Spotlight Feature



"Fish" on QSound



Fish is a Scottish vocalist, writer, actor, and QSound user, who's twenty year career in the music industry defies trends and fashions. Fish joined the progressive rock band Marillion in 1981 and led the band through numerous successes (including the world-wide hit song "Kayleigh") before departing for a solo career in 1988. Known for his dynamic personal presence and charismatic stage performances, one reviewer remarked that, "being at one of his gigs is like being entertained by a boisterous host at a particularly loud private party."



How did you become "Fish"?

"I was a Scottish lumberjack for four years before I became a singer. I started real late. I didn't start singing until I was 22 years old. When I left school I didn't know what I was going to do, and I ended up in forestry. I had always loved music, but I just couldn't find a way into it. I didn't play an instrument, and I didn't have the confidence to walk in front of a band and sing into a microphone until later.

So, when I was a forestry worker and I was way up in the north of Scotland, I had a traditional little Scottish landlady who was incredibly tight with money. She started charging me extra for baths and stuff, and I was limited to one bath a week. So I used to go in for my bath one night a week, and I'd sit there and keep on running the water, and stay in there for three or four hours. And, because there was one toilet in the house, and her being the traditional tea drinking Scotch landlady, she had to go next door to go to the toilet, which was my revenge. I used to stay in there for ages.

There was a mate of mine who asked, "are you some sort of fish?". Having a real name like Derrick William Dick, you need a nickname pretty fast in this business. I could never imagine being introduced on stage as, "Derrick Willie Dick on vocals". People still stay, "what's your real name", and I say Derrick William Dick, and they go, "no man, your REAL name". The "Fish" name just kind of stuck."


Do you tend to stay with the same engineers and producers from album to album?  Also, who are your musical influences?

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Who engineers and produces your music?

"At the moment, it's a guy named Elliott Ness who hasbeen working with me since the "Sunsets on Empire" album. I can't even remember how I found Elliott -- people tend to come into my life, they just appear at the right time when the opportunity's there. Elliott came in, I think, from an advert we placed or something, and it seems to have worked out. He's grown really well -- he's matured a lot in the way he approaches stuff. We've got a kind of strange relationship. He lives in Africa, and is writing his big book at the moment. And then he comes back to me to do an album, and makes enough money off of that to go back and live in South Africa on the cheap for a long time.

There's quiet a lot of friction in our relationship, but he's a very open minded guy. My approach to production and music is not normal. I don't look on an album as just writing songs. When I put an album together, I approach it as 'making an album'. I don't want to just write like 30 songs and then pick 12 of them for the album. I go in to write an album."


Why do you use QSound in your mix?

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What has changed for you in terms of recording since leaving Marillion?

"It's really the freedom.  I mean, in Marillion in the studio it was always five people deciding the direction, and there's that phrase "too many cooks spoil the broth."  I think there were times when there was too much involvement from too many people.  I definitely had this thing on my head where you kind of sit there and say, "well, I'm just a singer."  As a singer, you're just trying to make your mark, and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't.  But I enjoy the freedom now.  I have come up with some off the wall ideas, but I don't have to have a big argument to get them across."


How did you discover QSound?

"I think it was through the Rogers Waters stuff.  Again, I'm trying to make movies for people's ears.  So, if you can find a tool like QSound that can enhance that sound-scape and make it much more three-dimensional, then it's something I'm going to be interested in.  And people had been talking about it.  So we used it on the album "Sunsets on Empire", and we'll be using it on the new album "Field of Crows", which we'll start to put together towards the end of the year.  The approach there is very different -- I'm embracing technology a lot more in terms of rhythms and loops.  We'll be using a lot of acoustic textures in a blues, folk-rock way with a Zeppelin feel to it.  And I've always loved ethnic vocals and ethnic phrasing, and want to use vocals as part of the rhythm track.  This detail cries out for some serious sound-scaping."


Where do you see QSound processing fitting into "Field of Crows"?

"QSound will fit into that project easily.  There are so many sound effects we're using.  We're doing stuff like taking the sound of crows wings, compressing them, and using them in a way to construct rhythm patterns.  We'll be processing sounds, and using them in the background to play off against violins, fiddles, Scottish and Irish pipes, Arabic instruments...  I have always loved Arabic sounds and tones.  So with that, there's a great chance to do a lot of layering.

On top of that, I think many people are starting to listen to music on surround sound systems.  We'll definitely be doing a surround sound mix on the next album.  People don't just want to hear four-four rock... they want to hear something that's a bit special -- something they can sink into, rather than just have it facing them."


Tell us about your fans:

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What comes next?

"I'm working on a couple of DVDs next.  We did a show in Holland a couple weeks back, where we did one night of just old Marillion material with my solo band.  We played the whole "Misplaced Childhood" album.  So I'm preparing a live album and a DVD that's going to be released in December.  There is still a demand for people to hear the old material.  This concert was a bit of an experiment, but it worked really well.  We're looking into the possibility of going out next year and doing a two month tour, just playing the old material with a kind of theatrical production."






Song samples:
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"The Perception of Johnny Punter"

"Sunsets on Empire"


Fish can be found on the web at






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