Interview: Scott Morgan (Loscil)

3 mins read

Loscil: “The world is increasingly complex. It takes will power to stay commited. It’s harder now than ever”.

A Canadian artist Scott Morgan aka Loscil is a person that has been developing his ambient sound for 2 decades. His work with US label Kranky is an evidence of a stable and healthy work partnership which is not always common, considering the policy of the most recording companies. An artist spread a word on the new album with Lawrence English, a historical legacy of musique concrete and his creative life in today’s informational flow.

1. How did the collaboration with Lawrence English happen? What was going on in your life prior to that?

Lawrence and I have been friends for a number of years, we’ve played some shows together and I am a big admirer of his solo work and the Room40 label.  We were chatting about sound (and family and food and crows) and specifically about the value of rich, sonic source material as inspiration for creating music.  Lawrence mentioned recordings he made of the pipe organ in the Old Museum in Brisbane and that naturally piqued my interest.  He offered to send the recording over for me to mess with.  Once I started receiving the sounds, it sparked me and I went a bit nuts creating sketches that I sent back to Lawrence for mixing and treatment.  I don’t think we imagined it being an album at first.  It just fell into place.

Prior to that we were in the throes of the pandemic.  I was working on a variety of things as always but unusually cloistered at home and mostly working solo.

2. Do you feel any additional level of responsibility while working on the release with someone?

There is always an extra degree of care required in the case of a collaboration.  It’s like a deep conversation among friends, it requires respect and attentive listening.  Lawrence is a very gracious and generous collaborator so he made it pretty easy.

3. How do you feel about the historical legacy of musique concrete? Do you feel this genre’s influence in your work, and if yes, which artists are you mostly interested in?

I was exposed to the work of the masters of musique concrete in my university days.  Pierre Henry and Pierre Schaeffer of course.  And the Quebec acousmatic school – artists like Francis Dhomont and Robert Normandeau.  They were all fundamental to my approach but most importantly, my own teachers, namely Barry Truax, were incredibly influential on my understanding of sound as a source for music making.

4. How do you feel about the fact that we see more drone performances from artists? And what are your goals as a live musician?

Honestly, I’ve been going to these kinds of shows for 25 years.  I suppose we’re seeing more acceptance of these once fringe endeavors but it’s always been part of my reality so I don’t see it as much different now.  I’ve always struggled with what to do with my live shows.  I do enjoy working with video in a live context and hope to continue to develop this.  I also periodically get very interested in involving more live performers.  The difficulty with live performance is finding the balance of trying new things but keeping the scale manageable and practical.

5. What new genre trajectory would you personally like to work in?

I don’t really think in genres. I think genre classification exists for the convenience of categorizing and communicating about music but ultimately it’s not a useful structural way of thinking for me in terms of creativity.  One thing I’d like to do more of is installation work.  I recently had a chance to install a 4-channel sound piece here in Vancouver and found this very interesting and rewarding.  A way for sounds and music to exist outside of the usual performance, recordings and soundtracks that I’m used to.

6. Does the place you live in contribute to a burst of creative energy?

Oftentimes, yes.  Many of my albums are very much influenced by the territories I reside in.  For me, I’ve always found the intersection of nature and humanity a place of extreme conflict and inspiration.

7. What does the future hold for ambient music? How do you find the general state of this musical movement?

I’ve always been uncomfortable calling it a movement or genre but I suppose “ambient” is more accepted now as a standalone approach.  The future of music in general is always in question.  Things never stay the same, that is for sure.  Generally speaking, I think the realm of ambient music is rather watered down right now.  Bigger labels have turned their attention towards it trying to muscle their way onto designated streaming playlists and perhaps this is a sign the bubble is bursting.  It has become a rather generic and overwrought style. As always, it will be up to artists to push the music into interesting new directions.

8. How do you manage to survive in such a stormy flow of information and stay true to your creative principles?

Very good question.  The world is increasingly complex.  It takes will power to stay committed.  It’s harder now than ever.  One thing I’ve gained with experience is understanding there will always be highs and lows.  It’s important to be patient during hard times.  It helps to remember how creativity and art can be our solace and our humanity – both making and experiencing it.  Can you imagine a life without it?  I can’t. 

Loscil official website

Loscil on Bandcamp

Loscil on SoundCloud

Questions: Ilya Kudrin

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