JEREMY FISHER: The Contender

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Plucky singer/songwriter Jeremy Fisher hails from the Great White North. He first toured America by bicycle, and logged time busking in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. His U.S. debut, Goodbye Blue Monday, comes out in September on Wind-Up, a label most famous for housing bands like Evanescence and Creed. Fisher’s homemade video for debut single “Cigarette” has racked up 2 million hits on YouTube.com.

Plucky singer/songwriter Jeremy Fisher hails from the Great White North. He first toured America by bicycle, and logged time busking in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. His U.S. debut, Goodbye Blue Monday, comes out in September on Wind-Up, a label most famous for housing bands like Evanescence and Creed. Fisher’s homemade video for debut single “Cigarette” has racked up 2 million hits on YouTube.com.

Is there a difference between Canadian musicians and music fans and the rest of the world?
Canada’s so big, and the population is so small, that you have all these micro-cultures. There are differences city-to-city and province-to-province, just like in the U.S. In Canada, there are certainly singer/songwriter labels, and there are definitely singer/songwriter towns. Victoria, BC, where I used to live, has a high number of singer/songwriters. I kind of think of the whole Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. as being songwriter-friendly. I’m always astounded when I go out there at the number of singer/songwriters who are really popular out there-on a regional level. They get enough work and that’s kind of their scene.

Tell us the story behind the song “High School.”
I wrote that song in my hometown, Hamilton. I went to a wedding reception for this girl that I went to high school with…and sat down and had a conversation with this guy who I used to hang out a lot with. I hadn’t seen him since we were 16, and we were pretty good friends. We just, like, talked about everything we had been up to since then and told old stories back and forth. And then at the end of the conversation, like half an hour later, I found out that he thought I was somebody completely different than who I am, and it made me realize how interchangeable people’s high school stories are. The odd name or face might change here or there, but a lot of us have interchangeable experiences.

The songs on this album can be described as sunny and upbeat, even though there are some dark lyrics. Do you believe in the idea that you have to suffer to make good art?
I don’t know. I wouldn’t say that I believe that that’s true, but I believe it sometimes works out that way. I guess when we’re happy, it’s easier to go with the flow, and when that happiness or joy is interrupted, that’s when we get contemplative and break out the guitar or pen and write about it.

What’s the most and least money you’ve made busking?
The least I ever made was nothing. The most I ever made was probably in the ballpark of a few hundred bucks a day. That didn’t happen very often; I would say the normal range was anywhere between 25 dollars and 50 dollars, if I was working hard.

Did people throw in stuff other than money?
Yeah, sometimes I’d get phone numbers from girls, and one time I got a tuna fish sandwich-which was kind of gross, but a nice sentiment. I got a hacky sack once. It’s fairly common to get literature from people trying to convert me to different religions, usually some denomination of Christianity.

What advice would you give to aspiring singer/songwriters who are trying to get from “unheard” to where you are?
There were a few years there where I really didn’t make enough money to get by, and I was a bit of a charity case. But I think it was really important to throw myself into my music and make it everything I was doing. There are personality types out there that can make a business model and hold down a job and wean themselves into the music business, but probably for most of us, the best thing is just to dive in and dedicate yourself to it…and take a big risk…because there’s something about taking a big risk that really makes you step up and meet the challenge.

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