Fishplant creates house music for the soul with his signature melodic sound, lovingly crafted from a background of varied musical experiences.
This English producer discovered his passion for house music later than most, but his love of music has been a lifetime. From picking up the violin at 5 years old, he realised he had a talent for rhythm, and began learning drums and percussion at 9 before becoming a guitarist in a local rock band at 13. After school, he was performing for fun at open mic nights around his hometown, whilst developing a new-found love for electronic music amongst the London Drum & Bass scene in the late 2000s.
A chance encounter with an old friend on a trip to Sydney in 2012 brought about his calling to House Music. Since then, his career has found him gracing the decks internationally, with residencies in Kuala Lumpur, Sydney and Bali, as well as performances in Seattle and London.
Fishplant debut album ‘Self Titled’, released in 2023 on YHV Records, was more than 10 years in the making, as he honed his self-taught production skills to combine his passion for beautiful uplifting melodies with his old influences, creating a unique style that finds its feet amongst the melodic and organic genres.
We caught up with Fishplant to talk about the new album, his musical background and influences
HMWL: What inspired you to pursue a career in electronic music, particularly house music?
Fishplant: My career actually came about by chance! I have been a musician since I was 5 years old, playing drums in a jazz group, violin and percussion in an orchestra, and even being a guitarist in rock band for a while. I always wanted a life in music, but I didn’t really know in what aspect, be it an artist or a producer/engineer, but I actually ended up going in a totally different direction by becoming a Mechanical Engineer! Musically, I had become a bit disillusioned with the rock scene at the time so I started getting more into electronic music, listening to a wide range of genres but particularly Drum & Bass. I went out and bought myself a new computer to use as a studio and tried to figure out how to produce on my own… all in the days before YouTube tutorials! I just wanted to produce whatever I was inspired to make with no set agenda, taking inspiration from what I was enjoying listening to at the time. I wrote some really weird shit but there was this one track called hiddeninyourmind that I felt had a soul, yet there was something not quite right about it. I was on a business trip to Sydney in 2012 when I bumped into an old friend I hadn’t seen in many years and he told me to come to a party that weekend… it was my first taste of Deep House and I instantly fell in love! He introduced me to the DJ (Shane SOS) who told me that he played his set around 120bpm… this was a speed i was really unfamiliar with as I was into much harder and faster music back in London, but I decided to change the bpm of this track I had down from 128 to 122 and the whole thing just came alive! I actually got to meet Shane again in the pub a few days later and played him my track. His smile grew wider and he passed the track around to everyone at the table who equally had a similar reaction… That was literally the moment when I realised House Music was for me!
Can you tell us more about your creative process when it comes to producing your music?
I don’t enjoy working with samples at all, I find I lose so much creativity If I am restricted to someone else’s loop. FX, one shots and vocals are fine, but anything melodic means I cant manipulate it the way I want. So I either use a sample as the inspiration, but more often than not I am creating a MIDI chord pattern from scratch and just running through presets to hone in on a cool sound, and then creating layers that fit together from there. I am no sound designer by any means, so the presets give me the guidelines to then be able to go in and shift the sound around to how I want it. Once I have the core sound and vibe of the track, I can start to break it up into its arrangement. This is actually my favourite part, and it is where the real magic happens, but I really have to be in the zone to do this and I will easily put off this process, sometimes for months, if I’m not feeling the track is ready to come to life yet. Sometimes an idea can take me 6 years to finish, another one will take me only 6 hours!
I don’t enjoy working with samples at all, I find I lose so much creativity If I am restricted to someone else’s loop.
How did your musical background in classical and rock music influence your current style of music?
Hearing the sound of an orchestra in a venue designed for them, such as the Royal Albert Hall, is an absolute thing of beauty that I recommend everyone should try to experience once in their life. You are most often hearing music that was composed centuries ago, and to stand the test of time to that level means there must be a mesmerizing beauty about how the melody and harmony work together as one. This is where I learnt musical cohesion, so my ears understand when something works with something else or not. I love the sound of a string orchestra and I like to use it as a climactic moment of the track, taking you from something cool to something epic.
