Sweet and angry, soft and loud – Interview with Ian Fisher

© Ulrich Zinell

“Half Americana and half Abbey Road-worthy pop” – This description by the Rolling Stone could sum up the dichotomy of Ian Fisher very well. His move from the US to Europe did not mean he abandoned those American influences, rather he saw and acknowledged the good and the bad from both sides. Why Europe is the place for him nonetheless, how his move influenced him and what you can expect to find in his brand new Fanklub you can find out below:

1. What kind of content will you be posting on your Fanklub?

You'll get access to my exclusive monthly Fanklub-only EPs and unreleased tracks from upcoming projects. The first few months will be kicked off with a series of old country cover songs that I recorded together with my friends and bandmates, Ryan Thomas Carpenter & Richard Case.  Members will also be the first to hear new official releases and will get occasional surprises. For example, anyone who joins in the first week will be invited to a free Fanklub members only songwriting course I'm giving in Vienna on March 5th!

2. What are your expectations for your Fanklub?

I hope to cultivate a space where I can publish the music I wouldn't otherwise have a place to release. Furthermore, to connect with friends and fans between the concerts at which we have met before or will meet again.

3. What made you decide to create a Fanklub?

I was drawn to Fanklub because it's locally owned and operated in Vienna and Hamburg and I personally know the people behind it. I used Patreon for the last couple of years and it felt just as distant as other sites I feel dependent on and yet alienated by, like Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify. I like knowing who is behind the platform the same way fans like knowing who an artist truly is. That's exactly what Fanklub makes possible. 

4. Hypothetically, which artist's Fanklub would you join, if they had one? Why them?

It would be nice to support Gillian Welch simply out of gratitude for fundamentally changing my life with her music and giving me back the gift of country music. It would also be great to support Anais Mitchell and Bonnie "Prince" Billy. I admire their productivity and seemingly endless well of creativity. Such waters shouldn't be polluted with the need to submit to a market of any kind. 

5. Tell us one interesting fact about you that people do not know.

My first childhood memory was made in southeastern Florida on a pier out over the ocean near the beachfront where I was born. It was a pink dusk after a storm, and we were watching a space shuttle take off far up the coast. This thin cloud built itself over and over high into the sky until it disappeared. With my head tilted back, the wind came and blew off my favorite hat with a skateboarding Mickey Mouse on the front and I ran for it as it flew away from me past the railing into the waves. My mom caught me right before I jumped. 

6. Why did you decide to move to Europe? What is your favourite thing about Vienna and what do you miss most about the US?

The short answer is because of capitalism and city structures. I prefer living on a continent with countries that have social systems made to help their citizens live more fulfilling lives and not in a country where the main function of the government is to make people more exploitable. I also prefer to live in cities made for a human being with a human body and not for a car. America is a nation on four wheels. Living in a box, driving to a box, to work in a box and back. I live between Vienna, Germany, & the US. Each have their own flaws and draws. 

In Vienna, though dusty and dark, you are a bee in a hive. An organic piece buzzing in an organic whole. Germany's skepticism of nationalism and wannabe demagogues is great and might make it democracy's last hope. At the same time its stubbornness and predictability limit it. Even on the brink of collapse, the US still has Americans. Us/those curious creatures that Europeans contradictorily admire and look down upon for their enterprising optimism often mistaken (and sometimes rightfully so) for naivety. There are flashes of hopefulness there that I have not yet seen in Europe.

7. How has your move affected your music?

With four and half thousand miles between us, I was able to pick and choose what I liked about the cultural identity I had been born into. In doing so, I found country music, an art-form I had neglected because I thought it was some Republican bullshit as a teen but found it anew and wore the art-form like a badge when I freed it from that connotation in my mind. Most of my music isn't really country though. A lot of Europeans still think it is because they don't know what country is. 

It is what it is. Though the struggle and competition in America makes you better, on a practical level, living in countries where you don't have to drive ten hours from one venue to the next on tour, where many venues are governmentally subsidized and pay moderately fair wages for artists without large fanbases, and where musicians have affordable healthcare and don't have to work two or three side jobs to pay for medical bills all help make Europe a more hospitable place to live.

8. Name one song that always puts you in a great mood.

I'm never really in a great mood.

9. If you had to choose just one song out of your entire discography to play live at every concert going forward, which one would it be and why?

"Nero" - I've performed that song at nearly every concert I've played for the last fourteen years. It's soft and loud. Sweet and angry. There's a little bit of everything for everyone to relate to and I'm always able to believe it when I sing it. And I love singing it. I really get to scream my nostalgic destructive lament. It is a catharsis that my audience and I will always need.