Interview – Skott

The word unique is often overused when it comes to describing an artist. However, there fortunately are those who truly are cut from a different cloth. Born Pauline Skött, the artist simply known as Skott creates music filled with ambience, subtlety, and something outside the lines of what others are putting out these days.

From the small, isolated Swedish village of Vikarbyn, interestingly, Skott was raised on Folk music and traditions outside the mainstream. Perhaps part of what makes her music what it is, in truth, Skott’s approach to songwriting is more than likely something more inherently within. Spending her earlier years writing songs for others, in more recent times she has written and performed for herself, thus creating a swell of curiosity among listeners.

Consistently putting out her own music since 2016, in 2023, she returns with yet another dazzling collection of songs featured on the new album Roses N Guns. Consistently following her own artistic intuition, to go out on a limb and sound cliched… it is safe to say that, yes, Skott is truly unique. Excited about her latest musical odyssey, Skott recently sat down to chat about the new album, her creative outlook on music, plus a whole lot more. 

Cryptic Rock – Your professional music career began some time ago. Early on, you spend time writing songs for others. However, for the last eight years, you have solidified yourself as a unique artist; both as a performer and songwriter. How would you describe your journey as a musician to this point? 

Skott – I’m happy to play in different genres and experiment with soundscapes, and over time it’s developed into this universe I’m continually building on and expanding. My album artwork is based on a treasure map of a continent in this world, and I’ve come to have a lot of fun expressing myself not only through the sounds, but also visuals. You could say it all started with playing the violin and growing up in a small village where most kids also learn to play, before my eyes were opened by video game soundtracks and the blend of the visual world meeting music.

Cryptic Rock – It is rather interesting to hear about your beginnings. Unique is the best way to describe your music, and that is a sincere compliment. Your sound is fresh, your songwriting is impeccable, and your approach is stimulating to the senses. What has inspired your creative approach to music?

Skott – Thank you, I appreciate that. I like that it’s hard to put my artistry into a box. I wouldn’t say I’ve actively avoided trends or what’s popular in the industry, but I am definitely drawn towards the path less traveled, or just exploring uncharted territory. If I feel inspired by a moment, or a childhood story, or a particular emotion, I enjoy exploring that direction even if it means making something that might not be “cool” right now, or something unusual. Weird, odd, or even awkward, appeals to me.

Skott – Stay off my Mind / Sony Music (2018)
Skott – Always Live For Always / Dollar Menu/Cosmos Music

Cryptic Rock – Right, and that is what stands out with your music. Some of the most interesting aspects of your music are the subtleties, along with the ability to build the sound layer by layer and the atmosphere. Are these all mindful, imperative decisions for you when you are writing and recording?

Skott – Very much so. Not everyone is aware that I’m in the room while producing all of my songs. I’m either co-producing them, producing them myself, or shaping each and every little detail in the soundscape. I’m happy you noticed the little things! The reverb tail of a tiny tom sound in the background can either throw me way off, or sit just right.

Cryptic Rock – Well, your attention to detail is certainly evident and sonically pleasing to the ears. You first began to gain international attention with tracks like “Porcelain.” From there you steadily put out EPs and albums. As a songwriter/performer, do song ideas come in waves? How do you keep things fresh and organic when you create? 

Skott – Ideas and inspiration can come in stronger or clearer waves sometimes, especially when I’m not super focused on touring, for example. There’s just more bandwidth available, and I just can’t wait to get back in the studio to record new ideas. But sometimes there’s just so much else going on, and if I need to recharge on energy or inspiration, nature is my go-to.

Right now, my favorite place is completely off-the-grid. It’s a small cabin with no electricity or water. There are no traffic sounds and no neighbors, only an occasional deer calling out, and the sound of a running stream nearby. It really helps me reset and clear my mind.

