Happy July, everyone!
This month, I wanted to turn everyone’s attention towards a Scottish born artist currently living in Massachusetts whose love for chip tune, lo-fi, and synthesizers has unified a clan of east coasters while he pursued creating record labels, organizing live performances, and promoting releases. However, Scott Buchanan isn’t just a great organizer; he’s also a performer himself, and wearer of many hats. Sound designing, composing, tinkering with circuit bending, note tracking, and being well versed in the ins and outs of the analog world are among his many talents.
I met Scott (though some of you may know him as Radio Scotvoid, Radio Skotvoid, or My Brother Daniel) in the fall of 2014; I had released my first record earlier in the year, and he asked if I’d take part in his lo-fi release under his new record label, Rhythmus Records. Scott knows everybody on the east coast, and even keeps close ties with a crew of lo-fi visualists and composers from the Pacific Northwest, so the collaboration was not only really fun, but a great way to interact with like-minded people. Being a key member of the chip scene in Massachusetts for quite a while now, Scott took his experiences in being a part of live shows and used good communication skills to get people together who share the same love for music while giving them a chance to share their projects.
In the dead of winter, myself and my old roommate, Gabrielle, would sit around and cook while blasting one of my favorite releases in the living room record player. Ikea Crimejazz Vol 2 [skot002] was Scott’s 2013 release, and with me at risk of sounding like a broken record (or… a really awesome sounding record), I love albums that explore synthesizers and that have strong melodies. Scott gave me his record after Rhythmus Records’ first showcase, where DJ Noel Snow (an amazing DJ who you should hire) spun everyones’ tracks at Gulu-Gulu Cafe in Salem, MA (I love that place, by the way; it’s welcoming to artists and even has a mini little stage [and the food is good, and so is the tea selection]). Creating lo-fi music under the genre of ‘skweee’, Radio Skotvoid presents heartfelt rhythms and great textures to create a memorable listening experience that gets everyone who loves sound to think, ‘What did he use to make this?’ Honestly, it’s perfect for any synth fanatic. I could be wrong, but I feel like I heard a Moog Sub Phatty in there, somewhere…
Some of you might be wondering what this alleged ‘skweee’ music is, or if I made some sort of typo. So, without further ado, I’ll dive into an interview I had the opportunity to conduct with Radio Scotvoid himself:
Hi Scott! When did you move from Scotland?
I moved to Salem, Massachusetts in August of 1999 from Falkirk.
Were you gigging in Scotland, as well? How does MA differ from playing there?
I was DJing in Edinburgh is small clubs, using vinyl and spinning a mixture of disco, house, hip hop & random obscure funk and oldies. Mass. is different because most bars have bands play, whereas djing in Edinburgh, Scotland, there were more dj’s in bars than bands, or at least within my circle of friends.
What got you interested in working with lo-fi music?
Probably Daft Punk’s ‘Homework’ inspired me to think about using unusual home recording techniques within the text of club/dance music.
You play out regularly in Salem, MA and organize shows out there. What is the most memorable show you’ve played?
Most memorable was when I opened up with Ali Berger for Mouse On Mars at Great Scott in Allston? I played a 1hr set of skweee 7’s & got the floor on the four.
What is skweee?
It’s downtempo, Scandinavian lofi, synth-funk music, usually made from vintage hardware and pressed solely to 7″ vinyl. The term is to ‘squeeze out as much funk as you can from said synth/synths’.
I saw you posted, somewhat recently, that you’re going to be making a new record soon. How close are you to being done it?
Haha, yes: ‘Ikea Crimejazz Vol 3’. I have 75% completed the 4 tracks for mastering. Two will go on the vinyl. I have raised 50% of the money, LOL. I have a few people who have remixed my last few tracks and I want to include them as well as a few other treats to add to the release. So maybe it’ll be ready for Jan 1st???
I always get so happy when you post pictures of your family. Do you guys all make music together?
We try to, however, Daisy has a mind of her own and she loves to bang the same drum over and over… hahaha. We just ordered this two way synth for Daisy and I.
Besides Radio Scotvoid, what are other projects you’ve worked on and how do they differ from each other?
I always have a project going on, I have my live weirdo moniker as ‘my brother daniel’ some of those jams get cut up and become ‘radio scotvoid’. Lately I have been using MIDI to write songs within the context of skweeezing out sounds from my Roland Juno, that has a ‘k’ in the name as ‘radio skotvoid’. I have collaborated with Colin Sweeney as ‘Small Radio’. Some new names you might see me using are ‘Loonball’ and ‘Bob Turner’. These are also collaborations with artist friends.
I remember you mentioning an 8bit arcade opening in Salem. Has that already happened? Do you think you’ll organize something out there?
They have my info :)
When’s the next Rhythmus Records release coming out?
Our first live release will be ‘robotsexmusic – live & direct’ coming to you very soon, and next will be our second 1hr tape compilation and 4 track EP bombardment like last time. Our new comp focuses on newer sounds from vintage sounding synths like OP-1 and has a more upbeat feel. We have some new names as well as some stonkers from our rr family members. Mind you, I am still awaiting a Unicorn Princess track from you, might I say, haha!
What’s a day to day life for you? What do you do outside of playing and making music?
I work with young adults on the autism spectrum transition from high school to adult life and everything else that comes my way. I oversee services for many young, talented folks. It’s a great fit for me.
What is your outlook on life?
Don’t take anything for granted. Try things, experiment, have fun!
Three proudest moments?
- Proposing to my wife on top of Twin Peaks in San Francisco after driving cross-country, which took 9 days.
- The birth of my daughter, Daisy.
- Proud to be Scottish :)
One final: Who took the pic of you wearing the winter jacket for that magazine shoot?
Kourtney, my wife, took the photos in my basement studio.
And additionally: What was that shoot for?
Chroma, a full color zine coming out very soon. There was an artist reception, book signing, etc., up at the Montserrat school in Beverly. I got Q & A’d like this & Kourtney did the photos :)
Scott is one of those people who, with being 100% about his family and helping others, you might wonder how he has time for music. Or breathing. For those of us who struggle to prioritize, he’s a role model and leaves us all to believe that there’s really no excuse to not pursue everything that we love.
Keep an eye on Scott! Chances are, he’s involved in a project you’ve heard of. I’ve got no idea how he’s got time to, but this is why he’s an analog hero in my books (and my record collection).
My Brother Daniel
Till next time,