No More Workhorse caught up with Scott Morgan, aka recording artist loscil from his home in Vancouver for an interview over Zoom. You can see the results below.
How have the last 18 months been for you?
Scott: A rollercoaster. I had to cancel some shows at the very beginning, which was unfortunate, and then with the new record (Clara) we ran into some production delays. I think there were some Covid-related shutdowns of some of the record plants. Which added a bunch of time to the delay to the release of Clara. It was a lot of sitting around and waiting, just stressing at the state of the
world, and trying to adapt day-to-day with the kids and school, I’ve got two girls. Same story as everybody I guess, it’s been ups and downs, and kind of interesting.
How do you operate, do you collaborate or is it mostly you?
The last while I haven’t done a whole lot of collaborating. When I’ve done collaborations, it’s been across disciplines, like working with dancers or working on a theatre production. More collaborating with directors and writers, and less with other musicians, which I haven’t done a ton of in the last while. On some of the previous records, I’ve had guests appear and I’ve done some compositional collaborations. This record (Clara), I guess we could call it a collaboration… the hiring of an orchestra and recording that, but it was more of a business arrangement than a collaboration. I hired them to do the recording.
The orchestra piece was specifically for Clara?
I wrote a piece of orchestral music specifically with this idea in mind of unpacking the recording, resampling it and rearranging it. I booked a very short amount of time with an orchestra in Budapest. They work like a film orchestra: you hire them and bring them the score and they record it on their end and send you the files. We did it on zoom, it was recorded before the pandemic, so it wasn’t ‘normal’ at that time. I had to get up at about 4:30 or 5:00 AM to sit in a session which was a little disorientating, but it was exciting even though I couldn’t be there. I would have liked to have been there, obviously.
What gave you the idea to do this?
It’s something I’ve always had in the back of my mind to write for a larger ensemble. I went to music school and did a bit of composition study and wrote for ensembles. I veered off into the electronic path but always wanted to return to writing an ensemble. This felt like a way to do that but also merge into my process a little bit. I’m not super brushed up on all my music theory but this was like dipping my toe in without being too hardcore about it!
You have a degree in music theory?
I have a bachelor’s degree. I went to a local school here called Simon Fraser University which has an interesting programme. I ended up doing a double major in communications and music because Barry Truax, who was my professor, was a pioneering computer musician who did a lot of stuff on granular synthesis. He’s great, he’s retired now but I learned a lot from him in that school. It (the school) focuses on this interdisciplinary approach where they get musicians working with filmmakers and dancers. It was a good programme, it’s a long time ago now but it definitely sowed some seeds for me.
Was there much music in the house growing up?
Not really. My parents are not musicians and are not interested in music. My uncle gave me a guitar and amplifier when I was a teenager. That probably was the crack in the door, then I joined some rock bands and came in that way. I used to play some tenor and baritone saxophone in high school. As regards classical music, almost none at all until I went to high school. If you had asked
me as a 15-year-old to name a piece of classical music I may have said Beethoven, I probably wouldn’t have thought of much else.
Going back to when you started recording, that was with Destroyer, is that right?
I was part of the original Destroyer lineup, 95 or 96. I recorded as a drummer, but I actually did play some saxophone on Rubies as well. I did maybe 4 albums and a tour, and a couple of ‘fly in’ type things. I’m still very good friends with Dan Bejar, we did some weird stuff after Destroyer together. His daughter and my daughter started high school together. I kind of gave up on the rock
and the drumming around 2006.
When did you feel established as a solo artist?
I was doing loscil stuff before 2006, late 90s. Basically, in university, I was thinking I was a solo composer of some sort, and I was doing concerts in the electro-acoustic, computer music, academic realm as a solo artist. So the loscil project which started around 98 or 99 was a hybrid of the academic world mixed with my electronic and post-rock influences. That’s how I got connected to
Kranky, there was this murky terrain of electronic meets rock meets post-rock in the late 90s Chicago scene. People like Jim O’Rourke, I was really interested in that. Around that time, I decided to do solo stuff under that name.