Looking back….. Lee Scott – The making of Nice Swan

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Photo by Aboveground

“Honestly man, what it comes down to is I just want to make music and put projects together and art and that’s it, I don’t really have any passion for the other shit.”

Scott was in the process of breaking his silence on his most auto-biographical album to date, Nice Swan. Released on December 2nd last year, the 13 track album is Scott’s fifth solo project to date. As the renowned founder of Blah Records, Scott’s career stems from his early work alongside Salar. Together they formed the Antiheroes, releasing the Middle Finger Salute mixtape in 2004 – the instigator for Blah Records’ emergence. After dropping his debut called The Wrong EP in 2006, Scott formed the notorious rap supergroup Children Of The Damned, before going on to feature alongside Monster Under The Bed (aka Milkavelli) as the menacing Mcabre Brothers duo. Since then, Scott mostly focussed on his solo material, however has undeniably remained the most consistent collaborator on the Blah Records roster.

Approaching 15 years since his emergence, Scott’s experience is simply unparalleled, owed homage not only due to his undying dedication, but also for the legacy he instigated and continues to spearhead. Although such fame demanded great expectancy, Scott continued to excel expectations across 2014, releasing two full-length albums and the Cult Of The Damned EP. Amongst them, Tin Foil Fronts was awarded Wordplay Magazine’s Album Of The Year. Aside from a string of nationwide tours, 2016 was suspiciously quiet for Scott. It transpired that he’d spent 6 months writing and recording ‘Nice Swan’, whilst taking a break from recording an upcoming project with Morriarchi.

Lee Scott quite literally writes lyrics every day, anywhere and everywhere. He emphasised how inspiration constantly strikes him, listing the locations that he wrote some of his lyrics.

“Trains, busses, walking around, sitting in me flat in London.”

As ideas continued to hit Scott, the inspiration to write came easy to him:

“I just write when it flows out, stop when it stops. I didn’t really think about it too much until I was like 4-5 songs in, then it just naturally started falling into place,”..

…Scott says, whilst describing the track writing process for Nice Swan. In answer to what came first, the music or the album title, he replied:

“About 60% of the music. All fresh for this project.”

The album itself was recorded between the Blah Mansion in Blackburn, and somewhere in Kilburn, London using an old borrowed microphone with a sock for a pop filter and a USB soundcard.

For those unaware, Nice Swan contains no lyrical features. Scott rhymes solo, supported by a myriad of UK producers – a range of veterans alongside fresher faces from the underground circuit. From old-school beatmakers like Reklews, Sumgii & Jack Danz, to more modern talents such as Sam Zircon and Drae DaSkimask, each artist providing a different vibe to suit a variety of tastes. However, this wasn’t a concern for Scott.

“Honestly man, there wasn’t that much conscious effort, just whatever felt right at the time,”

Scott says, explaining how he selected his instrumentals.

“Sam Zircon had a few beats that just felt right. I’ve had the intro beat from 19.thou$and for about 3 years, always liked it but never had a home for it until now. I made like 5 of them too I think. Just whatever felt right and fit. Shout outs to Jack Danz, Sumgii, Drae DaSkimask and this kid Peter H who emails me mad shit he makes with some tape decks and a guitar or something for me to sample.”

Considering that Scott had 6 months to prepare the release of Nice Swan, it was surprising that he decided not to release any visuals for the album. When asked whether there would be any videos for tracks dropping, Scott bluntly replied,

“Nope. I just wasn’t thinking about videos, I was only thinking about the music then when I had finished the music and finished putting the product together, I thought fuck a video. I just didn’t feel like doing it. I wanted this to be all about the music and obviously having a customised walkman box set helped.”

Aside from releasing teaser versions of the cover art online, Scott essentially kept the album details a complete secret from the public, as well as the media. It was a risky strategy, relying on supporters to purchase an album they knew absolutely nothing about. Scott shrugged this suggestion off.

“Fans knew something was coming but just didn’t know what. I wouldn’t say I was careful to not leak any details, I just wasn’t really thinking about it. I was more busy just making the music and then putting the product together.”

The limited edition pre-order package contained a USB Capture Cassette Walkman, Blah lanyard, headphones, a sticker and of course, Nice Swan on cassette tape. The 100 available copies sold out within days.

“I wanted to put it out on cassette just cause I assumed people would be less likely to skip through an album on tape. I assumed people would be more inclined to just find some time and let it run. Obviously a lot of people don’t have any means to play a tape so it was only right to also provide them with a Walkman. After that I just made whatever the fans were asking for, they wanted a CD so I made a CD but with a lyric book and shit so it had more value and felt a bit more unique. They asked for vinyl so I made a nice as fuck vinyl and so on.”

Despite Scott’s spiralling prestige in the UK rap game, he remains modest when it comes to talking about his own music. Because of this, it came as no surprise that he chose to side-step a request for a bitesize paragraph to describe the album for those who hadn’t heard it, claiming that he could not do so.

“People should just listen to it and do that themselves. Even though all physical is sold out, you can still purchase Nice Swan digitally from Blah.”


Interview by @EthanEverton