BORN in Middlesbrough, but now based in Manchester…
PHOTO CREDIT: Trust A Fox
Scott Lloyd is one of the most significant and consistent songwriters in the North. Influenced by Americana/Folk artists like Neil Young and Bob Dylan; he brings that together with British sensibilities – courtesy of one of his heroes, Richard Hawley. You do not get to the sixth -E.P.-stage by copying others. Lloyd is one of the strongest and most memorable songwriters around. As his new E.P. (out 9th March), In the Garden, shows; he can go from tender and reflective to strident and passionate. I asked him about the E.P. and the themes explored; the influences he has picked up along the way and how Manchester differs from his hometown. Lloyd talks about his creative past and how he has progressed; the artists that have hit him hardest and what he has lined-up for the coming months.
Hi Scott. How are you? How has your week been?
Hello, I’m very good thanks. It’s been a busy week, to be honest. I popped back home to Middlesbrough for a bit; saw the family and that. It was nice. Always good to go home and slow down every now and then. I also got a haircut because my mum’s a hairdresser. I’ve never paid for a haircut in my life, and for that reason, I feel blessed. Other than that I’ve been working towards the new E.P. release really. It’s all go.
For those new to your music, can you introduce yourself, please?
Yeah, course. Well, my name is Scott Lloyd and I’m originally from Middlesbrough, but I live in Manchester now. I’m a musician. I write and release my own music and have done for around four years. My style is similar to Folk/Rock acts, I’d say. I play the acoustic guitar and harmonica. I’m unsigned and I have self-released five E.P.s – and I’m just releasing my sixth now; it’s called In the Garden.
I hear shades of Laura Marling and Richard Hawley in your work. Are these influences of yours and which other artists are you inspired by?
Absolutely! I take that as a massive compliment, so thank you.
Laura Marling and Richard Hawley are two of my favourite artists, especially Hawley. I can’t get enough of his music at the moment. He’s ace.
Other than those two, I guess I’m influenced by Neil Young, The Coral; Ryan Adams, Bob Dylan etc. So, there’s a little bit of all of them in my music. I’m a big fan of solo acts and singer/songwriters, mainly because I think you can really connect with the person behind the songs a lot more than others. Like, for instance, I’m a massive Beatles fan but the music isn’t coming from the same place as one person singing about something important to them. Radiohead are another good example: fantastic music and lyrics, but I don’t find myself feeling like I know Thom Yorke any better after listening. That’s obviously not a bad thing. It’s just an aspect that I’m drawn to and try to emulate in my music.
At the same time, there are touches of ‘70s U.S. artists (and ‘60s) like Neil Young and Bob Dylan. Are these musicians you grew up listening to?
My dad brought me up on the Eagles, Rod Stewart; Billy Joel and Van Morrison among others. I got into Neil Young during my time at university while studying music; Bob Dylan and Bowie around that time as well. Those years at M.M.U. massively influenced my songwriting style and I’ve never forgotten the feeling of hearing those artists for the first time. It really changed everything for me.
You started out in Middlesbrough but, after completing studies, relocated to Manchester. What are the main differences between the two places in terms of the music scene? What is it like being a young musician in Manchester?
Manchester is an excellent city. So much going on and so many interesting opportunities for a musician to aim for. My whole family is based around Middlesbrough and I lived there until I was eighteen – so it’s a very important place to me. It always will be. Boro is a lot smaller and more of an industrial town but I really love being there. Manchester is definitely where my future lies, though. I’m building up a fan-base and constantly working hard to improve as a songwriter and expand my career. I don’t have a day job; this is where I make my money – not much of it, but I’m taking a big chance and throwing everything at it now. I don’t know how far I’ll go but I really am just living for the moment. I’ve got no idea what’s around the corner but I love all of this and I’m going to keep going whatever happens.
You have released five E.P.s so far. How do you think you’ve progressed as an artist and which E.P., would you say, is your personal favourite?
I reckon I’ve progressed somehow, but I’m just not sure how. I don’t know if I’m writing better songs now or not. I’m just right in the middle of it all at the moment. I tend to release an E.P. and move on straight away. I guess I’ve got plans to go back over certain songs and re-record them with my band now but I don’t know when that would happen. I really just want to keep going and try and maintain the trajectory I’m on. I think in a few years’ time, I will be far enough from the E.P.s, mentally, that I could probably see how I’ve improved. But right now, I’m just living for song-writing and releasing E.P.s. My favourite could be my second, The Northern Gate. I wrote and recorded that myself in my flat in Ancoats, Manchester. I think that one is fantastic to be honest. The songs fit so well together. But, it’s like picking between your children, deciding on a favourite E.P. I wouldn’t do it in case of annoying the others.
In the Garden is your upcoming, sixth E.P. It looks at growing older and childhood; issues of mental health and loss. How much of yourself/your life is in the music and what compelled you to write about such deep and emotional aspects?
