Being forced to take classical piano lessons is an experience most children do not remember fondly. For Benjamin Fisher, however, this experience set him up for a journey of endless musical discovery and developing a deep love for the instrument. Almost a decade later, this solo artist now has a debut single, ‘I Don’t Need No Other’, to boast about and a new single, ‘What It Was’, due for release on 18 November. 

We were lucky enough to chat with the musician, who would make any George Ezra or James Bay fan a turncoat. Benjamin shares his journey from taking piano lessons, and falling in love with music and songwriting to establishing himself as a solo artist.

Striking The Right Notes

Benjamin Fisher What It Was
[Benjamin poses for the cover of ‘What It Was’. PHOTO: Hannah Cragg]

Despite being obligated to take classical piano lessons at a young age, Benjamin balanced the scales between doing so in a rebellious way and remaining committed to it. He recalls showing up to his piano lessons wanting to learn songs that didn’t form part of the classical curriculum. 

“There were conflicting interests between me and my piano teacher. Although she was very sweet, she could see that I had a different outlook on the piano,” Benjamin says. He then moved to the Jazz Workshop in Cape Town where he had the space to explore rock and roll, blues progressions, and anything he wanted to on the piano.

After his experience at the Jazz Workshop, Benjamin began to find comfort in the piano. “It was some sort of relief for me to be able to come home and just sit and fiddle around on the piano. It was very therapeutic,” he shares. 

Benjamin says it was always quite clear to him that music was something he was passionate about. At first, however, he spent most of his time learning from others and interpreting their songs. 

During the pandemic, he started to refine his own sound and get serious about writing songs. “It was definitely thanks to that period of time where nothing was happening, that I could really just delve into my own creative style,” Benjamin continues. 

“I think that any musician who tells you that their music is 100% authentic and not inspired [by] anyone else is probably lying,” he says laughingly. When speaking about his own music, Benjamin says he can pinpoint parts of his songs that were inspired by another musician. “I think what’s cool about that is that you have your own taste, everyone has their own taste, and then you kind of filter in what you like from other musicians that inspire you,” he says. When it comes to Benjamin’s personal influences, he mentions James Booker, The Beatles, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. 

Workshopping ‘What It Was’

Benjamin Fisher What It Was
[Benjamin for ‘What It Was’ Cover. PHOTO: Hannah Cragg]

Benjamin’s newest single, ‘What It Was’, portrays both past and future departures from the present, as implied by the title. Playing on the theme of nostalgia, Benjamin relates this to a feeling almost every person is familiar with. “Everyone will have stages where they do look back. That can be because things were better, or maybe they were worse. I think it’s up to interpretation,” he says. The song’s chorus expresses a reminiscent yearning for simpler times.

When it came to writing ‘What It Was’, Benjamin played around with chords on the piano as per usual. He then heard a straight drumbeat that really resonated with him. “A straight drumbeat is very useful when you want a sound that just kind of flows. It’s very easy to listen to straight drum beats,” Benjamin adds. He thought combining the chords he’d been playing with it would be a perfect marriage after hearing the drumbeat. The lyrics only came after, while he was humming the melody to himself and trying to find the words that would fit.

This process is the usual recipe Benjamin follows when it comes to songwriting. Piano first, always. After figuring out the chords, he finds the melody — the most challenging part, in his opinion. “Sometimes melodies will honestly just feel like they have fallen from the heavens into my lap, and I just get them in a second. Other times, I try thousands of different melodies over the same chords, and I can’t land on anything,” he claims. 

‘What It Was’ is Benjamin’s second official single and his first one recorded through the Netherlands-based entity, The Good Times Co.

Fisher Flies Solo

Benjamin Fisher What It Was
[Benjamin would describe himself, and his music, as authentic and soulful. PHOTO: Hannah Cragg]

Writing and producing your own music is a challenging task. Benjamin, however, takes this in his stride. “I would say that I have full autonomy over my music,” he says. Every decision that is made, is entirely up to him. This works in his favour, though, as he admits to being a complete control freak. 

Despite this, he does not shy away from people’s input when it comes to his music — rather embracing it with open arms. That being said, Benjamin enjoys the fact that every decision falls to him because it also means that his music remains authentically his own. 

Benjamin’s technical proficiency on the piano gives him an edge when it comes to production and mastering. “Having a MIDI keyboard as the primary instrument for music production is very essential. If I played guitar, there’s only so much I could record with a guitar. I can literally record bass through the piano, I can record drums through the piano, and I can record trumpet through the piano. So, it’s very useful to me,” he adds. 

As a solo artist, the only problems he’s had are ones of production or mastering that have been hard to work out. “I’m not saying I’m necessarily a terrible producer, but I’m definitely not as good a producer as a songwriter and musician. Obviously, first and foremost, I’m a songwriter and musician,” he shares. He hopes to be able to hand this task over to somebody more equipped in the future, but for now, he is happy doing his own production. 

“I think that people can only really respect someone else’s grind or music when they can see that they’re committed,” says Benjamin. As he discusses how to approach music full-time, he stresses the importance of being true to one’s art and not giving too much weight to the opinions of others. “It’s an admirable thing to put out music and put out your own art. There’s no reason why you should think that it’s something that people wouldn’t be interested in. And if they’re not, who cares?” he says.

Back To The Future

Benjamin Fisher
[Benjamin in a thrift store while shooting the cover for ‘What It Was’. PHOTO: Hannah Cragg]

Benjamin claims he is not much of a future planner. He, however, shared some of his plans and bucket list items for the next few years. 

  • Open for The Lumineers at some point in his musical career.
  • Live shows and collaborations with local musicians.
  • Release his EP in 2023.

“I’m going to try to hold myself to those standards for the next few years and just really commit myself fully. I feel like only with 100% commitment could my music go anywhere,” Benjamin shares.


It’s a good thing I’m better at my job than I am at driving. Otherwise, we’d all be in big trouble. On the note of things I enjoy more than driving, the local music scene is very dear to my heart — put me in a crowd in front of a band instead of behind the steering wheel any day of the week.

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