It’s been quite a journey for pop singer/songwriter Sam Fischer. Originally from Sydney, Australia, Fischer has lived in the U.K., in Boston and in Los Angeles, in his quest to build a career as an artist & songwriter. There have been struggles along the way, but he’s currently enjoying a breakthrough, with his single “This City” becoming a hit in several countries and moving up the charts in the U.S. In addition, Fischer has signed a label deal with RCA Records.
The success of “This City” demonstrates the power of a special song to help launch an artist’s career. This heartfelt, insightful ballad has become a hit in the U.K., Australia, Scotland and New Zealand, and is continuing to gain exposure in other countries. Impressively, Fischer has created an added impact for the song, by singing new versions of “This City” with top artists such as Kane Brown and Anne-Marie.
In the U.S., “This City” is currently bubbling under the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and Fischer is moving up Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart. Also attracting interest is his EP release, Not a Hobby, that further showcases Fischer’s strong, soulful lead vocals and his songwriting ability.
Fischer grew up in Sydney, where both his parents were doctors and he was surrounded by friends who became doctors and lawyers. Back in Sydney, it seemed improbable that he could move to the U.S. and eventually become a success in the music business. But despite some rough years in Los Angeles where he wondered if he could make it, he endured and was inspired to write “This City” (with co-writers Jimmy Robbins & Jackson Morgan).
At first, when Fischer released “This City” as an independent artist in 2018, the song did not spark an immediate response. However, the song later went viral on TikTok, and it became popular on other platforms. By mid-2019, he was opening on tour for hit artist Lewis Capaldi, and he signed with RCA Records last December.
In addition to his career as an artist, Fischer has co-written songs for other artists. Notably, he co-wrote Keith Urban’s new single, “Polaroid.” He also wrote a song called “Doses” that is on Ciara’s latest album, Beauty Marks.
Here’s the video of Sam Fischer’s hit, “This City.”
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Sam Fischer. He talks about his music journey so far, and discusses his single “This City.” He also talked about his EP Not a Hobby, and his latest projects.
DK: I read that you grew up in Sydney, Australia. How did you get started as a musician and writing songs?
Sam Fischer: I did grow up in Sydney, and it was probably sheer arrogance that I started writing songs (laughs). I would rip through albums; my mom decided that I would only be allowed to get a new album if I knew every song and every lyric of the album that she’d bought me. My mom was like, “Well, do you know this whole album?” And I’d say, “No.” And she’d say, “Well, go and listen to it more then.” And basically I was like, “Well, I can write my own songs.” So when I was 12, I wrote my first song and it was called “Wake Up.” It wasn’t deep…it was about waking up in the morning (laughs). That’s how I started.
DK: How did you go from being a young musician in Sydney, to getting a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston?
Fischer: When I was 13, a buddy of mine asked me to come to a show in Sydney, and since I’m a massive fan of live music, I said, “Yeah.” I didn’t know who it was…it was a guy named John Mayer. I wasn’t familiar with John Mayer back then. So I went to the show and it completely changed my life. I became obsessed with John Mayer and saw that he went to Berklee. So I looked Berklee up, and it was a school for contemporary music.
At the end of 2009, I graduated from high school and I booked a one-way ticket to Boston, and then onto the U.K., where I spent a gap year. When I was in Boston, I auditioned for Berklee, and I found out that I got in. So that’s how I ended up in the States and going to music school.
My parents are doctors, my brother’s an engineer, and all my friends are like lawyers and doctors and engineers and architects. And I think of me…having big dreams to come to the States and do music and follow my passion, and not care whether I’d make money or not. It was kind of a foreign concept to a lot of my friends. And honestly up to this year, when I’ve had success on the charts and on the radio, I didn’t think people took me very seriously with what I wanted to do. But now I’m hearing from people (laughs) that I’ve haven’t heard from in 10-15 years, saying how proud they are and they always knew I could do it. So that’s been fun.
Here’s the audio of Sam Fischer’s song, “Getting Older.”
DK: After you finished with Berklee, is that when you moved to Los Angeles?
Fischer: Yeah. I’d gotten my first cut; it was a placement for another artist and it was used in a movie. So I said I’m going out to L.A. to be a songwriter. I’ve always been an artist, but especially now with social media being huge, you need to have a point of view and be really assured of yourself. And I just wasn’t…I didn’t know what I wanted to say yet as an artist. So as I was trying to figure out my own shit, I would help (as a songwriter) somebody figure out their’s (laughs). I thought I would be happy going to L.A. and just being a writer, until I started writing a lot and the reaction from my publishing company was, “You’re an artist. These are artist songs.”
