Feb 15, 2023
Who is Fish?
One day as I was doing my daily scroll on social media, I came across a YouTube video a friend had shared, and it was titled “Stuck Inside a Video Game.” I was like, “Hmmm, what could this be?” as I pressed play, not sure of what I was about to watch. For the next five minutes and 42 seconds, I was snickering like a goober while watching this cinematic masterpiece in all its humorous glory. The creator of the video I had just watched was a guy named Fish. After that moment, I shared the video because it was awesome and because most can relate to anything pertaining to video games. Little did I know that a few months later, while looking for talent to scout and write about, I would happen upon the Instagram page of the same artist/musician responsible for the epic YouTube video I had seen and gobbled up like a goober.
For those who have not seen the jewel that is “Stuck Inside a Video Game,” it is a clever song and music video of a guy on a couch playing “The Legend of Zelda,” showing different scenarios and scenes of the main character being sucked into the actual game, complete with witty commentary, sexy women back-up dancers/singers, and much hilarity. In fact, before you finish this article, you must watch it.
So, who is the guy behind this glorious gem?
Well, folks, his name is Sam Fishman, a.k.a. Fish.
I bet you’re probably asking, “Who is Fish?” So please, allow me.
Not only is Fish a producer, a drummer, a video game enthusiast, and a kick-ass human, BUT he is also extremely witty, very intelligent, and super talented.
When he’s not making amazingly awesome YouTube videos with clever concepts, he spends his time spinning the sticks as the drummer of the New York-based Americana/Folk rock band, Driftwood … truly an entertaining man. Keep reading to learn more!
MaM: Good Morning! Thank you for speaking with me today. So, let’s preface this by saying how wonderful it is to be speaking with the creator of “Stuck Inside a Video Game.” I saw it a few months back and instantly fell in love with it.
Fish: You saw that? (laughs) That’s fortuitous.
MaM: Yes, I saw it before I knew who you were and instantly thought, “This dude is awesome!”.
Fish: Oh wow! (laughs) Yeah, that’s so funny. The universe is pointing in the right direction.
MaM: So, not only are you making incredibly creative videos, but you are also the drummer in the band Driftwood, correct? Tell us a little more about that.
Fish: So, I had been living in Brooklyn for about seven months when the pandemic hit and then, at that point, I said, ‘Alright, I’m gonna move out of the city.’ So, I left Brooklyn, moved back home with my folks for a little bit to figure out what the next move was, and then I felt like moving to Ithaca, N.Y. I felt like that was the best move for me. I have some familiarity with New York State, so I said, ‘Let me try Ithaca out,’ and I moved there.
The first year that I’m there, it’s like [the] pandemic. Everything was closed. Nothing was happening. I started getting situated and reaching out to people, and through a mutual friend, I connected with Joey Arcuri. Joey is the bass player for Driftwood, and we connected, and so I said, ‘Joey, we should jam sometime,’ and we both know Chris. Chris is our mutual friend, and Joey said, ‘Yeah, that’d be great, man. Let’s keep in touch.’ A couple months go by, and I reach back out to Joey, and he gets back to me the next day and tells me their drummer had just left and then asked me if I’d like to audition for the band. The timing worked out, and because Joey and I had that mutual friend, we made the connection, and there ya go.
MaM: Wow, that is incredible! You obviously have a background in music, so at what age did you start playing drums, and who are your musical influences and inspirations?
Fish: I started playing drums in 3rd grade.
MaM: Wow, 3rd grade? Just the fact that you can even remember back that far is awesome. I don’t even remember what I was doing at that age.
Fish: Yeah, I had begged my parents for, like, two years to get me a drum set, and then they did. As far as influences, I have so many drummers I am into. That’s a really good question. It kind of taps into, like, there is stuff you can enjoy and then there are things you can kind of listen to cerebrally to get that music, and it makes sense in your brain; but, then there is music that hits your body and makes you feel things, and I guess for me, there are times when I love listening to hard rock and metal, and that sort of hits more intellectual [sic] for me because I’m understanding it in a way, but when I want to feel stuff, I really love listening to music with a groove and a laid-back vibe. For example, I’ve been listening to Madison Cunningham lately. It’s more Americana vibes. Very singer/songwriter … female vocals, relaxing … not gonna put me on edge.
MaM: Do you prefer more singer/songwriter type of music? What’s your favorite type of music?
