With a debut album on the way Sam Fischer is on the cusp of greatness, fuelled by dedication to the craft he’s spent years perfecting.
Sam Fischer’s career trajectory is nothing short of extraordinary. From a music-obsessed child in small-town Australia to a songwriter for genre-spanning artists in Los Angeles, a TikTok viral sensation and a collaboration with Demi Lovato, there’s been twists and turns at every step of the way. It was a series of fortunate and not-so unfortunate events that recently guided Sam towards stardom, where he comfortably sits now on the cusp of his debut album release.
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His song “This City” went viral on TikTok at the onset of the pandemic, and whilst the masses were discovering his music for the first time, Sam found himself trapped at home unable to tour or physically promote the song. When I sit down to talk with him one Los Angeles morning (the Aussie’s home for the last several years), I find someone upbeat, optimistic, and incredibly driven – a far cry from where the artist often found himself over the last two years. “It was not a conventional break in to the music industry at all,” he laughs. “When “This City” went viral, I started therapy because I couldn’t handle that after working for a decade in this industry. I was finally getting a break and the world was shutting down because of a once in a century pandemic.” Whilst Sam was “putting on a brave face and giving interviews around the clock on social media,” behind the gratitude lied an ugly truth. He confesses, somewhat remorsefully, “I was turning in to a horrible person.”
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Yet Sam’s ability to nip that moment in the bud and transmute it in to a force for good is perhaps what gives us the self-assured, confident, and somewhat relaxed artist I chat with today. He’s a proud “open book,” and talks candidly and refreshingly on his past troubles with bullying whilst growing up in Grose Vale and Sydney in Australia. Since picking up a violin as a young child and “instinctively” knowing how to read sheet music, Sam committed himself to music despite the negative reception of those around him. “I was a 12-year-old kid and people were talking down on me, calling me homophobic slurs,” Sam recalls.
Sam’s father in particular brandished his musical talent as merely a ‘hobby,’ a mark of which he re-appropriated for himself in later years by titling his debut EP as Not a Hobby. But Sam has close ones fighting in his corner too. “My mum really helped me with how to ignore the bullies, to not give in to that and to do what makes me happy,” he says. “She has always been my biggest champion.” On how he got the confidence to sing and write music at the age of 13, Sam points to his former music teacher. “They were the first person to tell me I had something special, and it really changed my perspective,” he says. “Which helped when I had grown adults bullying me.”
It could have been easy for Sam to turn his back on music in response, and find another means of survival. Instead, the artist flourished far beyond the grasp of those who held him back. After studying music at university, he moved Los Angeles, where he wrote for the likes of Ciara, Christian French, Sabrina Claudio and Jessie J, before becoming known globally for “This City”. On the nature of sudden viral success, Sam still laughs in disbelief. “I was fucking shocked,” he says, hands over his mouth. “At the time, I was teetering on the edge of giving up as an artist – I had been through a record deal where I was horribly abused and emotionally manipulated.”
“It was the universe throwing me a bone,” he reasons; “This City” went viral, then Lewis Capaldi messaged me to come on tour, then out of nowhere we got on the Pop Rising playlist on Spotify, then I signed to RCA six months later.” “This City” was a song that Sam’s previous record label had overlooked (“it’s pretty,” they once told Sam in one dismissive email), but upon its viral sensation, RCA caught on to Sam’s untapped potential. We can only thank them in droves.
Sam, however, is no one trick pony. Whilst the track is undeniably a hit, it’s far from what defines his sound. It’s a slow, acoustic song with heavy on vocals, and Sam maintains his influences come from a wider palette of genres. “I just want everyone to know that I don’t actually play the guitar,” he laughs. “It was an acoustic song, honest and raw, and I guess people just thought ‘Oh, another guy with a guitar’.”
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The artist grew up on a litany of soul and R&B influences, citing Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Donny Hathaway as early favourites. When I press Sam for details on his soon to be released debut album, he quickly notes Jazmine Sullivan’s magnum opus Heaux Tales as a major source of inspiration. “The album has more of the soulful and more gospel influences I came up on, whilst still remaining pop and honest and vocal,” he explains. “It’s uniquely me, and I don’t think it sounds like anything that’s out there.”
If Sam’s nervous about the upcoming release, he doesn’t show it. He seems excited, even somewhat chilled about the debut. “This is the first time I get to present the world of Sam Fischer,” he smiles. Some of the songs are penned entirely by him, worked on by a lone producer, whilst others are open to collaboration and involve a myriad of work from different writers, producers and singers. “The studio is a safe place for me, it’s like therapy,” he says. “My writing is self-reflective, it’s the relationship with myself and letting people in on my struggles.” Still, he promises the album has plenty of love songs – “it’s not all totally depressing and sad, there’s some bangers and bops” he laughs.
As Sam gears up to release the album to the world, and subsequently take it on tour, he seems to have finally found his footing. He vibrates with excitement, ready to expand his world and make his mark. “I don’t want to just be the guy on the guitar,” he reiterates. “I don’t feel like there’s any type or mould I need to fit in the industry… I just want to make music that makes me feel.” After this chat, he leaves me no doubt that his debut album will deliver. There’s only going up for Sam Fischer.