BEN FISHER: "Pick up a book and read!"
Interview by Carl Marsh
All songwriters have a message to say in their songs, but what message would you like to say here in this interview?
If I could send a message to my fans, I would tell them to be a product of their decisions rather than their circumstances. We all experience different dynamics that can easily influence who we become. Learn from your environment, but don’t let it make you. Make yourself.
I believe that it is important for people, and especially young people, should read more, do you agree with this, and was it something instilled in you as a child?
Growing up, Mom and Dad had their differences, but one of the few congruent messages they gave me as a kid was to read more. I wish I listened. It is so crucial for young people to read. I believe that reading enhances one’s writing ability, and in my own experience, reading even increased my overall capacity for creativity. I recorded some of my earliest music when I was 17, and around this time I began to read some great novels. After reading great novels like George Orwell’s “1984,” my song writing improved significantly.
I sense that "1984" means a lot to you, perhaps it being your favourite book, what does it mean to you?
“1984” is my favourite book, because it has inspired so much of my music. An appearance vs. reality complex is a core theme in this classic by Orwell, and you can clearly see this theme reoccurring in much of my music from the last 2 years. Songs of mine such as “Live Free,” “Pledge Allegiance,” and many more are so closely connected to the inspiration I took away from “1984” that I might owe Orwell a cheque.
To show you what I mean, here are some lyrics from my song “Live Free.”
“They try to teach me to be proud to be American, land of the free, home of the brave,
but are we really man?
And I’ma say it once more, are we really man?
Cause all I see is oppression and fear in us man, systematic oppression its Orwellian.
1984, might be the way we living in 2024.
Power to the proletariat I’m hoping for,
And you can put it on the line or hide behind your door
Don’t clip my wings, you let a bird soar.”
So, kids out there, pick up a book and read!
Now knowing that reading is an escape for you, I guess you must have been reading something recently, so was it a good read?
Yes, I have. I recently read “Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich. Definitely a great read. It’s about a woman who goes undercover with no money to work 9 to 5 jobs for minimum wage and see if she can make it. It’s a real-life account that ultimately is a simulation serving to test the American Dream. The author, Barbara Ehrenreich is attempting to answer whether you can come to this country with nothing and make it. Is the American Dream alive? I don’t want to give it away, but I felt the American Dream was broken before I picked up this book. That hasn’t changed after reading.
Would you consider writing a book yourself one day?
Absolutely! I would be interested in writing a book one day, and actually I have been thinking about this for some time now. I have something halfway in the works that I’m excited about.
If I could get back to music, if you could perform with any musician or band, who would you choose, and why?
Tough question to answer, but If I could choose one, it would be Andre 3000 of Outkast. The man has an incredible energy on stage, and his music is some of my personal favourite stuff.
How did you get into singing, was it something you planned from the start or was it something that just happened by chance?
Getting into music and really pushing it out there was half a conscious effort, and half of it just naturally fell into place. The interest in music and hip-hop has been there forever, so fooling around writing songs and recording them with my friends at a young age was bound to happen. There was a point when I was about 17, when I realised that I could actually do this for real. I had all the tools to market myself, record my music, and get it out there. I decided at 17 that it’s worth it to do everything in my power to turn this dream into a reality, and that’s what I continue to do every day.
Do you have any advice to anyone considering singing as a career choice?
Make music for yourself. That’s the first step. When you’re writing songs, tell your story, touch on what really keeps you going, and what you’re breathing this air for. If you’re doing it for anyone or anything else other than yourself, than the music won’t be authentic. Whenever you have writer’s block, go out and experience life. The best music comes from real experiences, so, whenever I’m lacking inspiration for my lyrics, I go out and live and take risks and do some crazy things at times, but I never regret any of it. Do that enough and you’ll have plenty of meaningful substance to write on. Also, read up or try to educate yourself in whatever way available to you about the music business. Be able to market yourself, be social media savvy, be hungry, hunger is just a form of ambition.
What will the next 12 months hold for you?
The next 12 months will include a ton of music, hard work, college by day and amazing experiences with the people I love most by night, and if I’m fortunate enough, I’ll find myself in some crazy unpredictable situation I couldn’t see coming.
I get from talking to you that you a deep thinker, so this last question, I expect a strong reply, so... If you were an animal, what would it be, and why?
I would be a young gorilla who is the product of an awful situation. Maybe he loses his parents at a young age, or doesn’t have the love as a child that he needs, but regardless, it forces the young gorilla to go on a coming of age journey to really find himself and understand his purpose, and how to be happy. The young gorilla comes back as a young man gorilla on a mission to spread what he’s learned about the universe. Why?..... Because I envisage that young gorilla as me.