For our brand new edition of Humans of Creativity we had the chance to get to know Charlie Scott. A wizard of music production from Pittsburgh who shuts down the house with his DJ abilities and also plays a mean bass guitar. We get insight on who he is, how Pittsburgh influences him, what his favorite piece of equipment to sample with is, and more.
1. Who is Charlie Scott?
Just this guy, you know? I'm a producer, DJ, bassist. I produce for local hip-hop acts like BBGuns, Moemaw Naedon, and Akono Miles, release house music on labels like Pittsburgh Tracks and Lumberjacks in Hell, and hold down third Wednesdays at The Goldmark for my party For The Record, co-hosted with Anthony Susan.
2. What made you want to make music?
My parents had a huge tape collection growing up and digging into that (Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Steely Dan. Stevie Wonder, Yes, King Crimson etc. etc. etc.) pretty much immediately made me interested in learning how I could make sounds. Jumping ahead a few years, Q-Tip, Dilla, Pete Rock, and DJ Premier inspired me to try my hand at producing.
3. What's your favorite piece of equipment to sample with?
The MPC 2000XL is my mainstay sampler. I love how working with an older piece of hardware forces me to creatively work around the limitations imposed on me by the machine. On the MPC itself, I can sample and sequence sounds with only a few parameters to adjust. It's made my style a lot more direct and less reliant on extensive effects manipulation. It's all about picking the right sounds and playing them at the right time.
Special shoutout to the Roland SP404SX, the sampler I really learned on. If anyone knows where I can cop a replacement pad mat, let me know.
4. What does the perfect crate of records entail?
There is no perfect crate of records. The point of crate digging to me is the constant thrill of discovery. Every older DJ that I look up to is constantly refining their knowledge and open to learning more and explored niches they may have ignored before. So while I'm confident that I could pick out a pretty decent crate, I could never settle on one perfect one.
That said, 50 copies of Shuggie Otis's "Inspiration Information" LP is about as close as I think you could get to a perfect crate.
5. How does the city of Pittsburgh influence your style?
I was born and raised in Pittsburgh so my almost my entire life experience has been within city bounds. Before I became engrossed in producing later in my teen years, I was studying jazz music as a bassist. Pittsburgh's jazz legacy is really rich and I try to stay in touch with that side of my upbringing as much as I can. Pittsburgh-born jazz artists like Ahmad Jamal, Frank Cunimondo, Art Blakey, Eric Kloss, Emmett Frisbee and many many others inspire me to pursue my own path musically.
6. What's your go-to deep cut that gets the crowd going?
I try my best to reach as deep into my bag as I can when I DJ. My approach is definitely high risk, but potentially high reward in terms of audience reaction. Here's a few that I was happy to have snuck in the mix in recent memory:
Earth, Wind, and Fire-- Power.
I opened a 1AM set last Summer with this song and its extended mbira intro. It was a vibe.
Michal Urbaniak-- Joy
Michal Urbaniak is one of my favorite musicians and a staple of my record collection but his music is usually ill-suited to a dancefloor. This early 80s jazz funk sleeper though? It slaps.
Again, an early 80s jazz rock cut that somehow miraculously works on a dancefloor. The last time I played this record out, a guy was doing the robot and screaming "this is my shit!" Need I say more?
Aurra-- Such a Feeling (Shep Pettibone Mix)
This is (maybe) my favorite boogie funk cut period and I think this track explains itself.
7. If Charlie Scott wasn't a producer what would he be?
If I wasn't producing, I'd probably be pursuing some other musical venture. Outside of that, I had a childhood dream of being a sketch comedian like Dana Carvey or Dave Chappelle that I've never actualized. Maybe that's next?
Make sure to keep up with Charlie through social media or get out to one of his DJ sets to experience his sound first hand. Don't miss out on the release of "Shur Save Flips" on May 25th.