Interview With Versatile Guitarist Scott Nelson

We recently had the pleasure to catch up with Scott Nelson, a highly versatile and creative guitarist that has been receiving some excellent ratings here on AirGigs. Scott is based in the UK (Leeds), where he attended the Leeds College of Music. He has both extensive live and studio experience and has worked with a number of notable artists including Gregory Porter, Olly Murs and Clare Teal. His experience spans a wide range of styles from musicals and theater productions to funk, soul, jazz, hip hop and more. In addition to being a great player, Scott has a solid work ethic and demonstrates a high level of professionalism when dealing with clients. In short, we had to let you know you about him. You can find his gigs here:

Who are your biggest musical influences?

I love musicians who play ‘for the song’ rather than noodle pointlessly over a track! People like George Harrison and Jeff Buckley are prime examples of this. They’re not only fantastic players, but they also create beautiful songs. One of my favourite guitar players is Joni Mitchell, she plays so much beautiful stuff that a more conventional guitarist would never think to play. I am also heavily into old soul, funk and Motown and the more modern descendants of this music – stuff like D’angelo, Erykah Badu and The Roots. But I like to keep my listening habits varied: I’m just as likely to be listening to world music by artists such as Toumani Diabate and Ali Farka Toure, as electronic musicians like Four Tet, Flying Lotus and Bonobo.

What were some of the most valuable things that came out of your time at the Leeds College of Music?

Music college gave me amazing opportunities to meet a wide range of musicians who all come from different backgrounds and have different styles; so I have really enjoyed how eclectic it has allowed me to be. I was lucky enough to be taught by some amazing and inspiring musicians – most of our tutors are established professionals themselves. The most important thing was playing with other people every day, some something I would never have been able to do as much had I not attended music college.

As a player your work spans a wide range of styles, from jazz to funk-pop to big band to musicals…do you have a favorite genre or style to work in? Or do you like the variety?

I love having the freedom of not being tied down to one type of music, it’s great to be playing pop one day, and crazy ambient stuff the next! I think the best musicians use their listening experience to take knowledge from different styles and apply them accordingly across the board.

Take us into your home studio, i.e. your guitars, recording gear, amps, etc?

My ever-growing horde of guitar gear including Fender Twin Reverb and Vibro Champ Amps, pedals inlcuding Mad Professor, Fulltone and Electro-Harmonix, and Fender and Tokai guitars (strat, tele and 335). In terms of studio gear my setup is fairly simple: I use a Macbook Pro with Logic Pro 9 and an Apogee Duet interface. The mics I use include an Audix i5, Shure Sm57, and a Rode NT-1A (for acoustic guitar recording).

How did you learn about music production / engineering?

I initially had experience recording my own bands in high school, and although I didn’t really know what I was doing, I learnt a lot from trial and error. I’ve learnt by osmosis from producers I’ve recorded with, and living surrounded my musicians and producers mean that I’m never away from conversations about music recording!

You’ve gotten several 5 star ratings on AirGigs, can you tell us a bit about how you work?

When a producer or artist sends me a track, I’ll first listen to it without an instrument a couple of times, just to get myself into the vibe and feel of the piece. I’ll then check out any reference tracks I may have been given, and think about how I can incorporate them in terms of feel, style and sound/production. After setting up my gear to give me an appropriate sound to fit the track, I’ll play along with it a few times to work out any tricky parts and decide what I’m going to play. When I’m ready to record, I usually get the part down within the first couple of takes. I can then send to audio file of my initial part to the producer, and can make any amendments that are necessary. I find it really exciting to be swapping musical ideas with someone in a different country, it definitely feels like a futuristic way to be making music!

If you could meet one person dead or alive who would that be?

Nile Rodgers. He’s funky, he can produce, and he looks like a really nice guy…

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