But I would say that actually Reggae has had more of an infuence on my sound than anything else. I love the summer time and listening to Reggae under the sunshine never gets old. For me it is happy music, even if the lyrics are about something more sinister or sad, the music itself is intoxicatingly happy. This is why I want to write music that brings you up, rather than makes you get down! I find myself writing in the major keys a lot, as I really want that happy summer vibe to shine through. Rock, however, probably influenced my DJing more than my producing, it taught me how to be a live act and to have stage presence. I have now added a purcussion pad to my DJ sets to bring some live elements to the music and to create more of a show. Being an A to B DJ, there is a lot of down time as you let each track play, so I thought why not add something unique to it, and it keeps me busy!
Your new album, “Self Titled,” took over 10 years to create. Can you share with us any challenges you faced during the creation process and how you overcame them?
10 years worth of challenges… where do I begin?! I am a self taught producer from the days before YouTube tutorials were a thing. Most of my musical friends were guitarists, so I didn’t really have anybody to ask about how I should be going about things on a computer. I had a full time job and weekends were taken up trying to counter the miserable working week with partying all weekend long, so just making the time to produce was difficult at the start.
The love I had recieved from the people I met in Sydney, coupled with 3 mental breakdowns in my mid-twenties made me decide to just say fuck it, I’m going to quit this well paid job, leave rain soaked England and go and be a happy person making music in sunny Sydney! I figured I would at least be amongst DJs and producers in the genre I want to work in and if not now, when? It was probably the hardest thing I ever did but I have never looked back! However, just a few months after I arrived in Sydney, the city introduced the Lock-out laws that decimated the music scene. It was devestating to watch after making such a big decision, and of course with me being brand new to the country, not knowing many people and honestly not being very good yet, I found work really hard to come by. I become depressed again and decided to take a few months away in Indonesia to reset. When I returned, my girlfriend broke things off leaving me in a very desperate position. I ended up locking myself away for 9 months and I wrote more than 3 albums worth of stuff in that time, including most of the tracks on this album. I then moved permanently to Indonesia, leaving my studio computer behind in Australia with the idea that I would come back to pick it up just a few months later. Unfortunately I found myself in a very difficult financial position for a few years and so I was unable to get back to Australia and my studio until Febuary 2020… Just in time I guess! Then lockdown happened and I found myself with all the time in the world to produce and learn to mix and master. I have since put my studio onto a laptop so I would never be without it again, and it has been an absolute game changer, enabling me to be more and more productive every day!
I’m going to quit this well paid job, leave rain soaked England and go and be a happy person making music in sunny Sydney!
“Dadirri,” “Coral Eyes,” and “Komorebi” each have their unique sound and style. What was your inspiration behind each track?
Yeah so I would like to talk about Komorebi first. This track started out as just a really nice deep house track, but there was nothing special about it yet. I felt it needed another element, or melody or something to take it to the next level, but nothing was working at all. Then I decided to duplicate the arp and layer it 2 octaves up using the same sound… the first time I heard that combination I burst into tears! I really felt like I was in dream land and it needed a special name. Komorebi is a Japanese term that describes the rays of sunlight that filter through the trees and leaves in a forest. It is always a special sight to see and I thought it was the perfect description for this track.
Dadirri was inspired by my time in Australia, it’s an Aboriginal term for a spiritual act of reflective and respectful listening, so I wanted something that would work on the dancefloor as well as at home. The deep rolling underline was typical of a lot of the progessive music I was hearing at the time, but I wanted my melody to be light and floaty over the top. The vocal just made the track though and took it to that next level. I actually didn’t really think it was all that good to begin with, but the dancefloor and peoples reactions proved me very wrong!
Coral Eyes is a track about the mornings I would spend on boats listening to reggae and getting ready to dive on the reefs of Gili Air in Indonesia. They are some of the most magical moments in my life so far and Coral Eyes was my way of expressing that feeling into music. You can hear the sound of the ocean throughout, and dotted with a synth that I got to sound like a whale! It has that upbeat reggae rhythm and I think it makes a great track to listen to on a summers morning.
Can you talk about the role of melodic sound in your music and why it’s essential to your style?
