April 18th, 2019

Little did I know that a traumatic experience from my days as a young boy would be the driving force behind one of my most ambitious creative endeavors.

I remember the moment clearly. A few kids at summer day camp were forming a circle around a single bug (later I found out it was a cicada) that was flailing about on the ground. The kids were poking it with a stick, and each poke triggered a strange sound from the winged creature. After a few pokes the campers decided to stop antagonizing the bug, but they just continued to stare in amazement at how bizarre it looked. A few moments went by while the creature was lying on its back still as can be, then it happened. In a split second the bug launched into the air and made a straight line for my face! I saw it up close and I ducked out of the way, horrified by what happened.

Why did the cicada aim for me? If I had not moved out of the way the cicada would have smacked right into my nose! Ever since that moment I developed a fear of cicadas. I can still go outside while they are “chirping” but seeing a cicada live or dead freaks me out. And don’t even get me started on the thousands of cicada shells haunting every tree.

My latest project is called Cicada Madness! Initially when I teamed up with Alex Goldenthal on guitar and composition the idea was to create a series of songs, each telling a different story. One of these stories was to be about a VR headset that would latch onto its victims and display their greatest fears, similar to the “Playtest” episode of Black Mirror.

This got me thinking about some of my greatest fears, one of them being cicadas. I thought to myself, Why should I allow these screeching insects to scare me? Let me tackle this fear head on. I could create an entire work centered around cicadas!

So there it is, an experience from more than 20 years ago has allowed me to create my most ambitious work to date. Stay tuned for the first episode of Cicada Madness! coming later this spring.

Sam Fishman