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Guy Sebastian and Sam Fischer Have the ‘Antidote’

The Australian singer-songwriters discuss their first-ever collaboration, TV singing competitions, and their solo music

Guy Sebastian and Sam Fischer have only just released “Antidote”, their first-ever single together, but they’re already thinking of something bigger.

“We’re a duo, but should we add a third member to be a proper boy band? Stan Walker!” Guy says, much to Sam’s approval. Guy Sebastian, Sam Fischer, and Stan Walker: that powerhouse trio would break the internet in Australasia.

For now, “Antidote”, the Guy and Sam’s love letter to the music that has saved them throughout their life, will more than suffice.

The soul-stirring single finds their vocal ranges syncing perfectly, Guy’s powerful choruses matching Sam’s velvety falsetto sublimely.

When Rolling Stone AU/NZ caught up with them just after their performance on the Grand Final of Australian Idol, they were buzzing about their single finally being unveiled to the world.

They also had plenty of other things to discuss, including Sam’s upcoming global tour (including three dates in Australia) in support of his debut album I Love You, Please Don’t Hate Me, and Guy’s returning stint as a judge on The Voice Australia and an unexpected move to the bright lights of Bollywood.

Read on for the full conversation about their careers, mutual respect, and the healing power of music – or whatever your current ‘antidote’ is.

Guy Sebastian and Sam Fischer’s “Antidote” is out now. 

Rolling Stone AU/NZ: How was performing the new song on Australian Idol last night? 

Guy Sebastian: It was really special. We actually haven’t sung it that many times. We did it a couple of days before at the Wharf4Ward, a youth cancer charity event by Sony. I’m glad we did that – we needed a rehearsal!

Sam Fischer: Mate, have you been back to Idol since winning?

Guy: I don’t think so, but seeing their logo splashed across the front of the desk brought back all these memories. During soundcheck I had a moment. It’s been the most significant thing in my life – it was the thing that gave me the ability to do this, meeting people like Sam Fischer.

Sam: It brought you here to me (laughs).

RS: Shannon Noll was also performing, that must have been another blast from the past for you. 

Guy: I think that’s why the whole thing felt very nostalgic, you know, Ricki-Lee was there as well. In soundcheck, I didn’t realise I’d be sitting on that desk with the Australian Idol logo later because Marcia [Hines] unfortunately had an incident and had to be taken away in an ambulance. So I ended up filling in as a judge, which was nerve-wracking. But it felt easy because I was next to Kyle [Sandilands] and Amy [Shark], who I’ve known forever. They made me feel pretty at ease.

RS: You’re right at home in the judges seat. Now tell me, is Guy Sebastian and Sam Fisher the next hottest Australian boy band? 

Sam: Oh, we’ve been hashing it out between us. 

Guy: We’ve talked about what our name would be like ‘Guyfish’ or ‘Sebasti-cher’…

Sam: To answer your question, absolutely, yes.

Guy: Yeah, we’re a duo, or do we find another person? Who would be our third? Stan Walker!

Sam: Staaaaaan.

RS: Tell me a little bit more about this collaboration on “Antidote”.

Guy: We just love singing together. We did some mentoring on The Voice recently, and everything felt so natural because we’re aligned creatively and personally too.

Sam: We’ve both done a lot of collaborations, and when you’re just working with someone who you’re genuinely also just mates with, it makes the process more fun. Our voices blend so well together.

I think when you’re working with someone as talented as Guy is, as a vocalist, as a singer first, we can really push each other vocally and see what we can do. Neither of us takes anything too seriously. We have a bit of fun with the moment and not get swept up in any tiny little thing that might go wrong.

Guy: Our voices complement each other so well. Sam sings with such nuance – he’ll sing a verse and make it sound easy. You don’t know why you’re hanging onto every word, but it’s because there’s such an art form in making a lyric that is, you know, in a low range pop and commands attention. For me, there are a few singers that do that. People like Alessia Cara and others – they inject so many little nuances in the way that they phrase things.

Sam: And then you’ll hear Guy smash out the chorus and sing higher than anyone should. 