I believe it is what makes a track have a soul, have a purpose for existing. I think it seperates disposible music from timeless music. The current trend these days seems to be to simplify as much as possible and that creates a familiarity that presents itself as likeable in the mind. But I find that it is only likeable for a short time before it becomes boring. Making music that is melodically complex might not be the most popular at the moment, but I believe that it will still be enjoyable to listen to for many years to come if it is done right. The classics are classics for a reason, and they stand the test of time for this very reason. They might not be the best produced or best recorded, but how they make you feel deep inside, rather than on the surface, is what seperates them from everything else.
How does it feel to have your debut album finally coming out after over a decade of work?
Surreal! I really want to thank Yopi and the team at YHV Records for believing in this album. I thought I may never get to release it after all the rejections, so a big thank you to him! Honestly it’s kind of weird to see my name in the very same places I am used to looking at other artists and dreaming of being amongst them! But there is also an immense feeling of relief! I have been through so many iterations of this album over the years, spent thousands of hours on it, reworking the tracks after learning a new skill or technique and then realising that I couldn’t mix for shit, so having to learn to mix and go back through them all over again! I am actually really excited to finally put this to bed, share it with the world and move on to my new projects, with a more refined sound and greater experience behind me.
Your music has been described as “organic” and “melodic-electronic.” What do these terms mean to you, and how do you incorporate them into your music?
Melodic, absolutely. Electronic, sure. Organic? I’m not so convinced! Organic House is a complicated genre as it gets tied up with Downtempo and I really believe that the sound and style that I produce, as well as similar artists to me should be another genre entirely, maybe Melorganic or something like that. True organic house is way more natural, featuring more live instruments and tends to be slower and deeper, whereas my side of the genre is more focused on the melodies and is closer to Deep House and Progressive House. But it is the genre I find the most music that I will play, listen to and be inspired by so it makes sense to me to be amongst my peers who release in the Organic House genre. I do have a very strong love/hate releationship when it come to genres overall though, as I hate it when it boxes an artist or audience into a particular sound or style, but yet as a DJ it is really useful for knowing what vibe that track is… there’s not a lot worse as a DJ than accidentally playing a chill track when the dancefloor is on fire!
I want to write music that lifts you up, not brings you down.
You’ve performed internationally and have had residencies in various locations. Do you notice any differences in the reception of your music between different regions or cultures?
Absolutely, but it I don’t know that it is because of culture. Music connects people wherever it is played. The music scene in Sydney is absolutely fantastic, people really do love their music there. I would love to go to South America as everything I hear and see from afar looks incredible! Indonesia is a very different place though in my experience, as I find myself playing to a majority of tourists, so the crowd is always different. In most cities around the world, you have a community that consistently comes to events and different cities have different communities so thats where it differs, but in Indonesia it is much more of a turnstile crowd. They will see you once and never again! Sometimes you do get an amazing crowd that really appreciates what they are hearing and that gives me so much energy and enjoyment! I’m not yet playing headline sets so people are not usually specifically coming to hear me play, so when I get a good reaction I think it’s actually a much more positive experience overall.
What can we expect from you in the future, musically or otherwise?
I have a new single coming out that I wrote with my good friend Will Vickers way back in England some 10+ years ago, who now happens to be living next door to me in Bali! We have redone it a little and it will be coming out this August on YHV Records. I am also working on a remix of Penhilburg for YHV Records that I am really excited about. That will be out this summer, although I don’t have a release date for that yet. I am also really happy with the new tracks I have been producing over the last 12 months or so. For the first time I am working with a vocalist on a couple of tracks and I have been experimenting with some new synths to add a more modern sound to my music and really refining my production workflow, whilst also adding variety to the styles i am producing. I am just having fun producing whatever i want!
I also just joined the amazing team at Organic Deep House Radio (ODHR), bringing my radio show ‘The Deep & Sweet Sessions’ back to the airwaves after 6 years.
Later this summer I am planning a video shoot in Malta to showcase my new tracks with my good friends at Dream Beach Media. They did an amazing job when we filmed in Bali a couple of years ago and I am really excited to be working with them again!
I would really love to start getting on the road and playing at events all over the world. It is my dream to be a touring artist and have the chance to meet people from all walks of life, to share experiences together and to enjoy my life to the fullest.