Montell Fish.

IT’S SIX HOURS before Montell Fish is due to take the stage, and already, a bunch of teenagers are lining up outside Sydney’s Carriageworks precinct, waiting for the doors to open. Some of them are holding homemade signs, with messages like ‘Fall in Love With Me’ scribbled across them. Apparently, this is a pretty regular sight outside Montell Fish shows – the artist has 1.8 million followers on TikTok after all. But still, it’s impressive to see so many Australian fans turn out on his first ever tour of the country. “Australia is actually part of my top 10 locations,” Fish tells us of his listener base when we get inside. “It feels good to be here.” 

Fish is dressed in baggy blue jeans and an oversized hoodie, hood on. “I like to be cosy,” he tells us of his fit. “I mean, I’ve worn this hoodie almost every day for the past two months.” He says he likes to carry this cosy vibe from writing and rehearsing mode to stage mode. “I’m very much like, ‘let’s translate that right to the stage, let it feel at home.”

This makes sense. After all, Fish blew up during Covid, when he was making tracks in his bedroom and releasing them on Soundcloud as demos, before compiling them all into his hit 2022 album, Jamie. Low-fi and acoustic, Jamie featured tracks like ‘Talk 2 Me’ and ‘Fall in Love with You’ – songs that struck a potent chord with a generation of young people enduring love and heartbreak during the pandemic. The haunting break-up ballad, ‘Fall in Love with You’, has clocked up no less than 300 million plays on Spotify. 

But Fish wasn’t totally unknown before Jamie, which he wrote, produced and recorded by himself. For years, the 26-year-old musician had been releasing faith-centred music that was, according to many reviews of his earlier stuff, redefining Christian music for a younger generation. This genre was inspired his upbringing in the church – his mum was a devout Christian, while his father was not – as well as straying away from and then rediscovering his faith as a teenager. But Jaime saw Fish’s writing wade into more secular territory.

“With Jamie, I was kind of religiously coming out of . . . some beliefs . . . I grew up going to church and like, one of the most pure feelings sometimes is just a person and their guitar, because it’s so stripped [back] and so raw. And that was kind of like me coming out of the church, just like that emotion,” he explains of Jamie’s texture when we sit down to chat.

His highly anticipated upcoming album, Charlotte, which is due to drop in July, is “just a bit darker”. “I’m not going to church anymore – I still have my beliefs and stuff like that – but a lot of the beliefs that I grew up believing kind of hurt me. With Charlotte, I think that’s why I’ve taken longer. It’s a bit more like thought out and . . . I guess I really just wanted to oppose Jamie; that’s probably one of the main things. I didn’t want to feel boxed in and I just really wanted to stay moving.”

One of Charlotte’s first tracks, ‘Who Did You Touch’, dropped the night before we spoke. His fans are already eating it up, leaving comments to the tune of “this is on repeat” and “i love u endlessly” on his Instagram posts teasing the track.

“It’s kind of inspired by these Parisian clubs I was going to. I started this song in Paris, I was going to some clubs out there and just getting into the scene. . . like, four-on-the-floor, that electronic influence – everything about the griminess of Paris, but also the elegance and the mystery,” he explains of the song’s darker, racier texture. Certainly, it sits apart from the low-fi, acoustic, demo-sounding mood of his last album, Jaime.

“You know, you might meet someone and have a whole night together. ‘Who did you Touch’ is kind of inspired by those times.” 

Charlotte is definitely a lot different than Jamie. It’s similar in a lot of ways – it’s a thematic project that’s seemingly about one person, one character. But some of the creative choices that I took were a lot different,” Fish shares. “I spent months and months working on songs rather than just uploading a first Soundcloud demo, like I did with some of the Jamie songs. I wanted to go the opposite of that.”

Watch our full conversation with Montell Fish below. 


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