“Featuring Fisher” – Our Chat With The EDM Goddess.

“Fisher” was formed when a blonde Jewish piano player from Los Angeles was introduced to a left-wing singer from the backwoods of West Virginia.  Also known as Ron and Kathy, they have gone from a touring pop duo, to a successful television series and video game composer, and an EDM Goddess.

Fisher was the first band to ever make a million dollars from people downloading an MP3 of their song “I will Love You”. They even performed that song in front of the German Chancellor and Parliament. This is the kind of thing Mozart had to deal with, and it happens even today. They have released several albums, coming in and out of hiatus after the birth of their son. Kathy has been heard over and over in more commercials than you can count, and her sensual vocals and Ron’s melodic writing have been in multiple successful Electric Dance Music releases. Just type in “Featuring Fisher” and you will have more to sample from then an afternoon will give you.

Kathy has a unique voice that was clearly not “Pure Pop” nor was it “Alternative”, though she was big in both circles in the late ‘90s to early 2000s. Clearly the young LGBTQ people who are the better demo-graph of EDM will agree, she is singing exactly where she belongs. Her voice is smooth, polished, and will grab the strings of your feelings and pull out your emotions with “I Will Love You” as Kate Bush did with “This Woman’s Work” (YES I DID REALLY SAY THAT). She has a mind that jumps from one interesting subject to another, no filter, and a very sharp wit.

I first met them first when they opened the Earth Day Festival in Boston 2001. I was in my kilt and in the front row, she said over the whole PA system “I LOVE THE KILT”.  They signed my CD of “True North” and I told them how I got into them. Having dumped my Fiance, and she gave me a CD of several songs, two of them were Fisher. I told Kathy I was never going back to her, but I wanted to marry the woman who sang “I Will Love You”. She said “I LOVE HER FOR THAT!!!” Then Ron said pokerfaced, “I’m her husband, You’re TOO LATE”.

Here are some excerpts of the interview or should I say our last communication as it was not so much an interview, but a catching up with old friends. We had been in touch via Email, and bantering on Facebook, but we hadn’t spoken since early 2003 and the interview picked up exactly where we left off.


JH: So Kathy, How have things been? It’s been a minute since Boston (a couple gigs). Do you miss touring?

Kathy Fisher: I’ll say!  NO to the touring…the whole on the road, and worrying about ticket sales, stress of touring… YES to performing. Now I do commercials, and voice overs, and support and mentor young artists. Keeps me very busy and creative, but also, home -so I can actually raise my son instead of hiring a nanny and hitting the road.


So then, that last time I saw you in Boston is the end of seeing you live? Remember that night, when I heckled you to play “Anyway” and you had that Austrian kid from MIT playing drums?

Oh God your memory is fantastic. YES that’s probably the last time to see “Fisher” live, but I have been doing the EDM circuit for the past 14 years, it’s gotten my voice out there, I’m on so many compilations and singles. The big ones have been George Acosta, Paul Van Dyk, Sean Tyas, Karanda… so many great people!


 

 

This is a far cry from singing “I Will Love you” in front of 30 thousand people in Boston, opening for the Cowboy Junkies and Blues Traveler. So I’ll have to get on the guest list for a “Featuring Fisher” gig?

Absolutely, but the gigs are not as common, nothing like a tour. So what are you doing? You brought me into this, discussing issues as a musician for an LGBT Magazine, what else are you doing?


Well, I am one of the photographers for the LoveLoud foundation in Utah, founded by the singer for Imagine Dragons Dan Reynolds, he is hoping to bring an end to the LGBT suicides in Utah. I do a lot of work locally, but I do them for free, just cause of my support for the whole thing.

Yeah? That is wonderful, I can only imagine how oppressive it is in Utah over this. I wish I could just say to them, hold on, it will get better, one day, you can leave Utah, and find a place where it doesn’t matter, and you will be loved, I promise there are places where you can find real love. I’ll say that to anyone in a small town situation, so ass-backwards. You can really make it, you just need to hang on, it is worth it.


Any examples, I’m sure you have plenty. Have you worked with the “at risk” kids, or people in general?

I have been a supporter of the movement my whole life. As a quirky artsy girl growing up in West Virginia, I had a safe haven for my gay friends in the Misfits Club in high school, of which I was president!

