“When words fail,” says Sam Fischer, “music speaks.”
It’s a simple, powerful idea — and a manifesto of sorts for the Australian singer-songwriter. The 29-year-old even admits that, when he finds it difficult to vocalise how he’s feeling, he literally vocalises his inner thoughts — by turning them into music.
“It helps,” he adds, “to understand myself and the world around me when I’m able to write it down in a song. I think words matter, and songs are an important vehicle to amplify societal issues, thoughts and feelings.”
It’s immediately clear that Sam Fischer, with his cool composure and endless insight, is not your regular pop-rock musician. He doesn’t wear the bubblegum perma-smile of more boppy, poppy popular artists. Nor does his personality shriek with the requisite bad-boy bombast of most rockers. Instead, he sits somewhere fresh and unexplored in the musical landscape — happily taking his time to meet people, make contacts and endearing himself to everyone lucky enough to cross his melodic path.
“I love meeting new people,” says the man who was written songs for artists as disparate as Keith Urban and Jessie J. “I love hearing their stories and making them feel safe to open up to me. Every songwriting session starts as a therapy session where we talk about everything we’re all going through and try our best to relate to each other.
“Because songwriting doesn’t have to be over-complicated,” he adds. “We take simple concepts, like ‘love’, and try to say it in a way that no one else has said it before. My hope is when people listen to songs I’ve written on they feel a bit of themselves and better understand their own thoughts and feelings. Honestly, vulnerability and wearing your heart on your sleeve are the keys for me.”
So how did he get here? Fischer now lives in Los Angeles — a modest moderate somehow thriving in a famously self-important city. He may be hugely talented, but he’s also the picture of calm — with his autumn-shade style and many pairs of round spectacles (they’re all from Garrett Leight, if you were wondering) almost actively concealing how exciting an artist he is. So what led the boy who grew up on a farm outside Sydney to the entertainment capital of the world?
“When I was 12,” Fischer recalls, “I performed with my high school big band — in front of a school of 1,200 boys. It was the first time I’d ever really performed for an audience, and I got bullied for weeks afterwards. But I felt alive! Fulfilled! Free! And, if it incited that much of a reaction from my haters, then clearly what I was doing was right, and I wanted to chase that feeling of being on stage for the rest of my life.”
Fischer is also a classically trained musician. He first picked up a violin at age three, studied the saxophone to a high level and was accepted into Berklee College of Music in Boston at 18 — moving halfway across the world to begin a career in music.
“I think being classically trained has given me a strong foundation for creating music and good technique for protecting my voice when I’m singing a lot,” he considers. “But, by the same token, I think it’s extremely possible to be an incredible musician with no classical training or no formal training at all!”
In 2014, Fischer moved to Los Angeles, where he sang backing vocals while working on his own music. By 2016, he was independently releasing his own singles — and in 2018, he launched his debut EP, Not a Hobby. Being an independent artist, Fischer says, taught him the value of hard work — and made him realise that no-one would ever care about his own art more than himself.
“Even now,” he reasons, “being on a label and surrounded by the most incredibly passionate and hardworking people, I still try to hold onto the mentality of being an independent artist and hustling as hard as I did when I was starting out.”
Fischer, the latest artist to take part in Gentleman’s Journal Live Sessions, has been missing performing during lockdown. He says that his dream has always been to tour — to stand up on the stage and realise an entire crowd is singing his own music and lyrics back at him. Everything, he admits, pales in comparison to performing live.
“June 4th, 2019,” he says when asked for his most memorable live performance. “Opening up for Lewis Capaldi at Irving Plaza in NYC. The place was packed and the crowd was louder than any crowd I’d ever played in front of. I have a video where I’m standing on stage for probably a full minute and the crowd is just screaming. They turn the lights up while me and my band were just standing on stage stunned and emotional and I lost it. Still get chills thinking about it.”
It’s moments like these, he adds, that have got him through lockdown.
“If I’m honest, I’m really not coping that well with not being able to perform for live crowds! I was supposed to opening up for Niall Horan this summer around the US and having the time of my life, so it’s a harsh reality that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get used to. The silver lining in all this is that I’m still able to perform and release new music and interact with my fans and do things I’ve always dreamed of, so it’s not all bad. But I can’t wait to be on stage in front of a crowd again.”
Want more lockdown sessions? Jake Bugg is playing Glastonbury — in spirit, at least…
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