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Serial entrepreneur, social activist, musician, and artist, Scot Sier is returning to his musical roots. While Sier is best known as much for his role as founder of Budda Amplification and other business ventures (like heading Deep Under Cover Records or, designing the forward-thinking Chromemaster Guitar), it always comes back to his music.

 

A multi-talented, multi-faceted creator, Sier’s key interests are ever-evolving and ever-expanding. These include: 1) Questions about mortality 2) The need for social justice 3) Uncertainty about the future of life on this planet. Running through his veins at all times seems to be a current of finding one’s power when faced with societal injustices and preparing for the future.

 

Throughout his remarkably varied career trajectory, Sier’s creative work has excelled in using social commentary as a tool for greater introspection and overall understanding. His work is often centered around bold calls for change against corrosive power structures and legacy systems that continually reinforce inequality. Whether expressing himself in song, visual mediums, or performance, Sier’s message is often political and in support of oppressed peoples and societal underdogs. Whether directly criticizing class divides and struggles, the corrosiveness of extreme wealth, climate change, or threats to freedoms of speech and press, he is also adept at providing solutions and prompts for change alongside critique.

 

“I’ve always approached my art as a form of community building to solve society’s most challenging dilemmas. The creative spark that drives my observations and the stories I tell are all connected, in some way, to societal change,” Sier explains. And, those creative sparks are NOT few and far between. Sier is as prolific an artist as they come.

 

In 2008 during the Occupy Wall Street movement, Sier was thrust into the national spotlight with his topical “Occupy Protest Song”. His bold message reached a huge U.S. audience after the song - and his personal story – were widely broadcast in a feature radio interview on San Francisco radio station, KALW, one of the largest California NPR affiliates, and on the youth-focused Headcount site. “I put together a protest music playlist on SoundCloud that featured my protest song, “Wall Street”,  and invited others to participate. Before long, we had over seven hundred protest songs on the playlist,” SIER explains.

 

Sier also serves as a prime example of an artist executing a highly-successful Kickstarter Campaign. Solely via crowdsourcing technology, he raised over $20,000 in support of his full-length alt-rock LP, “Heads or Tales”. The album piqued interest within music circles due to its unique songs and one-of-a-kind guitar tunings. The tunings were inspired by a dream and the album is an homage to California and his hometown of Gary, Indiana, Two of the album tracks, “Shining Light” (Written for SIER’s mother) and “Karma Sea” were each featured in the PBS TV series “Roadtrip Nation” and “Athena” was included in a video showcasing Buster Simpson's “Carbon Veil” environmental art installation at Seattle’s SeaTac airport”. He has even branched into the dramatic theater with his “There Goes the Neighborhood” musical. In fact, Sier pitched the work to iconic artist Tom Waites and got an unsolicited reading of the musical at the Mark Taper Forum in L.A.

 

Musical Beginnings

Sier’s first foray into music was, quite incredibly, as a child violin prodigy. From the age of four, he studied violin under the late Florence Linden, a respected violinist who performed with the likes of Itzhak Perlman and Jascha Heifetz. While Linden set her eyes on training the young talent to play with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Sier credits his family for setting into motion his gift. “My aunt was responsible for discovering my musical talent. As the story goes, she handed me her mandolin when I was three and saw that I was strumming in time with a Nana Mouskouri record she was playing. She told my mother, who enrolled me in violin lessons with Florence," Sier fondly remembers.

 

But, his destiny at being the next Tchaikovsky was somewhat short-lived. While studying violin, Sier heard a cassette recording of Jimi Hendrix playing the “Star-Spangled Banner” on his guitar at Woodstock. “That sound changed my life”, he recalls. Hearing Hendrix led Sier to rethink the violin as his primary instrument - much to the dismay of his teacher! “Every time I wanted to bend a note differently on my violin like Hendrix, my teacher would scold me,” Sier laughs. Then, tragically, like many child stars who become burdened with the unreasonable rigidity of childhood perfectionism, Sier, in his words, recalls, “I lost it. I was very unhappy from the stress.” The creative frustration of being a rebellious outsider and child prodigy led to a minor nervous breakdown. “So, I quit the violin,” Sier adds with a shrug. But, that wasn’t the end of music in his life.

 

Undeterred, SIER taught himself guitar by practicing along to records by his favorite bands including Santana, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Allman Brothers, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin. The guitar players in these bands were his mentors, and these early influencers would come to characterize much of his unique guitar playing style and current-day musical output. Once he reached young adulthood, Sier began his westward journey to California, initially landing in Denver. Sier recollects, "I found a job at a local music store where I met musicians who would make up my first professional band."  Denver in the 80s was a cosmopolitan city with a vibrant jazz scene (a genre in which Sier dabbled), and forms of R&B music were also thriving. It was within this culture Sier joined Bad Habbitt, with bandmates who hailed collectively from Mexico, South America, and Israel.

 

Sier set his site toward California, accepting a job at a guitar amplifier company in the San Francisco Bay Area, a hotbed of social change and the punk movement at the time. Inspired by 60s anti-war musical activists such as Marvin Gaye and Gill Scott Heron, Sier’s writing became more political, with a militant edge. "I’d been thinking about making a record about different causes - climate change, the plight of small farmers battling corporations…So, I put together an early rap metal band and power trio”, he remembers. The BLS  (Bowler, Lamb, and Sier) trio played a few festivals and fans began approaching him, saying they liked the music and the message. The positive feedback affirmed Sier’s new direction and the trio recorded a demo, ‘INDIANA.” The album focused on climate change, corporate greed, segregation, addiction, and racism. "I write music about topical themes that are happening in the world. I like to make musical statements to which people can relate,” Sier exclaims.

 

Business by the Bay and Beyond

The ensuing years found Sier sharpening his business acumen by founding several companies, including building and growing his high-end audio company, Budda Amplification. When the 2008 recession hit, Sier sold the amp company to a prominent manufacturer and set out to pursue music full-time. During this same period, the popular Occupy Movement began gaining traction, and Sier jumped on it creating the Deep Under Cover activist brand and record label.

 

Futurism

Ever the nomad, Sier, and his wife recently relocated to the California desert, where he built a studio  where he is currently finishing up new material he has been working on during the pandemic. While recording, Sier designed the futuristic “Chromemaster” guitar. “This instrument pays homage to the products I designed at Budda Amplification and my seeking the ultimate violin tone for the guitar. We redefine the sound of the instrument through a unique string pickup system I developed exclusively for this guitar,” Sier explains.

 

Despite the chill and relaxation of the still desert vibes, Sier’s hyperactively-creative energy remains restless – and, as always - moving forward. During the pandemic, he wrote six albums worth of material and an International “Noise Collaboration” project as well as a new space-themed musical in the works.  “I like to stay busy,” Sier chuckles. “I'll be sitting in my studio practicing my guitar when I'm bombarded with a million ideas and songs running through my head. If they tell a good story and I can hum and whistle them, I know they're worth recording.”

 

Sier is set to release an ambitious new concept album, “Space and Other Things”, in late 2022. The guitar-centric LP finds Sier collaborating with a host of acclaimed LA-based musicians and the Grammy-nominated producer/engineer, Michael Patterson (Beck, Notorious B.I.G., Black Rebel Motorcycle Club). Plans for a visually-rich tour supporting the album are also in development.