Bringing a certain newness to the music industry, Scott Wade’s album Sticky next to you on the train adds feeling to ambient noise. Fascinated by the less fascinating occurrences in life, Wade has taken inspiration from the natural world – focusing more on the hidden and ignored sounds of urban spaces. With a flair for organic computerisation, the artist uses the city as his muse and sees his computer as a partner in his work. Despite seeking structure through his sound and trying to find a balance between the routine and unruliness of the city, his album is open to interpretation. This begs the question of how you, dear listener, will decipher these eclectic sounds after hearing Scott Wade’s own discussion of this elemental album.
After snooping at your Instagram, I noticed that you are Tokyo-based. Has living here influenced your work at all? Surely, compared to the Western World, there is a vast selection of mediums that you could take influence from whether artistically or socially.
In my case, when I first came to Japan, I eventually arrived in Tokyo. It appeared to me as a place that I was comfortable in, for one reason or another, that was almost instantaneous. It might be that, despite popular opinion, Japan is not so vastly different to the West. Or that, where there are differences, my personality seemed to fit them. However, that is not to say that your question isn’t a valid one, it absolutely is. It’s just not exactly the comparison between Japan and the West, but in living in a small place compared to a full-scale city.
I came from a village on the green belt around London. We weren’t a far cry, but it certainly never felt like I was living in the heights of London, it was always something distant. Coming to Tokyo, there was a lot of newness that found its way into this project. There is, for example, a very funny texture to the sound of lots of people passing through a space, in addition to if that space is sealed off, underground, where none are engaging with one another. Each are slight variations on the same theme. I don’t know if this seems just passive for city-folk but I find it fascinating.
You are also a writer and producer as well as a musical artist. Do you think these differing professions go hand-in-hand, helping each develop more and, as a result, make your work more in-depth and rarer?
Certainly I have reached a competent skill level with my music, but it has mainly taught me some of the functions of how to produce a creative work. These are things that can be applied to any kind of role (I find). They go hand-in-hand in the sense that my experience of one has allowed me to more easily believe that I can do the other. Conversely, over the course of this project, I have recognised that my true ideas take greater basis in story. And I am coming to accept that I do not really fit into the category of a typical musical artist, where identity and performance are key. As such, I am becoming more drawn to the writing.
I couldn’t clarify if there is greater depth to my work, but I certainly find (and the same is true for anyone who will take a leading/directorial role) that having the knowledge, even perhaps the capability, of stages of the work, then you can make something that is more composite, and more easily achieve your vision. I couldn’t have done this project without the other people involved in it but being able to communicate with them in their language, and to execute the tasks where there was no one else, was certainly helpful on my end.
What genre do you think your music fits into? I was able to hear remnants of jazz, Celtic, and Indian, but was there a specific vibe you were aiming towards?
Basically, I had a tone set from the end of the previous album. The final track of Sew was a sound I wanted to explore deeper, the mixture of synthetic and processed sampled instruments. I wanted to experiment with my keyboard playing too. This gave me a platform for the sound. The key for me in writing the project was not so much a genre but to make music that doesn’t hold on to anything. I found that when I write music, and the same is true when I listen, I would find something beautiful, and have that as the key element to repeat and build off.
With Sticky next to you on the train, the same thing would happen, but I would work against that intuition, sometimes collapsing them down to a mere few seconds. That leaves me to wonder if anyone else finds those seconds of the track beautiful, or do they find other seconds, different to I? I feel satisfied that this question has been allowed to exist. 
Are you influenced by Sci-Fi in any way, perhaps even gore? There seems to be a collection of rather wet and disruptive sounds that remind me of an alien-type figure. Even the titles of the tracks on this album seem quite unusually eerie. Can you explain a bit what the track titles mean?
I have a bit of a tendency for the disgusting. But really this is from my excitement of sound as a texture. I like holding things up to my ear to get closer to a sound. But this is only from a sonic perspective. Sci-Fi and gore may be far too extravagant for my interests. Mine are far more mundane.
The oranges appear a lot in my films, as does the soap. These are kind of regular items with versatile qualities both in sound and touch. I am interested in how these things have that appearance. Particularly in world with a heightened sense of cleanliness. As for the track titles, these are the same as the names of the short stories. But yes, I suppose they are rather eerie. Mainly I chose them as from my love of witty book titles. Where after reading them, you might find something like a well-placed double entendre.
You use a vast myriad of instruments in this album, how did you find mixing synthesised, electronic sounds with more present, ordinary instruments? How many instruments do you think you used to create it and were you the one to play them all? What was the most unusual instrument featured in this album that you’re excited to use again?
I guess it is quite a compliment what you are asking. In fact, all I had to work with for this album was my computer, my field recordings and sample library, a couple of hardware synthesisers and my keyboard. I will give a shout out to the drummer, James Akio, who did some drum recordings for me, which never made it in, but I used them throughout the process as a base. All of the ordinary instruments were actually just sampled instruments, mainly I was pushing myself with my keyboard playing and harmonisation, initially. Then I just treated those parts as any other waveforms, where they become subject to processing.
