With a focus on honest and heartfelt lyricism, up-and-coming singer/songwriter Scott Lloyd has certainly been making a name for himself in the Manchester scene, standing out from the crowd with his mature and meaningful mix of folk and Americana. With an enviable string of independently released EPs to his name, and a relentless touring schedule over recent years, his work ethic has rightfully yielded him praise and acknowledgement as he now moves forward as a newly signed artist. I had a chat with him about his most recent single and his journey thus far:
Thanks for your time! You’ve just released your new single ‘Down To Earth’, what was the inspiration behind the song?
No problem at all, it’s always good to talk. The new single came from me just writing as I normally do I guess! The theme of it is about the light and dark moments in your life and that, basically, there will always be things to be happy about or sad about and it’s up to you which you choose to focus on. I’d say the song is a juxtaposition between those two things. The verses seem quite negative and worrisome in theme and the chorus/bridge parts are hopeful and positive. I love simple melodies in music and, when writing this song, I was just thinking ‘keep it simple’ and that’s what happened. I wrote it very quick, near enough all the melody and structure and most of the lyrics were done in one day.
While your last single ‘Looking Out To Sea’ had a very English folk feel, this new track has a bit more of an Americana vibe going on. Was that intentional or just how the song happened to develop?
Sound wise, I was after something ‘Johnny Cash’/country and upbeat, don’t especially know why, I always try to write a different type of song to the one I wrote before it. I try to make sure I spread my creativity out over different songs and styles, rather than focusing on one ‘feel’ or genre. I am a massive fan of Richard Hawley’s stuff and his use of simple melodies and thoughtful lyrics really excites me, like Neil Young’s music. I guess my music is ‘Folky’ but touches on different genres. I have been conversing with my label about this recently, they aren’t sure what genre I am, I don’t really know either! I just write songs and they come out in certain ways and styles. They all stem from the same place. I am a fan of a lot of genres of music so they all influence me somehow. I like the ‘singer/songwriter’ label, it is a style in it’s own right, and means I’m not pigeon-holed as an artist. It’s a good thing, I’m sure.
How would you describe your writing process?
It’s near enough always been the same. I’ve got a room upstairs in my house, I go in there, sit on the bed, look out the window and just play things on the guitar. Sometimes I’m not in a writing mood and just play or work on a song I need to finish, or it can be frustrating if no ideas come. I’ve learned to just put the guitar down and walk away if I feel I’m pressuring myself to write. The last thing you want is to force it. My writing is very pure and natural. It either; just flows out of me without any initial inspiration, or I have a concept I’d like to write about and just riff with that, or I’ll hear a song and think ‘I’d love to write one in that style or feel’ and use that as inspiration. A lot of my recent songs have been born from hearing someone else’s song and using that as a base, either it be the feel, or the drums, or a lyric etc. it could be anything. I’ll play some random chords and sing words or noises and if anything sounds good I’ll stop straight away, record it and then either work on it or leave it for another day. It’s so great having the ability to record ideas on your phones these days. Bruce Springsteen once said that when you’re young, you’re writing with instinct, and when you’re older you’re writing with intelligence. He is right there. I try to use instinct as much as possible as it’s genuine and authentic to you. No one else in the world has your memories and thoughts to go on, use what you have already inside you rather than pretending to do something other people would do.
This is your second release as a signed artist, what made you decide to be a part of a label after being a fully independent artist for so long?
I just wanted to progress and move forward. That’s all I’m doing really. I know that song-writing is a part of me and that won’t change, so it just makes sense to climb a little higher up the ladder every step of the way. I must give the credit to my new producer for me getting signed. He initiated it and pushed me to send these new songs to labels and be persistent. In the past I’ve done the sending music to labels thing with near enough every EP or song I’ve released, but I don’t rely on them signing me to release the music. It was always an aim to be successful in music and signing to a label is one thing you can do to help that happen. I never heard a reply from the majority of the labels I send my stuff to in the past, it’s all ‘who you know’ isn’t it? I’d always just release the music myself, it was quicker. I hate being static for too long, it gets on my nerves, I have a longing to move forward and search and do more. Waiting 6 months for a label to get back to you, and 9 times out of 10 being rejected, doesn’t help you’re progress or morale. However, this time round, my producer, Mathieu Garcia pushed me to do it, and urged me wait before I release these songs. I hesitantly agreed to do that and thank god I did. He’s got his own studio called Red Sand Studio’s in Manchester. I sent these songs to about 6 different labels, heard back from maybe 2 of them and 1 of those were Aardvark Records. The head of the label said he liked the songs and said they will get back to me after A&R had heard them. The label is Cornwall based which interested me. My wife is from Cornwall and I’ve visited the area many times with her to see family. It a really beautiful place, it’s got it own vibe and a really chilled/no worries feel to it, not to mention its landscape is stunning. So, then a week or so later the label said they’d like to meet up and it all just went from there. I’m with them for 3 years and hopefully will take some good steps forward in my career with them. I feel good being signed, it’s like someone else is on your team.
What’s been the biggest difference between being on a label and going it on your own?
I am a solo artist, but now I don’t have to do all the work myself. I still do as much work and self-promotion as I’ve done in the past, it’s just now I’ve got someone doing more and helping me. Also, it just sounds good to say your signed, people think you’re instantly good because of it. It’s got a sense of exclusiveness and quality to hear someone is signed to a label. You already know they must be half-decent before you’ve heard their music, and it also shows you’re serious about music, it is not just a hobby.
If you had to pick three albums that most impacted you as a songwriter, what would they be and why?
There’s been a few over the years but right now, I’d say; Bookends by Simon & Garfunkel, Prisoner by Ryan Adams and A Deeper Understanding by The War On Drugs. There are loads of others, but I think these 3 have great introspective writing with simple chords and melodies, also with a great story telling vein running through them. I love honesty in song writing. I am a really empathetic person and to hear other people’s thoughts and feelings really works with me. That’s why I like solo artists, it’s different from a band, the solo artists are on their own and you give them credit for being so truthful and pure in their writing. You can hear their music and mentally build a character of who they are. I love people who think and question things, and can be quiet and pensive to themselves. Great thinking minds have the best things to say and stories to tell.
You have a prolific catalogue of EPs under your belt, but can we expect a full album from you in the near future?
Yeah, I’m working on an album right now. We’ve got 6 songs out of around 10 done at the moment. The album will be out early next year. It’s all written, just in the recording stage with Mathieu, my producer. He’s really helped me as an artist and brought out the best sound in me. I can’t give him enough praise for what he’s done, he is a genius at what he does.
What have you got planned for the rest of 2018?
Mainly recording the rest of the album. There’s quite a lot of promotion in the works for these new singles including music videos etc. I try to write as often as possible but if I’m busy with other aspects of the job its difficult get the inspiration to start new things while you’re busy with something in the present moment. I guess I just keep on moving forward, at any pace.
Massive thanks to Scott. His new single ‘Down to Earth’ is out now.