Last spring, I had the opportunity to interview Simon Scott (link), a musical pioneer who was a founding member of the Charlottes, Slowdive, and Televise. October 2009 saw the release of his first solo album, “Navigare” (link). I personally could not pass up the opportunity to follow up our first interview after the release of his album, and Simon Scott was kind enough to take the time out and answer 5 (again) for us. Our thanks to Simon Scott; enjoy!
1. You have been in the industry now for over twenty-years, starting out as a drummer when you were sixteen. In this broadband world, how has the industry changed in your experience?
The Internet has given music a great opportunity to develop creative relationships with like-minded musicians very quickly as the exchange of ideas and information has become almost instant. Digital communication allows the sharing of software and information for the artist to develop their ideas and learn new ways of making music and sound. The downside is that everyone can produce music as we now all own a computer with music software installed and there is a lot of rehashing of ideas ironically.
Illegal downloads are killing the opportunity for us to move forward in the digital age as the artist and label doesn’t get paid. Why should label and artist pour their creativity into releases that become free and disposable? I feel that everyone should hear music for free then buy the quality releases but this balance isn’t out there yet.
Twenty years ago the attitude was write music, perform it as much as possible and then get a record out, but now it is only a small handful of musicians go out and play despite a huge weekly release of music. Today the long and winding road is still tough but by-passed by many musicians as there is a lack of good promoters who give a damn. If you want to sell records you need to go out and play live and this helps to develop your craft. The technology is available to take onstage and the audio/visual scene is bursting with possibilities so I hope people continue to gig, as it is amazing to travel and meet people.
2. You continue to challenge conventional music and your own discography with "Navigare." This is not rehash; it is fresh, new, and relevant. Now that the process of composition to release is completed, how personally fulfilling was the process to you?
It was an amazing journey for me as I attempted to blend my sounds to disguise any trace of software I used, hide melodies that were too obvious or clear and abandon conventional songwriting structures. I think many people have become slaves to the software they use and need to explore sound coloration and timbre more by not taking the easy option of using pre installed plug ins etc. I approached the record as if no one would hear it so I just made a record I was proud of but obviously Miasmah got involved half way through, so suddenly I knew it would be released on a great label.
3. The album, not just the opening track "Introduction to Cambridge," has a cinematic quality to it. Do you find yourself influenced by visual and cinematic expressions?
One track called “Repulse” was very influenced by “Mullholland Drive” by D.Lynch, as I am drawn to his work. I am inspired by film but I find reality as, if not more, surreal to be honest, so this album is inspired by life and my experiences or people close to me. The majority of this album is about the death of a family member who was submerged for most of his life on submarines but when on land was intoxicated with drink. To write about his travels and his mental health was quite a harrowing journey but allowed me to explore areas of songwriting that I’d never been to before. “Intro Of Cambridge” was actually inspired by Erik Skodvin who runs the label, as it was the first track I wrote when he emailed me to say he wanted to put out my album so it is very blissful and hopeful.
4. You commented last time that you like to add "dirt" to your recordings. I am curious to know, when you write music, is it a linear process (the entire song being conceived out of genesis) or is it a circular process (in which the songs are pieced together)?
With “Navigare” I started with the main musical progression with a triad or a number of chords on the guitar or piano and a set of sequenced samples to create a whole song that represents a journey or environment you travel through. It is rare that I just sit down and throw musical ideas together to compose as you always start with no focus and are praying that something interesting emerges from being uninspired.
I see it as similar to cooking where you know what you want the end result to be so each ingredient and sonic flavor is added and allowed to infuse until you reach the point where you can present the song for consumption. Erik at the label would sometimes suggest extra seasoning or encourage me to spice it up. In Max/Msp I had created many loops, such as “The ACC” main pattern, that I would map out to create a whole composition from the loops and manipulate and age my layers to scrub clean any technology traces.
5. You have never become complacent as a musician; you do not sit back and rehash the past. Though you incorporate what you have done in the past, you are always doing something new: where do you find the inspiration to continue to tread new grounds?
The drive and inspiration to create new music never ceases and I am fascinated by recording and creatively exploring and organizing sound. Life also influences me including everyday events such as how I am spoken to when I buy the morning paper or the weather. Running my Kesh label gives me great excitement for releasing music too and I get to hear some great music from the files I get sent.
I realize Slowdive will be mentioned which is good, as I am proud of being their drummer, but that was so long ago now. I was and am still influenced by ambient and experimental music but I am sure the old influences are buried deep in there such as Syd Barrett and The Cocteau Twins. The new ones such as digital signal processing and recording resonant frequencies have created a musical freedom to create something new, inspired and different I hope.
Keep up with Simon Scott at MySpace, as well as his label, Keshhhhhh.