(Eski Music)


In 2014, multi-instrumentalist Erik Scott released and the Earth Bleeds. With its mix of vocal and instrumental sounds, that album was a huge success among New Age Fusion and rock fans. For his 2015 album, Spirits, Erik Scott has taken several of the vocal tracks from and the Earth Bleeds and his 2011 album Other Planets and has reworked them as instrumentals with new arrangements and new mixes. Commenting on Spirits and the new mixes, Erik tells mwe3, “It is mostly a compilation of likely candidates from the first two CDs, Other Planets and and the Earth Bleeds. Vocal renditions on Bleeds, “Run”, “Free” and “Earth Bleeds” have been rearranged into instrumentals, with the duet of fretless and violin on “Free” and the duet of bass and English flute on “Run” taking the place of vocals. There are some re-mixes and re–mastering of course.” Erik Scott’s forte, so to speak, is in his ability to combine a number of progressive music moods and moves all within the space of a single track and this remix approach works wonders on Spirits. Music fans who wanted Erik to return to purely instrumental music will totally enjoy Spirits. Fans of the electric bass will totally marvel at how perfectly Erik Scott uses the bass to create melodic lines as lead instruments. On Spirits there’s also a totally atmospheric version of the Beatles' 1965 classic “Yesterday”, that takes elements of the original song melody and completely alters the sound and scope into a instrumental work of sonic wonder that is an atmospheric work of musical art. Although Spirits is more of a remix / compilation than an album of all new music, there’s plenty of fine musicians on hand to back up Scott's vision, including steel guitarist John Pirruccello, Hank Guaglianone and John Mader (drums), Phil Miller (guitar), Chris Cameron (keys) and many other musicians. Interestingly, Erik Scott cites Paul McCartney as a big bass influence while he also adds in Mark Knopfler as a major influence and you can hear that as some of Scott's melodies are very Celtic-inspired and even Scottish sounding in origin. Those lucky enough to have heard Erik Scott’s first two solo albums will enjoy his 2015 CD remix compilation, Spirits. Erik Scott’s Spirits takes the electric bass into the future with an innovative and fascinating sonic vision.

 presents a new interview with
Erik Scott

: On your new CD Spirits, what made you want to go back and revisit and ultimately rework tracks from your first two albums Other Planets and the second album, and the Earth Bleeds? On Spirits, did you intend to create a CD compilation or remix album or was there another sonic vision in play to create something altogether new on the Spirits CD?

Erik Scott: I made the first two CD’s without considering any sort of ‘concept collection’. In my experience, and this may be a personal limitation, attempting to fit compositions into some sort of template or group idea has not been great. In effect I end up censoring the creative process when I try to have all the ideas wear the same clothes, so to speak... Plus, I suppose, I indulged a certain artistic impudence in allowing myself all that freedom.

With Spirits my intention was to stay instrumental, and keep the sonic dynamics in the same universe, to a degree, anyway. So I used new instruments to take the place of any vocals (from ‘Bleeds’), and remixed the tracks to reflect a different focus. Some tracks are very similar except for being re-mastered. Then I recorded a version of the Beatles’ “Yesterday”, and put together the tracks that best reflected this focus. If you have the first two albums, you will find some tracks form a bit of a compilation. If you don’t, well it’s all new then.

mwe3: Were the earlier tracks totally scrapped or mostly reworked, edited and/or remixed? What is involved with that? Was there a lot of studio wizardry involved and also were any of the original musicians called in to lay down new parts or was it all redone by you digitally?

Erik Scott: Studio wizardry of course Robert. Magical spell casting... to conjure my intergalactic head space. But seriously, many of the bits I used were from the original sessions. They either hadn’t been used to allow vocals, or I had just painted a different picture when mixing. Making Spirits allowed me to alter the landscape, to use and mix parts differently.

mwe3: One of the highlights of Spirits is track eight, which is a fascinating New Age version of the Beatles “Yesterday”. I think you’ve created a haunting, almost unrecognizable instrumental of one of the most beloved songs of all time. How did you approach turning “Yesterday” into an instrumental? After hearing your version, I was thinking that the song is underrated! Has McCartney heard it?

Erik Scott: That would be cool wouldn’t it? To have Sir Paul ring me up and say he dug the version? I have no idea if he’s heard it... I wish. But if he did, I would hope he would find the emotional core was similar to the original vocal version, even though this version has no lyrics.

mwe3: You reworked the title tracks to your first two album Other Planets and and the Earth Bleeds. How did you approach new versions of those tracks and reintroduce again them on Spirits?

Erik Scott: Pretty much like I described up top. I left the vocal on Bleeds off, remixed the instruments, and changed Mari Mack’s cool vocalizing at the end, using more of it, and making a bigger deal of it. I should have done so on the original, but sometimes I am just slow.

