Artist Interview: “About The Future” by Ryan Fischer

Q: I love the hard-hitting truths hidden in this track. What’s the lyric that means the most to you from “About the Future”?

Ryan: For me, all the lyrics in “About the Future” form a connected story that lead from one section to the next. So I can’t say that one specific lyric is more meaningful to me than the other, in terms of the song as a whole. But the last line “I’m gonna build a generation” instantly conjures a distinct memory for me. Many years ago, when I lived in Toronto, I had an attic apartment just a few doors down the street from a really old synagogue. It was a big beautiful late 19th century heritage home. And I used to stop and chat with the Rabbi who would stand by the front steps smoking cigarettes. We’d have these random intense conversations when I was on my way somewhere, passing by. He was so cool. A really tough dude with his long coat, big black hat and New York accent. I was in my twenties at the time and always stressed about money and trying to make my little film projects. I’m sure he could tell I was going through a difficult time. One day he asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I told him I wanted to do something that gave me a sense of purpose. He asked me what I thought my purpose was. I told him I didn’t really know. He took a big drag off his smoke and said “We all have the same purpose”. Then he threw his arms out and said “The purpose of life is to build a generation!”

Q: Did any real world events inspire this song?

 Ryan: Not that I can remember. I wrote “About the Future” 15 years ago, in 2006. Back then I used to fill notebooks with dialogue of random characters I imagined in dramatic circumstances (some more extreme than others). I remember imagining this Young-disaffected-Man-Against-the-World Brechtian type character who starts out with good intentions, then vows to usurp control of the world, and becomes a tyrant. Very dramatic – haha! That’s how “About the Future” started. As a theatre monologue. Perhaps I even had fantasies of performing the character myself if I could ever stage it. But one night I just took out my guitar and started singing the monologue over those Dm to A chords and it sounded so evil and fun. I was happy it became a song.

Q: Can you walk us through the process of working with producers Felix Fung and Max Sample in turning your folk songs into an indie rock album?

Ryan: It was really magical for me. I had no idea how any of the songs were going to turn out. I even thought that most of the album would wind up sounding pretty much acoustic, with a little bass, keys and minor percussion thrown in to fill it out. But once I told Felix and Max I wanted them to take the songs wherever they thought they should go, every song went in a direction that completely surprised me. Felix and Max are so talented and creative. They took my songs, made them their own and put their hearts and souls into them. That really touched me. I would just sing and play a song on my acoustic guitar and within a couple of minutes they were building something out of it that was way beyond my expectations. It was so much fun to hear the songs come to life in that way. I love all the colour and attitude Felix and Max brought to my weird little songs that I’d been keeping to myself for so long. “You’re So Sad” in particular became such a fun rock n roll song. And “Comes & Goes” was just this sad ballad I had never played for anyone before. Felix asked if I had a track that we could do as a piano song, so I instantly thought of that one. Max plays so beautifully on it. He spent the day layering the Wurlitzer and the grand piano. By about eleven that night my voice was completely shot. Felix asked me to go into the booth to record a scratch vocal, just for reference. We did a few takes and when I came back the following week to record the vocal properly, Felix was adamantly opposed to changing it. He was married to the scratch vocal I had done that night. But all I could remember was how horribly strained I thought I sounded. It took some convincing and reassurance but eventually I caved and that “wrecked” vocal is what’s on the album. I’m really glad I listened to Felix because in the end I think it is a performance that gives the song an authentic vulnerability that I could not have duplicated. There were so many creative moments on every track on “Commercials for Heaven.” I could go on and on! The whole album is filled with live drums, bass, omnichord, keyboards (galore), piano, guitar and bass hooks, that span just about every genre. I’m really proud of the work Felix and Max and I did on “Commercials for Heaven.” It became all of our baby. And I’m really grateful for that collaborative experience, especially with my first foray in the studio.

Q: Was there a pivotal moment in your life when you decided to follow your path as a musician?

Ryan: There were many moments when I was too afraid to even consider taking the first step onto the path. I resisted for many years. But there was one experience that seemed to shift the current for me. In 2015 I took a trip to Mexico for two months to escape the winter in a little town called Zipolite, which means “beach of the dead” because of all the drownings that happen there. I had gone there thinking I was finally going to finish this screenplay I had been writing and rewriting for many years. To make a long story short I managed to survive a dangerous encounter with a riptide that took me way out to the loneliest, scariest place I’d ever been. When I made it back to the shore and returned home from the trip, I had no more ambitions to pursue anything related to filmmaking. I resurrected my old songs. All I wanted to to do was play my guitar and write more songs. And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

Q: What are some of your aspirations for the future?

Ryan: I have the next two albums written so I want to get those out into the world. I’d also like to play more shows and connect with people through my music. Continue this weird adventure I’m on. The road only goes one way forward, for better or worse. No going back now!

Q: Any parting words for your audience?

Ryan: Thanks so much for listening! I really hope you enjoy my music. It’s given me so much. “Commercials for Heaven” is an album of songs for souls yearning for freedom. These are songs of my youth that got me through seemingly perilous times. Singing them lifted my spirits and sparked joy in my heart. I hope they reach your heart and lift your spirits too.

Interviewed by Brittany D’Amore





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