Actress Schuyler Fisk hopes to capture blue ribbon with new CD
February 25, 2011|By John J. Moser, OF THE MORNING CALL
Schuyler Fisk seems to be successful at whatever she does.
As an actress, the daughter of Oscar-winner Sissy Spacek has had roles in critically acclaimed, if small, movies, such as the 2002 MTV film "Orange County" and the 2006 comedy "I'm Reed Fish," in which she played, of all things, a singer.
As a singer-songwriter, she had a debut album, 2009's "The Good Stuff," that hit No. 1 on the iTunes folk chart, and had her song "Paperweight" used in the movies "The Last Kiss" and last year's Amanda Seyfried film "Dear John."
These days, Fisk has both a new movie, the Gus Van Sant-directed "Restless," set for release this spring, and a new album, "Blue Ribbon Winner," which drops March 1. She's now supporting the disc with a tour that stops March 4 at Tin Angel in Philadelphia.
But Fisk, 28, says her success doesn't come from any intricate schedule for her career.
"I don't really have some master plan," Fisk says in a recent telephone call from inside a car in Hollywood. "I kind of just go with what happens to be going for me at that time. I'm just trying to stay creative and stay busy."
One could argue that both acting and music seem to be in Fisk's blood.
The acting lineage is clear. Her earliest roles were in Spacek's film "The Long Walk Home" and her director father Jack Fisk's "Daddy's Dyin' … Who's Got the Will," both in 1990, before she starred in 1995's "The Baby-Sitters Club."
But Fisk (her first name's pronounced "Sky-ler") says she also got her music ability from Spacek.
"My mom taught me the guitar," she says. "Music's been a huge part of her life and became part of my life. When I was growing up we listened to a lot of great music – The Beatles, The Stones, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, we listened to Tom Petty. She would always pick me up from school and we'd just drive and just listen to music and sing."
But it wasn't until 2006, when Fisk wrote and sang her song "Paperweight" with singer-songwriter Joshua Radin, then her boyfriend, that Fisk's music career took off. Radin introduced her to actor/director Zach Braff, who used the duet on the soundtrack of "The Last Kiss."
She signed to Universal Records, but after two years without a release left the label.
"They were sweet to me, and they certainly opened a lot of doors for me," Fisk says. "But when it came down to it, they weren't ready to allow me to make a record. And I just felt like at that time I was really ready." By then, she says, changes in the music business allowed her to release the disc independently on iTunes and Amazon."
It turned out to be a good decision. In addition to "The Good Stuff" the album charting, it put her on tour with Radin and James Taylor's son, Ben, and let her write for other soundtracks.
Fisk says that for her sophomore disc, "I wanted to be more about just kind of forgetting about the fact that I was making a record and just worry about having fun making music, and then kind of see what we came up with."
"When I made 'The Good Stuff,' I feel like I'd been waiting my whole life to make a full-length record, so there was a lot of anticipation and I felt like I had a lot to prove on that record," she says. "I love that record a lot, but I feel like that was just a completely different experience."
For "Blue Ribbon Winner," Fisk says she took a couple of months and went back to Virginia, near where she grew up, and "we just wrote and recorded the whole record."
"It just has this Virginia feel to me," she says. "I think there's a lot of my Virginia roots that come out on this record." She says its sound also is more eclectic, drawing from such artists as Feist — whose influence is obvious in Fisk's singing — as well as Petty, Wilco, and "a lot of old school country like Patsy Cline and Conway Twitty."
"And actually a lot of Motown," she says, laughing. "I got some horns in there."
"I think I've grown musically. I was influenced a lot by just so many different genres of music for this record, and I really didn't over-think the fact that I was being inspired by so many different genres, you know? I was just like, 'We're going to go with it.' "
The opportunity to do "Restless" came up during the making of the record, and "that was a no brainer – of course I was going to go do that," Fisk says. The film has her playing the older sister of Mia Wasikowska, who starred in Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland."
"It's a coming-of-age story with special circumstances. That's all I'll say," she says with a laugh. "But it's really beautiful."
Fisk got to combine her film and screen worlds in November, when she accompanied her mother to the Country Music Association awards ceremony. Spacek gave a poignant tribute to country icon Loretta Lynn, whom she portrayed in her Oscar-winning role in the 1980 movie "Coal Miner's Daughter."
"Some of my favorite moments of that whole being at the CMA Awards was just being backstage with Loretta and just the funny comments that would come out of her mouth," Fisk says with a laugh. "She's so real. She doesn't worry about being perceived a certain way or anything, she's just who she is."
You can preview (or buy) Schuyler's new album here. The physical CD's are sold out on amazon as of this morning, but I'm sure it'll restock soon. She's also touring the East Coast, San Fran, and LA. The dates are on her official page.
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