December 18, 2020 Interview – Schuyler Fisk
Since a young age, Schuyler Fisk has gravitated toward the arts. The daughter of Academy Award-winning Actress Sissy Spacek and Production Designer Jack Fisk, she was blessed with a supportive home life which planted the seed for creativity. Starring in a list of films at a young age, from 1995’s The Baby-Sitters Club to 2000’s Snow Day, and 2002’s Orange County, Fisk has assembled a diverse palette of experience in film as well as television. Still very active on screen, she has also spent plenty of time writing and recording music throughout the years – releasing two full-length albums, three EPs, and a list of singles, including her most recent, “Deck the Halls.”
A follow up to her 2011 holiday EP, Sounds of the Holiday, 2020’s “Deck the Halls” comes just in time for the season and is a prelude to Fisk’s forthcoming 2021 full-length album. Quite an exciting time for the multi-talented artist, she recently sat down to talk about her love for acting and music, working on new songs, plus much more.
Cryptic Rock – You have been involved in entertainment since a very young age. Acting in film/television, as well as writing and recording music, what initially inspired you to pursue this career?
Schuyler Fisk- I grew up with parents in the entertainment industry. It is what I grew up knowing and it made sense to me that would be what I would be doing. I just loved the creative process and seeing my parents work/collaborate with people. I thought, “I want to do that. I want to collaborate with people and make art.”
At first I was really into theater, then got into film, but was always doing music. Everything was kind of all happening at the same time. I’m really grateful to my parents for encouraging me to follow my bliss in the arts. It’s been so wonderful!
Cryptic Rock – It is great to have that support from your family. You have done quite a bit of acting, but also quite a bit of music throughout the years. At what point did you decide music was what you were most passionate about?
Schuyler Fisk – I think I still haven’t decided which one is the winner of what I like to do best; I think whatever I am doing at the moment is sort of my favorite thing. What I love about music is I can do it on my own schedule, especially a time like this during a global pandemic when I’m at home, I can make music and put it out. That, to me, is such a gift. I feel like I’m in a little bit more control with music. With acting in film and TV there are a lot of other people involved. Music is something I started doing when I had downtime between acting in my teens and it just sort of took over. I’ve always loved it – it’s become a real passion.
Cryptic Rock – It is wonderful to have the two creative outlets. You have released a couple of albums and EPs. Let’s talk about your musical approach. As times goes on we change, so what inspires your musical approach?
Schuyler Fisk – That’s a good question. I do feel like my music has evolved. I have a record coming out early next year that I’ve been working on for a while. It’s definitely different than previous records I’ve put out; it’s exploration and experimentation. With a lot of the songs on the record coming out in 2021, I started playing around with beats and different sounds on my computer. I didn’t really know what I was doing, to be honest, but that was the beauty of it; a lot of things happen accidentally. It was exciting and I just decided to go with it.
I’ve been writing a lot more on piano. I think there might have been one song I wrote on guitar for this new record, but most of them I wrote on piano. I am just interested in the exploration of new sounds and still being true to who I am as an artist, as well as what I like to listen to, but it’s fun to just try different things. Collaborating with other people has also been a big part of that.
Cryptic Rock – It is good not to box yourself in and to want to grow as an artist. Sometimes an artist can find themselves pigeonholed into a corner, and that can be in music or acting.
Schuyler Fisk – Right! There is a line of, when you have fans and they like what you have been doing, you don’t want to totally switch it up on them. You still want to keep it fresh, though.
Cryptic Rock – Exactly. You are no stranger to holiday music, you actually released the EP Sounds of the Holiday in 2011. Now you have a new single, “Deck the Halls.” A very exciting rendition of the classic song, what inspired the direction you went with it?
Schuyler Fisk – I had just finished my next full-length and I worked with this Producer Colin Killalea, one of my most favorite collaborators. Christmas was coming around again and every year people say, “You should do a follow up Christmas record and more Christmas songs.” I’ve always wanted to but never had time. This year I thought, I have some time. (Laughs)
I begged Colin to collaborate on a song with me. It was so fun because we thought let’s do a Christmas song, but let’s do a new take on something. He was already working on a Reggaeton beat and he asked me, “What Christmas song are you feeling that could maybe go with this?” “Deck the Halls” came to me and that is what started it. It was fun, out of the box, and a different way to approach it. We didn’t overthink it; it felt good and vibey. Now I want to keep going and do a whole other Christmas record next year. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – You should do it! It would be a good follow up to this single and your previous Christmas release. You have this new album coming out in 2021. This will be your first solo album in a decade. Beyond this, you have spent time collaborating in a band. What was that experience like?
Schuyler Fisk – It was so wonderful! It was me and two of my best friends, Carl Anderson and Sam Wilson. They are amazing artists in their own careers. We all grew up close to each, we were all home for a show, and we all ended up playing together at this show. It was so fun that we said, “Hey, let’s record this.” We recorded it with Sam and then we said, “Let’s go on tour,” and we just started touring. We were doing our own sets with our own set of songs, but as we started touring, we started singing/playing on each other’s songs. Then we started writing together and all of a sudden we had a whole set of our own songs. It just snowballed from there. We were just having so much fun and it was just one of the most beautifully fun, creative times that I’ve ever had.
