Openly gay drummer, singer and songwriter Simon Fishburn (Si) has had his fair share of struggles in his attempt to break into the hefty US music industry, but his big break has come as his latest single has been played in an episode of the brand new Netflix series Tales of the City.
The 45-year-old Si put together the electro-pop/funk/dance band SiFi, and enlisted producer/guitarist Misha Savage, along with Olivia Harris – vocals, Adam Ahuja – keys and Lavondo Thomas – bass.
They released their debut track Calling Out Your Name (the first of two singles they recorded), in November of 2018, which was soon picked up by NBC Universal for the new instalment of “Armistead Maupin’s – Tales of the City”, which began streaming on Netflix from June 7.
The groundbreaking and LGBTIQ-inclusive franchise “Tales of the City” started out as a newspaper serial by Maupin in 1974 and later picked up by the San Francisco Chronicle and then published as a novel in 1978.
In the intervening years, Maupin added eight books to the series; the ninth and final novel, “The Days of Anna Madrigal,” was published in 2014.
The wildly popular novels have been adapted into a variety of forms. The first three books were turned into three separate television series by PBS and Showtime and also a stage musical.
Speaking about the song, Si said it was very exciting to be told that the song was included in the series.
“The mother of one of my drum students – Allyson Johnson (Monsoon Wedding/Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down), is an editor on the show. Knowing I am gay, she had told me how great it was to be working on the new instalment of Tales of the City,” Explained Si.
“But I hadn’t heard of Armistead Maupin, the books or the original 1993 miniseries before, being from Sydney Australia.
“So it was a complete surprise when I received a text message out of the blue saying that she had used my song Calling Out Your Name, that I co-wrote with my band SiFi, while she was editing the episode it’s in (Episode 9 Rainbow Warriors).
“She couldn’t tell me about it until she knew that the producers and the studio (NBC Universal Television), were on board to keep it in the final cut for the party scene at the end of the episode.”
The song itself is very personal for Si, about finding a partner and being accepted.
“The song is kind of fantasy about going out and finding someone hot, but in reality, you feel on the outside looking into a scene that you desperately want to be part of, but doesn’t accept you as one of them.
“I guess what’s really behind it is my own deep longing to be loved and admired for who I am – the straight acting, gay drummer that not many gay guys really “get”.
“The truth of the matter is, it’s not about other people’s acceptance of me, but about me accepting myself who I am.
“Which for me, is what I think Takes of the City is about – finding yourself and accepting who you are deep down below the surface of gender, masculinity/femininity and labels.”
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Since the song was included in the show, SiFi has had the song remixed for clubs with the help of Si’s DJ friend from Australia Yogi.
“With it being World Pride here in New York City, I figured that doing a club mix of the song would be the perfect way to get the band out there!
“I thought, maybe if I get my mate, and old music collaborator DJ Yogi from Australia, to create a hot EDM, club remix of the song, then maybe, just maybe I could break down some doors on not only my love life, but for my band as well. Can’t blame a guy for tryin’ right?”
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Tales of the City also has another Australian connection with lead character Michel “Mouse” Tolliver played by former “Looking” star Murray Bartlett.
Tales of the City can be seen on Netflix now with the song from SiFi appearing in episode nine.