Scott Thorn is an American singer/songwriter who grew up around the Gulf Coast of Florida listening to Southern blues, country, gospel and rock and roll. Since that time he has travelled and lived in many places throughout the United States from one coast to the other and abroad taking influence from his travels. His direct and introspective songwriting style forms the medium to tell his lyrical stories of love, joy, loss, and standing up for what’s right. His music fuses several influences from Rock, Americana and Country. Currently residing in the Washington D.C. area, Scott is a 2016 Alumni of the Acoustic Guitar Project and a member of the Songwriter’s Association of Washington. Scott is promoting his debut album “Ordinary Day“, released in July 2016 and available on all major retailers. 1 In Music wanted to know more.
1 In Music: Hi Scott and thank you for agreeing to this interview. Let’s talk about your music, what makes it unique?
Scott Thorn [ST]: I suppose what makes my music unique is its fusion of styles. It does not neatly fit into a specific genre. This is probably because of my varied influences growing up from discovering my parent’s box of Doo-whop 45 records and Beatles LPs to a backdrop of 70’s guitar rock and blues to 80’s hair bands, Country music and so on. For my album “Ordinary Day“, many of the tracks which I think fit squarely in the Rock genre, have been introduced as Country, Americana or Folk Rock. Today’s genres are a bit blurred but it also goes back to my original point, there are many influences in the background.
1 In Music: So how did you develop from the boy listening to his parents’ music box to the singer-songwriter and recording artist you have become?
ST: There were no musicians in my immediate family growing up but, there was music. Like many, my first immersion into music was in the church and as a youth, I sang in a choir. Gospel and traditional hymns, I guess, is where I learned to sing. I am not classically trained but the hours and hours of practical experience lending my voice to a larger sound and having to listen and react to the larger body was invaluable. I was a late bloomer and didn’t learn an instrument or even write music until much later in life but, music was always just under the surface.
I started dragging an old Yamaha Classical guitar around with me that had been gifted to me by a family member. I had no idea even how to tune it, let alone play anything. So over the course of a few years, I picked up a few chords and started to practice. Eventually, I got to the point where I was able to play the basic rhythm pattern of a few chords. This led to learning cover songs. It wasn’t long after that I began to write my own songs… and they were terrible but, we all start somewhere. Then came many years of writing only when an inspiration hit me. Unfortunately, I did not make any recordings of my early songs and as a result, I lost the music and melodies over time. Meanwhile, life and family were my priorities and music took a backseat.
Fast forward a number of years and I found myself drawn to that old guitar during challenging times or even good times which brought me back to writing again. Music was that outlet which allowed me to express those internal feelings that were hard to articulate otherwise. I began to fill notebooks with song ideas, half written verses or hooks and eventually put a few together into completed songs which, I played around my house and for my family. This time around, with the encouragement of my wife, I started what I thought was merely a personal project to record a few of those songs. The end result was my album “Ordinary Day“. I was fortunate to find my Rock’n’Roll mentor Richard Livoni, the owner of Blitz Recording Studio in San Diego, CA. I walked into his studio with a notebook, guitar and no clue how to put it all together. With Richard’s mentorship as a Producer, multi-instrumentalist and engineer, we spent the next year working together on the vision and songs that would comprise my album “Ordinary Day“.
1 In Music: At what moment then did you realise you were going to make music professionally?
ST: I am not sure I am there yet. If “professional” means have I been payed or compensated for my music? The answer is yes. I have received radio airtime and interviews, blog spots and performed as a featured artist at several small music venues as a solo artist or with an accompanying band. I also have a number of synch licensed music for TV and an Independent film. However, as a practical matter, I have not quit that day job because of its security with respect to providing for my family. In either case, I think the genie is out of the bottle. Music and specifically songwriting is now a major part of my life and fully supported by my family and friends and, dare I say, fans. I guess I would emphatically declare myself a professional songwriter when I get that first cut by a known artist.
1 In Music: A known artist, eh? So which ones do you listen to that might do that cut? What type of music are you into?
ST: Great question- and I am all over the place. I love the stories and the artist that can weave that story into beautiful memorable melodies are the ones I am drawn to. I have found myself listening to a lot of Americana-like artists as of late but mix in Soul, Country, Folk and Rock, they all have a place with me. So, to answer this question let me just list artists I have listened to this past week: Emmy Lou Harris, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Richard Marx, John Hiatt, John Mellencamp, Gavin DeGraw, Robert Bradley’s Blackwater Surprise, Clint Black, Michael Jackson, Shawn Mullins, Tom Petty, Bon Jovi, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, and Daruis Rucker. There are also a number of local artists that I know and collaborate with that I listen to such as Dan Magnolia, Michael RJ Roth, Mike P. Ryan, Myceana Worley, Tracy Coletto, Two from the Heart, Caroline Ferrante, Joshua Rich and Jorge Serafin.
1 In Music: Indeed there are many artists out there and so many still to be discovered. Who, to you, is the most undervalued music artist?
ST: In my opinion two of the most undervalued singer/songwriters are John Hiatt and Shawn Mullins. Both are so incredibly talented and while they have found success in the music world, they are undervalued. John Hiatt can make you cry or laugh your a** off with the turn of a lyric. Shawn Mullins’ songs are so deep and emotionally rooted, you can’t help but feel the struggles or joys of his characters. When either one releases new material, I snap it up.
1 In Music: 🙂 About you now, how do you prepare for your performances?
ST: Practice, practice, practice. I have found that I have to have a song memorized to the point of not really thinking about it. I play acoustic guitar on all of my songs so that includes the guitar as well as the vocal performance. When I don’t have to worry about wether I can remember the next line or chord progression then I can focus on the performance and emotional part of the song that makes the biggest impact to an audience. To do anything else is disingenuous. Also, the technical aspect of a venue’s sound system is always a point of concern. A bad sound person can ruin an otherwise good performance.
1 In Music: What do you do when you don’t do music (creative or otherwise) and that you are passionate about?
ST: I won’t go into the details about my day job but, it is probably the furthest from music as it can be. I have a degree in Aeronautics to give you a clue and I definitely use the other side of my brain. Music is the balance. I am married with children and they are the joys of my life.
1 In Music: So, Success to you is…?
ST: Personally- writing and singing for the joy of it. As mentioned it is the balance. Professionally, I like to perform but I would claim “music victory” whatever that means, if one of my songs were picked up to be recorded by an established artist.
1 In Music: What do you wish you were told when you started out and that you think would help anyone who starts out?
ST: Be You. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Critiques are fine and help shape some of the edges but don’t change the core of who you are even if your audience is just you. Also, I’d like to paraphrase Quincy Jones by saying don’t write a song to make money or for commercial fame because if that’s what you are chasing you are not doing it for the right reasons and it is destined to fail.
1 In Music: Now the “genie is out of the bottle” as you said, do you have any upcoming projects?
ST: I am working on my next project. I currently live in the Washington D.C. area and have been working with a local award-winning Producer. We are three songs into an as of yet undefined project. I am not sure if this will be another full length album, EP or a series of singles. However, this time around my songwriting has really matured and my songs are coming from a stronger foundation. The buzz is very good.
1 In Music: Thank you again Scott, it was a pleasure. Last thing, where can we find you music?
ST: You can find my music and projects on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Play, CD Baby, my website, Facebook, Twitter, ReverbNation. Thank you for the opportunity and for listening.
Listen to Scott Thorn right here and right now via Soundcloud!