Guy: I’ll belt and you do the falsetto. It’s funny, even when I was recording Sam’s vocals in my studio here in Sydney, I’d swear I got him to do two takes, and I knew I had it. Maybe got a few more just for fun. Usually, with a duet, you split things equally as much as you can, but I decided early on that this isn’t it.

The song itself, for me, is very pure, and to honour that, I felt like I just had to take ego out of it. I got to the end of the first chorus, and I was like, I don’t need to be in this because when I would go to sing it, it just never sounded quite as sweet as Sam singing it in his falsetto – he’s got this beautiful kind of Robin Thicke falsetto. So Sam takes the whole first chorus, and then I literally just edited the song and divided it up based on who fit that part.

Sam: I think both of us were just happy to be on the song in whatever capacity, and I feel like you can hear that.

RS: Sam, what did you learn working with Guy? 

Sam: Just how talented Guy is, to work with someone who has been at the forefront of the industry for the last 20 years. Seeing Guy make the moment of winning Australian Idol last and continue is so inspiring – he still works as if he’s the new kid on the block. 

I do a lot of writing for other artists, and Guy is by far one of the most talented humans I’ve ever worked with. His choices and musicality in melody and lyric writing flow so naturally. His ear for backgrounds, harmonies, and dedication to the craft have been such a learning experience for me. Being in his world of TV has also been a privilege. This mentoring session on The Voice was cool because we bounced off each other. We share similar perspectives on artistry and vocals. There’s a difference between a singer and an artist – it’s work ethic and passion.

Guy: That’s a big thing. Sam has collaborated with many huge artists around the world, like Demi Lovato. When you’ve got someone equally invested, you both feel the song has to win, and that’s most important. And there’s no ego involved; it feels easy and supported. With Sam, there are so many benefits to having him on the track and to have him actually love the song. It’s very different from some rap collaborations where you just pay their fee and they don’t want to hear from you. It doesn’t feel collaborative.

Sam: I don’t think either of us ever hesitates to text each other with an idea. Whereas in the past, for me, it’s been a little difficult trying to keep the other artists pushing. So yeah, it’s just been such an easy, fluid process. And you know, I wish I was back in Australia more.

RS: It really is a timeless track. Has the meaning of it changed since you made it? 

Sam: I think people have just been injecting their own stories [into the song]. It started as a love for music and what it’s done for our lives in a professional sense, but also in an emotional and mental health sense. Seeing people create videos to it, showing off their partner or just whatever thing in their life that is there for them, that’s saving them, that is helping them, the love of their life – it’s just always cool to put on music and see how the audience interprets it.

Guy: For me, the way it started was about music. There are a lot of lyrics in there that probably make a lot more sense for the listener if they know us. “It’s funny how I almost walked away from the very thing that saved me…”, ‘You take my feet from stumbling to dancing.”

We were talking about the rock bottom place that we’ve both been. Specifically, when I asked Sam about “This City”, his song that went global and opened up so many doors for him, he told me the story of feeling like he was going to give up on music right before it happened, maybe move back to Australia or whatever. Then his song just took off, and suddenly there were hundreds and thousands of streams a day.

Sam: This was back in 2019, before TikTok was the global beast that it is now. I got a message from this TikTok creator on Instagram saying, “Hey, I don’t know if you know this, but there’s an app called TikTok, and I think your song is the biggest song on that app.” And I was like, “What are you talking about?” So I downloaded TikTok, and there was a clipped version of “This City” that had about 300,000 videos linked to it, and another version had about 100,000. 

I messaged this guy, and was like, “Hey, do you mind if we hang out? Can you tell me about TikTok?” He had an apartment in North Hollywood, we lived very close to each other. I walk into this place, and it’s like a little grey IKEA couch, a TV on the wall and a ring light, and nothing else in the apartment. And he was like, “Yeah, so I just kind of sit here and make content all day for TikTok.” He had been a part of “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X blowing up and “Say So” by Doja Cat. Then he started using “This City”. He was like, “This is the secret to the music industry. It’s gonna take over,” and this is 2019. I’m going, “Okay.” 

But yeah, as Guy was saying, before that happened I had been in a really horrible situation with a label, and the people around me were not there for the right reasons. I was very disillusioned with the whole music industry in LA, and I was just being abused constantly by someone that I trusted.

