Lancashire singer-songwriter Kev Scott is getting ready to drop his brand new album ‘Appeals for the Lonely’. In this interview, he gives us a little insight into the album and his workings. The album sees Kev working with longtime collaborator Steve Pellatt (Blanket) and also features Lewis Dickinson (sax/flute) and Joanna Byrne (Phantom Voices), Kate Ferris and Emma Perry (backing vocals). This third self-produced solo album shows Kev’s true development, not only as a songwriter but as a musician (performing all guitars, bass, banjo, harmonica, organ and piano) and an upcoming producer. The album draws its influences from such artists as Neil Young, Spiritualized, Paul Simon, The Lone Bellow, The Beatles and Dennis Wilson.
- How long have you been working on your latest project ‘Appeals for the Lonely’?
Kev Scott: Well, I started recording in spring 2017, so it’s been a long time in the making, which doesn’t reflect well on the album because the reasons for it taking so long to make are purely time and equipment based! My trusted guitar amp broke and it was one of those things where nobody knew what was wrong with it and how to fix it so I was without that for more than 6 months that really slowed me down.
- Who or what influenced the birth of this project?
Kev Scott: Just a natural progression really, I enjoyed the whole process of making my last album ‘The Loved Ones’ so I was keen to jump straight in to making another album, though I knew it would be under slightly different circumstances, I knew Chris Holland (bass player and co-producer on ‘The Loved Ones’) wouldn’t be around as much because he was going travelling and he put so much into the last album that I found it a bit daunting without him but it was something I had to just get on with.
- Which musicians are you collaborating with this time around?
Kev Scott: Aside from Steve Pellatt on drums I did the majority of it myself, I did all the guitars, keys and bass and then had Lewis Dickinson on sax and flute, he’s an amazing musician, he doesn’t mess around when we’re recording, real one take stuff! Then there’s the singers, I’ve played with Joanna Byrne for a few years now, she’s sang on all 3 of my albums, we get on great, there’s a great chemistry in our voices and we really gel. We recorded ‘For Brothers & Sisters’ as a charity single for Manchester children’s hospital when there was some sad news about a friend of mine but it was going to be on the album anyway. Jo then got involved in ‘Beautiful Winter’, she’s a huge Beach Boys fan and that’s the kind of sound I was looking for that song, she also played her 12 string guitar on it which gave it some warmth and low end. I’ve tried a few times to create a huge choir but it’s easier said than done, I’ve known Kate Ferris most of my life and we have family ties, when I saw she was out there with Emma Perry performing I asked then to get involved, I was blown away by the end of the session, the song wouldn’t have been then same without them.
- Which instruments are you playing on the album?
Kev Scott: I tracked the bass in the studio when Steve (Pellatt) did his drums, I did all the guitars, piano, organ, harmonica and banjo.
- Apparently you also produced the album. Is this a new experience for you, and is there a specific reason you wanted to produce it yourself?
Kev Scott: I co-produced my last album with Chris (Holland) but as I said earlier he wasn’t going to be around so I decided to do it alone. I want to learn as much as I can about the whole process of making albums. I paid someone to produce my first album and although I wasn’t unhappy with the finished product, I felt quite frustrated. It’s a communication thing, they want to please you, you don’t want to be a pain in the arse, throughout the process, I think we both did our best to be fair and it was a relief for us both to get it finished, so from then on I said that I’d prefer to learn how to produce and mix myself. Nobody to answer to, learn by my own mistakes and if I get things wrong, I’ve only got myself to blame.
- Do you currently have a preferred song on the album, and if so, why is it special to you?
Kev Scott: I think ‘Dust’ is the one for me, it’s an old one written by Steve and we played it in our old band ‘Nula’ around 2003, the only studio recording we did was an acoustic version with him playing guitar and me singing so it was nice to get a full version of it for this album.
- Which usually comes first to you – the melody or the lyrics?
Kev Scott: Usually its lyrics, or just lines that I’ll develop once I get the sense that a song is brewing, I never sit down and force a song to come out, it’s never produced a good result so I tend to just wait until I know one is about to come. I’ll play around on the guitar or piano and something will magically come out at some point and then it’s a case of putting the pieces together.
- What key ingredients do you always try and infuse into your songs, regardless of style, tempo or mood?
Kev Scott: There really isn’t a recipe to be honest, I stick to what I feel the song needs, if it’s a happy song it gets a happy vibe and it goes from there, as long as it’s honest and passionate, that matters more than having any kind of key ingredient, it’s a natural thing.
- This is your third album. How much do you think you’ve matured as a musician and songwriter? And where do you feel you still have room for improvement?
Kev Scott: I think as I’ve got older I’ve tried to improve my vocabulary in my songs, try to be a bit more intelligent and interesting with the lyrics. Pushing myself as I’m writing and trying to create a certain scene or image if you know what I mean? As far as musicianship is concerned, I try to improve on things I’m not as good at, I can get by on piano and lead guitar, I’m not as good there as I am rhythm guitar or bass but you have to explore those things, I’ll always look to improve on whatever I’m doing really.