These five songs are the closest songs to myself I’ve ever written. I’m twenty-eight in March and I wrote all these songs when I was twenty-six/twenty-seven. Around that time, I think I went through a period of massive self-doubt and massive under-confidence. I struggled with a lot of things in my head.
I went through a long period of anxiety and depression and just generally falling apart. I wrote each of these songs while feeling like that. So, each one is either a direct link to feeling like that or a response to it or a feeling of ignorance to it; and I was just pushing it aside.
Track four, Wild Flower, is about looking after yourself, mentally. I used the metaphor of tending to a garden because there are many links between them both. You look after a garden to help it survive and thrive; you encourage new growth and plant new flowers and plants etc. You look after it. I saw similarities to this and keeping yourself fit and healthy in your mind.
That’s why I called the E.P. In the Garden. The title track is another spin on it as well. When I was younger, I spent nearly all my time in the summer outside without any worries or problems. The song is a hark (sic.) back to those times and how we don’t really know how happy we are. It was also me wishing I was back there, but when we are young we can’t wait to grow up. It’s an interesting idea I really found compelling and it worked really well with the theme. The whole E.P. was a bit of therapy, to be honest, and I’m happy to say I feel a lot better now it’s coming out!
This E.P. steps away from the acoustic sound of previous offerings. Did you feel, because of the themes you explore, you needed to match that with a bigger, more diverse sound?
Yeah, I guess so. There’s plenty to express via just an acoustic guitar and your voice but sometimes it just can’t match the full band sound. The lads I play with are the best I’ve ever played with and we know each other inside-out. It sounds fantastic, to be honest. I couldn’t be happier with it. The sound engineer, Andrew Glassford, has brought out the best in us as well. I owe him one.
The title track is the first single from the E.P. What was the inspiration behind this and what was the reason for choosing it as lead-off single?
It’s the most accessible sounding tune from it in my eyes/ears. So, I thought it would be a good little upbeat introduction to the E.P. I don’t think it’s the best tune from the EP mind. But, then again I couldn’t pick between them. Lavender is the closing track and that’s a simple, lovely little song. That’s one of the favourites. In terms of other people’s opinions; Cornish Coast seems to be most popular. That one has a video coming out next month. It’s all good stuff.
You are one of the most prolific artists in music right now. What would you attribute this work-rate to? It seems like you have a limitless passion and curiosity when it comes to music?
Why thank you. I couldn’t agree with you, though! I’m my own worst critic and always wish I could do better, even though I’m giving it my all. But, it stems from a constant source of loving music.
I don’t see myself doing anything else. I’d be skint all my life if I could just end up dying with someone saying “He was a musician”.
That’s mad to say, isn’t it! It’s true, though. I live in search of the perfect melody and expression through music.
Can we expect to see you on tour this year? Maybe some gigs further south?
I love playing gigs all over the place. I reckon there will be some announcements coming over the next few months, for sure.
You have received a lot of support from local radio and social media. How instrumental has this been to your music and determination to keep producing new material?
Social media is the only way an unsigned musician can connect with anyone these days. To say you can reach nearly everyone you need to via the touch of a button is a massive help. Gone are the days of endless gigging to promote yourself. Obviously, you need to play live in front of people but there are, now, other ways to grow your audience. It’s like everyone has their own T.V. channel now and can broadcast anything they want. The downside to that is there is a lot of competition but I don’t mind that. It’s amazing to have such a useful tool at your fingertips.
If you had to select just three albums to take away to a desert island, which would they be and why?
Bookends – Simon & Garfunkel, because it’s thirty-minutes of (just) pure, excellent songwriting. I love it. An old favourite of mine.
Second would probably be On the Beach – Neil Young. It’s great, isn’t it? Not his most famous but probably his most in-depth. You can really feel what he’s thinking by the end. It’s hard to pick between his albums but right now I fancy having that one.
Third: Coles Corner – Richard Hawley. It is just a pure masterpiece. From the opening strings of the title track to the close of the instrumental, Last Orders. It’s beautiful. I strive to write songs like him and admire his tenacity to keep doing his own thing in this day and age of electronic, mad music.
Is there any advice you’d offer upcoming songwriters?
I used to think it was a bit of a cliché to say this, and it is, but it is so, so true: just keep doing it.
You need to have a burning passion for songwriting to keep at it. You need to have an endless desire to write better songs and get more out of yourself. I believe that’s why success can sometimes be the worst thing to happen to a musician: because they feel they have made it and take their foot off the pedal, a bit.
But, yeah, advice would be, keep doing it as often as you can. You don’t get much back from putting a lot into this business, but what you do get back it very precious and is well-earned.
Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can select any song you like and I’ll play it here (not yours as I’ll do that).
Excellent, thanks. I think Just Like the Rain by Richard Hawley. A simple, wonderful classic. Cheers all.
Follow Scott Lloyd