The “glitch-pop” duo on DIY studios and sending demos to strangers.
London-based babes San Scout are kicking 2018 off with a great start. The DIY glitch-pop pair – whose music is made in bedrooms and makeshift studios across the city – may only have a handful of songs out, but have made quite an impact already. Except maybe with Mary, but more on that later…
Currently in the process of unveiling their Off-Cuts series, Jonny and Freddie are re-inventing their previously released tracks with fantastic results. Dropping today, new track “Hold Fire” has all you could ever want – distorted vocals, weird visuals and a beat that you can’t help but bop along to.
Eager to find out more, we grabbed five with the guys to chat all things San Scout.
How did you two meet?
Freddie: In Dublin, on a surprise birthday trip for a couple of mutual friends.
Jonny: I remember watching Fred do an open mic night in Leeds and get the loop pedal wrong…
Was it “let’s make music together” at first sight?
F: Not at all. I had heard a folky track Jonny put on YouTube that was alright but that was it.
J: Please don’t talk about that track. I can’t get it off the internet. I thought Fred’s voice was cool when I first heard it, definitely .
When did you decide to start making music together?
F: After I ran into a mutual friend of ours on the train who said Jonny “had been making beats”, and that we should link up – I sent back mumblings over stuff he’d made.
J: Yeah, I sent this beat (that then became one of our first tracks, “Bitter Blue”) and Fred sent it back with what sounded like words on it. Thought it sounded really cool and finished it pretty quickly.
Was there a fairly harmonious idea of how you wanted to sound?
F: I think there was because we both seemed to have grown up on a bit of trashy pop punk and old folk/rock classics, but we both love reverb and wanted to make atmospheric tracks.
J: Yeah, although Fred is more song-y and I’m more into electronic sounds, I think we both liked what the other was adding to it and stumbled upon a sound quite quickly and semi-accidentally.
You first came onto the scene in 2016, what’ve the last two years been like?
F: Lots of moving the set-up around and lots of tracks made that will probably never see the light of day! We’re starting to play live a bit more which is fun. It’s good to get out of the production cave now and then.
J: Huge learning curve. It’s been great to meet and work with people and (try to) become better producers. It’s also been cool to see people at shows who aren’t immediate family members.
How have you grown/changed since then?
J: I think we’ve become better at knowing what we want and doing stuff ourselves. Fred has gotten a lot better at making beats and I’m still not a lead vocalist. Maybe now we feel a bit more confident in what we can put out and backing ourselves to take on bigger jobs.
F: I’ve actually shrunk I reckon…
“It’s quite hard to write a happy tune in some of the recent studios we’ve made. Not that we could write a happy tune if we tried.”
You create your own makeshift studios – is this an important aspect to how you make music?
F: It ultimately doesn’t affect the sound where it’s made, as long as the techniques are the same/similar the result is reasonably consistent. Having a simple set-up makes it easier to understand everything, haha.
J: Yeah, our set-up is pretty unsophisticated no matter where it is. I also think that the more depressing set-ups we’ve had have probably contributed to a lot of the darkness in the music. It’s quite hard to write a happy tune in some of the recent studios we’ve made. Not that we could write a happy tune if we tried.
Last year you debuted your Off-Cuts series. What was the idea behind this?
F: It’s the idea of getting the most out of a song, ’cause once it’s done it’s fun to see how the noises/vibe of the track feel when presented at a different tempo and completely re-arranged.
J: I remember us loving how punchy it sounded when we chopped up the mastered tracks and then Fred came to me with a chopped and re-arranged version of an early song and it sounded cool. We can express and experiment a bit more with these Off-Cuts because it’s like a no-pressure mess around.
You’re releasing your latest one today, which is a reinvention of your track “Hold Fire”. Can you tell us about that?
J: I think it furthers the conversation from “Hold Fire” and is kind of a response to it. Some of the chopped lyrics worked out to form their own phrases which is pretty weird.
F: It’s a little faster than the original so might be one to move to… It’s got a lot of random vocal noises popping out which could be freaky, but we had a good time on the axes to fill it out a bit.
J: What are you on about, Fred?
What else can we expect from this series?
F: One with each single, so a lot more of them!
And what more do you have lined up for this year?
J: Lots of music firstly and a video pretty soon. As Fred said, this year we are getting out of our bedrooms/studios and we’re hopefully going to bring a good live show to people. The music’s weird so the live show takes some thought but we’re getting there. Headline show in April most probably, and I think we’re going to the States for a bit – TBC but hope so! We have a single coming out actually pretty soon and it’s my favourite.
Cool. Finally, do you actually send your demos to a random woman named Mary on WhatsApp? If so, what does she think?
J: This killed me when Fred showed me! He sends all of our demos to this number he has on WhatsApp, just so that he can have them all in one place and easily get to them to listen to. Mary’s never replied but she reads all the messages. She didn’t show up at our show last Sunday either…