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 remastering of course.
Erik Scotts 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 theres
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, theres
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 Scotts first two solo
albums will enjoy his 2015 CD remix compilation, Spirits. Erik
Scotts Spirits takes the electric bass into the future
with an innovative and fascinating sonic vision. www.ErikScottBass.com
mwe3.com presents a new interview with
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 CDs 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 dont,
well its 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
hadnt 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.
One of the highlights of Spirits is track eight, which is a
fascinating New Age version of the Beatles Yesterday.
I think youve 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
Erik Scott: That would be cool wouldnt it? To have Sir
Paul ring me up and say he dug the version? I have no idea if hes
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
Erik Scott: Pretty much like I described up top. I left
the vocal on Bleeds off, remixed the instruments, and changed
Mari Macks 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
Ive done on these records, so I didnt change it much.
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 didnt 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 thought maybe I should call it something different, so I labeled
it baritone guitar. Although I do use newer brighter strings for those
parts, its 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
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.
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
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
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 thats how
I compose: by playing. I dont program anything really. I dont
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
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. Im 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 Im working on some live
Spirits did well on the ZMR Airplay Chart, #1 and #3 in
successive months, so I accepted an offer to play ZMRs 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. Thats
okay, I just have to do some rearranging and, well, we shall see.
of course Im loving being back in the studio making up new music.
Im pretty happy with the new stuff so far, and ready to do more,
so Ill say adios for now, thank you very much for your kind
words, and wish you a great new year for 2016!
to Erik Scott @ www.ErikScottBass.com
- photos by kind permisssion of Natalie