INTERVIEW: Vân Scott Talks (And Premieres) New Single And Video For “Don’t Know The Words”

Hi Scott, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hey! Thank you for having me. I’m doing pretty well, thanks. I just got back into town this week from a few days up in the mountains with my family at Sequoia National Park. It was a much-needed break in the middle of what has proven to be a very demanding album campaign for me. So, to be able to unplug in nature with zero cell service was a welcome and rejuvenating experience. It was long overdue!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Don’t Know The Words”?

Yeah, this is one of two songs on the album that I wrote on my own, so it has a strong personal connection. It also has a double meaning. “Don’t Know the Words” literally pokes fun at my lack of lyrical knowledge. It’s ironic for a recording artist, I know, but I guess my ears have always gravitated more toward what’s happening musically in a song, rather than lyrically. Secondly, it’s also a metaphor for having no idea what you’re doing in life. As the lyric in the chorus goes: “I just make it all up as I go along.”

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I think it’s more like a summation of events that led to this song. So many little decisions have brought me to where I am now, including leaving my full-time church job in 2018 to focus more energy on my music. I wish I had more help figuring things out along the way, but sometimes you just have to learn by going for it and making your own mistakes.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun filming a music video. For one thing, I chose to set it in the ‘70s so it was a trip being able to shoot these scenes in a time capsule from a different decade. Also, because of the pop culture references made to Elton John and John Lennon, I had the idea to portray each one myself. There was something peculiar about literally putting myself in their shoes and emulating their performances that allowed me to tap into a different level of showmanship. I may have been pretending, but for those few moments, I was an actual rock star, and I loved every second of it!

The single comes off your new album Almost Gone – what’s the story behind the title?

That really is a story. I guess the short version would be that I really struggled with my sense of self in the last few years. This was partly due to the pressures related to putting myself out there as an artist, but more significantly because of the way my belief system was shaken up.

I’m about to get real for a second, so hold on tight. When my best friend came out of the closet in 2018, it was the first time the issue of homosexuality had become personal. It was easy for me to have an opinion before, but when that opinion forced me to choose between writing off a friend or sticking by his side, there was no way that I was going to come out of that situation the same. (My song “Starry Eyed” is all about this specific experience.)

It was a long and trying process for me to reconcile my beliefs, but I’m now able to cling to my Christian faith alongside a real love for the gay community. I’m sure that to many this may seem contradictory, but that’s grace, as I’ve come to understand it.

Almost Gone is for anyone who has ever felt like their world was falling apart. As a whole, these songs meet you in that low valley, and invite you to lift your head up to see that there is always hope. I realize this is starting to sound way intense, but I don’t think you’ll leave this album feeling heavy. In fact, quite the opposite!

How was the recording and writing process?

The writing and recording process for this project was very gradual. My first few singles were only ever meant to comprise an EP, but when I was listened back through my inventory of songs during quarantine last year, I realized just how many I had that followed the same thematic thread and, in effect, summarized this significant time of my life. It was then that I decided to compile them into an album, and not long after that, ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund it.

There are a total of nine different producers that contributed to the album, including myself, with songs recorded in both Nashville and LA. I think that makes it really unique, but there’s also a cohesiveness that comes with my being the common denominator.

How does your background behind the scenes for many big TV and films have shape your now solo work?

I’ve had the great fortune of being able to work the very best in the business on the film/TV side of things. I think that has endowed me with a great sense of professionalism as well as incredible insight into how to bring musical ideas to life and accomplish the vision. For instance, morphing the background vocals from “Ooh” to “Ah” in the middle of the chorus in “Almost Gone” is a subtle, but effective way to create an emotional lift – something that I remember doing multiple times on the film scoring stage.

What aspect of anxiety and your life as a whole do you get to explore on this album?

Great question. I think doubt is perhaps the biggest aspect of my life that gets explored with this album. I think there’s a stigma that exists in church culture that doesn’t allow much room for doubt and that it only means you lack faith. But I think that it’s important and healthy to question things from time to time. I don’t think that any one of us has it all figured out, and so I welcome new opportunities to learn and grow. My anxiety about the future and what it holds fits into this picture too. Ultimately, I’ve had to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable, and that’s okay.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

“Lost In the City” is one song from the album that came from a much different place than the others. I had just moved to Pasadena from Thousand Oaks and was simply excited to be in a city where a lot more things were happening. The lyrics are a celebration: “Finally, I’m lost in the city / Lost in the city that found me.” That’s a nod to the small-scale Hollywood dream that I’ve been able to live out through my singing work for film and TV. Simply put, it’s my own love letter to Los Angeles.

What else is happening next in Van Scott’s world?

Well, once the album is out, I’ll have exactly one month before I pack my bags and leave for New York City! I’ve been accepted into Berklee School of Music’s inaugural Master of Arts in Creative Media and Technology program at BerkleeNYC, with an emphasis in Songwriting and Production. I honestly feel like I’m Charlie from Willy Wonka and I found the golden ticket! Less than 40 of us have been chosen from around the world to participate, and I couldn’t be more excited to take a deep dive back into creating.

My eyes are set on the next body of work and major release for Vân Scott, and I already have ideas flowing about what I want to tackle next. The best part is that this program will only serve my forward progress as a songwriter and artist, and I’m looking forward to all the opportunities that will come from being a part of this amazing group in the coming year.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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