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Veröffentlicht am 31.03.2010 | von Dominik

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WILLIAM FITZSIMMONS – Interview

William Fitzsimmons is one of the oddest people you will ever meet“, ist der erste Satz der Biographie von William Fitzsimmons und wahrlich verbirgt sich hinter dem großen Amerikaner weitaus mehr als ein großer Bart: Ein großer Songwriter und einer der nettesten Interview-Partner, den man sich vorstellen kann – was unter anderem an seiner Ehrlichkeit liegt. Also logisch, dass wir William gebeten haben sich unseren Fragen anzunehmen – was er mit großer Ausdauer getan hat. Was dabei herauskam gibt es jetzt hier zu lesen. Weiterhin wollen wir noch mal an unser Akustik-Set mit William erinnern und auch daran, dass man ihn Ende Mai (um genau zu sein am 25.05.) im Mousonturm in Frankfurt wieder live sehen kann!

Name: William Fitzsimmons
Residence: Jacksonville, IL, USA
Current album: The Sparrow and The Crow

– How did you first come in contact with music?
Music was always around, from the moment I was born. My parents educated me with music from the very beginning and used it as a way for our family to communicate and connect, especially because of their disability (they are both blind); it was a way for us to speak to each other that didn’t require sight.

– What was the first instrument you could play, with which age?
My mother sat me down at the piano from a very young age, probably 3 or 4, but at that point I’m certain I was just banging on the keys like most children would. Once I was a little bit older, though, perhaps 6 or so, I was taking lessons and learning organ as well.

– What influence did your parents have to your music style?
Nearly my entire musical knowledge and education came from my parents and living in the household I was raised in. I owe all of my abilities to them. From the folk and classical records they played, to the music we played together as a family, they gave me the desire to play and improve daily.

– Would you say that you have another contact to sound and music because your parents are blind? How would you describe it?
Music to me isn’t something just meant for entertainment, or enjoyment, or background listening. Music is a language in and of itself, and it’s the most powerful and meaningful language humans can speak. I have always understood melodies to be able to communicate feelings and ideas in situations where words fall short. That all came from my parents, and us as a family needing to find a way to get along and understand each other without working eyes, or light, or the normal activities other families would take part in. I know that makes me somewhat strange probably, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

– You studied mental health? What influence can music have on ones mind?
Music is a powerful tool. It can be an agent of healing, but I think it can also be a drug. It really depends on how a person uses it. When we go to music as a way to release emotions, or understand ourselves or others, I think it can be an amazing way to gain some wisdom. But I know of many, and I’m guilty of it myself, who use music as a way to numb feelings, or ignore wisdom. The power that it has definitely needs to be respected.

– As you’re singing mainly about things that are sad and maybe have a weight on you? how would you describe the importance of making music for yourself? Like a therapy?
I suppose I started writing for that reason, to get some shit out of me that I was sick of dealing with. I definitely was only looking inward from the beginning. I’m trying to become the type of writer that can look elsewhere, to other stories as well. But up till this point, I thought it made more sense to deal with my own struggles first, then try to handle external things. But yes, music has been therapeutic for me. I think I’ve also let it bring some very dark things into my life as well, some awful choices. But that’s more about my own shit than music I guess.

– How did music then change from a hobby to composing your own songs for your first CD?
I wrote my first songs as an exercise while I was finishing up my graduate degree in mental health counseling, and by the time I finished recorded them, I thought it might be fun to put them online to let my friends and family hear them as well. After a little while, I had more and more people writing me and asking for the music, and I didn’t really know what to make of it. I was never trying to be a professional or anything, but I was very fortunate that enough people seemed to connect with it so strongly that they wanted to share it with other people. Over time people just kept passing it along to their friends, and by the time I was practicing therapy on my own, several TV shows were using the songs. But it really started out with those first fans sharing it with their friends and spreading it around.

– You first recorded your debut for yourself, how did it come that it was released afterwards?
Once I was finished with school and working on my own, I had to make the decision whether I wanted to continue down the path of therapy, which I had worked towards for years, or take up music full-time. I already had a job and a plan and I was doing what I always wanted to. Once I finally did make the choice to take on music, I thought it would make sense to make the songs available for people that wanted them. At that point I was completely on my own, no label, managers, and so forth. So I started out just selling them out of my house and sending them to people that wanted them.

– Why did you return to study after making your first CD?
That choice to leave Psychiatry was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do, and even after I started recording songs, I hadn’t yet given up the idea of leaving my profession behind. It was something I worked very hard to achieve, so I thought it would be irresponsible and a waste to just abandon it. I felt I was always meant to be a therapist.