When I moved to Los Angeles, I got involved with AIDS Walk LA, which I believe I did it three times and the AIDS Dance-athon, which I participated in twice. When I moved to Camarillo in 2006, I started to perform as a worship singer in what I thought was a progressive Christian church. Unfortunately, their open mindedness was only about tattoos and piercings being okay…but they said that being gay was a choice, and were against gay marriage and transgender reassignment surgery. I had developed really close relationships in that church, but I could not in good conscience continue to be a leader at a church where so many of my friends were not only not welcome, even though they pretended that they were, but were look down upon and not given their full rights as human beings.

I had a couple young Fisher fans reach out to me who weren’t out of the closet yet. Ron and I met one teenage boy in particular before show in Chicago and created a very close bond with him. We kept in touch and encouraged him to be his true self. He was, and is, musically gifted, so we encouraged him in that way as well. When we had our recording studio in the mountains, we invited him out to write with us and just spend some time giving him support.

Anytime a transgender fan wrote to us, we always made the time to write back, send encouragement, and create a bond so that they knew they could always count on Fisher for love and support.


Well, your music, and voice do pull the heart strings. You are able to grab emotions, and relay them well. Even for us boring straight guys who ended up having the band at my wedding play your songs. So, that should say something. Who else have you touched like that? Clearly you have ripped my heart out a few times.

I’ve met a lot of LGBT people through my early years in theatre, as well as through music. But my most personal story started less than 500 feet from my front door, when I met a gorgeous, sweet, kind 9-year old boy named “Hunter”. I sensed very early on that he was gay…i.e. when I asked his dad what he was getting Hunter for Christmas, he said that Hunter had requested the replica of the necklace from “Titanic”. I would see Hunter off and on, until he was about 11. That is when his father encouraged him to meet with me to work on music as Hunter was learning to write and record with Garage Band. He’d come over and show me how Garage Band works, we talked about song structure, lyrics, and how he envisioned himself as an artist. Every time he came over, he’d be excited to tell me about an artist he was obsessed with…and they were always female…Lady Gaga, Lorde, Joni Mitchell…His voice had more of a John Mayer sound to it, but he couldn’t define what direction he saw himself going in as an artist.

We met off and on until he was about 15 or so, always chatting away like two teenaged girls, even though I am old enough to be his mom. It was exciting to see his growth as a singer and an artist. Then, at around the age of 16, Hunter came out as gay. It was no surprise to any of us around him, and he seemed very confident to come out to his friends and his school. Aside from playing with different “looks” (bleaching his hair; shaving off his eyebrows and showing up at school in trench coats), it seemed like he was on a positive path as an out gay male. HOWEVER, he was showing clear signs of anorexia…and I couldn’t figure out how such a supported, loved, “confident” gay man would be so internally conflicted as to feel the need to hurt himself. And then, it happened…Hunter declared that he is NOT a gay man, but a woman, trapped in a man’s body. It made SO much sense….and yet, the thought of “losing” Hunter to reassignment surgery made me sad…as if Hunter was going to die. But I had to put that fear aside and give him nothing but my full support.

While she was going through her transition, Hunter, now Ella, and I continued to write and record. But that stopped when she made the decision to go to South Korea and have surgery on her vocal chords to make her sound more feminine. It was very sad for me to know that she may completely destroy her beautiful “John Mayer” voice, but I understood why she needed to do what she wanted to do….The times that I was most apt to accidentally say “He” or “Hunter” was when we were on the phone…no visual to stir my brain toward the proper pronoun. So, once again, I was sad that Hunters voice was going to “die”, but I had to put THAT fear aside and give her nothing but my full support.

The most profound moment happened about 6 months after Ella’s vocal surgery…We were in my home studio, reviewing some of the old demos she had recorded as “Hunter”….and she started to sing along as a women…with her former male self. It was mind-blowing. Her new voice is still finding itself, so she is currently focusing on poetry and novels. We still keep in touch, and she will always be my “bonus niece.”


That’s quite a story.  Your support probably meant an immeasurable amount for her, I hope she had you on her list, with Gaga, etc., ‘cause that’s where I think you belong as a vocalist. I mean, I thought it, and played your music enough to a friend, and at the end of it, when I asked him to say who you reminded him of, what quality you had, and he came back with Kate Bush.

You’re too kind, but … I’ll take that.


 

 

So, in Hollywood, or just over all, where do you see the “straight allies” being able to make a difference, especially where it’s all gone lately?

