side projects, like funk. Ramirez and Fahrai agreed that a backup band containing bass, percussion, harmonica or the French horn players would give them a New Orleans kind of feel and would compliment their vision.
They said their initial goal was to have fun and produce as much material as possible. Their new goal is to improve as musicians since they have established their talent and know their way around the business.
“It would be great to change the landscape and standard,” said Fahrai. “Lyrics and music with more wisdom and instruments, with interesting sounds and sensibility, less repetition and imitation with small ranges. We want to break away from the tiny pool of sounds and simplistic lyrics.”
Little by little the duo is creating its reputation. Ramirez and Fahrai said they are continually striving to reach their dream of performing in places like New York City.
On Fifth’s first untitled album will be released by the end of the year. For more information and to listen to On Fifth, visit their website at http://www.onfifthduo.com/.