b Q&A: Schuyler Fisk talks about her new album 'Blue Ribbon Winner'

Thanks, Cassidy Barks

Growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with both parents in show business (her mom is Hollywood legend Sissy Spacek), it's no wonder Schuyler Fisk turned out to be a singer/songwriter bitten by the acting bug (she starred in "Orange County," and fellow children of the '90s probably remember her as Kristy in "The Baby-Sitters Club").


Fisk, who performs Thursday at the Metro Gallery, took time out of her rehearsal schedule — calling from a cab in New York — to talk about her sophomore album, Blue Ribbon Winner, writing about love and — you read correctly — zombies.

You have the new album, Blue Ribbon Winner, which was released Tuesday, and you're in Gus Van Sant's movie "Restless," which is coming out later this year. Does your heart lie more with music or film at the moment? How would you compare the two?

Music. I'm just so in the music zone right now with the tour and the record. My answer changes with what's going on at the moment because I do have a place for both in my heart. But right now, yeah, music. I just love that it's my own thing. It's a special thing I can do. I also love being a part of a film, especially projects like "Restless." The film actually inspired the last song on the record, "Waterbird."

You probably grew up in a very artistic home, having actress Sissy Spacek as your mom. Did she ever give you advice on starting a career in Hollywood?

Not really. She's not only my mom but one of my best friends. She obviously cares a lot about me and wants me to be happy. She told my sister and I to follow our bliss. Our household growing up was definitely artistic. The arts were definitely a big part of our lives.

Do you get something out of performing or recording that you don't from acting?

Yeah, I mean, it's a completely different monster. With recording, I love the fact that there's freedom and discovery. You can try different things. With performing you have this incredible interaction with the fans. It's hard to beat that instant gratification. A show can be different every night. It's easier to overthink things when you're recording than playing live.

For someone who hasn't heard your music before, who would you compare yourself to?

I listened to a lot of old Patsy Cline [while] recording the record. A lot of Tom Petty, Aimee Mann. Actually, a lot of Feist. I think those inspired the songs on the record and the direction I went. To pick one artist to compare yourself to is so tough. I'm a big fan of Lucinda Williams. Just a mixture of Aimee Mann, Feist, Patsy Cline, Sheryl Crow with some Motown and old jazz. And Wilco!

You sing a lot about the ups and downs of being in love and relationships. What do you personally get out of writing about the subject?

Well, it's definitely a release. It's definitely cathartic for me. It's been my way of dealing with things — with writing songs. When you're writing about love — good or bad — people can relate. I do tend to pull from personal experiences, experiences that are happening in the world around me, with my family and friends.

"Zombie" is a song that stands out from the rest of the tracks. You sing "the dead are walking" and "you can't love me 'cause your heart don't beat." Is this a cleverly disguised song about someone cold or an actual tribute to the living dead?

It's a little of both. I don't really like to reveal much about what songs mean because I feel like it's more interesting when people get to make it whatever they want. When I was writing the song, I thought of the idea because of all the zombie movies and TV shows and ... I [used] it.

You've just started touring in support of the new album. Which tracks are getting the best response so far? Is there a song you really love performing?


People seem to really be connecting with "What Good Is Love," and that's awesome because it's a very emotional, kind-of simple yet complicated song. And people are responding to the title track, "Blue Ribbon Winner," which I love playing. It's fun. It's a good time to play. My favorite one to perform, though? I don't know. "Like a Fool" is kind of fun. It's like a party.

You've written music for movies ("The Last Kiss" and "Penelope") and have contributed songs to shows, such as "Ugly Betty" and "Life Unexpected." Is there a show you're dying to have your music featured on?

I'd love to hear one of my songs on "Grey's Anatomy." I watch that show and that would be a really cool thing. I generally love to have my music on TV and film and write for a show or movie because it's an interesting challenge. TV is the new radio. That's where I think people are discovering new music.


Schuyler Fisk

Thursday. 7 pm

Metro Gallery, 1700 N. Charles St., Station North


Marissa Gallo is UGC wrangler for b. E-mail her at