Cryptic Rock – That not only sounds amazing, but a great way to reconnect with yourself and nature. You released the stunning A Letter from the Universe EP in 2022, and now you return with the full-length album Roses N Guns a little over a year later. Roses N Guns is different in many ways than the prior EP, yet equally as enticing. So, what was the writing and recording process behind this new album? 

Skott – It’s an odd origin story, but I was literally forced out of my home last year and that’s when I did the majority of the work on this album. There was a fire in my apartment building, so I ended up living between four different places during 2022; which meant I didn’t have a home base and all my stuff was smoke damaged and in storage somewhere. So, I found comfort going back to my roots, including my hometown, where at least things were familiar. I went back to the Skott farm, surrounded by wild woods and a beautiful lake, and this really helped me reconnect with what’s important and inspired a lot of the lyrics.

Skott – Roses N Guns / Dollar Menu/Cosmos Music (2023)

Cryptic Rock – It certainly shines through in the music. One of the boldest differences with this new album is the vocal approach. Was that a conscious decision to perform and record the vocals differently than prior works you have done?

Skott – I like to expand and push my comfort zone, and I did that with a few tracks on this album for sure. For example, in “Memory Shore,” I went more folk, more naked with the vocals, and even played the violin solo for the first time. But, in general, it wasn’t a conscious decision to switch up any vocal approach. I tailor my vocals to each soundscape for each song. So, if I need to scream backing vocals for a particular song, I’ll do it, or if I feel I should whisper to the wind, that’s what I’ll do.

Cryptic Rock – And that is the best way to approach it; whatever the music calls for. You do not come across as someone who is seeking approval of any mainstream expectations. You seem quite independent in your music and your experimentation. Was this something you have always felt strongly about, or was this level of freedom built up from living and learning as a writer? 

Skott – I do whatever’s best for the song, in the moment, and prefer to steer away from trends in general. I hope to make songs that feel more ‘timeless,’ if that makes sense. That doesn’t mean I won’t have fun experimenting with a trap hat or something, but it would probably be a trap beat with a folk violin! I’m not completely allergic to Pop and the mainstream, though. I have written a few K-Pop tracks for TXT, brothers to BTS, which is almost the furthest opposite to some of my own songs. I do sing on those demos but, when it comes to my own releases, I go with my soul, which leans more left-field or alternative and independent for sure.

Skott – Letter from the Universe/ Dollar Menu/Cosmos Music
Skott – Hail Mary / Dollar Menu/Cosmos Music

Cryptic Rock – Understood, you simply are not limited, and that is refreshing. Labels are so limiting, but it seems everyone likes to box something so they know what it is. Your music is rather ethereal; it falls within Pop, but far deeper. All this in mind, what were some of your personal musical influences over the years?   

Skott – Yes, that may be the main reason I stepped away from major labels to start my own independent label, Dollar Menu. The creative freedom that opens up is worth the extra hard work. Some of my influences include Sunshine Sundfør, Muse, and Koji Kondo; who composed a lot of the Legend of Zelda music. Michiru Yamanea also deserves a shout out. She made some of the original Castlevania soundtracks which still blow my mind.

Cryptic Rock – It sounds like you have an equally eclectic musical taste as the one which you create. Last question. On Cryptic Rock we also cover all types of film but concentrate on Horror and Sci-fi films. If you are a fan of Horror and Sci-Fi movies, what are some of your favorites and why?

Skott – I grew up on a farm in the woods where we had to go down to the cellar at night to heat the house with firewood and a big empty barn can be a bit unsettling in the pitch dark, so I don’t watch much Horror as my imagination can sometimes get the best of me. It’s too real in the dark woods! When it comes to Sci-Fi, I really enjoyed the film Moon (2009) and recommend that one. I used to LARP (Live action role-play) in the woods, sewing my own costumes and crafting gear – I was really into the Fantasy genre – but, if I grew up in a big city environment instead, who knows? I might have role-played as a Sci-Fi character instead!

For more on Skott: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 

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