Reprint from Folk Alley Radio
During the summer of 2008, SCOT SIER began his search for musicians to record his, “HEADS OR TALES” album – a futurist crossover record inspired by a mysterious dream, which lead to the discovery of a unique new guitar tuning.
“It was a very strange experience, SIER recalls. He was walking down along a secluded Northern California beach during a particularly foggy evening. when the moon caught his attention and a strange energy entered into his body. “I felt like someone or something was watching me, but when I looked around there was no one there. When I returned home, I was in a state of bliss, unlike anything I had felt before.” That evening when he slept, he had a lucid dream where he heard a strange song that was ethereal and otherworldly. When he awoke, he grabbed his guitar and tuned it to the sound he heard in his dream. He ended up with the open tuning of, D# A# D G G D. “When I strummed my guitar, it was an unusual sound and I immediately began to write the song, “Shining Light” in one pass. I knew this sound was something special and I had to make a record that would capture it.”
And HEADS OR TALES is the outcome – 14 tracks that mash together musical styles with incredible musicianship and infectious melodies that will stick in your head. But, as is typical of SIER, they throw a curve ball at the listener, with a wide array of styles that are hard to define. From the effervescent spiritual pop of the opening track, ”Shining Light” to the soulful , gritty future-blues of, “Cowboy”, the future-funk of, "Shakey Jake" , the baroque folk pop of “The Painter”, the Gypsy punk rock of "Cocktail for the Blue" and prog rock vibe of “Dark Star”, are a few samples of what the album offers listeners.
SIER, who recorded HEADS OR TALES in San Francisco with engineer, JUSTIN PHELPS – self produced the record and didn’t spend much time laboring over the tracking. “We cut all the basic tracks in one or two passes over a three day period at TINY TELEPHONE STUDIOS on to two inch tape, so that it would sound like a live, breathing performance. Music to me is a spontaneous experience, where playing in the moment with incredible musicians leads to a magical outcome.” SIER says.
And magical it is, thanks to over thirty guest appearances by some of the San Francisco Bay Areas finest musicians. SIER spent many a day scouring the clubs and searching on line for the right performers to record this visionary work. “I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to hearing parts in my head, and I personally chose those players who I felt would make it easy for me to describe the parts I was hearing for them to record on the song.
It’s that magic that the Gary, Indiana born SIER has pursued since he was a child, studying violin under the late, FLORENCE LINDEN”, first chair violinist with the Northwest Indiana Symphony. He debuted his passion for music at the age of seven, taking home first prize in the Northwest Indiana violin competition. He taught himself to play guitar at the age of sixteen and honed his skills playing with black musicians in Gary, Indiana. After leaving Indiana, he moved to Colorado, playing with the Gospel funk band, Badd Habbitt: and recording with the jazz pianist, ROB MULLINS. It was here that he started to write instrumental guitar music and doing session work, which lead to a meeting in Los Angeles with the fusion record producer, JIM SNOWDEN recommended by, MULLINS.
He fell in love with California, and soon packed his family and bags, settling into a small town in Northern California. He started working with the guitar amplifier company, Boogie Amplification, all the while writing songs and a musical play that was read at the Mark Taper Forum, in Los Angeles. The landscape of California, ignited his imagination and his music took a more serious turn, turning to political themes. (He had watched his hometown of Gary, Indiana become a ghetto over a short period of time, as well as the many small farmers forced out of business in the Midwest, due to corporate farms.)
He started performing with a power trio that showcased these politically charged songs and honed them into a powerful sound that has been compared to Bruce Springsteen’s early music. “I don’t like to limit myself to one story, or genre of music when writing songs, some of my tunes are charged with political themes from my observations of racism and white flight in Gary, Indiana the town I was born in. Others reflect my exploration of Zen practices, the subconscious and the emotions of love.”
Thanks to that creative work ethic, SIER figures he has over two hundred un-recorded songs penned. He tapped that creative well with HEADS OR TALES, as well as writing new material that came to him during the recording process. “There were quite a few songs to choose from for this record, and I picked the ones that I felt closest to at the time”, he says.
“I wanted to make a record that took listeners on a journey across America. These tunes reflect my life growing up in the Midwest and traveling to California, which I think many people, could relate to its creative vibe. It’s a dream state, a place where you can remake yourself into whatever you choose. SIER says. His passion for music and sound, led to the formation of Budda Amplification. The company he founded with, JEFF BOBER and PAUL LAMB in the summer of 1995.
It was during the process that he was selling the company to a global instrument manufacturer that the HEADS OR TALES record was being recorded. This led to highly charged performances in the studio. “It was utter madness, having to organize all the musicians, hum them their parts, coordinate the sessions at five studios in the Bay Area, all the while running strategy meetings for the Budda sale. I am surprised anything got done”, SIER laments.
SIER befriended the producer and the pianist/singer-songwriter, JOSH FIX while he was recording at the infamous Hyde Street Recorders. They soon became friends, which led to FIX co-producing vocals and piano for the songs, “Shining Light”, Markie”, “Dark Star” “Miss Your Smile” Across The Stars” and “Karma Sea”. “I can remember the Shining Light session with FIX, where he about drove me to madness, layering what seemed like an endless array of vocal harmonies on that song. But, after it was done, I realized he was right, it was worth the effort after listening to the dense choral arrangement at the end of the song. We all knew we had something special when we recorded that tune. All the guys in the studio looked at each other during the playback and said, “That’s the single” .
SIER- has committed himself to living the life of a trail-blazing musician, which isn’t easy these days. “Gigs are in small clubs, at wineries and house concerts that I set up in the Bay Area. To stay involved with the local music community, SIER produced the, “Underground Roots” series shows, featuring up and coming artists with a focus on musicianship and originality. He’s made some great friends and heard some amazing music hosting these shows, and has recently hooked up with the online music community Soundcloud.com, where he is a featured artist. “It’s a place where I can work out new tunes and get feedback from other musicians and fans across the globe. It’s a very gratifying experience. I also have begun to license my songs and recently placed one in a couple of commercials that I am excited about. You have to do whatever it takes to scratch out a living and yet stay true to your roots”, SIER exclaims.
A committed performer, SIER- who recently moved to Los Angeles to record is new "Anarchist Guide To The Universe" record plans to hit the road to support both albums once it is completed. There is also a growing backlog of new material begging to be recorded and released, due to his hyperactive creative mind.
“It’s funny, I’ll be sitting on the couch practicing my guitar when I get bombarded with a million music themes running through my head. I figure that if I can whistle to them, then I know that they are worth pursuing. Why record a song that you can’t whistle to is my motto”