I found the trend of re-pitching songs at xx.xxxx% speed, kind of funny. I often did that with my tracks during the process of writing, and rendering the parts of each track at the new speed. It pointed out gaps often where I could fill with new parts. The selection of what was added (be that instruments, or sounds – whatnot) was the dire process of trusting myself. Still, I remain infatuated with my computer as a means of making music. That will undoubtedly be my partner going forward.
In Thin Translucent Paradise there are elements of naturistic buzz, did you use recordings of naturally occurring reverberations or were they digitally produced to imitate nature?
Generally, there are a lot of my field recordings in my music. I think in this case, what you are referring to I have popped in as a way of sealing some sense of reality. Some real environments. I don’t particularly like glorified nature in music, it’s just not my thing. But those sounds might give the music some landscape without inferring a feeling. The story for Thin Translucent Paradise takes place on a balcony in the city, the character is deep in their own thought. In the song, the sounds of the environment and the thought are congealing.
There is no lyrical singing in The Man Who Sings His Routine, how do you think you conveyed the experience of listening to someone sing in this track? Do your visual accompaniments contribute to what you’re trying to say?
In this case, singing was not intended literally – it is more adverbial to describe the way this character talks about, and their feeling towards, their routine. The character in the story is expressing this. And I was thinking of the routine element of living in a city. Sings is there as it seems to be a positive thing – to err cautiously, to keep some balance, so as to not seem for or against the routine but just to explore it plainly. However, there are elements of the routine in this track, a kind of heavy repeating clanging sound. This sound is the singing, this sound is the routine. And the sound itself morphs and changes across the track, and the elements around it form different structures. I thought the routine might be foolproof, but it isn’t and I am ok with that.
The only dialogue during the album is at the end of Soapy Rounded Edges. Where did you get this sample from and what is the speaker trying to say? In the music video, you tell a story about sleeplessness, why isn’t this story included in the track?
Yes, in fact I found the final dialogue to be more of a post-it note, something that can be applied to the project as a whole. It explains what this project is about and how I felt while making it – it’s post- Covid city life and trusting my own judgement in creation, respectively. There is a collection of words and phrases that pertain to that image, formatted as a voice note or something along those lines. The narrations from the stories don’t appear in the tracks as I felt they have their own space, they already exist elsewhere. They are linked but not that linked. I see the album as more of an OST so it’s the music alone.
I was slightly confused (in a good way, it made me think) when watching the Interview with Moss Man, but I feel like that’s what you’re trying to get at! Who is Moss Man and why is he important to this album? Is he your alter ego, Scott? What do you think other people say about you, do you have “room in your pocket” for these thoughts?
Ha! I see what you did there. The thing is with Moss Man, there is a narrative to him but I wasn’t so interested in it. I was watching a lot of YouTube at the time, often it would be segments from interviews. At some point I asked myself, why is it so interesting to take just a moment and place so much weight on it? So, the setup for Interview with Moss Man is that it is really a satire of this format. Moss Man isn’t so much important to the album as he is an ‘important figure’ – someone who has achieved some status to be revered for. But not really knowing anything else about him (other than his appearance in the short story and the interview) is quite intentional for the whole thing to work.
As for me, other people have said nice things; my struggle is that I just don’t believe them. That is nothing against the people, I just don’t feel it. There is no sense that people get me, so I have the same expectation for my work. Part of it is about leaving myself well enough away from it that I don’t fit into the question.
The tracks are all quite long, was there any reason for this, maybe to spark a certain emotional response?
One of the more obvious links between the songs and the short stories is the track names. However, another link they share is their sense of time. I road mapped each song to the duration of the short stories. Even part of the process was to define a structure of the track based on the movements in the story. If I wanted more time to play with, I used the re-pitching (as I mentioned before) to give me more room to work with. I liked working in this format. It both pushed me to explore more where I might have otherwise left blank, and also gave me a process to follow if I didn’t feel like something was working (i.e. re-pitch, clear out the chaff, and re-layer, or some more destructive process – but not sacrificing an idea that is working just because a seeming dead end is reached).
Is there a specific situation where you expect people to listen to your album? It is very unique and slightly intrusive, so maybe it is made to be listened to in a more personal and intimate setting.
I would agree with you. One of the things I have been contending with across this project, which I felt was uncertain in my previous album, is what kind of musical artist I want to be. In terms of recorded music, I vehemently abide by its solitary experience, failing that – a movie theatre would be nice.
Do you have any bigger projects coming up, perhaps a film you would like to give us insight into? If you were to create a film featuring your music as the soundtrack, who would you make the lead performer?
Indeed, I am working on a short film right now about two police officers and an IRL streamer. This is among other things that I am working on. There are some great actors here in Japan, I particularly enjoyed Sakura Ando in Monster this year.