From visas and now to vocals, immigration lawyer and musician Libby Fischer has just released her first album.
Lyresong Lullabies is a compilation of meditation music, and despite Libby’s initial nerves, it is finding a broad audience.
The album cover.
“I had to battle some intense anxiety though, until some validation started feeding back online. One listener told me she would play it to her horse, which suffers anxiety,” Libby, who also plays flute, piano, percussion and guitar, said.
“Another said she will use it in her work as a diversion therapist with the elderly. When my sister sent me a photo of her two-year-old asleep on the floor, I felt my mission was complete.
“I decided against a launch party because I didn’t think I could drum up any hype over a relaxation album. Having set no expectations, I have been pleasantly surprised.
“When I told my nine-year-old daughter that I was on Spotify, she started jumping up and down’, so I did too. My six-year-old son put his hand on my shoulder, looked into my eyes and just said ‘Mum’, before giving me a big hug.”
Although this is Libby’s first album, it is not her first venture in the musical world.
“I used to play flute with Brisbane hip hop artists (hence the name Ad+Lib), Truth Serum and Master Wolf (one highlight was supporting Grand Master Flash); jammed with a jazz trio called Ham; and had a rockin’ garage band with my husband and some buddies,” she said.
She has also performed back-up vocals for hip hop crews and was the lead singer in the garage rock band.
“I took lessons for a little while but found that I didn’t like my voice anymore when it became too polished. Vocal warm-ups, however, are great for everyday vocal exercise and relaxation.”
However Libby took a break from music while starting juggling her work at her own practice, Fischer Migration Lawyers, and starting a family. Then a family reunion in Newcastle inspired her to take up music again.
“We were celebrating the life of my beautiful grandma with a singalong around the piano, when Billy Joel’s lyrics ‘Sing us a song, you’re the piano man’ really got me thinking.
“One of my uncles couldn’t be there due to his Alzheimer’s Disease but my cousins informed us that he enjoyed singing along to songs by The Beatles.
“I found that absolutely amazing. I wanted to create something for my children that might provide them with comfort both now and throughout their lives, guide them toward good music (Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath) and movies (Gladiator, Lord of the Rings), give them something to remember me after I’m gone; and maybe even one day, if their memories are fading, help regenerate their cognitive function!
“My husband Otto bought me some microphones; my brother-in-law Michael Hardy (a sessional drummer for Violent Soho and John Butler Trio) helped me set up a recording template; and I called my brilliant examination piano accompanist David Mibus.”
Libby’s husband Otto has assisted.
It took about three years for the album to come together.
“I already knew how to play the flute etc, but now I had to learn about sound as an orb: where to place the microphones, how to connect the hardware to the software, getting the balance of volume right, remembering to hit record,” she said.
“Then there was the mixing: erasing every breath, choosing between a seemingly endless array of effects and plug-ins. A bit like learning to use legal software. I did as much as I could, then got help with the rest. Now I’m finally at the point where I must figure out how to get people to listen to it! My brother-in-law told me this is usually the point where he gives up.”
And while figuring out her audience, Libby and her husband, who was practising as Premier Conveyancing Lawyers, launched a parent company, Regenesis Lawyers in July 2022.
“Short for Human Rights Regenesis, the name is fitting for our current areas and style of practice, as well as opening the possibility for future expansion into intellectual property, with Ad+Lib as our first client.
“My ‘other job’ as a lawyer generally didn’t interfere with the process, but only because I have built my life around music. I wanted to be free to have my own identity and I felt that most law firms think being a ‘fit and proper person’ means ‘not having any fun’!
“So, I started setting up my own practice in the hope that one day I would have the liberty to lead a double life without tainting someone else’s brand. That part took 10 years.
“However, I have been careful to prioritise my clients’ interests and to make my music something that might help them as well. Often a quick puff on the flute focuses my mind to concentrate on a complex case. Recently a client was re-traumatised after a hearing and I sent them a song to try and help them relax and when any of my clients have a baby, I send them a song instead of flowers.”
Libby said she felt it was important to balance personal goals with family and work life.
“I can’t speak for others, but when we had kids, Otto and I promised ourselves that we would keep at least one part of our former lives intact. For me, it was flute. For him, it was martial arts, and he trains with inspiring commitment. He also loves cars and, while I experiment with sound engineering, he dabbles in mechanics.
“I think it’s important for our kids to see us actively developing diverse skills, instead of devoting our lives to work, driving them around, and looking at our phones.”
The album is a gift for their children.
And the debut album may be the start of things to come for Libby.
“Hopefully the album won’t be too popular though. I still haven’t quite figured out the finer details of intellectual property licensing, so if anyone knows a good lawyer,” she joked.
“My next recording project is to be a kids dance album. I would also love to continue playing Lyresongs live with David Mibus at GOMA and other venues that showcase art and architecture.”
If you would like to take a listen to Lyresong Lullabies, try Spotify https://open.spotify.com/album/1myzKqXOJP8HKyNG9qF2gw?si=Lp3wRN1oT06e4LuFTFfRKA&nd=1 or Youtube Music https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_nGcm-PVsxSsASFL8XNbMXiUiMy2lDMCVk