London-based duo, San Scout, continually blur the lines of music today with their genre-bending approach to electronic, indie-pop. Freddie Clough and Jonny Woodley, guys making San Scout what it is, release a new single ‘Science,’ a track of very unorthodox darkly addictive pop tendencies. Both Freddie and Jonny shared some insight into their background, their makeshift studios and their fully interactive virtual reality website ‘The Pharmacy.’
It’s been two years since San Scout was born when Freddie and Jonny linked up under a former name ‘Boy Scout’ that they had to let go off. Freddie begins with the story how it all started: “I was playing a few open mic nights up in Leeds, and I think Jon had heard me wailing away at one of them. Through a mutual friend, it was apparent that Jon was making some beats, so we decided to link up”.
“We were originally called ‘Boy Scout’ until the actual Boy Scouts threatened legal action. At the time we had to change the name to fit our logo. ‘San’ felt like the right word”, Jonny reveals.
Considering the work put into the original music curated by San Scout, one wonders about their influence and how the sound came about. : “This came quite naturally, I think. I was sending beats to Fred initially, and he would come back with a folk-inspired melody, and the two things fit together for some reason. Nowadays we sit and work on everything together, but at the start, it was just emails and wav files – maybe that’s how the sound came about?”, Jonny answers the question for us.
Their shared love for glitchy beats led San Scout to create a punchy yet atmospheric sound. Freddie throws it back and looks at the growth of San Scout over the years: “Hopefully it’s got better; there’s always been an element of folk in there – always aiming to write the best songs we can, but as influences have been introduced over the years we’ve definitely messed around a lot more with manipulation/production. We are starting to really enjoy mixing our own stuff since that plays such an important part in creating the identity of a sound, so we’re looking to get great at that”, and they are succeeding.
Not only does San Scout everything themselves, the environment they create and record their music is something to touch upon as well. Jonny addresses the reality of their makeshift studios: “We record and produce wherever we live at the time, and it’s been in about seven places over the last two years. We’ve moved around a lot in guardianships, setting up a studio where we can. It’s pretty fun working in different places. Mixing a track in our 3,000 square foot spot in the old Ben Sherman factory was interesting and difficult. Living there was also pretty weird”.
Probably living the normal lifestyle of artists, the guys of San Scout also enjoy remixing their own tracks in the form of ‘Off-Cuts’ series. Freddie unveils the reasoning behind this: “We basically realized that finishing a track doesn’t mean that it’s over, it can become something else as well – just like how people remix things – it was an opportunity remix ourselves. By bootlegging the master file at a different tempo and then layering over new parts/sounds you can make a new song essentially. It’s probably pretty, but a lot of fun to try”.
One of the more revolutionary and experimental platforms to listen to new music is no doubt San Scout’s VR website ‘The Pharmacy’ – a project that does exalt San Scout over other rising electronic indie-pop duos. Jonny gives the low-down on ‘The Pharmacy’: “We live and work in this building in Farringdon and two sculptors, Yuma & Arran moved into the studio next to us. We would spend so much time in each other’s studios, just talking about what everyone’s up to and struck up a friendship. One day Yuma was showing me his work in 3D designing, and it just became clear that we had to make a dystopian Pharmacy experience together”.
He continues: “We had always thought about a project looking at music as a prescription drug, and this felt like a great way to properly present that. The plan is to build it and constantly evolve it as we put out more music. At the same time, we want to showcase the work of other friends and artists in different disciplines – eventually creating this bizarre place in which you can showcase and experience music and art in a different way”, Jonny talks everything ‘The Pharmacy’ where you can now listen to their newest single ‘Science.’
‘The Pharmacy’ www.san-scout.com
Speaking of ‘Science,’ a second single released on the VR website ‘The Pharmacy,’ does present more of raging undertones. Jonny talks about the backstory of the record: “Sonically, we wanted to make something aggressive this time – a little less tentative than our previous stuff and a bit more sure of itself. Maybe it’s due to our mindsets at the time, but the song talks about the idea of being lost and looking for something”. Have a listen to ‘Science,’ San Scout’s more aggressive interpretation of longing for something unknown.
Even though San Scout is known for producing more sad music, an opportunity to partake on Vivienne Westwood ‘Creatives’ campaign called for a little spring in their step. Freddie speaks about the experience: “We normally create quite sad stuff so we knew it would be slightly different to what we normally make – they needed something bubbly/emotional/upbeat. Like for anything it was great to have a go at something a bit different; I think we came out with some nice noise. It’s great to get those opportunities, as it’s impossible not to learn something new”.
What’s next for Sam Scout? Jonny aims to build up ‘The Pharmacy’ as the new tracks will be released and he also hints at an upcoming show in May. Freddie simply said: “As many bangers as possible until we die.”
Karolina Kramplova | WRITER