Meet Dan Fishback – A Musician With a Message

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Dan Fishback
Photo by Sammy Tunis

Talented Brooklyn-based hyphenate (playwright/songwriter/performer) Dan Fishback creatively documents his life as a chronically ill, queer Jew in an age of rising fascism on a new EP, Ill I: Laughing with Lizards.

Of the project, which will be released on February 16, Dan says, “Ill I: Laughing with Lizards is the first of three short albums, documenting feelings and impressions from my life as a chronically ill, queer Jew in an age of rising fascism. Ill (the word “ill” with a capital “i”) speaks to dysfunctional imbalances, not just within my own body, but within the body politic, and this first collection focuses on that political disorder. The subtitular track, “Laughing with Lizards”, explores the grief of witnessing injustice and the solace of knowing that ours is not the first generation to fight against overwhelming political cruelty.”

Dan Fishback Ill I: Laughing with Lizards
Photo by Avram Finkelstein

The release is accompanied by a hand-animated video directed and drawn by Dan Fishback and edited by Sean Puglisi. Dan says the video “brings some levity to these themes of trauma, injustice and resistance. My protagonist, a young Jewish leftist, creates a golem (a sort of android protector from European Jewish folklore) out of mashed potatoes, in the shape of one of her shtetl ancestors. She and her Bubbe Golem go on adventures in Brooklyn, using the Bubbe Golem’s magic powers to right various wrongs.

While the video was finished before last year’s October 7th Hamas attacks and the ensuing Israeli bombardment of Gaza, the video’s climax features the Bubbe Golem attending a Jewish solidarity rally for Palestine, where she confronts a Zionist counter-protestor and heals him of the pain that distorts his thinking. The gesture is part of a long history of left-wing Jewish resistance to Zionism–a phenomenon that grows more powerful and urgent by the day.” 

Dan began performing in New York City in 2003, finding a home in the Lower East Side’s anti-folk scene and releasing several albums, both solo and with his band Cheese On Bread, which dropped its most recent recording, The One Who Wanted More, in 2018, along with a video for their song “Bad Friend,” directed by legendary underground queer filmmaker Stephen Winter and featuring trans cabaret legend Justin Vivian Bond.

Dan Fishback
Photo by Sammy Tunis

Fishback has myalgic encephalomyelitis–also known as chronic fatigue syndrome–and hosted the podcast Sick Day with Dan Fishback from 2018 through 2019. His work continues to engage with Jewish and queer political crises, always with a historical element and with a newfound emphasis on disability justice, marked by Fishback’s experience as a high-risk person in a world that has ended collective efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID.

Dan adds, “Ill I: Laughing with Lizards marks my first solo recording in over a decade, and, to be honest, I spent much of the last several years assuming I would never record again. I have myalgic encephalomyelitis–also known as chronic fatigue syndrome–a disease that punishes my body for intense exertion. The process of recording an album is physically grueling, and as my condition has worsened, my future in music seemed more and more unlikely. And so none of these songs or videos would exist if it were not for my producer Matt Katz, who invited me into a recording process built around my own limitations. The result has been slow-going, but illuminating and rewarding, thanks to Matt’s kindness and omnipotent musical talent. Ill I: Laughing with Lizards is a collection of songs about living through dark times, but these songs also insist that we are not alone, that we are not the first, and that we are not the last.”

Listen to Dan’s work and follow him on his Official site as well as Instagram, YouTube and Patreon


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Last update on 2024-07-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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