“Other Planets” was a remix, not a major one, and remastered. That tune, to my wee brain, has some of the better spacey production I’ve done on these records, so I didn’t change it much.

mwe3: Tell us about your Baritone guitar and how you got into playing the Baritone? Can you compare playing the Baritone with regular electric guitars and can you compare playing fretless and fretted bass as well? Are the techniques very different in your estimation and you give an example where the Baritone guitar was used on the Spirits CD?

Erik Scott: A certain amount of listeners didn’t realize it was a bass when I play those melodic lines in the upper registers with the effects I have on it, and since those melodic parts are in a rather unconventional terrain from the more ensemble bass playing I do.

I thought maybe I should call it something different, so I labeled it baritone guitar. Although I do use newer brighter strings for those parts, it’s the same old Fender bass I use for the low parts.

Technique for fretless: hmmm, well, left hand finger placement on the neck is obviously more sensitive, for intonation purposes, and I wiggle the notes less, which might be counterintuitive. On the fretless, I do more bending and vibrato in the upper register melodic areas, and some folks mistakenly take it for fretless, because of that vibrato and wiggle.

mwe3: Are you playing your Fender Jazz Bass and the Lakland and Pedulla Fretless basses on Spirits? Have there been any new developments in the bass and gear world for you? Also what are some of your favorite bass FX that you use on the Spirits CD? I remember you telling about the Zoom pedal last time.

Erik Scott: No really new effects on the basses. I did get a different keyboard... a great sounding KORG Krome that I also use to play some drum and percussion parts.

mwe3: You have some excellent players on Spirits including a four other guitarists. Who are the other guitarists on Spirits? Also, John Pirruccello is one of the great unknown steel guitarists. How far back do you go with John as you and him sound like a perfect pair! Were any new guitar parts added to the reworked tracks on the Spirits album?

Erik Scott: Phil Miller is the Phil Miller from Indiana who played with me in Sonia Dada. I never worked with John Pirruccello until I started doing these albums. I knew him from Nick Tremulis’ band in Chicago, and I just called him up back during the recording of “Other Planets” because I wanted to see how a steel guitar sounded on a couple things. It sounded good.

mwe3: Do you spend most of your time playing bass and keyboards compared with composing and programming? How do you approach the sonic programming on your albums and does that include determining what textures and FX are needed for certain tracks?

Erik Scott: Playing and composing, because that’s how I compose: by playing. I don’t program anything really. I don’t even have a midi set up- these are real stone age admissions! Some drum parts I program into an MPC. But otherwise I play stuff until it sounds right, and believe me, when it comes to the keyboards, this can take quite awhile. And playing the basses and ‘baritone’ basses is all about performance, and is the fun part for me. Playing a melodic line until it ‘sings’ just right is my challenge, because basses were not originally designed to ‘sing’. Any sonic programming is in my brain as I try different things until it sounds cool.

mwe3: The keyboard sounds on Spirits is excellent. I was listening to “The White Mouse” and my jaw dropped open. Did you set out to create a modern New Age symphonic masterpiece with that track? What keyboards do you play on “The White Mouse”?

Erik Scott: Thank you. Those are sounds in the Korg Krome. As far as setting out to create “The White Mouse”, as I started to play it, I wanted the piece to evolve and build in sonically unexpected ways, so I used a different string or other instrument sound at every build up, every 4-8 bars, building an orchestration that kept evolving, trying to never repeat the same passage with the same instrumentation. I’m happy you noticed.

mwe3: With Spirits released in late 2015, what about other plans for writing, recording and possible live shows in 2016? Have you done any prep or research into what kind of album would you like to write and record next and what does the future hold for 2016?

Erik Scott: I wanted to start doing some of this stuff live in 2015, but the cancer took most of my year away from me. Thankfully that is past, hopefully forever, and I’m working on some live versions now.

“Spirits” did well on the ZMR Airplay Chart, #1 and #3 in successive months, so I accepted an offer to play ZMR’s annual Award Show in New Orleans in May, figuring I needed a deadline.

Trying the unusual instrument combinations as I do for the records can come back and bite me in the rear, because I have music featuring a medieval violin, steel guitar, usually percussion and some drums, strings, horns, etc, in addition to the basses I use for melody and rhythm parts, and the keyboard parts I play... not to mention the special effects generated by the bass for the spacey tunes and a guitar here and there. I am both set free and trapped by the lack of a band. So I need several other players on stage, and a couple of me to play the versions on record, because it is not electronica. That’s okay, I just have to do some rearranging and, well, we shall see.

And of course I’m loving being back in the studio making up new music. I’m pretty happy with the new stuff so far, and ready to do more, so I’ll say adios for now, thank you very much for your kind words, and wish you a great new year for 2016!


Thanks to Erik Scott @ - photos by kind permisssion of Natalie Nesser


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