THEAUSSIEWORD.COM catches up with US singer/songwriter John Scott.
How and where did it all begin for you? What drew your interest to the music industry?
My cousins and my mom introduced me to 90% of the music that initially shaped my taste and style – my mom always had AC/DC, Pink Floyd or Santana on in the car and my cousins introduced me to the more contemporary/hip stuff like My Morning Jacket, Modest Mouse and Iron and Wine. I played piano from a young age for many years, but I’d say that the tipping point for me was when I stumbled across a live taping of AC/DC at Donington. The moment I saw Angus Young prancing around on stage in his schoolboy uniform, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. He was shredding and had the crowd in the palm of his hand, he was free to do whatever he wanted and everyone loved him for it. I bought a red Epiphone SG and the rest was history!
What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?
I was blessed with the gift of knowing what I wanted to do with my life at a very young age. I feel like so much of the music I love is seen as a novelty to people my generation, and I’m on a mission to make the music I love and respect relevant in today’s world. I’m also just not really good at many things other than being creative and getting to know people, so the music industry fit perfectly. When I look around at other artists’ careers, a lot of them are technically better than me, a lot of them are prettier than me and a lot of them are more trendy and business savvy than me; but I’m better at writing songs than them. I learned how to write songs from the greatest songwriters of all time, so I know what good music sounds like and I have a personal standard to maintain
What are some of your biggest goals you hope to accomplish?
My biggest goal is to be financially successful enough to not have to work on anyone else’s dream. I hate jobs and I hate the way companies treat their employees. Too many people just get jobs to pay bills and forget to work on their own dreams. I want to work for myself and take care of people who’ve supported me. A more specific vision of mine is to have thousands of people singing my choruses along with me in a great venue while my mom watches from backstage.
What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?
No plans to tour this year; I lost my band to a handsome blue-eyed soul singer in New Orleans around the same time Covid kicked off. I’ve been working my ass off to get a solid ensemble in Austin together, but until I feel like that band sounds great I see no plans to go anywhere other than Texas. Also when I look at the “tour routes” that most artists in the Southern US take these days they just go through Texas, and I’m already here. This year, I’m focused on releasing content and music. I have a ton of amazing singles lined up to be released this year, and I’m really gonna try to dive into social media as a tool rather than an unhealthy hinderance or distraction.
Tell us a bit about your latest release and how would you best describe your music?
Genres mean less and less as time goes on and I don’t ever want to set limits for what my sound could evolve into, but at the moment, I’m releasing pop rock through and through. I’m obsessed with the idea of a modern take on bands like Big Star, The Replacements or Teenage Fanclub. My latest single “Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong” came out on January 14th on all platforms, and I was really pleased with the way the song sounded musically and sonically. I hadn’t written a new song in forever and after I quit drinking, the new songs started coming to me daily. This song in particular was meant to be a combination of Eric Clapton’s “It’s in the Way That You Use It” and America’s “Sister Golden Hair.” Shortly after writing the song, I was blessed to run into one of the most brilliant producers I’ve ever worked with (@zulugrim) in a Lyft. From there, the song became one of the fastest songs I ever completed from writing to recording.
What gets you writing songs?
Nothing is more inspiring than a cup of coffee and a joint while listening to a great album. When I write, I try to capture a feeling that I felt in another song. I also get inspired by seeing people doing their music and thinking that I could do it better than them. Being uncomfortable after major life events is one of the biggest triggers of inspiration for me. Other things that get me writing are great one liners that I hear people say, hopping on another instrument or trying to impress a lady.
Give us an insight into your creative process.
I don’t think I’ve ever fleshed out and exact process for songwriting. One thing I know is that I create as I go. I don’t do 3-4 drafts of songs because I’m trying to stay in that zone of the initial inspiration. Most songs come from me sitting down with a guitar and my voice memos and trying to do my version of a song I really like. I’ll start playing some chords and singing whatever random words sound good then I’ll flesh out a concept I wanna talk about. When I wanna write something slower I’ll hop on a piano, and when the idea comes to me more complete, I’ll sit down with Logic and start producing/writing the song until I get bored. Sometimes it takes me 30 minutes to complete a song and sometimes I just sit on a song until I get inspired to write it again which could take months.
Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music?
Nothing is hidden! The whole point of music is to communicate, and it’s the language of emotion. I think that having a specific hidden message in your music is pointless, because people are going to interpret music how they want if you let them. A lot of my songs are about personal love, but lately I’ve been trying to introduce more important themes into my music like understanding people’s different view points, not worrying about what others think of you and being yourself. I’d be lying if I said that all my music has a message though – sometimes my lyrics consist of cool imagery that just fits the song.
Success, what is the secret to it?
This is an interesting question, because I don’t see myself as having reached “success.” But the game plan I’m going off of is to be persistent. I know my music is great and unique, so I just have to have faith that something is bound to stick as long as I keep going. I don’t have any backup plans in life anymore. I think that’s a huge part of it – once you know what you want to do with your life you have to put it above everything else.
What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
When I lived in New Orleans and had a band, we did a tour through Texas a few years ago with a whole caravan of friends. I used to live in Dallas when I was young, so when we got there to play our show, everyone I knew from different eras in my life was there. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more fulfilled in my entire life than the moment that I got to play a show in front almost every significant person in my life. It was truly a peak experience of my existence to show everyone who supported my dreams that I was doing exactly what I said I would be doing. I love bringing people together and I don’t think many people find themselves in a place where their dreams are the reason that everyone they love comes together.
Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?
Kanye West has my attention at the moment. That man’s music is so good, there is some sort of deep dark holiness to his music that hypnotizes me. I think I might even give his style of music a go at one point in the near future. I’ve always thought Ty Segall was always great because he’s remained the most not-famous famous person I’ve ever heard of. Somehow he just makes music that gets to the right people and he seems to work with everyone. Dolly Parton is also one of the GOATs, because she’s just a great example of an artist who everyone loves even though she’s does her own thing without a lick of shame for like half of a century.
Are there any new projects in the pipeline?
My next single “I Don’t Care” will be available everywhere later this February, and I plan to have a single out every month for the rest of the year.
The music industry is constantly changing, where do you see yourself a few years?
What is your favourite and least favourite part about this line of work and why?
My two absolute favorite aspects of this line of work (although it might seem obvious) are playing live shows and being in the studio. Those two moments for me are what all the other bullshit is leading to. Those are your two opportunities to bring nonexistent ideas into reality, and that’s the literal magic behind music. My least favorite part about this line of work is that it’s NOT a meritocracy – meaning you could decide today to pursue a career in the industry, and even though you don’t know the first thing about music; if you’re sexy/weird enough and you found a good producer, you could drop a song that sounds like every other pop song out there and garner 100,000 plays on Spotify with minimal effort.
Name a few of your favourite Australian artists.
Technically, I don’t think AC/DC was originally from Australia, but they started there and are by far my favorite rock ’n’ roll band of all time. I’ve always a big fan of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and I feel like some people tend to forget that the Bee Gees started in Australia.
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
I innately hate social media and think that it has made us less social, but I think that’s the old man in me talking – If you can disconnect from it personally and see it as a marketing tool it really does become more useful and fun.
How will you continue appealing to the international market?
You know, I actually do alright internationally. Sometimes I get more plays out of Australia and England than I do in US cities where I know people. I’ve always thought that the music I’m making would be received very well internationally; so it’s not totally out of the picture that I would even consider moving to another country for a few years to build an audience.
Do you collaborate with others? Who is on your wish-list?
Right now, I am collaborating with the genius producer/songwriter/musician Zulugrim – I’ve collaborated with rappers on the instrumental side and helped with choruses before; but as of lately I have an incredibly clear vision of what I want to put out, and Zulugrim is on another level of being able to understand me.
What advice do you give for other artists wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Just keep doing it.
A message for your fans. How do you best interact and respond with your followers and fans?
Find me on social media! Feel free to DM me, I love connecting with people and am generally a pretty fun guy.
Any last words?