Erik Eski Scott released his album Spirits in December 2014, fought off cancer in 2015, and before 2016 became history, he released a solo album of all new material called In The Company Of Clouds. Long time fans and newcomers just turning on to Scotts beguiling music, will note that his latest album is very celestial sounding and in fact, takes the entire instrumental New Age genre in some truly daring directions. With In The Company Of Clouds Erik Scott is poised to unite music fans who listen to progressive rock, New Age, ambient jazz and a whole range of other contemporary music art forms. On In The Company Of Clouds, Erik Scott makes further sonic strides as a self-produced artist, while his unique melodic arrangements are memorable and his approach to 21st century instrumental music is quite metaphysical as well. Speaking about In The Company Of Clouds, Erik Scotts tells mwe3.com, "Up until the last two records, I suppose I had a rather artistically arrogant attitude about intentionally writing and producing the music for any certain genre. I didnt like to do it. To my mind, premeditating the music restricts it in some ways. But with Spirits and In The Company Of Clouds I intentionally tried to produce and arrange the musical ideas in a less wildly eclectic manner, and it was easier to find a home... under the ever-broadening, non-mainstream world of the New Age and contemporary instrumental universe." On the nine track In The Company Of Clouds, Erik is joined by pedal steel guitar ace John Pirruccello as well as guest artists that include rock guitar legend Steve Hunter, New Age guitarist Jeff Pearce, guitarist Phil Miller, along with a range of other artists who help Eski flesh out the sound stage. Sounding like a nine part suite of songs that flows perfectly, In The Company Of Clouds is essential listening for listeners of contemporary instrumental music. www.facebook.com / www.cdbaby.com / www.wikipedia.com
mwe3.com presents a new interview with
In The Company of Clouds: The Interview
mwe3: You come from a rock background having worked with Flo & Eddie and other rock legends. Do you sometimes feel like a survivor? I know you were quite ill this past year. Is that why you start In The Company Of Clouds off with a track called Nine Lives? Also speaking of your background do you keep in touch with Flo & Eddie anymore? Your resume features your work and sound with a number of bands.
Erik Scott: While its true that I was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus in February 2015, and spent most of that year in chemo-therapy and radiation to fight it off, thankfully the title Nine Lives is more about myself musically. Starting out in the 1960s, my passion was rock, and that was the music I played, in Otis Plum, Food, and Jambalaya, all bands based in Northern Illinois. When I first moved to Los Angeles and joined Flo & Eddie , a heavy pop influence from the former Turtles was the order of the day. Then, playing sessions in L.A., I became versatile enough to play many different and varying styles demanded by the different album sessions. Then it was back to rock chops during the next decade with Alice Cooper, Carl Palmer and Signal, even while still doing pop oriented rock on Kim Carnes albums.
Then in the experimental soul-rock-R & B- band Sonia Dada, I was able to stretch a bit further, often getting away from the more cliché ensemble rock-pop expectations. It was also during those years that I also wrote and played on the title song from Pops Staples Grammy Winning Father Father, a song based in gospel-soul. I also had a chance to guest as a player on Mavis Staples Have A Little Faith, the Handy Foundation Blues Gospel Award Winner .
Then, when Sonia Dada ceased fire, I started writing and recording the instrumental albums, featuring fretless and fretted basses in the more unusual roles of melodic leader, and these have found some success in the New Age Contemporary Instrumental genre. So you see Nine Lives.
And finally, there is a banjo three note chordal picking thing I do, first in 1979, and occasionally since then on albums ranging from Tonio K The Funky Western Civilization to Sonia Dada, and my solo stuff ie Proper Son from Other Planets. Musical phrases utilizing this three note chordal picking technique, frequently with some effect, appears at the end of Nine Lives, in conjunction with the steel guitar. It is a rather weird thing to do on bass, in different chord changes. So this rather distinctive, unusual use of bass guitar has also found more than one useful life.
mwe3: Tell us about having two esteemed guitarists in both Steve Hunter and Jeff Pearce on In The Company Of Clouds as guest artists. What tracks do they appear on and how did they contribute to the new album? Do you think you could expand your sound by adding other guests on future albums? Would Flo & Eddie consider?
Erik Scott: Steve Hunter appears on Women Of Avalon. I sent him the track, which has a melody line, and a countermelody dueting line, both played by me on the bass in the first verse. I wondered if he might play one of those lines later in the song, and then I would answer him with the melodic bass... and it was lovely. His appearance is all too brief, but great.
Jeff Pearce appears on Breathing Room. I had finished the tune, or so I believed, and was very happy with it for a couple months. Then a friend suggested I should try and collaborate on something with Jeff, who I had recently met at a ZMR award show in New Orleans. So when analyzing the album to determine if it was as good as I could make it, the possibility of having Jeff do some of his characteristic delay guitar on the piece occurred to me. I sent the track to Jeff, and he graciously agreed to play on it. He then played what you hear on the piece, and it elevated that track wonderfully.
mwe3: Your music is becoming more popular in the New Age instrumental world. Do you try and shape your sound for those markets or do you feel your music has wider applications such as jazz or even neoclassical? Are there other directions to go in your music?
Erik Scott: Up until the last two records, I suppose I had a rather artistically arrogant attitude about intentionally writing and producing the music for any certain genre. I didnt like to do it. To my mind, premeditating the music restricts it in some ways.
But with Spirits and In The Company Of Clouds I intentionally tried to produce and arrange the musical ideas in a less wildly eclectic manner, and it was easier to find a home... under the ever-broadening, non-mainstream world of the New Age and contemporary instrumental universe. To a degree, I occasionally have to lasso a few rock tendencies when my emotions take control, unless of course I am making a rock record.
mwe3: Whats new in the bass / guitar and gear world for you these days? Someone told me its the hands of the player and not the instrument.
Erik Scott: I got a new synthesized keyboard for some fresh keyboard and percussion/drum sounds. With the melodies I play on the four-stringed instruments, its more how I play and the touch I use, along with different string gauges and ages. I also vary the effects from song to song, depending on the mood.
mwe3: Who are you listening to as we enter early 2017? Can you share some thoughts on your comprehensive blend of electric bass within the realms of New Age, ambient jazz and instrumental music?
Erik Scott: I try and find the artists who are stretching the envelope somehow. When I grew up in the 1960s, rock music was where the new instrumentation and energy was really happening. Now everybody has the same sounds... the same guitar amps, the same FX pedals, the same plug-ins. Everybody mics drums and everything else the same way, with the same damn mics for crying out loud! Or the same sampled sounds. Everybody has decided the compression levels that are best for mixes or anything else, and you cannot tell any difference until maybe the vocal comes in. That is one of the reasons I started using the bass guitar in the upper register as the lead instrument... it sounds different!
Some reviewers remarked on the interesting guitar sounds on Other Planets, yet there were only two tracks with minimal electric guitars. So I like using various effects on the bass, generating sound fx with the bass, and dueting with unlikely partners... like using a fretless bass and a steel guitar to make a melodic chilled out soundscape; or performing call-response melody lines with the bass and a medieval violin such as those on Free and Gypsy Mother And The Royal Bastard from and the Earth Bleeds.
On this record, I duet with gospel vocals, as on Women Of Avalon and Nine Lives. It is those types of fresh approaches that I listen for from other artists, and am interested in writing and recording. And of course, as always, I am attracted to artists who demonstrate some command of their instrument, and who can bring a nuanced performance to a compelling and emotional response.