We were doing that and then we decided that we needed to put the pause button on, that way we can all finish our records that we had all been trying to finish for so long. We all still really want to do that because we have all the songs to make a record, but we made a pact that we had to put out all our solo stuff first. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – It will be interesting to see what the three of you can do together on an album when the time comes. What can you tell us about your new solo album?
Schuyler Fisk – It’s produced by Colin Killalea who did this Christmas single, “Deck the Halls,” with me. It’s so hard to explain the music: in a lot of ways it feels really intimate; I don’t know how to explain it. It has a lot of emotion in it. It is something I’ve been working on for a really long time; I’ve been writing songs for all these years since I put out my last full-length. I’ve written so many songs that could have made so many records, but I don’t know, it didn’t feel right to put any of them out. For whatever reason, it just wasn’t the right thing at the right time. It was just this weird gut feeling, but when I got this collection of songs I felt, “This is the group that’s my next record and I’m ready.”
It was exciting to finally get in to record again and open up that window to myself. I’m really proud of it and I had so much fun collaborating with Colin. I can’t wait for people to hear it!
Cryptic Rock – It will be exciting to hear the music. You were pretty active as an actress when you were younger, but stepped away for a bit to study and concentrate on music. That said, you have returned to television and films in recent years. What is it like to return to acting after having a break?
Schuyler Fisk – It’s wonderful! I’m reminded how much I love it every time I get to act in something. It’s always such a treat, and, like I said, I love the collaboration so much. It’s so different. Music is very collaborative, as well, but acting is on a whole different level of collaboration. It’s fun and it feels good. It reminds me that I love this, it feels like a nice hug.
Cryptic Rock – That is great to hear you have such a passion for it. Do you have any new film or television projects coming up?
Schuyler Fisk – I do have something that’s supposed to happen next year, but it’s not something I can really talk about yet. It’s certainly been fun to have something to look forward to when things are safe again.
Cryptic Rock – That is something to look forward to. Speaking of not boxing yourself in, you have kept yourself very diverse as an actress. Is it enjoyable for you to have that flexibility?
Schuyler Fisk – Yeah, it’s fun working on new projects. That’s the beauty and sad part about making a film; when it’s complete, it’s over. (Laughs) Then you do something totally new with a whole new batch of people. One thing that’s been really cool, which has happened in the past few years, is I have ended up working with people I have before. It’s amazing because you already have a familiarity with each other; it makes me realize how small the film/TV work is. It makes you feel like, I belong here.
Cryptic Rock – It is nice to feel comfortable in what you doing and the people you work with. You seem to be someone who has an affection for the holidays. Have you always loved the holidays?
Schuyler Fisk – I’ve always loved the holidays. I started watching Christmas movies early this year and had my tree up early. A couple of years ago I was watching some holidays movies and I said out loud, “Next year I want to be in one of these.” I love them, they make me feel good, and the next year I was on my way to Nashville to shoot a holiday movie! It was great and what I love too about the holidays and holiday music is they come around every year. My holiday record is all of a sudden relevant again every single November-December and it’s so nice – just the other day my Christmas movie played on TV.
I think there is a nostalgia for most people with the holidays. You hear those Christmas songs you grew up listening to and you feel like a kid again. That is sort of the magic of the holidays; there is a sort of warm feeling. Of course, this year the holidays are going to feel very different, but I think through movies, music, and art, that is what has been getting me through this pandemic. It’s cool to have something to give to people.
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. We could all use a bit of hope and joy with everything going on. Last question. Seeing as you come from a family with a rich history in entertainment, what advice did they give you as you went along?
Schuyler Fisk – They’ve been very supportive. They have always been fans of the creative process. It’s pretty cool, any time they are thinking about doing a project they will ask me, “Will you read the script so we can talk about ideas?” I’ve always done the same thing with them; I trust them and value their opinions so much. It’s nice to know I can always go to them to get advice or creative ideas.
The best advice they’ve given me is to save my money and to work really hard. They’ve always been in it for the art and not for the celebrity aspect. I really respect that about the choices they’ve made in their careers. I try and stay true to the things that matter and mean something to me. I try to really invest in something and give it my best shot with everything I do. I never want to take it for granted – to be an artist I think is such a huge gift; to be able to make a living doing that is an even greater gift. I just want to stay being creative, stay working, and to not take that for granted.
Cryptic Rock – That is a wonderful outlook. You just have to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing: it is for the passion of art.
Schuyler Fisk – Yes, because then it is like you are never really working. People always ask my parents, “Do you think you will retire anytime soon?” They say, “Oh my god, no, why would I do that? That wouldn’t be any fun.” (Laughs) They just love what they do so much that they would be too sad to ever give it up. I think that’s so cool.