WE need more heterosexual advocates, and we need the community to be represented more broadly in the media.  People in a small town in the Midwest who only see footage of a West Hollywood Halloween parade are only seeing a tiny corner of the big picture.  While seeing bikers in assless chaps is entertaining, it certainly doesn’t represent my gay friend Cathy -pharmacist with a wife, two kids, two dogs and a herd of cows.


Cows? Cows… Right. Ehm… at the LoveLoud festival, Tim Cook from Apple spoke. I shook his hand and that was it, nice guy, slightly dorky, but had quite a message. I hope that carried a lot for the success idea. I mean, he is the CEO of the single most successful consumer electronics company in the world.

Yes, CEO of Apple does say a lot for success, but on the ground for you and me, it’s hard to know how to support, and represent any idea. An example is the “FUCK HATE” campaign, I felt misrepresented in that. Because it was aggressive, in your face, it was not productive. It might feel good, but it’s not going to impress or positively engage a lifelong homophobe.

It comes back to people being reasonable, people who care on both sides, and willing to accept and learn, down the journey, you don’t have to be there, you have to be willing to find out what we all want.

One situation, where it could have escalated, Ella had to be very reasonable here. She was on Caitlyn Jenner’s television show and some guy started trashing her and the whole thing on Twitter. Instead of flaming him, she defused it. She said “Well, why don’t you reach out and talk to me directly” and he did.

They talked for a long time, and found commonality. It was hard, but she needed to defuse it, there was nothing good that could have come from her getting mean, and emotionally charged and trashing this guy. She took the high ground, found some commonality, and did some real good there. That’s the only way I see this progressing, is everyone being patient and smart in these situations. Aggressively venting is not going to win this thing, for anyone, though it feels good and justified in the moment. That being said, I am guilty as charged for blowing up in unproductive ways throughout my life.  Each time that has happened, I’ve caused more damage than change and killed relationships along the way.


Wow, so great wisdom, and a fantastic voice, the world needs to hear more of, and from you.

Thank you.


 

 

So, real quick on the note of your “touring band” songs, ‘cause everyone is going to go listen to “I Will Love You” and some others. What can you tell me they are about?

Well, “I Will Love You,” that was heavy. Infinity scares me, and that is what it was about. “’Til my body is dust, and my soul is no more,”, that is where the idea of infinity takes over. That’s so “final”.

And the lyrics “’Til the storms fill my eyes, and we touch the last time, I will love you,” that is about Alzheimer’s, and your failing mind, watching someone so close to you fade, and eventually die, you are still there and love them.


That is so heavy, still heavy, after almost 20 years even it’s that heavy. So, any last pieces of advice or wisdom, to the religious or non, where the world can take this?

I think that right now, to everyone, look beyond what you have been told, find what belief really captures your heart. If a religion says everything that is good about you gets canceled out, based on your sexuality, that is clearly not the idea of a pure and loving God, so keep looking.


Oh, hey, I grew up thinking all aspects of my sexuality were wrong, and I’m straight. I just had a serious fetish for Belinda Carlisle… still do… I totally agree with that, Kathy.

Oh, hell, Jeremy, the Mormon church should send Belinda Carlisle a huge bouquet of flowers, and a big “THANK YOU” for re-enforcing the heterosexuality of all those 12-year old boys like you!


OH GOD I LOVE YOU KATHY (I’m really laughing hard right now) Thanks for the convo.

Anytime….


fishertheband.com  –  twitter.com/fishertheband  –  facebook.com/fishertheband


About the Author: Jeremy “Jacques” Hinks

An indie GONZO music journalist in Salt Lake City, and an Anarchist behind the Zion Curtain. Jeremy Hinks is an obnoxious Type-A Male, who is embarrassingly straight and a staunch LGBTQ Ally with little tact, and a big heart. He has supported his LGBTQ friends since he was a teenager.

He has photographed on multiple tours U2, The English Beat, Peter Hook & The Light, and is somehow making a name for himself photographing Pink Floyd Tribute bands, The Australian Pink Floyd Show, Britfloyd, Dead Floyd. He is one of the photographers for the LOVELOUD Foundation in Utah, an organization to bring awareness and support for the young LGBT community in Utah, and to bring an end to the epidemic of suicides there.  

He also drives a Vespa, and wears kilts, is rarely seen wearing pants, should be considered armed and dangerous, so do not approach without extreme caution.

What do you think?