– How did it then come to your second CD?
The personal relief I felt once I began writing songs was a very addictive thing for me; it still is really. The „Goodnight“ record was about taking the time to process all the horrible things that happened to and in my family, and I wanted to finally be done with all that and be able to move on from it. But at that point it was still about finding a way to deal with my past, and not about writing hit songs or something.

– While the first two records were about you growing up and your parents, „The Sparrow & The Crow“ is even more about you. Did that change a lot for you?
I’ve always looked at my writing as a personal experience, but I suppose I never was completely honest with it at the beginning and I felt it was only appropriate to hold back some things. But with „Sparrow,“ because it was about speaking to my ex-wife and about confessing everything I fucked up, I needed it to be as personal and disclosing as possible. If anything changed I gave up the idea of holding anything back and just told the whole story as it really was. That was the only thing that felt right.

– What is the record about?
That record is the story of how I completely fucked up my life and my marriage, and my pleading for forgiveness from my wife whom I wronged. Nothing more and nothing less than that. I don’t say it that simply to be insensitive or crude, it’s just the truth.

– Why did you for that record work with a producer for the first time?
„Sparrow“ was too important for me personally to take the chance that I might not get it absolutely right. I wanted it to be as clear and good as it possibly could be, and doing it all again completely by myself was too much of a risk. The other issue was knowing that with the previous records, I had to devote so much time to engineering, mixing, producing and so forth, that I wasn’t able to just focus on being clear and creative. And I wanted the space to sing and arrange the songs and not worry about microphones, or improving the acoustic treatment of the room; all those things that made me crazy for the first two albums.

– How was it to not have the control for yourself anymore?
Exciting and extremely frustrating. I’m fine with giving up control on something when I know I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. But when I feel I have expertise in an area, it’s very difficult for me to let anyone else contribute at all. But I’m glad I did cede some control, because I think the music came out much better than if I had made every decision on my own.

– As your songs are mainly about love and are very sad, is there no positive love for you? Or is it just that you’re just writing about sad things, while you tend to enjoy the positive moments?
Of course I have positive and happy moments, and I have had many wonderful things happen in my life. I’d be lying if I said my whole life was shit, cause it hasn’t been. But I’ve been through a lot, from my childhood on, and I’ve also caused a lot of hurt in other people’s lives as well. I sing about those things because I think people don’t think enough about them; about the dark parts of life: the lying, cheating, depression, death, etc… My goal is not to make people depressed, but rather to offer hope that even with all of that, we can heal and get to a good peaceful place. But we don’t get there by thinking and writing songs about drinking, or clubbing, or meaningless bullshit. We get there by taking an honest look at ourselves and the world around us and pointing out and changing the ways we’re fucking up. Look, I like happy music as much as anybody (well, maybe a little bit less perhaps), but there’s plenty of that out there. I see it as my responsibility and place in this world for the time being to sing to the people that are hurting and need some sort of comfort. If people don’t want to listen to those things, than don’t. But if they need these songs, they are there for them.

– What are you doing at the moment?
I’ve only been home for a couple weeks and I’ve spent the great part of the past year touring. So for now I’m taking some time off to recuperate and reading and researching for a new record. I don’t want to jump into anything too quickly, because I believe I’m the type of writer who needs space between one project and the next. But I’ll slowly start to put together the pieces for new music soon. Until then, though, it’s beer, friends and family.

– What did you learn in 2009?
That mixing alcohol and sleeping pills on a long flight is a really terrible idea. And that honesty and humility, no matter what the consequences, are also a wise choice.

– What was your best personal experience in 2009?
There were too many quiet, small, wonderful things that happened to pick out any single one. The thing that makes me feel I’m an incredibly lucky person is being able to connect with people through music. I’m extremely thankful for that opportunity and it’s something I will never take for granted.

– What are your plans for 2010?
Researching, reading, and writing. I love getting to tour, but this year was busier than I would have liked, and I went to stay home and spend time making new things. Making the best music I ever have. Past that i haven’t thought too much about it.

– What do you associate with Bedroomdisco?
It sounds like a full on dance party in the bedroom. Which basically would be the coolest thing ever.

Thanks a lot William, looking forward to hear you play live again soon!

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Über den Autor

Bedroomdisco-Gründer, Redaktions-Chef, Hans in allen Gassen, Golden Leaves Festival Booker, Sammler, Fanboy, Exil-Darmstädter Wahl-Hamburger & happy kid, stuck with the heart of a sad punk - spreading love for great music since '08!



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