DK: I like your hit, “This City.” Is the song based on your experiences of living in L.A.?
Fischer: Yeah, spot on. L.A. is a weird city, man. Coming from a city like Sydney, which I think is the best city in the world, and then moving to somewhere like Boston. I was there when the Boston bombings happened, and the whole city really came together. It was a huge sense of community in those cities, and you don’t feel so alone. And I think L.A. is a place that a lot of people come to…I feel it’s where they need to be instead of where they really want to be. And so it’s just been a rocky road. (Early on) I had some poor experiences with the industry, and it’s beaten me up a lot. But again through sheer arrogance, I kept going.
So when I wrote “This City,” I had my record deal and my publishing deal. I had all the things attached to my name that I thought I was supposed to have to make me happy, and the situations weren’t how I envisioned them. By the way, this was my first record deal. It’s not the one I now have with RCA Records, which has been a dream and I feel more supported, and I’m really grateful for the whole team.
So I wrote “This City” as my diary entry, and it’s something that I wanted to get off my chest. I didn’t expect anyone to care about it or even hear the song. I was in a shit mood when I wrote it (laughs), just completely defeated. And so to see what it’s done today, and how my fans have completely redefined the song for me. Instead of it solely being about the struggle and the heartbreak about L.A., it’s more about hope and perseverance, and getting through the struggle and getting through the hard times.
Here’s the lyric video of Sam Fischer’s new version of “This City”
featuring Kane Brown.
DK: I’m impressed that there are different versions of “This City”; one that features Kane Brown and another that features Anne-Marie. How did you hook up with these artists to have them sing on your song?
Fischer: Isn’t it crazy…I start to pinch myself. I came up with this idea with my manager and agent. I want to take artists from cities around the world that have significance for me. So we reached out to Anne-Marie first…I’ve been a fan of hers since she was a singer in Rudimental. When we reached out, we found out she was already a fan of the song and she said yes. And what she sent through was so masterful.
My thing was…because the song has such a universal message, I wanted to find the perspective of these other artists, and see how they felt about the situation, and what they’re experience has been. I was like, “You can either jump on the second verse as is, if that’s your experience, or you can write from whatever situation that makes you think about.” I think what the project has become has been so cool, and there’s a version for everyone and whatever they’re feeling. I’m thankful for all the artists for jumping on it.
DK: I like the songs on your EP, Not a Hobby. Can you talk about the making of the EP?
Fischer: Not a Hobby is the title, and it’s comes from a lot of people thinking that music is just a hobby and it’s a pipedream. You know, it’s not a hobby and this is our lives. This is our livelihood…it’s our job and our passion. I had written 200 songs in the year that I was first signed [to my old label] and I wasn’t able to put anything out before I got dropped. And so I had all of these songs sitting on my computer, and I said, “I’m bursting at the seams and I need to get something out.” So when we put out the first song “Getting Older,” it got a bigger reaction than we expected. [The EP] was four songs that I liked…it’s just me testing the waters and seeing what people liked out there. And lo and behold, it was [“This City”] that was the least production and was the most vulnerable that caught on. I love Not a Hobby—it’s my first project and I’m proud of it and what it’s done for me.
DK: Will you be releasing some new music this summer?
Fischer: I will be…it’s finished. I’ve been listening to the masters non-stop.
Here’s the video of Keith Urban’s new single “Polaroid,” which was
co-written by Sam Fischer.
DK: Will it be an EP or an album?
Fischer: It’s a project, and I’m not going to define it because we’ve got some tricks up our sleeves as to how we’re going to roll it out. I’ve been writing it for the last three or four years. It talks about the different relationships in my life…not necessarily romantic, but the way in which people come into our lives and change us, and affect our trust and affect the way we think about ourselves and our friends, and the things we do and the way we handle things. It’s a lot of self-exploration, and I think I tend to write from a place of looking back.
DK: I know you’re mainly focused on your artist career, but you’ve also written songs for other artists, such as Keith Urban and Ciara. Do you still like to write for other artists?
Fischer: Absolutely, always. I think being an artist and being a writer go hand-in-hand. It’s just a different way of looking at some of the writing when you’re in a session. I’m still writing for others, obviously not as much anymore, but being an artist and having success as an artist has opened up my world in being able to collaborate with other artists. I always enjoy hearing other artists [record and sing] my songs, because every song I write comes from a personal place. And to hear artists like Keith Urban and Ciara jumping on songs and singing them, it’s just really cool. These are artists that I grew up and I’m fans of.