Scott Fisher has just sent me an email, like he said he would in the half-hour interview we'd had over the phone the previous day. We talked mostly about his new EP, Sunnyslope Ave., but the two songs he's sent in this message have nothing to do with that. Rather, he wants me to listen to a charming bossa nova cut with French lyrics and a sludgy post-grunge song.
Why has this former stalwart of the Portland music scene (now living and working in L.A.) sent me music so far from the ambient indie pop found on his new album? Fisher is, you see, trying to show me what he's been doing in the four years since we last spoke, mostly because I keep asking why the hell he's taken so long to follow up 2007's excellent Step into the Future. The two songs are samples of the songwriting and producing he's been doing for television shows. That bossa nova thing? It could be heard in an episode of Brothers and Sisters and was also featured in a film. And the grungy rock cut was featured, as Fisher puts it, in "a vampire show"... of course.
So, I have my answer for why there hasn't been any original Scott Fisher music since Step into the Future, a jazzy funk-influenced record jammed full of pop nuggets that popped up over the last few years on TV shows like Parks and Recreation and Gossip Girl, leading to Fisher's current gigs. We have our answer: Fisher has been writing music for everyone other than himself, including what he calls "Nickelodeon girls," which I can only assume means performers along the lines of Rebecca Black.
The desire to make his own music, however, never did leave him. And recently, he's been thinking more and more about this.
"There's definitely a metaphysical crisis in the last few months in that department. For once in my life, I haven't been broke, so that's been good to have that stability," says Fisher. "Funny enough, though, it brought me back to make music like I used to."
The sound we hear on the new EP, Sunnyslope Ave., named after the street on which he lives in L.A. (in the house where he recorded the album) features a sound that hardly harkens back to the almost Jamiroquai jazziness of his last effort. This time, he's focusing on smaller, tighter, more deliberate sounds that focus less on Fisher's explosive piano chops and more on melodies.
"It had just been a couple years and my sensibilities had changed and [the sound on Sunnyslope] was what I was naturally feeling. It used to be that stuff was born out of a touring-in-a-van vibe and this is all built in my head," says the 35-year-old Fisher, who adds that he feels his musicality has matured over the past few years while writing and producing for other musicians.
He calls the tone of Sunnyslope as "melodic and hypnotic" which seems an apt description of the sort of Postal Service-esque vibe he evokes in this tightly produced (by Fisher) and mixed five-song EP. The songs are perfectly danceable, perhaps not as assertively so as the ones on Step into the Future, but Fisher has hardly lost the pop edge that seems to find its way into most, if not all, of his music. Live, he says, the new album should pair nicely with his older material, which he says he'll certainly be rolling out on the tour that brings him and his hand-picked band to Bend for a free show at McMenamins on November 9.
"When you're younger you still have that naïve sort of grandeur going," says Fisher with a laugh, adding that even with that said, he's far more conscious of the commercial value of his music these days.
So, what's next for a guy some thought had disappeared from the music scene after a successful and promising release four years ago? Fisher has plenty going on, including a record that includes what he calls "some of the best stuff we've ever done" and a seven-song reggae album. But whatever he comes up with next, he promises not to keep us waiting so long.
"This time, I'm not trying to wait three or four years between," he says.
7pm Wednesday, November 9. McMenamins Old St. Francis School,
700 NW Bond St. Free.