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PIAF Connect

Five Minutes with William Fitzsimmons

Monday 18 January 2016

  • Interview

A profound storyteller, William Fitzsimmons’ music is utterly captivating, melding honesty, depravity and autobiography into a seamless whole. Spend five minutes with William below and you’ll see why excitement abounds in the lead-up to his performance at the all-new Chevron Festival Gardens this February.


When did you decide you wanted to be a musician?

My parents are both musicians, although not in the career sense.  So I grew up in a very musical home and had a couple of instruments under my belt pretty young, albeit not very well. I didn't take the idea of pursuing it as my life's work until I was in my mid-20s and my life kind of fell apart. My personal life went to hell so I decided it was a chance to do some things differently. Kind of a start over, I suppose.

What music do you listen to when you can’t decide what to listen to?

David Wilcox, Nick Drake, Mark Kozelek or Sufjan Stevens. Can't go wrong with anything those guys have done.

If you were describing your music to a stranger, what would you say?

I usually like to tell people it's the best nap music they'll ever find. But then I get super serious and tell them it's the greatest modern folk music ever made. Then when I stop being an asshole, I just tell them it's pretty, confessional folk music.

Tell us about the first gig you ever saw.

Ugh, I'm ashamed to say a friend took me to a Lynyrd Skynyrd show when I was in junior high school. Ted Nugent opened. There were literally dudes walking around in confederate American civil war uniforms. It was terrifying and I couldn't wait to get out of there.  It was vaguely entertaining to see somebody actually play ‘Freebird’ at a concert with no irony, though.

What are the best books or articles you’ve read lately?

I just finished Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer. (I've read nearly all of his books – kinda a big fan). It was fantastic. Before that, the last one I really liked was Under the Banner of Heaven, also by Krakauer!

If you could have dinner with someone from one of your favourite bands, who would you take and what would you ask them?

Goodness. I think if it's OK to pick someone from beyond the grave, I'd have to take Nick Drake. I used to be a therapist and still have a great love of and fascination with mental health. It'd be really interesting to find out where he was at, psychologically, and how it related to the music he was making. I don't mean that to be morbid, either. It's more about wanting to really understand his music in the way he hoped we would.

William Fitzsimmons plays the Chevron Festival Gardens at Elizabeth Quay on Sunday 14 February. For more information, please click here.