According to Google, music is defined as "vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion." This dry definition is sufficient, but I believe that Plato's version embraces the concept of music perfectly. He said,
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”
Today's guest, Scott Richmond, exemplifies Plato's quote. Take a listen, and I'm sure you'll agree. He sings with soul, plays with beauty, and composes with grace. And anytime a musician can inspire a spontaneous family dance-a-thon, I give them a permanent place on my playlist and in my heart. Because Scott Richmond gave me more than just some songs. He gave me precious memories. Memories of dancing with my 5, 4, and 2 year old and all of the giggles and smiles in between. His music moved our souls to dance.
This up-and-coming artist is poised to hit the music scene hard, and we're privileged to have the opportunity to cheer him on and watch this man's dream unfolds before our eyes. Please welcome Scott Richmond to the blog!
What is your name?
Please describe your music style.
I would describe my music as being Americana, since the genre itself is a blend of country, rock'n'roll, folk, blues, and everything else that I love. Most of my songs are very melodically driven, vocally and instrumentally, and I would like to think I sing with a lot of soul.
You grew up on country music. How has this affected your music today?
When I examine the songs I've written, there just seems to be a country feel that comes through in most of them to some degree. I think it's more innate than anything. Like my hands almost automatically strum a country rhythm on the guitar when I sit down to write, and I sing with a bit of country twang. It just feels natural. The direct style of my lyrics is very typical of country music as well. I often write lyrics almost the way I would speak, while trying to be somewhat poetic, of course. I feel the most powerful lyrics I've come up with were written this way.
Although you reside in Canada, you chose to record your debut album, "Come What May" in Nashville. How did you make this happen? Tell us about the amazing people you've worked with.
When I initially went down to Nashville, it was with the intention of establishing myself in the music scene there. Growing up, Nashville had always seemed like the musical Promised Land to me, and I felt it was the perfect place for my style of music, even though I wasn't doing Nashville country. But being Canadian complicated things, and eventually it became obvious that my time there would be limited, so I decided to cut an album before leaving. I met a passionate, independent recording engineer named Gabe Masterson who worked out of East Side Manor Studios, and we came up with a plan for my first album. We brought in some world-class musicians to work on this album, friends of Gabe or friends of friends, mostly. Most notably, we had legendary Canadian guitarist, Colin Linden of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, play and sing on a bunch of the songs, Kris Wilkinson and her quartet played strings on the album, and Kim Morrison sang back up. It was pretty amazing to work with these people, especially considering Colin had played lead for The Band for years and was backing up Bob Dylan earlier this year, Kris had recorded with Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Garth Brooks, and countless others, and Kim had sung with Roy Orbison, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Dolly Parton, to name just a few. It was a pretty humbling experience to have them be a part of this project. But every musician on this album was mind-blowingly talented. Nashville is overflowing with the best musicians in the world, known and unknown, but you can never predict how a bunch of musical strangers is going to mesh, or if everyone will understand the vision. I was lucky. It was magic.
I heard that you'll be recording a music video soon. Is this your first music video, and if so, how does this make you feel?
Yeah, I have a few different video ideas for this summer. So many people get their music through video nowadays, so it's definitely important. I haven't done one before, so I'm excited. It's a new way for me to try to express my art. I think music and film are very much related. In a song, I try to convey an emotion as powerfully as possible through lyrics and music. I think a video, when done the right way, can really enhance that emotion.
The richness, depth, and distinctiveness of your vocals sets your music apart from all the rest. Have you always been a singer? What's your musical background?
I think I learned every word to every song on Country AM radio and on every cassette or CD I had access to growing up. I sang all the time, and ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a singer. I grew up in a town of about a thousand people in Southern Saskatchewan where there really wasn't anything going on musically, as far as I knew. I didn't really know anyone that played music. So I never had any sort of musical instruction growing up. I would just try to sing along to every song I heard, no matter if it fit my voice or not. I think that's why I developed such a distinct sound to my voice. Although, I didn't realize it was distinct until more recently when other people told me. It wasn't until I was 19 that I began to learn to play an instrument. I taught myself to play guitar and started writing my own songs. Eventually, I had written hundreds.
Describe your songwriting process. Where do you find inspiration?
It's pretty hard to pin down my songwriting process. It changes from song to song. Often times I'll sit down and start strumming my guitar and sing along with made-up sounds. Eventually those sounds begin to turn into words and usually become the foundation for a song, like "Rain on the Rooftop", "Smooth Talker", and "Fades Into Silence". Other times, the melody is what comes first, sometimes while fooling around on the guitar, or often it will just pop into my head, usually when I'm about to fall asleep or just about to wake. "Fallen to Rise" and "Slick Stones Green Water" are good examples of that. Lately, I've been starting to write using the piano, and the style of song that I tend to create this way is quite different from the songs I write on guitar. In general, I try to let the songs come without forcing them. If it feels good, I keep it. The songs eventually reveal themselves.
Who has been your biggest champion and supporter through this journey?
I've had so much amazing support from family and friends over the years and especially during this album project. I'd have to say that my parents are right at the top of the list for my biggest champions and supporters, but without the love and support of my wife, Susannah.She has always believed in what I am trying to accomplish, like I have for her. We are a team in everything. It's an amazing thing to have that kind of a partner to face life with.
What are 3 things most people don't know about you?
I believe comfort and routine impede creativity and inspiration, so I live simply and thrive on spontaneity. Not much has made me happier in my life than my destination-less travels. During the past six years or so, I've wandered all over the Americas, living, working and travelling in many different countries. I've worked as a school teacher, a bartender, a horse trainer, a grain farmer, a dairy farmer, a rancher, and a few other professions.
Are you working on any new projects this year?
Right now, I'm still trying to do all kinds of promotional work for my album, Come What May, including radio campaigns and planning a tour for the fall. So it's keeping me pretty busy. I'm finally starting to find time to write again, which I haven't done much of over the past year because of all the other work I've had to do. So if I can get back to my pre Come What May writing levels, I'll look at cutting another album in 2015.
Connect With Him
There are a few things that make me feel alive and they are the foundations for the way I live my life. Music is one of them. If I have any wisdom to share it would be this, open your mind, soften your heart, and find what makes you feel alive.