I wrote “This City” as like a diary entry, and the day I recorded it, I didn’t want to be at the studio. I recorded the vocal, basically a one-take, in a kitchen, and I sent it off to the label I was signed to at the time. All they said was it’s pretty, and my manager at the time said it’s good but it’s nothing special. I put it out because I got dropped after not putting out anything, and it didn’t do shit for ages.

Guy: I added that song a year and a half or something before it had blown up

Sarah: What did you think of the track when you first heard it, Guy? 

Guy: That was the thing that made me a huge Sam Fischer fan because it was actually my A&R guy, Pat, at the time who showed me that song. And he’s like, “This guy’s Aussie.” I was like, “Hang on. What do you mean Aussie?”

Sam: I feel like I’m still having to tell people I’m Australian.

Guy: So, I was a fan way before it blew up. It was pretty amazing getting Sam into the studio. I had this sketch of “Antidote” and the concept actually came from the last line of my drummer’s wedding vows. We both decided to make it about music. But to be honest, since then, there have been things that have happened in life and now the song has changed for me. It’s one of those songs where you can mould it [to] whatever the thing [is] that anchors you, and that changes all the time. It can be sometimes the most menial thing, like this UP&GO is my antidote right now.

RS: Or a breakfast sandwich! Sam, I’ve seen the official Instagram reviews

Sam: Oh my god yes, I love a breakfast sandwich, ‘Sam’s Sammies’.

Guy: What sorts, like bacon and egg rolls? 

Sam: All sorts, like my favourite in Sydney right now is Bean Town cafe in Newtown. They have this amazing breakfast sandwich with maple butter and tomato relish and honestly, it’s divine. I’m a big breakfast fan.

RS: So what’s coming up for you both this year? Guy, I see you’ve got some new company on The Voice.

Guy: There’s a whole new coach lineup except for they got stuck with me! There’s LeAnn Rimes and we’ve got Adam Lambert, who I just adore and have worked with before, and then we’ve got Kate Miller-Heidke making her TV debut in this kind of format. It’s been good so far, that’ll go to air a bit later on in the year. 

I’ve got a movie coming out, actually. I started writing music and scoring for this Bollywood film, Hindi Vindi, late last year, then I ended up being the singing voice for the main protagonist, a 17-year-old kid. Eventually, I was cast to play his Dad. I had to have a huge beard and add some greys to it – my manager hated it!

The role was really challenging in all the good ways. I have a lot of friends who are actors, and I have so much respect for the craft of acting. I always knew it was going to be hard, but I didn’t realise how challenging it would be to block out outside noise and fully commit to being someone else. I’m glad I gave it the respect it needed because if I had just thought I could wing it, I would have been terrible. 

Then I’m planning on touring and hopefully finishing the album, which is going to be released with another single in a few months. I’ve written the entire album over the past few years, so now it’s time to finalise the tracklisting, finish recording, and release it. I think next year will focus more on international tours. There’s so many comments on my socials from fans overseas. I think it’s time for me to just take a bit of a leap of faith just to get to places, even if I sell 10 tickets. 

RS: Sam you’ll be back in Australia for some tour dates in May? 

Sam: That’s right, May 9th in Brisbane, 10th in Sydney, and 11th in Melbourne. I can’t wait. You know, when “This City” took off, Niall Horan asked me to come and tour with him around the States and I was supposed to do all these shows in Australia too. Then the pandemic happened, and that was the biggest thing that I missed out on while having a hit song.

RS: The timing of that was just brutal, heartbreaking.

Sam: The pandemic cancelled so much for me, but the biggest blow was not being able to tour worldwide with my song. I feel like I’m just starting my touring business now. It was such a relief that I’ve just put out my first album. It’s a weird feeling. There’s this dissonance between my streams and the amount of people that know my songs, but then my ticket sales aren’t great because no one knows it’s actually me. So that’s what I’m working on right now, letting the Australian public know I’m actually Australian. I can’t wait to come back and play. It’s gonna be amazing. The stage is where I thrive, it’s where I live. So I’m excited to be fulfilling that dream, finally. I’ll be broke as hell by the end of it, but it will be great. 

RS: Any final words? 

Guy/Sam: Stream “Antidote”! 

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