Coming from a small musical village outside of Stockholm, Swedish electronic singer Skott, had a unique musical upbringing. Surrounded by music as a child, she started playing violin at barely five-years-old. One of her strongest writing inspirations came from hearing video game soundtracks, trying her own hand at it until her family got a piano. Eventually shifting to pop, the artist is now on her way to a strong first LP to complement her string of singles. We caught up with Skott ahead of her set in Montreal at Osheaga on Sunday August 6 to talk about pop, the Scandinavian music scene and why she loves video game scores.
Northern Transmissions: Can you talk to your time growing up in a small musical village and how it shaped your relationship with music?
Pauline Skott: Everybody plays the violin where I come from, it’s an old tradition. When I was a baby, I looked up everyone seeing them play. It gave me more than I understood, and an interesting environment. You use your ear, and if you don’t know the song you play until you get it, it’s fun and playful. It trains your ear a lot too so you don’t have to read sheet music, you play until you get it. I was very interested at a young age to make my own melodies on the violin. It’s always one note at a time, so I realized early the melodies have to make sense and be strong to stand by themselves. When you play chords on the piano things usually sound great, so it was a challenge. I also move slower and have trouble stressing compared to my friends in Stockholm.
NT: I also read you were very inspired by Final Fantasy and other video game soundtracks as a kid, are you trying to modernize that sound in your music?
PS: I had the violin in my life, and we heard some pop songs every once in a while on the radio but they never grabbed me. But when I was thirteen my friends showed me some video games, and that was mind-blowing. I got really interested in the music. I downloaded a very simple tracker program to make little midi compositions, like written music. I started writing instrumental music, imagining that I was making it for video games. I even had friends programming simple games, and I made the music for them, so that was a big dream to make something like that in the future. Until I was 16, when my friends were listening to pop, I was interested in video game music instead. Once we got a piano I started to play with my voice and started writing more in pop. When I played, I realized my voice was also instrument so my songs started sounding like singer-songwriter music because I had lyrics and vocal melodies. About the same time I was introduced to Muse, and that was a gateway to more rock and pop because they were my first real rock band.
NT: Considering the mix of epic electronics and R&B in your music, where does the writing start?
PS: It almost always starts on the piano, I play chords and try melodies until the song evolves. Sometimes I’m in the studio and a producer and I work on beats, and make songs from there.
NT: Are you hoping to work on an album or are you still trying to hone your writing in singles for now?
PS: I haven’t really figured that out yet, my goal is to put out an album but I have a lot of shows at the moment. Some things just take so much time, so it’s hard to write fast enough. I’m aiming towards an album, but I don’t want the silence to last for too long so I put out singles in the meantime. There are songs ready for the album but it takes time, so maybe the beginning of next year.
NT:There seem to be a lot of young electronica vocalists coming out of Scandinavia right now, do you think the region breeds a musical spirit?
PS: I haven’t thought of why this electronic style is catching on her, but it’s probably partially because we’re putting out so much music right now. The climate in Stockholm is good for musicians, we get paid to study so musicians can learn. There’s lots of artists like me who can go to school for music without having rich parents. The competition is large as well, but the fact we can afford it is a big part of it. There’s also a lot of music education at an early age in Sweden so there’s a lot going on. The melancholic sounds are probably from the seasons, winter is harsh and we have darkness for so much of the year.
Words by Owen Maxwell