Sam took some time to talk to Rollacoaster to discuss finding his voice, what he’s learned from the industry and the importance of honesty in songwriting. Although so many of his songs are deeply personal, his storytelling can be universally appreciated and understood. Like all of us, his quarantine has been emotionally taxing, but “Homework” promises to be a musical escape for his listeners
The singer-songwriter talks the importance of honesty in songwriting and how emotionally taxing quarantine is on creatives.
How have you adjusted to this new normal?
I love and hate it. Actually, I just hate the phrase new normal because I don’t want this to be normal. This is just a present situation that we’re getting through. It’s been up and down emotionally. I’m human and sometimes I wake up and I don’t want to do anything and sometimes I wake up and I’m really motivated. I think it’s just a strange situation to get used to. I think it’s just a strange situation to get used to. Living in LA and being from Australia, I can’t help but wish that I was home, but we’re getting through it.
You’ve been in America for your whole adult life, how was the transition from Australia to living in the States?
I moved to Boston for university, so I think my initial transition to American life was a little easier because I was surrounded by a lot of international kids and other Australians. But I think Australians and Americans are just different. They are both very loving people, very passionate people. But they have different cultural norms. Growing up in Australia, you have this expectation of what America is going to be like from what you see on TV. I remember getting here and realizing it’s not exactly what I expected. Like when I moved to LA, I thought the whole thing was Hollywood. I love it here, America has been good to me. I met my wife here, but I do still miss home from time to time.
You attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston when you first arrived. How did that experience influence your music career?
I appreciate Berklee and I really enjoyed my time there. However, I will say a music degree is a music degree wherever you go. Berklee attracted some really talented people and being surrounded by that is really inspiring when you’re starting out. I don’t want to speak poorly of Berklee because it was such a big part of getting me situated in the States. It gave me a really strong classic musical education foundation. But I will say that I don’t think you need formal training to be a great artist or a great songwriter. I have a lot of gratitude for my mom for putting me through to college and I’m stoked that I get to say I have a BM in songwriting. But I don’t know if it’s totally necessary to be a great artist or songwriter.
How has growing and learning as an artist changed from working in the industry?
I used to really think about every single word and wanted to make sure that I was saying a concept, like ‘I love you’, in the most creative, unique way. And I’ve realised from working that sometimes people just want to hear ‘I love you’. That was the major difference from leaving university and coming out to LA. Working here, you don’t have a week to write one song, you have a couple hours in the studio. Things are a lot quicker. I’ve also recognised the importance of forming relationships with other people in the SF industry, which is not something you can be taught in a classroom. There’s just been a lot more life-learning since I’ve come to LA, going through tough times over the last six years and figuring out what works and what doesn’t work. And finding who I am throughout that, which in itself was such a rough process. There have been so many iterations in Sam Fischer and the person I am now is so far from who I was when I graduated from Berklee because of the things I’ve learned.
You’ve worked as a songwriter with artists across several genres, has that impacted your own music?
That’s the beauty of being an artist. You get to define yourself and you get to find the sound. Years ago, I felt being an artist meant that you had to showcase every single weapon that you had in your arsenal. But as time went on, I’ve found what my fans want from me is my honesty and my storytelling. As grateful as I am to have written songs for other artists across a wide array of genres, what makes sense in my head is defining my message and sound. I didn’t play an original song to anyone until I was about 21. That was because I was really insecure about my writing because I didn’t know if it represented me to the best of my ability. To be a competitive artist in this world, you need to have an identity and the point of view and intent about everything that you release. Through writing for other artists, I found my own sound and what I really enjoyed singing and performing. That has culminated in my song, “This City” and my new project, “Homework”.
Do you approach writing for yourself versus writing for others?
It’s the same in the sense that every song I write has a personal experience in it. Whether it be a song that makes me feel good and want to dance or a song like “This City”, which is straight from the heart. When I’m writing for others, it’s really just about being a good person so that the artist feels like they have a safe space to say what’s on their mind and express how they’re feeling. It’s being a really good listener and then taking what they’re saying and translating that into a universal concept that’s easy for people to digest. I’ve learned that listeners don’t when I have to work for what meaning the song is because it allows people to reinterpret my songs to fit their own narrative. When the artist leaves the studio feeling understood and satisfied, that’s when I feel like I’ve done my job.
Is making your songs relatable to a wide audience something you take into consideration in your songwriting?
Songs are my totally mine and the people in the room’s until we put it out there. Once it’s out there, it’s everyone else’s song. When I’m writing songs, I’m not necessarily thinking if it will be universally understood by everyone. It’s an emotion that I’m feeling or something I’m going through and hopefully, when I put it out, people will find a bit of themselves in it. When you overthink things like that it becomes detrimental to the process. Overthinking songs is my worst enemy. I try to be creative in my lyric writing and say things that paint a picture for the listener so they see the world that the song lives in and put themselves in it.
What’s next after this EP?
My goals for the future and my upcoming projects haven’t changed while in quarantine. I’m still creating a body of work I’m incredibly proud of that looks further into my story, maybe the subject matter includes a little more about current times, but the end outcome remains the same. I’m excited to tour, to experience a crowd singing my songs back to me, getting to meet my fans, the real heroes in my life who have put me where I am and getting to have festival catering again. The food is really the star of the summer for me. I’m still writing, recording, planning, photo-shooting, videoing, all the things I can think of when it comes to building my world and I have the most supportive, incredible team around me to do all of it with. I’m optimistic about the future. The only way is forward and I’m so excited for everyone to hear and experience all that is coming