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Into the Light

One-man band McDougall talks darkness and light on his latest album


  • Sebastian Weidenbach


ou've likely seen or at least heard of Scott McDougall, as the Portland artist frequently visits Bend. This fall, you can catch him touring in support of his latest album, "Reaching for Some Light." Most of the time, when you read a story in a paper such as this, you get the story, but not always the context. In a change of pace, I thought it would be nice to know what I asked a musician and how they responded.

Source Weekly: You used to only record songs that you could play live by yourself. With "Reaching for Some Light," you break the one-man band format slightly. What prompted you to venture slightly away from the format?

Scott McDougall: This time around I wanted to explore what I could do with more instruments at my disposal. To see what kind of sounds I could come up with and see how close I could get to the ideas floating around my head, without the limitations of what I could do live as one person. It was a lot of fun and a great learning experience.

SW: How does "Reaching for Some Light" vary musically from your past work?

SM: It's a lot more varied in style, not as much folk, I guess, and the sound is a bit more full in some ways. It's not quite what someone would expect if they've heard my previous albums, which are a lot more stompy and straight ahead, but I think it still carries some of the same sensibilities in melody and songwriting.

What goes into your songwriting process and how do light and darkness influence the lyrics on this latest album?

SM: During the making of this album I was spending a lot of time alone and was kind of in my own little world, so it comes from a place that was mostly isolated from what others thought or expected. I was pretty nervous when I put it out. Wasn't sure if I got off course too much or not from my normal style. As far as process, this is the first album I wrote while recording and therefore most of the words were written after the music. Usually it varies, but the process was pretty consistent this time. This idea of darkness and light are present in most of the songs, whether stated or not. Honestly, I was pretty depressed and this was me dealing with it. Some songs express more despair and others hope, and some are caught between the two. But I believe hope wins out.

SW: What do you like most about having complete control over an album?

SM: Creative license. Sometimes I love chasing ideas without anyone questioning them. It's not always the best way to things, but it's fun to break away from time to time and see what happens.

SW: What do you love most about touring? You come to Bend pretty often, what keeps bringing you back here, what do you love about Bend?

SM: I love the people I meet playing music and that's the main thing that keeps me coming back to Bend. So many awesome people out here!

McDougall @ McMenamins Birthday Celebration, 4-6pm.

About The Author

Anne Pick

Music Writer | The Source Weekly

Speaking of Scott McDougall, Scott McDougall Music

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