ARTIST NAME: Sam Fishman
SONG TITLE: Voices Emerge
ALBUM TITLE: End of Time
In 2004, Sam was chosen to lead a percussion ensemble across Europe; performing contemporary percussion compositions.
Starting in 2006, Sam studied music at the University of Rochester where he pulled talent from both the River Campus and Eastman Conservatory to form various projects and recordings.
He was also the principal drummer for the U of R Jazz Ensemble.
It was during his time in Rochester that Sam honed his skills as a versatile drummer/bandleader performing reggae, jazz, hip hop, rock, and soul music.
Sam took on the role of performer and producer with his release of “Stained Glass and Technicolor Grooves”, featuring renowned jazz pianist Misha Piatigorsky.
Sam’s latest effort is a genre-bending experience known as “End Of Time.” Since its release in July 2018, the recording has received much praise from critics.
Tell us how you build up the tune for this song.
It’s all about being crafty. The song begins with some atmospheric effects behind a repeated rhythmic guitar phrase.
Next, the entire band kicks in (drums, bass, and more guitar layers) minus vocals. Leaving the vocals out at this part makes for an effective shift when the vocals come in on the first verse.
For me, everything in this song leads up to the guitar solo over a newly introduced chord progression. I wanted this part to be as cathartic and cinematic as possible.
Tell us the best means of becoming a famous artist and selling more records.
If I knew the answer to this then I would already be famous and selling more records! One thing that’s safe to say is there is no best way.
Tell us how fans are reacting to your music.
So far, from several reviews and blog posts, fans are enjoying this adventurous concept album.
Explain how to deal with fear on stage.
Luckily I’ve never experienced any real fear on stage. I do get butterflies every now and then, but it’s usually because I’m excited to show people what I can do!
Tell us your point of view on the quality of production of today’s songs to old songs and point out what you think has changed.
This is something I am quite passionate about. Quality of production has definitely gone way up, but unfortunately, this has created a school of thought that strives for perfect-sounding songs.
When your song sounds too perfect, it loses dynamics and feeling.
Music, in my opinion, should be felt. There is perfection in imperfection.
Drums on many new rock recordings sound bland and lifeless.
Luckily, there are still many bands that want to keep the drums dynamic and natural sounding.
If you go back and listen to Motown records, you can really feel the groove with the band. The recordings may not be very loud or perfect sounding, but the vibe is there. For me, it’s all about that vibe and the material itself.”
Tell us an interesting experience in your music career that is significant.
I remember being in the studio on a couple of occasions where the producer was telling me exactly what to play on the drums. I mean, exactly.
There was no room for me to improvise or really feel the vibe of the song. This was significant for me, to be exposed to such a narrow-minded way of producing. It was because of this experience that I knew what not to do as a producer.
There must always be some wiggle room for musicians so they can be empowered to let their personalities shine through.
Tell us how you come across the lyrics of this song.
Ryan Acquaotta, the singer and lyricist of this song says it best…This song is a little ambiguous I guess. I was playing with the thrill of escapism, of the feeling of potential in dropping everything and getting away from what may feel like it’s dragging me down. That tends to be my first reaction to stress, is “I’m done. I quit. F*ck this…”
But I think that reaction is in fact quite dangerous, and what can initially feel like an ascent into freedom turns out to be momentary. What goes up must come down.
Usually, I’m best served if I take a little while, spend some time sitting in meditation or walking in nature. Give myself a little time and space to quiet my brain and heart down, and listen to what’s really going on inside of me. Then I can usually see what I actually need to do, and it’s rarely run away from everything.
Tell us your best means of expressing yourself.
Performing on the drums allows me to express myself fully. In a jazz setting, there is a lot of room for improvisation so I’m able to really let go and get creative.
Having a one on one conversation is another means to express myself. When talking with someone you can open up to, the words just flow and you can really open up about what you’re feeling and thinking. This is really important.