Fish: Oh man, it’s very seasonal for me. I couldn’t tell you what my favorite is. For instance, I’m into these well-crafted songs kind of things and lush orchestrations, really just in the groove, in the pocket, but there may come a time in the summer where all I want to listen to is some heavy stuff. For instance, what’s the band from Chicago? I’m blanking out. The guy who does the “Oo-wa-ah-ah-ah!”?
MaM: Disturbed? (laughs)
Fish: (laughs) Yeah, Disturbed. I’ll maybe put on a little Disturbed.
MaM: Get down with the sickness! (laughs)
Fish: Yep yep! (laughs) … and I love Britney Spears! I was listening to [her] the other day.
MaM: Me too!!! One of my guilty pleasures!
Fish: Yeah, Britney Spears, so good.
MaM: So, tell us a little more about this video. I need to know all the details, because that thing is badass!
Fish: (laughs) Yeah, that is so insane! There are a lot of layers to that video. On the surface, it’s this really wacky, like, surreal video. I mean, I’m stuck in a video game. I’m stuck in ‘The Legend of Zelda.’ It’s actually a reflective piece, and for a while, in my, like, late-20s or, well, even when I was, like, 31 [or] 32—which, I’m 36 now, or, rather, I’ll be 36 this coming Sunday. Even into my early 30s, I found myself playing games a little too much, and I wasn’t really living. The music video was a big, cathartic release for me. I wrote this rap song about being stuck in a game, and I wrote it the way I knew how, and then I said, Screw it! I’m gonna go all in. I’m gonna fly out to Los Angeles. I’m gonna get this thing legit.’
I found a video crew, Blurred Pictures, Rosco – he’s this great director out there. His mind moves a mile a minute, and we just got a team and I said, ‘I’m gonna produce this thing,’ and we really did it. I wanted to share my experiences in a way other people would relate. I feel like there’s a lot of guys out there that are stuck in this video game world, and they don’t even realize it. The video is a fun way to show the lines can be blurred if you play too many games. Is your life the game? Is the game your life? That whole back-and-forth dilemma.
MaM: I can totally relate to that because my husband is a gamer, but he never let it consume him 100%. Now, my best friend, her boyfriend is so consumed by video games that he completely ignores her, and she is a total babe! I can definitely identify with your video.
Fish: See? That’s what I mean. It’s relatable! Another part of it was that the women in the video are from ‘The Legend of Zelda,’ too … the three goddesses of the Tri Force … but they also take on a different meaning because they’re very sexy in the video, and because of that, if you’re attracted to women, women could become a distraction if you’re a little too focused on the game. You must find that balance. This is not my life’s purpose. My life has a greater purpose. The takeaway from this video is battling your shortcomings, getting out of your comfort zone, [and] really trying to better yourself.
MaM: What is your favorite video game?
Fish: Zelda … but then, which Zelda, right? I have some games that are definitely in the top 10, but simply because of the symbolism in the hero’s journey, Zelda is probably going to take the cake. I’m going to have to go with ‘Ocarina of Time’ as the best or as my favorite, with my second favorite Zelda game being ‘Link’s Awakening.’
MaM: That’s awesome. I wanted to ask you, prior to Driftwood, were you playing in any other bands? Give us a brief history of your music career.
Fish: So, if you thought the video was crazy, this is even crazier. Before I got into Driftwood, I was touring around the country and even got to go to Japan with my former band. I was playing with this group called Madison Rising, a political band, and it was a great opportunity for me to travel, and I learned a lot. I ended up leaving the band, though, to focus on other endeavors. The takeaway from that is that I learned a lot about the music industry, and I got to open up for Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aerosmith, and Weezer. We had a good run. I started with them in 2011 and left in 2018. [I] spent seven years with them and learned some incredible things. Great learning experience.
MaM: Steppingstones, though, to get to where you are today.
Fish: Absolutely. Had I not experienced those situations with that band, then I would not have learned about what it means to be a professional musician.
MaM: I want to learn more about these videos on Instagram and more about your production work. You have such an interesting story to tell.
Fish: Appreciate that. The production stuff you mentioned is kind of inspired by art. Like, here’s a drumming solo; here’s me drumming to this; [and] here’s my friend doing a piano piece. I’m starting to sort of play in both worlds. The music video, for instance, plays on some surrealism there. I have a video I will be posting soon of me just roaming around a recording studio while my friend, Andrew Klein, makes scary sounds on metallic percussion instruments.
