> Protection's Scott Paterson on How It’s All About Your Imagination - SNACK: Music, film, arts and culture magazine for Scotland

Protection’s Scott Paterson on How It’s All About Your Imagination

With new music bombarding us each week, it’s easy to overlook or miss something completely, even when things appear right up your street. This is why it’s handy to stop and catch up with recent releases, especially when the artist’s name doesn’t hint at their full history.

Protection features some well-established names from the Glasgow music scene, Iain Cook of CHVRCHES and Scott Paterson, possibly best known for Sons and Daughters. However, as with so many new acts, the group was formed out of friendship and seeing what happens when you make music together.

SNACK caught up with Scott to discuss production, clubbing, release styles and how it’s all about your imagination.

Was there a clear starting point for Protection or was it something you stumbled into?

There was a pretty clear starting point. Iain and I have been friends for a long time now, we met in 2006 via mutual friends. We’ve been really good buddies since then, but we never made music before, which seems crazy because just about everyone I’m friends with in Glasgow who makes music, I’ve made music with. 

Over the pandemic, early 2021, we were sharing loads of music every day. It was all electronic stuff, we had both been working away in our individual studios, and we were both having difficulty in finishing music. It occurred to me Iain could help finish one of my tracks, and I could finish one of his, and we’ll see what happens.

From that, we quickly started tracks from scratch. One of us would start with a tiny idea, which we called a seed idea, say a four or eight-bar loop with some drums or bass, and then send it to the other person who would build on it.

Is there a main driving force to being in this group?

It’s funny, sometimes you can make music with someone who is a great friend, but if there’s no musical chemistry, it doesn’t bear fruit, even for as much as you want it to. That’s the only reason for doing it, to have fun and make music. 

You said the songs started as seeds, which is of course the title of the two EPs. How has the reaction to the EPs been?

It’s been lovely, lovely to hear people enjoying the variety of work. It’s not all house music, or drum n bass, it’s an amalgamation of the electronic music we love, there is a breadth to the styles on the EPs. It’s been really nice, especially from friends who we played stuff early to them. It surprised a lot of people because we never told them until it was close to it coming out. I think people expected it would be very different, because they went ‘that’s not what we expected to hear from you two’, which is so fun. 

Does your songwriting process for Protection differ from previous acts?

Oh yeah, definitely, that’s one of the best things about this project. It’s a new way of working for both of us, it started out by necessity, working in separate studios and sending music on. If we started in less-lockdown times, we would maybe have started in the same room and worked more traditionally. In a way, that’s been the best thing, we’ve been able to take our time, experiment and dream up stuff without the other person in the room.

Sometimes there’s pressure when someone’s in a room with you to get the idea right so they can move forward. When you work separately, you can spend a day or two messing about with a drum machine until you’re happy with it. The process of working separately and laying our ideas on top of each other is different to how we’d work in our bands, but it’s something we love.

As a professional producer with a studio, how do you feel about the advances in home production?

It’s amazing, isn’t it? The democratisation of the means to make music, it’s a cliché to say it, but a laptop now is as powerful as any studio would have been in 2000. Anyone can make anything, it’s about your imagination now. The same goes for the means of delivering it, with Bandcamp and Spotify.

The gatekeepers aren’t keeping music in the way they used to when you had to get a label. You can make music in your bedroom, market it, stick it on Bandcamp. If it’s great, people will find it and hear it. It’s fun. It’s like the 70s when people pressed up their 7 inches but on a worldwide scale.

Also, being able to learn is easier than it has ever been. You have amazing YouTube channels, so if you’re a 14-year-old with a laptop looking to make house music, it’s all there. There’ll be twenty channels showing you how you programme a beat, how you EQ it, and here’s how rough mastering is done. The only thing stopping you now is your own enthusiasm.

When it comes to samples, what came first? Did you have music that needed something else or did you want to create music around the sampled sections?

I can’t think of an example where the sample came first, so far. Most of the time we have a little bit of an idea and we’re missing some vocal element, so we find a sample. Usually, it’s music first and then we layer things on top, say a hooky element, and naturally, that’s where we lean when it comes to samples.

We’d definitely be into bringing someone in to sing, it’s been hard to find the right voice. We really like RnB vocals, and there are not a lot of RnB singers up here we’re aware of. There probably are, but we’ve not found them, we’ve maybe not come into contact with them.

We’ve been asking around and scouring the internet for suitable singers from Edinburgh or Glasgow. We could find singers in London and ask them to come up, but it would be cool to have someone local.

If you’re aware of anyone with a great RnB voice, we’re looking. It’s harder than you think to find those voices. 

You’re both experienced enough in various release formats, what’s your take on virtually every EP track being released in advance of the EP release date?

That’s a new thing we tried for this EP. It’s a different way of working, you wouldn’t have done this 15 to 20 years ago. In this day and age, it’s about keeping people’s attention. These days, if you release a track or an EP, within a week it can be forgotten because there’s an avalanche of music coming out.

I’m trying to get used to this new style, I still prefer albums dropping in one go.

It’s true, and nowadays, I think that’s great if you’re well-established. Disclosure did it recently, just dropped a new album without a lead single. If you’re at the very beginning of a project like this, trying to get your voice heard above the noise of music being released, you need to poke your head out more often. I do love getting a whole album in one go.

You’ve released two EPs, and you’ve previously been quoted as having 30 songs in various stages of completion. Is there anything more lined up you can talk about?

I hope so. In a little online bag, we have about 35 songs. We had 20 completed songs, but we’ve selected the ones we thought were best for the EPs. We’re keen to do the third Seeds EP, but there’s no deadline or rush. We’re still writing and have five or six contenders, we might write more. I’m not sure yet but we will do it as and when.

Iain has not long finished a CHVRCHES tour and wants a break, get home and spend time with his dog and partner, so we’re not in a rush, but hopefully soon. If it does come out, it will likely be next year, maybe early next year.

If it’s the tracks I’m thinking of, it’ll be as different again as Seeds II was to Seeds I.

There have been some murmurings of live shows, is there anything we can expect on that front soon?

We’d really like to do it eventually; we don’t have a plan at the minute. The plan was to put music out and see what the lay of the land was. We only want to do live shows if we thought there was enough demand and an audience to do it the way we want to do it.

I’m not sure a 100-capacity club works for dance music in the way it does for a guitar band, or that making live music as an electronic act like that is what we want to do.

Saying that, before we released anything we spent time in my studio, got all the gear out and thought about how we’d do this live. We figured out the tech side, and how we’d run it, and did a few live runs. It sounds really cool, but we’ll wait and see. If it does happen, maybe next year, but there’s nothing concrete.

Is there anything you’ve heard recently you really like?

Most of the last year I’ve worked on Protection but I co-wrote and produced some of Roddy Woomble’s new band, Almost Nothing. I co-wrote, maybe, four or five songs on the album, but produced and co-wrote three of them.

I was so delighted with that, Roddy was happy, and it’s been nice to see the reaction to that for him. Similarly, people were surprised to hear him make that sort of music. We’re old friends and he was coming round to see the studio, and he said ‘We should write a song’ and it went from there. He didn’t want to write on guitar, so we used synths and it was a fun and unexpected project. I think that album is really great, if people haven’t heard it.

Seeds I and Seeds II are out now via Saint Lucky Records

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