Dancer/Singer Etty Lau Farrell Talks About Her Career, Her Big Break, the Environment and Rising Anti-Asian Bias

By Peter Page Peter Page has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on February 5, 2022

Renowned dancer, actor, and singer Etty Lau Farrell was born in Hong Kong but grew up seemingly everywhere. From an an early age she trained as a classical ballerina at the Royal Academy of Dance’s Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Cornish College of the Arts. By 18, she had earned a scholarship to the Edge Performing Center in Los Angeles.

Her career began has included performances with Madonna, Ricky Martin, and Bon Jovi, as well as being in the original iteration of the Pussycat Dolls revue that started at The Viper Room.

Etty was long a staple of live performances with Jane’s Addiction. In recent years, she’s been a fixture among the rotating cast of the Kind Heaven Orchestra, collaborating with members of The Foo Fighters and Bon Jovi. Always working closely with her husband Perry Farrell (Jane’s Addiction, Lollapalooza, Porno For Pyros), he produces her upcoming solo release ‘He’s A Rebel’, which is a cover of the 1962 The Crystals Hit produced by Phil Specter.

Please tell us about growing up. When did you decide to pursue a professional career?

I was born in Hong Kong, China and I moved to Bellevue Washington when I was 10 years old. I’ve always been drawn to the arts from an early age. I’m a classically trained ballerina and I attended the Royal Academy of Dance’s Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Cornish College of the Arts. When I was eighteen, I won a scholarship to the Edge Performing Center in Los Angeles and that was a sign my passion could become my professional career.

What do you regard as the break that launched your professional career?

Early on I did some acting roles as well but my dance career really took off when I started dancing on tours with Madonna, Ricky Martin, and Bon Jovi. I was also tapped to be in the original iteration of the Pussycat Dolls revue which started at The Viper Room. In 1997, I toured as a dancer with Jane’s Addiction for their Relapse Tour and have been working with the group ever since. That’s where I met my husband Perry.

In terms of my singing career, that really began to take off by the mid 2000s.  Satellite Party was released on Columbia in 2007 and it featured myself  alongside Perry, Carl Restivo and Nunno Bettencourt (Extreme.) I sang vocals on tracks including “Awesome,” “Celebrate,” “Ultra Payloaded Satellite Party” and “Mr Sunshine.” The following year, I displayed bravura vocals on “Go All The Way (Into the Twilight”), one of the singles from the soundtrack of the blockbuster film, Twilight.

You work closely with your husband, Perry Farrel. Not all couples work together well. What has been your experience and do you have advice for other couples trying to work together?

There has to be a mutual like and respect for the other person- in any relationship, but especially in a working relationship. There can not be two heads. There always has to be one head. We have worked together for so long, but in a professional relationship he calls the shots. I can give my suggestions of course and argue for things I am passionate about, but at end of day, Perry has final say. I joined him  working with Jane’s Addiction, but I did not start that band. It’s the same for Lollapalooza.  I am on board and I get a vote, but I still back Perry on any  final decision. I think if you understand your roles, working together can be great!

As someone who represents Asian Pacific American – you have been speaking out about the steep rise in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans. Have you personally experienced bias? Do you think the situation has cooled since the election, or is it as dangerous as it has been since the beginning of the pandemic?

Absolutely, I feel the US is a rather dangerous place for people of color especially women of color. I  feel part of the problem is that Asians are pretty fragmented.  Yes, we come together but it would be like saying all people of Asian descent or Middle Eastern descent or any culture.

Clearly there are differences and similarities among Asian nations, but together we are more powerful. We have thousands of years of history behind us and do have history of nations warring, but we are in a new world. I  want to promote unity around the different nationalities of Asians.

You are also known as an environmental activist. Which causes are you most engaged with?

Environmental causes are something very dear to my heart. For example, I recently purchased a portable water filter for everyone in our crew on tour to try to minimize use of plastic. I encourage people to look within themselves to see what can be done at the individual level to minimize carbon footprint on the world. Our goal should be to leave the world a better place than when we found it.

What’s next for you in your career?

I’m currently working with Perry on new music for Kind Heaven and we have some releases coming early 2022.
In addition, I’m working on a forthcoming remix track with DJ Hyper –an electronic artist signed to Deadmau5 and Roadrunner’s label. I also have plans for other creative partnerships with DJs and producers set for this year.

I have a show coming up with Kind Heaven Orchestra scheduled in Los Angeles at the Belasco Theatre on Thursday, February 17th that is a part of a concert series called “Heaven After Dark” where I will performing alongside my husband Perry Farrell. “Heaven After Dark” focuses on iconic and emerging musicians, performance artists and varietal acts to showcase alternative music, underground culture, and more into one cosmic event.

By Peter Page Peter Page has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Peter Page is the Contributions Editor at Grit Daily. Formerly at Entrepreneur.com, he began his journalism career as a newspaper reporter long before print journalism had even heard of the internet, much less realized it would demolish the industry. The years he worked a police reporter are a big influence on his world view to this day. Page has some degree of expertise in environmental policy, the energy economy, ecosystem dynamics, the anthropology of urban gangs, the workings of civil and criminal courts, politics, the machinations of government, and the art of crystallizing thought in writing.

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