MaM: (laughs) That’s so awesome!
Fish: There is one where I am going to be dancing behind the drummer, Andrew Klein, while he plays drums. (laughs) I want it to be fun. Trying to just do some silly stuff that is different. Trying to lighten up this whole ‘I’m a serious artist’ business. That’s where I’m at. I love being in the production role. I like seeing visions of mine come to life. I have good organizational skills, and being a good producer, to me, is having good organizational skills.
MaM: Do you own your own studio? I’m curious as to where you are recording.
Fish: I’ve been investing in myself, and I like going to different studios, as opposed to trying to set up my own studio. I’m not into that. Maybe if I had a ton of money, I could make my own studio. There is something about working in someone else’s space that forces me to be more creative … working within the limitations … let’s adapt. For example, Wilburland Recording Studio is a place I go back to quite a bit. It’s a place where the latest Instagram clip was filmed. It’s a great open space, and I like working with Will a lot, and it’s close to where I live. I like trying different things. I don’t want to get locked into the same pattern. I have another bit coming up that I recorded. Mikaela Davis is a prominent harp player in New York state, and I’m bringing her to Wilburland, and she’s going to perform the great fairy fountain music from ‘The Legend of Zelda.’
MaM: Love it! If you lived here in Louisiana, we’d be hanging out!
Fish: I feel that, too, just based upon our conversation. You’re just good energy.
MaM: I’m such a nerd. I read and I meditate, and I like science. Are you currently based in New York, still?
Fish: I live in Ithaca, New York.
MaM: You know, every time I hear the name Ithaca, I think of the movie, “Road Trip!”
Fish: Yes! (laughs) You are so on point! Yes!
MaM: That’s what I instantly think of with Ithaca. So, with your extensive background in the industry, I just must ask you what you think the music industry is lacking these days?
Fish: That’s a great question. To me, what’s lacking is education, and what I mean by that is that the local artists, they don’t fully understand what it means to run your band as a business. Any local artists who are complaining, and I get this in Ithaca through friends, like they are really making forward progress and are passionate about what they’re doing, but they don’t understand that if your band is going to progress, then there needs to be an awareness that if your band is not run like a business, then don’t have any expectations of moving forward. If you want to move forward, you must do all the work on the business side to help you establish a plan.
MaM: I completely can identify with that because you are building your band as a brand. You must brand yourself to stand out so that people take notice. What are you working on currently?
Fish: One of the upcoming things is a screenplay for a movie. I just finished the first draft. It’s called ‘Cicada Madness.’ It’s based on an audio project that is already completed, and I just decided to take it to the next level, but I’m certain I will be doing a crowdsourcing fund for the movie, because I want to have a big budget. When you think of the film, though, it’s a B-movie … sorority girls, cicadas flying around just exploding… (laughs).
MaM: So, is it like Hitchcock’s “The Birds” but with cicadas?
Fish: Yeah, but funny. Not meant to scare you. Just total fun. Driftwood is currently recording an album, and we plan to release it in the fall. This is their most mature album to date. It’s going to defy expectations and has a lot of variety. Those are the main things. I have a video that is supposed to be finished by the end of February where I teamed up with a community music school to put on a performance of Claude Bolling’s ‘Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano,’ and it brings me back to my roots of reading music and performing. I imagine I’ll be posting some clips from it in early March. I love doing different things where maybe you’ll get Jazz & Classical one day and then you’ll get crazy silly skit the next day. I have a lot of different things I want to do.
MaM: Ok, so big question. Who is Fish?
Fish: Well, right now he’s the drummer of Driftwood the band; he does session work; and he produces and collaborates. But, yeah, Fish is ever evolving. That is the safe answer. Fish wants to inspire others. Fish wants to collaborate. That’s the key word. Fish is someone who wants to work with a lot of different people. Fish is a leader. Fish wants to bring out the best in other creative people. I love going to a keyboard player that I see potential in or that I think is phenomenal and I’ll say, ‘Hey, man! Let me get your number. We’re gonna work together.’ I just get right down to it. If I want to work with someone, I let them know. Fish really wants to bring out a vision and be part of a team.
To learn more about Fish, check out all his links below and enjoy!
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