When rising pop artist Sam Fischer moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music full-time, he would lie to his mom about how it was going. “I’d say, ‘Everything is good, I’ve got money and I’m killin’ it and have all these opportunities,’ but I was sleeping on couches and working as a delivery boy for an Australian meat pie shop,” he recalls.
But thanks to his emotional and all-too-relatable ballad, “This City,” which is about how L.A. nearly broke his spirit, Fischer is enjoying a career high — even if he has to experience it all from home, due to the ongoing pandemic. “I knew it was a special song, but it’s my little story and I was like, ‘Who cares?” he says. “But there’s a universal message in there.”
Now, he’s ready to prove that he’s not just “a TikTok viral moment” and is eager to share an upcoming project that has been in the works for the last four years, from when he got dropped by his first label through his recent signing with RCA. “It all feels like a freak accident to me,” he says. “I dreamed of the success that I’m having now, but if I’m really honest, I never thought it would be a reality.”
Sam Fischer grew up a couple hours outside of Sydney, Australia, driving an hour to and from school each day. “The only albums my dad had in his car were The Bodyguard soundtrack, by Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson’s History Pt. II, and a Sundance rock compilation album,” he recalls. At age seven, when his family moved to Sydney, Fischer — who played violin from a young age and later took up saxophone — gained interest in Destiny’s Child (The Writing’s On the Wall was one of the first albums he ever owned), K-Ci & JoJo, Donny Hathaway and Mariah Carey. “I was obsessed with them, and that’s all I listened to until I was about 15 — and I think that comes across in my phrasing now.” He later fell for storytellers like James Taylor, Carol King, John Mayer and Ed Sheeran, the lattermost of whom he calls “the best modern songwriter in the game.” Fischer’s musical upbringing led him to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he joined an a cappella group and solidified his dream of making it as a full-time musician.
After college, Fischer moved across the country to Los Angeles — but struggled mentally and career-wise. “I kept trying to change myself to find a version that would fit in with L.A.,” he recalls. “My mental health was just down the drain.” He ended up using those emotions to fuel a 2016 writing session, in which he came up with the lyrics for what became his breakout hit, “This City.” He says the track is a “diary entry” that chronicles just how hard of a time he was having; by that point, he had already been signed and dropped from a label, which he says felt much like “an awful breakup.” Fischer independently released “This City” at the top of 2018 to little buzz, but by March 2019 it unexpectedly went viral on TikTok. Three months later, Fischer was opening for Lewis Capaldi on tour and by the fall, RCA had direct-messaged him on Instagram asking to meet. “I was nervous to sign again because I didn’t have a good experience and was kind of disillusioned about the whole thing,” says Fischer. “I was nervous that I would get back into a situation that didn’t have my best interests at heart — but it was the opposite of what happened.” Fischer signed to RCA last December (as the U.S. label partner to Sony Music Entertainment UK) and this January, the label re-released “This City” on a three-track EP, Not a Hobby.
Fischer admits that since he started the year with a full-scale promotional tour, it was an “emotional adjustment” to have everything come to a “grinding halt” due to the coronavirus. Still, he stresses just how grateful he is to have a hit on his hands and an exciting trajectory ahead (since “This City” took off, everyone from Tamar Braxton to Jennifer Love Hewitt has DM’d him to express their fandom). “Despite it all happening during a pandemic, to achieve what the song has achieved and do what I’ve been able to do has just honestly been a dream come true,” he says. “I played my first TV show and my first festival from my living room — not many people can say that.” Looking ahead, he plans to release a project that’s not quite an EP and not quite an album sometime this summer. And though his opening gig for Niall Horan was postponed due to the pandemic, he’s anxious to tour as soon as he can, adding that he can’t wait “to play a song that the entire crowd knows.” Until then, he’s spending his time doing at-home photoshoots and the occasional Zoom writing session. “It might have taken 10 years to become an overnight success,” he says, “but those 10 years were full of intent and purpose. I worked really really hard to get here.”