Dance

How Fisher's 'Losing It' Became One of the Biggest Dance Hits of the Decade

Fisher
Arman Salari

Fisher plays in Los Angeles

Dropping in 2018, the Australian producer's massive tech-house crossover represented a sea change in dance world trends.

Fisher’s "Losing It" is more than just a festival banger you can’t escape - it’s one of the decade’s biggest dance music success stories, period. With a sound that defies the usual pop crossover tactics, the 2018 track became the unlikeliest of hits, signalling the wider dance scene's evolution away from mainstage EDM and towards house, techno and tech-house.

So how did this air horn-blaring tune from a little-known Aussie producer explode from the tech-house scene to viral fame? Let’s find out.

The Before

In mid-2017, former pro surfer Paul Fisher decided to leave the DJ duo Cut Snake and strike out on his own.

His simple mission, as described to Australia’s triple j radio, was to make “good tech-house music that DJs in that scene love to play.” In that pursuit, he epitomized the Australian ‘larrikin’ archetype: serious about music, but outrageous on stage and social media.

Dirtybird boss Claude VonStroke was an early convert to the Fisher swagger, signing the producer’s solo debut single, "Ya Kidding." A bass-led tech-house tune in the Dirtybird mold, "Ya Kidding" hit its intended mark with DJs like Claptone and Erick Morillo. Its follow-ups, "Stop It" and "Ya Didn’t," blew up Holy Ship! in January 2018 -- when Fisher’s name was still in small print.

Then came the breakneck "Crowd Control," which launched Fisher’s first major U.S. tour in the spring of 2018. (It would also be his last outing with Dirtybird.)

By now, Fisher was tight with British DJ and producer Chris Lake, who remains a close friend and sparring partner to this day, with the duo playing B2B sets on the regular. “Me and Lakey are super tight,” Fisher tells Billboard Dance. “We’re both very different: basically I’m a liability, and he’s the lawyer.”

The Coachella Moment

Midway through his Crowd Control tour, Fisher arrived in Coachella’s DoLab tent for a 75-minute slot ahead of his buddy Lake. It was a scorching Saturday afternoon, and the vibes were high -- perfect conditions, Fisher thought, for unveiling his recently completed secret weapon called “Losing It.”

“I had no doubt that it was going to do some damage,” he says, “I just needed to test it out first.”

“We were onstage with [Fisher], and he turned around and just said, ‘Watch this,'” recalls Listen Up partner James Mack, who runs the DJ’s PR. Knowing what we had, Fisher asked a friend to film the crowd’s response, then later uploaded the video to Facebook. It ignited online.

“I’ve not seen that reaction from a first-ever play of a record in a long time,” Mack says.

Fisher himself could see a big future for his DoLab debut: “‘Losing It’ is bold, it’s fun, it’s in the moment - it's the gallop into war.”

Corey Wilson
Fisher plays Coachella 2019.

"Losing It" Goes Legit

“Basically every single DJ and label under the sun hit me up for 'Losing It,'” Fisher recalls of the post-Coachella glow. By the second weekend, he’d moved up to the festival's prestigious and club music-oriented Yuma tent.

In July 2018, he released "Losing It" on his new label Catch & Release, in collaboration with Australia’s etcetc label and Insomniac Music Group in the U.S. Its impact was immediate.

“We just wanted ‘Losing It’ to stream more than Fisher’s past releases,” says Insomniac Music Group GM Greg Mateo. “But when a tech-house track with barely any vocals is getting 100,000-plus streams a day, something’s working."

The major labels came calling. “You had majors saying it was the next ‘Animals,'” says Insomniac Music Group label manager Joe Wiseman, referencing Martin Garrix’s 2013 breakout. Universal Music Group’s dance imprint Astralwerks won the "Losing It" war, coming on board to lead its U.S. radio strategy while London’s Good Company Records handled the UK and Europe push.

Summer Rising

Within weeks of its initial release, "Losing It" had crossed over from tech-house circles to the sets of A-list DJs Hardwell, Alison Wonderland and Tiësto at Ultra Europe and Tomorrowland. But it wasn’t just big names playing it: the track hit No. 1 on DJ download store Beatport, where it reigned for 21 weeks. Propelled by its play in Ibiza, "Losing It" entered Shazam’s Global Chart in August 2018, where it continued to rise over the next 12 months.

Going Mainstream

With Astralwerks and Good Company Records behind it, "Losing It" began to, as Insomniac’s Mateo says, “permeate popular culture.” Good Company Records founder Anton Partridge led the crossover campaign in the U.K., including the viral ‘airhorn’ challenge on BBC Radio 1. “People knew the track without having ever seen Fisher live, which is very rare in the dance world,” Mateo adds.

Clocking 140 million Spotify plays to date, "Losing It" hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart after a 17-week climb and picked up a 2019 Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording. While it didn’t go on to win, the Grammy nod was vindication for Team Fisher. “We submitted it last August as a Hail Mary,” Mateo says. “We lost our minds when we saw the nominations -- it’s just so different from the other songs in that category.”

Indeed, the track was different from a lot of dance world hits period. While maximalist EDM popularized by the likes of Avicii, Skrillex and Swedish House Mafia ruled the first part of the decade, before pop influenced dance music by artists like Jack Ü, Marshmello and The Chainsmokers came to prevail later on, "Losing It" represented the dance scene's shift away from the mainstage bangers that powered the EDM boom and towards house, techno, tech-house and other such club-oriented sounds. At the close of the decade, EDM continues to cool while such "underground" genres have come to rule the electronic scene in clubs, festivals and across streaming services. 

“I don’t write these tracks to top the charts,” Fisher adds. “I write them to rip the crowd’s heads off. Everything after that is just a big old bonus.”

Dylan Villareal
Fisher at Austin City Limits 2019.

Life After ‘Losing It’

"Losing It" remained unstoppable in 2019, rinsed and remixed everywhere from neighborhood gyms to the Tomorrowland main stage. It closed out this summer as the third most-Shazamed dance track in Ibiza, more than a year after its release.

Fisher’s gigs has accelerated in turn: he upsized to the vast Sahara stage at Coachella 2019 and is among the boldface names on next year’s Ultra Miami lineup. His follow-up tune, the raucous and soulful tech-house banger "You Little Beauty" -- which Fisher actually produced well before "Losing It" but had to wait to release until the song's sample of Loleatta Holloway's 1980 disco hit "Love Sensation" was cleared -- also powered to No. 1 on the Dance Club Songs chart. Meanwhile, Catch & Release backed Martin Ikin’s "Hooked" as its first non-Fisher signing.

“We get a lot of demos now in the same vein,” says Insomniac Music Group’s Wiseman, “but no one can go into a studio hoping to make the next ‘Losing It’.”

So how long can Fisher imagine playing "Losing It" in his sets? “For-f--king-ever,” he says. “Just seeing people’s reactions when that track comes on -- the roars are still as big as when I first dropped it.”