Profile of Synthwave Artist Elevate the Sky
Elevate The Sky (Scott McClure) is an L.A. based synthwave artist. He describes his music as, "cinematic synth dreamscapes with the high energy of rock and the hooks of pop music." I talked to him about his passion for music, the creative process and where he wants to take his music going forward.
Karl Magi: How did you first get interested in making music?
Scott McClure: My brother also plays music and when I was little he played synthesizer. He always had artists like Vangelis and Tangerine Dream playing. My sisters were also into music, so they were listening to bands like Journey and Kiss. They all inspired me. I started fiddling around with a keyboard that first got me into playing an instrument, but a few years later I picked up the guitar and that’s where I really started seriously. It wasn’t until maybe ten years ago that I decided to pick up a synthesizer and started writing with it.
KM: What first drew you towards synthwave music?
SM: Around 2004, I had been playing in an alternative rock band as well as a metal band. It just wasn’t what I really wanted to do musically at that point. I just wasn’t happy doing that, but when I was on my own I’d just kind of fiddle around with this Yamaha DJX keyboard. I’d just mess around with that and that kind of stuff was more in the vein of Vangelis. I quit that band and started to do my own thing on the side which was more like electronic rock. I did a few gigs under a band called Fears End.
One day, my brother and I decided to go see Tron: Legacy and that changed everything. After I walked out of the theatre, that Daft Punk soundtrack was just mind-blowing. I’d always hinted around at wanting to play music that’s very epic and cinematic but electronic. I thought that this was a sign telling me over and over that this is what I should be doing. Oddly enough, because of that soundtrack, I started to search for it on YouTube and find artists like Kavinsky, Dynatron and I fell down the synthwave rabbit hole.
KM: Who are some of the artists who’ve influenced you and why did they have an impact on your music?
SM: Defintely Vangelis. When I was a kid, I was so moved by everything about Blade Runner from the soundtrack to the story. It just drew me in and then I would also say for more modern influences people like M83, Nero and ZEDD. The reason these artists inspire me is that they’re kind of experimental, but they’re melodic enough to be accessible to a lot of people. At the same time, it’s kind of futuristic and I’ve always been drawn to things that are futuristic.
KM: Talk me through the creative process as it works for you.
SM: What’s worked for me in the past five years is picking a favourite movie or T.V. show and I’ll mute it, watch the movie and play along as I’m watching it. It really inspires me! I’m definitey drawn to melody and harmony. When I listened to Journey, for example, out of all the bands that were more pop oriented, I’d say Journey have a huge influence for me. There’s a lot of harmony and a lot of melodic writing going on. Vocally, every word that came out of Steve Perry’s mouth had such a captivating melody. That’s something that I hope to partially capture in my own music.
KM: What are some of the current projects that you’re working on?
SM: I have a few singles out on Bandcamp. One is called Dream Accelerator and I’m particularly proud of it because it’s the one song that’s closer to what I’ve been trying to achieve over the past few years which is marrying the sound of Tron: Legacy with my own sound. Right now, I’m writing the last three songs and mixing them to hopefully release an album in May or early June of 2019. It’s tentatively titled Alpha.
KM: Where do you want to take your career in the future?
SM: For me, it’s all about the passion and the connection between people. If I was lucky enough to become a star out of it, that’d be great but my main goal is to pursue music as a career enough to be able to share it with people and have that connection. One day I would love to go into the world of movie soundtracks.
KM: Give me your views on the current state of synthwave music?
SM: I feel like its moving in the right direction. When it first came out I missed the boat a little bit because it had already been out there for about five years. For me, what’s exciting about it is how they’re starting to experiment so you’ll hear EDM influences, you’ll hear funk, you’ll hear hip hop, so to me that’s what music should be about. It should be about expression and you shouldn’t be pigeonholed into one little corner, so to me synthwave is going into an exciting and fresh direction.
KM: How do you find creative inspiration?
SM: If it’s not working with the movie thing, the ocean or the mountains always inspire. To go out to nature itself, to feel that energy, it usually seems to work wonders.