cover story Features March 25, 2020

Aussie hitmaker Sam Fischer talks isolation in LA & viral hit ‘This City’

Aussie hitmaker Sam Fischer talks isolation in LA & viral hit ‘This City’

Sam Fischer is bunkered down in Hollywood, but his spirit remains on the up.

The Sydney-born Australian songwriter is in an unusual yet familiar predicament right now, doing his absolute best to stay upbeat and in the moment.

Unusual, because he’s isolated in the very city that inspired his lonelyhearted hit ‘This City’, and familiar because he’s called Los Angeles home since arriving almost six years ago full of hope.

Talking to TMN from his home in North Hollywood, Fischer admits his anxiety levels are higher than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic began its global onslaught on the human race. Especially because he has a viral single to promote.

“The whole music industry feels like it’s shut down,” he tells me. “I did my first FaceTime writing session yesterday and that was crazy. It’s just a bit weird. I’m a lot more anxious about this than I thought I would be,” he admits.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US jumped past those of Iran, Germany and Spain on the weekend, making it the nation with the third-highest total in the world.

The number of confirmed cases in Los Angeles also has surged this week, in part a reflection of increased testing.

“It’s a bit strange, but we’re staying positive. We’re getting by. Keeping busy,” he says.

On paper, Fischer isn’t one to rest. He’s ambitious, well connected and unusually open about his desire to be as big, or even bigger, than the artists for which he has written hits: Keith Urban; Demi Lovato and Jessie J among them.

“For me, being a writer for others and being my own artist always went hand in hand,” he admits, while also confessing that he’s intending to devour “a small slice of” Ed Sheeran’s pie.

“The writers and producers that I work with are some of my best friends now. We have fun. But all the songs that I’m a part of come from a personal place and a personal experience for me.

“All the songs that I have out with other artists, there’s always an injection of my own personal experience in it.”

Fischer isn’t bragging, nor is he exaggerating, when he casually namedrops during our 20-minute interview. He also announces that he “craves the limelight”, something which you’d expect when your inner-circle of mates includes Meghan Trainor and Lewis Capaldi.

And when it came time to make the transition from hit songwriter to solo artist, those A-list connections would come in handy.

“It’s a weird thing because I wrote ‘This City’ in 2016, I put it out at the start of 2018, and it got shared widely by some amazing friends. Meghan Trainor shared it. Lewis Capaldi shared it.

“The song got a lot of eyes on it, but it wasn’t getting any love from anyone for a long time except for the fans. When I say anyone, I mean Spotify, Apple, Amazon. But it was a fan-favourite.

“The fans are everything to me because they are the reason this has all happened. It took 18 months of the song being out and then, randomly, TikTok found it and that has been crazy. It changed everything for me.”

Already ‘This City’ is credited to 1.4 million TikTok creations and over one billion views.

It was a well-earned change too. Fischer packed his suitcase in September 2014, temporarily leaving his wife in Sydney, to relocate to LA in pursuit of answering the fire in his belly. But it didn’t go to plan after his now-former record label dropped him.

“It was at a time when I was emotionally and mentally just spent. It’s tough,” he says.

“It feels like the end of a relationship. My relationship with music was really strained and I was wondering whether I wanted to do this.

“It felt like you move to LA to chase this dream, and when the dream doesn’t pan out the way that you thought it would, it makes you question yourself.”

After wrestling with both his self-identity and his art, Fischer listened to his wife’s plea to stop feeling blue and to “get out, and go to the [songwriting] session”.

“I remember going,” he recalls, “I walked in the session and I was just like, ‘I hate this place. I’m so brokenhearted. Everything I want is crumbling’.” And thank goodness he did, the session yielded ‘This City’, leading to a deal with RCA Records.

Fischer and his manager Brad Beausir talked to a lot of labels for the next six months and then RCA slipped into his Instagram DMs: “Everything good happens in my Instagram,” he jokes.

“Sony UK messaged me and then David Dollimore at RCA UK emailed my manager, Brad. Then RCA US lit up and Sony Australia. I couldn’t have asked for a better team.”

Fischer admits he was uneasy about a second major-label deal, but he ultimately signed the contract and picked up where he left off with ‘This City’. Last week the track jumped from #82 to #58 on the TMN Hot 100, and looks set to climb the chart again this week.

“I was pretty anxious, pretty apprehensive about going back into the major label machine.

“So, for me, I wasn’t too fussed on what label it was, I had to find the right humans. With the team that I have now, I truly believe I found the best people in the game.”

Not bad for a 28-year-old who went to school with labelmate Delta Goodrem and almost became a tennis pro, but that’s a story for another day. Right now, Fischer is right where he’s meant to be, in the moment: “I didn’t expect this in a million years, honestly.”

After touring North America with Capaldi, Fischer will join Niall Horan later in the year.

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