Sean Fischer’s production name French Braids makes perfect sense for an electronic artist known for weaving styles and genres together. “I try my best to express that in the music I put out,” Fischer says of his eclectic musical background. “I take everything I learned along the way, and have little splashes of it all.
The Toronto-born beatmaker, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has been in the game since enrolling in a music-based high school, the same one BadBadNotGood attended. Fischer found himself promoting shows for his “nerdy” rock band at age 13, selling out rooms like late, lamented Queen Street venues Kathedral and Reverb, and by 17 he was studying advanced jazz arranging.
After graduating, Fischer moved to Havana. “I was just digging that music, and they had a jazz scene there. I went down on a whim with a nap sack and a desire to see what was up.” He got a student visa, albeit for a language school, found a rental house and started hanging at the legendary Escuela Nacional Del Arte music university where he took private piano lessons with the teachers, all Cuban jazz greats, and spent every day playing and jamming. “Breathing in their musical language for a year, it comes out of me naturally even to this day,” he says.
He returned to Canada to study jazz performance and arrangement at McGill University — “I thought I was going to be a concert jazz player who wears a dress shirt and plays halls” — but that plan fizzled after two years and he moved to Toronto to join a rock band. Despite having only ever played live instruments, Fischer spent a year teaching himself production and landed a job composing orchestral theme songs and scores for TV shows, documentaries and commercials.
But by now he’d fallen for electronic music and started branching out into remixes as French Braids for an international array of artists, including Grammy-nominated Australian trio Mansionair, South African superstar Sketchy Bongo, Swedish pop icon Zara Larsson and rising Canadian club crooner Virginia to Vegas.
“They got great numbers and I was satisfied creatively,” Fischer says. Not one to sit still, he was soon doing artist production, working with cinematic-trap mastermind Lantz on Jazz Cartier’s breakout 2017 single “Tempted,” and again on the Ralph and Darcys neo-80s collab “Screenplay.” He’s also produced for platinum-selling pop singer Anjulie and Ryland James, the latest find by Alessia Cara’s manager Chris Smith.
But once again, he was eager to move forward and focus on his own work, beginning with his balearic debut hit “Wildfire” featuring Frankmusik. Upcoming French Braids projects include a pop-focused electronic album featuring vocals and traditional song structure as well as a pure instrumental beat tape that houses his more experimental efforts.
Fischer’s genre-blending music is mix of chillwave, future bass, house, pop and world while his sonic inspirations include Odesza, Pomo, Disclosure and Ninja Tune legend Bonobo. But whether dropping a pop-soul-house track or a chillwave trap track, what connects Fischer’s work is his ability to bring his years of intense music education, live performance and composition into beatmaking.
“Everything I do, whether it’s pop or some wavy instrumental, it’s always going to have those more complex chords or colour tones because that’s what my ear tells me is right, and because I can. A lot of producers just guess, whereas I know.”