- What do you feel was the most difficult aspects in regards to the recording and completion of this album?
Kev Scott: The whole thing was difficult and if I’m honest I wasn’t happy through the whole thing, I came close to binning it near the end. The thing is, with ‘The Loved Ones’, myself, Steve, Chris and another friend (John Banks, lead guitar) worked on the whole thing together, I wrote the songs, made full band demos which they put their own parts over, then we went into the studio and rehearsed it so by the time we started recording it we were really tight and it sounded like a band which is what I wanted. With ‘Appeals For The Lonely’, Chris wasn’t around and I think Steve listened to the demos once before we put his drums down, which to his credit he pulled off. So the process didn’t start well and then it was all down to me and I felt lonely working on it by myself without anybody to bounce ideas off. I guess I got there in the end but it really wasn’t a happy experience and I’ve learned a lesson there.
- Listening to ‘Appeals for the Lonely’ now, would go back and change anything on the album, or do you feel that it came out exactly as you wanted it to?
Kev Scott: Haha! See above! I’m happier with other musicians around me!
- What would you consider a successful, proud or high point in your career so far?
Kev Scott: I’m really proud of making 3 albums in 4 years. I’m proud of how much I’ve learned from the first album to now, I’d like a crack at remixing that album. A great high was having my song ‘Hotel K’ from my first album featured on the author Kathryn Bonella’s website. I read her book about the Kerobokan prison in Bali (nicknamed Hotel K) and was inspired to write the song. Once it was finished I contacted Kathryn to see if she would be interested in hearing it and she loved it so much that it was used on her website to support the follow up book ‘Snowing in Bali’.
- Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
Kev Scott: It’s such a hard industry and with my family and work commitments I know it would be a miracle to be signed and have everything that goes with that. I’m lucky that I’ve found a place in my life where I can still make music and get it out there. So nothing discourages me because I’m happy with what I do, I know I’m not going to be playing stadiums or doing big tours but I accept that for what it is and just make the most of it. As long as people here my music I’m happy.
- If you had the opportunity to change one thing about how the music business works right now, what would that be?
Kev Scott: I suppose a little more help for independent artists to get recognition by the bigger companies.
- If someone has never heard your music, which keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style?
Kev Scott: Deep, soulful emotional and a little bit of a rollercoaster. Jason Pierce meets Neil Young! Good luck with that!
- Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites as fundamental in building a career in music today, and what is your personal relationship with the new technology at hand?
Kev Scott: I think it’s great! The unfortunate thing is that you don’t get any money back from it coz of things like Apple Music, Spotify etc. It gets your music out there though if you’re willing to put the work into promoting yourself.
- Could you tell us something about your involvement with the band ‘Blanket’ – recently signed to Sony?
Kev Scott: Well I wouldn’t say I have an involvement with them as such but Steve (Pellatt, drummer for Blanket) and I are very close, we’ve been playing and making music together for over 20 years, we’ve got a great telepathy kind of thing going on where he seems to know what I want when he’s playing on my stuff, it’s a natural thing from growing up together but it’s always been like that from making demos in his garage when we were 14 to making studio albums now. I’m proud of how he’s worked at being a full time musician, it comes with a sacrifice and it’s paying off for him. Simon (Morgan, guitars for Blanket) owned a studio in Blackpool and when me and Steve formed Nula back in2002 Si recorded the 2 ep’s we made while the band was together.
- What is your relationship with visual media? Do you think videos are important for your music? Do you have a video you would recommend fans checkout so they can get in to what you’re doing?
Kev Scott: We made a video for a song on my last album, a song called ‘Helpless (cryin’ out). https://youtu.be/hIlGMrBTz8U Making that video was a great experience, I got in touch with a friend from school who now works on TV, she’s been on Coronation Street, Emmerdale, casualty, all that kind of stuff and she brought a real professional side to the video, how she got into the character and how it came across in the end. I was really pleased. So yeah, video is great but it’s hard to make one that stands up to being a piece of art. I’ve done a couple that are kind of the cliché live band performance videos, they’re good to watch if you’re not expecting anything great!
- Do you prefer working and creating in a studio environment, or performing live in front of an audience?
Kev Scott: I’ve found my comfort zone in recording, it’s what I enjoy, I want to play live but at the moment I can only play my stuff solo, I’d really like to get a band together to perform my stuff, I’m sure it could happen but it needs to be with the right players, I’m not being a diva when i say that, it just needs to be people I trust, if Steve and Chris had time in their schedule and we had something to aim for, we’d do it and it would be brilliant!
- What’s next on the upcoming agenda for Kev Scott in 2018?
Kev Scott: Well I have 12 songs ready for my next album and have demos ready. I’m going back to the band thing where I’m more comfortable and feel part of something, I’m hoping to get a few new songs while we’re at it, I’m working on one right now, if more come, that will be great but I’m buzzing at the prospect of recording the ones that are already done, Steve’s already played on the demos, it’s exciting and I’m really into the new songs. I’ve just moved house so I’m in the process of building a studio where we can make things happen.