2017 Artist Survey: Warren Fischer of Fischerspooner

Fischer on Women's Liberation, "Me Too," Having No Regrets, and the Countries Where It's Still Illegal to Be Gay

Jan 24, 2018 Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 15th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the last year. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2017 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Warren Fischer of electronic duo Fischerspooner. Fischerspooner are releasing a new album, Sir, on February 16 via Ultra. The duo (Fischer and Casey Spooner), who successfully survived the early 2000s electro-clash label, haven't released an album since 2009's Entertainment. Sir includes "Togetherness," which features the guest vocals of Caroline Polachek, of the recently broken up Chairlift (who also appears in the video for the song). Former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe produced Sir and also co-wrote the album with Spooner.

For our annual Artist Surveys we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about the various sexual harassment and assault allegations, the "Me Too" movement, the chaotic first year of Donald Trump's presidency, the Charlottesville alt-right rally and racism in America, embarrassing moments, professional regrets, which Breakfast Club character they are most like, the end of the world, and much more.

Top 10 Albums of 2017

1. Mac DeMarco: This Old Dog
2. Princess Nokia: 
1992 Deluxe
3. Smokepurpp: 
Deadstar
4. Minor Science: 
Whities 012
5. Miink: 
Who Are You?
6. Tommy Genisis: 
Tommy
7. Oneohtrix Point Never: 
Good Time (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
8. Black Merlin: 
Phase One
9. Suicideyear: 
Hate Songs
10. Kelly Lee Owens: 
Kelly Lee Owens

What was the highlight of 2017 for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

Definitely mounting our new show in New York. It had been a while and it was an amazing night with so many generous and motivated partners.

2017 saw sexual harassment and assault allegations against many men in the music industry, film industry, journalism, politics, and elsewhere (including Harvey Weinstein, Matt Mondanile of Ducktails and Real Estate, Brand New's Jesse Lacey, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Charlie Rose, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, Democratic Senator Al Franken, and others). Why do you think the floodgates opened in 2017 and do you think any meaningful change will come from it or will sexual harassment and assaults continue to be prevalent in certain industries?

In my opinion the floodgates opened because women are becoming more and more powerful. 1000 years ago women were treated as possessions. 100 years ago women couldn't vote. As recently as 1973, the law required a man to cosign for any woman wanting a bank loan. These changes are extremely recent, and we are far from the end of this process. This past year was a valuable lurch forward for women and we'll never go back. It's a travesty that there's a holiday for "flags" and not for women's liberation. Don't forget that women's equality is only in a few countries so far. Most of the planet if still staunchly misogynist.

In 2017 the "Me Too" and "It Was Me" social media hashtags further brought sexual assault and harassment to light. Have you ever been the victim of harassment or assault, or witnessed such behavior, or been the perpetrator? And what concrete steps can be taken to combat sexual harassment and assault in the music industry and make it a more welcoming place for women?

I'm happy to report that I have not been privy to sexual harassment.

It has been said that 2016 was the year your favorite artist died, and, because of the litany of sex scandals, 2017 is the year that your favorite artist became dead to you. Which artist did you stop being a fan of this year? Which public person would you be most devastated to learn had a history of abusive or predatory behavior? 

Just don't say Brian Eno.

Should we be able to separate an artist's work from his or her actions? Or should an artist's negative behaviors completely negate the quality of his or her work? 

As a classical musician who witnessed intense coaching. In that case I'm okay with separating the two. Tough one. I still enjoy Polanski movies, Dustin Hoffman....

Neitzsche -"Only as an aesthetic phenomenon are existence and the world justified."

The first year of the Trump administration has been chaotic to say the least. What has President Donald Trump done so far that most concerns or angers you? Is there anything President Trump has done, proposed, or said that you actually agree with? Why do you think his base continues to support him?

His base supports him because they are either rich or poor, and annoyed by a lack of change in the world. As long as we in the left are unwilling to sacrifice our comforts, this dynamic will persist IMO.

Many predicted President Donald Trump wouldn't last long in the White House and yet he's still there. At this point how hopeful are you that he'll be impeached? Barring that, how optimistic are you that he won't win reelection? And although it's still very early, is there already a potential candidate you would most like to see run for president in 2020?

Mueller will take him down. I'm not worried. 

The alt-right/Misogynist/KKK rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the ensuing violence, and President Trump's reluctance to condemn such hate groups further showed that racism is alive and well in America. What concrete steps can we take to improve race relations in America and the world at large?

We need a shared vision for the future and someone to inspire us to believe in it (think TR, FDR). Until then, nothing will change sadly. 

2017 saw several music festivals cancelled due to low ticket sales (not to mention the Fyre Festival debacle in the Bahamas). Are there too many music festivals right now?

I like festivals. Good crowds and always some good music. 

Which Breakfast Club character are you most like and why?

Basket Case, because she sees the world as it is. 

Tell us about the best and worst dates you've ever been on.

This question feels like harassment to me. You first. 

What's your biggest professional regret?

Regrets are self-destructive and unhealthy. Love your fate. 

If you heard that the world was ending in one week who would be the first person you'd call and what are some of the things you'd do in that week?

The world ends every day I go to sleep. Sometimes I call my mom, sometimes a friend, mostly someone I work with as I love working. 

2017 Wall Street Journal article pointed out that music critics have been giving less and less full on negative reviews of late. In the era of streaming when almost any album can be easily accessed, do you still find value in music criticism and have music critics gotten too soft?

I make stuff so I don't need music critics. Sometimes I read music critics. I think they have value.

Do you think 2017 is a prime time for musicians to speak out and be heard, or are musicians still under pressure to "shut up and play the songs" as some artiststhat are politically vocal complain? Conversely, have you felt under pressure from fans or other artists to take a stand and speak out publicly on an issue?

We like to speak. For example it's illegal to be gay in:

1. Algeria
2. Angola
3. Botswana
4. Burundi
5. Cameroon
6 Comoros
7. Egypt
8. Eritrea
9. Ethiopia
10. Gambia
11. Ghana
12. Guinea
13. Kenya
14. Liberia
15. Libya
16. Malawi
17. Mauritania
18. Mauritius
19. Morocco
20. Namibia
21. Nigeria
22. Senegal
23. Sierra Leone
24. Somalia
25. South Sudan
26. Sudan
27. Swaziland
28. Tanzania
29. Togo
30. Tunisia
31. Uganda
32. Zambia
33. Zimbabwe
34. Afghanistan
35. Bangladesh
36. Bhutan
37. Brunei
38. Daesh (or ISIS / ISIL)
39. India
40. Iran
41. Iraq
42. Kuwait
43. Lebanon
44. Malaysia
45. Maldives
46. Myanmar
47. Oman
48. Pakistan
49. Palestine/Gaza Strip
50. Qatar
51. Saudi Arabia
52. Singapore
53. Sri Lanka
54. Syria
55. Turkmenistan
56. United Arab Emirates
57. Uzbekistan
58. Yemen
59. Antigua & Barbuda
60. Barbados
61. Dominica
62. Grenada
63. Guyana
64. Jamaica
65. St Kitts & Nevis
66. St Lucia
67. St Vincent & the Grenadines
68. Trinidad & Tobago
69. Cook Islands
70. Indonesia
71. Kirbati
72. Papua New Guinea
73. Samoa
74. Solomon Islands
75. Tonga
76. Tuvalu

How hard or easy is it for you make a living as a musician in 2017 without the aid of a day job?

Making things is not a choice, it's a compulsion and therefore compensation is not relevant. 

www.fischerspooner.com

 

 

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