Producing new projects is also a great means to express my creativity. I enjoy telling stories and using music/voice actors to do it.
I’m always looking to create something that feels fun and new, and a bit quirky for sure. Why be like everyone else? Stand out!
Tell us your opinion on using music to deliberate on issues affecting people like corruption, immoralities, politics, and religion.
Using music to deliberate on social issues is great! However, there is a fine line for me. The lyrics should add to the music, not take away.
I’ve been in certain situations where the lyrics actually got too political and harsh, ruining the song as a whole. Say what you need to say and make a statement, but do it so it brings the music to a new level.
Discuss how you plan to create a piece of timeless music that your fans can cherish forever.
This is definitely my goal. I would not want to create music that loses relevancy after only a few months. (Unfortunately, this is a trend in a lot of mainstream music).
The production needs to feel organic, and the lyrics need to deal with issues that have been ongoing for many years and will continue to be in the public discourse.
I always use Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon as an example of timeless music. The album came out in the ’70s and is still considered one of the best albums of all time.
Concept albums feel timeless. They really tell a story and create an experience.
Timeless music is unique. It has a lot of heart and is not trying to follow any trends.
My newest production is in the style of a sci-fi B movie and follows some traditions that have been around for many decades. This is perhaps what makes music timeless, following in the tradition that came before.”
List the names of individuals you can point out as legends and state your reasons.
Bob Marley. Still known by so many up-and-coming generations. His legacy continues to live on.
Miles Davis. A jazz pioneer, his album ‘Kind of Blue’ is a classic and a staple of all jazz listening.
Tell us your viewpoint on discriminating.
It’s wrong to discriminate!
Tell us your favorite books and state your reason.
Cat’s Cradle is my favorite book. The story compares and contrasts science and religion in a brilliant way. I’ve never been so intrigued by reading this book.
Tell us what triggers your creativity.
The artwork is one thing that triggers my creativity. Simply looking at a painting that speaks to me will often trigger an idea for a song or album.
Collaboration is another trigger for me. When you can find the right people to work with, a free exchange of ideas can flow and you never know what you’ll end up with.
A third trigger is observing human tendencies. Patterns of behavior will spark ideas for social commentary.
There are also times where I’m just in an open state of mind and allowing ideas to come to me.
I always feel that I am simply a vessel for ideas to flow through and it’s up to me to latch onto the ones that I feel are meant for my undertaking.
Tell us how you generate musical ideas for your composition.
For my latest project, I would sit down with my guitarist for four hours at a time and we would just try things out. That’s it!
There’s a lot of back and forth, and it all comes down to decision making. “Do you like this riff?” “Yes?” “Ok, let’s build on it.”
One exercise I like to use is to create the form of the song before any music is actually shared.
Try adding in chords, riffs for each section and make them flow together once the form is decided. It’s a big musical puzzle!
Tell us your greatest song and state the reason.
Well, the most recognized song is “Stolen Lives.” It was a finalist at the USA Songwriting Competition.
Tell us how you compose your song.
“Voices Emerge” was composed as an instrumental first with Kurt Wubbenhorst.
The instrumental was then sent to Ryan Acquaotta and he wrote the lyrics and melodies.
After that, I had Alex Goldenthal lay down a sick guitar solo, followed by an orchestral arrangement by Brandon Campbell out in Los Angeles.
There are also vocals by the Bergen Academies Chamber Choir and Christine Nevill. It’s a big collaboration.
Elaborate on the song.
This song has such a cinematic feel to it. It starts as ambient rock and roll, turns into a cinematic and cathartic hard rock song, and then transforms into a beautiful orchestral theme. There’s a lot going on for seven minutes!
Elaborate on your artist name and the title of the album.
Natural Drummer LLC is actually the name of my production company.
As an artist, I am Sam Fishman.
The album title “End of Time” is dark in its meaning. Texting while driving, depression, escapism, mass incarceration…these are all themes on the album, so it feels as if time is nearing its end and may stop at any moment. Yikes!
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