Jeremy Fisher's New Record, New Label, New World

"It's been a stroke of good luck, that 20-dollar video. I was just messing around my apartment with a camera and my laptop and I had some Plasticine. I've had a lot of bad experiences in the past making videos, spending a lot of money, and making videos that didn't really make any sort of artistic statement or have much merit on their own other than accompanying a single. I wanted to make something that was concept-based and from the heart."

- Dara Hakimzadeh
Photos by Sheila Busteed

posted July 12, 2007

Jeremy Fisher\'s New Record, New Label, New World

     If going 36 hours without sleep wasn't enough, Jeremy Fisher followed his mid-day performance on the MBNA stage at the Ottawa Bluesfest by signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans for over an hour before PlugInMusic.com caught up with him backstage in the food tent. He talked about his new record deal in the States, his new album and "Cigarettes."

     "They wanted to go in a different direction and I felt really strongly about the album I was making and so they let me go," he says when asked about the move from Sony-BMG Canada. "I'm really grateful for that."

     In June, New York's Wind-Up Records signed Fisher and will release Goodbye Blue Monday in the United States in August. The album is currently available in Canada through Aquarius Records.

     "I understand the jobs that they're put in. They have people breathing down their necks to get songs added to radio," says Fisher about the major labels. "They try to pre-empt what a radio programmer is going to say.

     "It just shows you how ridiculous the major labels are right now," he continues. "They've lost sight of what they're meant to do, which is make good music for people to buy, and they're trying to make the marketing plan before they make the record. It's backwards."

Jeremy Fisher

     Fisher said this behavior even rubbed off on him a bit, since he even tried to guess what Sony wanted.

     "I wrote and recorded a really poppy song that I wasn't really comfortable with," he says. "They came back and said, 'That's too poppy; that's not really you,' so then I said, 'Oh, I'm glad you feel that way.'"

     Fisher then wrote the songs that came to make up his most recent release, Goodbye Blue Monday.

     "They were like, 'Oh, we can't sell that. You need to keep writing,' and I thought, 'You don't even know what you want, so there's no way I can possibly please you," he says.

     "I don't think it would have worked out," he continues. "I'm not the kind of artist to sell the amount of records a major label needs to justify their expense accounts. It's probably better that we're not making this together, for both of us."

     But Juno award winner Hawksley Workman clearly saw something in the material, and signed on to work with Fisher on Goodbye Blue Monday at Signal Path Studios in Almonte, Ontario.

     "We had dinner, I went to one of his shows," says Fisher. "We met through our managers and got along like friends and I was a big fan of his work so I knew it would work out. I'm really proud of this album."

Jeremy Fisher

     Ironically, Fisher is gaining attention on the Internet for his first video for the album, "Cigarette," which should not be confused with Workman's "Jealous Of Your Cigarette." The video was conceived by Fisher and made at home.  It has already surpassed a million views on YouTube.

     "It's been doing wonders. It's been a stroke of good luck, that 20-dollar video," he says with a laugh. "I was just messing around my apartment with a camera and my laptop and I had some Plasticine.

     "I've had a lot of bad experiences in the past making videos, spending a lot of money, and making videos that didn't really make any sort of artistic statement or have much merit on their own other than accompanying a single," he continues. "I wanted to make something that was concept-based and from the heart."

     Fisher says he liked the idea of making a "cute cigarette" for which people could feel sympathy.

     "The song is not about smoking or cigarettes. I wanted to play with that, because I was getting a bit of flack for that from people. Smoking is a touchy subject," he says. "I don't really calculate anything; I just start playing around."

     Goodbye Blue Monday also has videos made by Fisher for "Jolene," which was featured at the Red Stick International Animation Festival in Louisiana, and "Scar That Never Heals."

     He says he would like "Scar That Never Heals" to be the next single, despite the fact he doesn't own a television, listen to commercial radio or read the paper.

     "I don't read the paper because it's always bad news and just makes me feel bad about myself and the world I live in, which is actually a beautiful place," says Fisher.

     While on tour and staying in a hotel room, Fisher caught the news of Rigoberto Alpizar, who was killed at Miami International Airport by federal air marshals in 2005 for allegedly having a bomb on the plane. The events inspired the song "Lay Down (Ballad Of Rigoberto Alpizar)."

     "I think it spoke to a greater tragedy in that country and maybe our country too. We live in a free democracy where we could still possibly be shot dead because we're behaving in a way that's deemed odd," he says. "It speaks to a certain ignorance about mental illness and a paranoia about our community, and we've done it to ourselves.

     "I feel just as badly for the men who shot him. They've got to live with that and they know that, even though they did the right thing, it was still the wrong thing," he continues. "It's pretty sad. I'm thirty years old now and I don't think the world was like this when I was a teenager. It's really changed a lot and the violence is so prevalent.

     "It's important that we pay attention to what we're doing and be a little happier and a little less violent."