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The best kept secret in music

Press


"Live Review - Hotpress"

ANN SCOTT
Whelan’s Dublin
Even if the Pope had been playing bass with The Sex Pistols you would still have thought that it would be tough to get a crowd into Whelan’s on what was the sunniest Sunday evening of the year so far.
Regardless, Ann Scott drew a crowd that lapped up her clever lyrics, evocative melodies and fantastic voice.
Cliona Quinlan’s accompaniment on violin gave some of Scott’s opening songs a real Velvet Underground feel. As Scott sang ‘Back To You’ and ‘Whistle Tom’ Quinlan’s bowing and plucking of the violin added major atmosphere to the songs and the crowd were no longer thinking about missing out on sunshine, they were just enjoying the music.
Having agreed not to tell any jokes between songs, Ann did apologise for the sake of anyone who had left a beach to be there, but there was no need. Her songs were littered with reference to water, sea and sun, and ‘Pebble Strand’ was almost better that the real thing.
Switching between acoustic and electric guitar, the songs were original and instantly likeable. I can’t have been the only bloke in attendance who was wishing that Ann was singing directly to me.
The first real summer evening had arrived and Ann Scott provided the perfect soundtrack.
Just a final note to the idiots that insist on having their mobile phones switched on during gigs like this……please piss off.
- Hotpress (Billy Scanlon)


"Album Review - The Dubliner"

The Black Box recording studio near Bordeaux has become a second home to many of our finest musical exports. Most recently Gemma Hayes, the Frames and David Kitt have all revelled in its homely-focused atmosphere. The latest Irish opus to hit the shelves from France’s worst kept secret is the debut album from Dublin songstress Ann Scott. It’s another douze points for the Irish entry, a record that just gets better and better with every play. Scott’s style is distinctive, at a push I could cite June Tabor, Bright Eyes and Beth Orton as reference points, but not influences. The open whistle Tom sets out her stall with a unique guitar style picking out obverse melodies that, when added to the slightly surreal west country lilt of her vocal delivery, takes Irish pop music down a different avenue. Knife, Start and the superb Wilbur Clown are typical of her engaging take on the world; lyrics veer between childlike flights of fancy and a fresh view on the power of love. Aside from the ultra-intense Diamond Edge and To Adore appearing too early on the record to be really appreciated, Scott has fashioned a very fine album.4/5star
- The Dubliner-Album Review – John Brereton


"Cracklebox Review - Winter Radio"

23rd February 2005

Like Hope Sandoval contributing to a Slowdive track and being remixed by Manual, ‘Winter Radio’ is the result of new partnership, Hi Lonesome Electric (creator of last year’s beautiful ‘Pierre & John Henry’ Earsugar 45) and vocalist Ann Scott, under the name Cracklebox.
Honey vocals float and sway over twinkly electronics and scratchy effects, as the lush melodies and drones of Cocteau Twins or Mum conjure up images of shoe gazing and electronic-pop sensibilities. ‘Winter Radio’ already sounds like a future pop record and the instrumental b-side differs little in it’s dreamy atmospherics and strong, emotive impact. Frosty, melodic and full of heartbreak, ‘Winter Radio’ is one of those rare hair-rising moments. An essential slab of wax needed in your record collection.
8/10
- www.angryape.com-Jennifer Coxley


"Album Review - Hotpress"

With the Irish Singer Songwriter Clique having now had their defining D4 moment, what better time for Ann Scott to release her finally release her debut album? Those looking for a relaxed acoustic stroll however, may find themselves presented by a more challenging prospect than many of her contemporaries. Produced by Scott herself and by Karl Odlum, Poor Horse Ventures down a variety of musical paths, all of them inhabited by a succession of shadowy and twisted characters and images. Scott’s cracked velvety voice is central to the whole thing, adding further character to songs already steeped in the stuff. The lack of obvious melodies and catchy choruses may offer nothing to endear her to the casual listener but any degree of effort on behalf of the listener will be amply repaid. That fellow troubadours Margaret Healy, Nina Hynes and Alice Jago should appear comes as no surprise but Poor Horse sees Ann Scott place herself firmly at the head of the pack.
8/10
- Hotpress (Phil Udell)


"Album Review - Irish Times"

Disarmingly louche and strangely compelling, Ann Scott’s confident debut sidles up to the listener like a rebel with a cause. Opener Whistle Tom matches a course tone to a consoling melody, where Scott’s voice flutters between daring huskiness and doe-eyed innocence. Her fragmented lyrics are pitched somewhere between Dadda and Doggerel, while breezy acoustic or grisly electric guitars form casual alliances with muted loops, unhinged effects and discordant embellishments. Less successful is the integration of Scott’s more random ideas. Jane Doll Sorrow becomes trapped in a lugubrious tempo, unconvincingly smashing its way free with a berserk resolution. Meanwhile the excellent start shimmers mysteriously, but breaks the spell when it can’t decide which obscure loop to end on. Uneven perhaps, but that’s the trade off for uncommonly engaging and edgy music.
- The Irish Times - Peter Crawley


"Interview - Cork Examiner"

Q&A
1. Your debut album Poor Horse is excellent. People have been expecting it for a while now. Why did it take so long?
I took my time doing it, because financially I had too, but I think a consequence of that was that I ended up with a more rounded and objective record. It covers a lot of ground, some of the first songs I wrote are on there beside some of the most recent ones and if you record an album in two weeks that’s hard to do. We put down 12 basic songs in Black Box Studios, which we took home on computer and then we recorded more overdubs and deleted overdubs and reworked things until we were happy with them and we had this kind of constant luxury of hindsight. The deadline was always floating and I was constantly coming up with new songs and ideas I wanted to put down. Having the protools set up at home allows you that kind of overview. In the end it took real commitment and discipline to get it finished and to keep concentrating on it and I was trying to get continuity in sound between the newer and older stuff so it became quite a hefty body of work.

2. Can you tell me about the benefits of working with Karl Odlum as a producer?
Karl manages to operate a strict quality control without forcing his sound onto the record. I think with every album he produces, he really represents the artist he is working on and brings out the best in them. I spent some time overdubbing some pretty whacky stuff and he was able to tease out exactly where it worked. He's very fast at what he does and very expert at it. We pooled a lot of ideas, and sometimes this might have slowed us down because there was so much to trim through, it was very much a creative collaborative process. He turns task easily from bass to guitar to programming strings or writing vocal harmonies but it’s really amazing how subtle and unobtrusive his presence is on the final version.

3. You spent sometime busking in Paris. Can you tell about your experiences over there? And how it may have helped you in the long run?

I was singing in bars and busking squares and metro stations. I suppose I was making the most of that feeling of anonymity that you get when you go from a small country to a big city. I wasn’t writing songs at the time but I was in that frame of mind and found the whole place very inspiring. I think something took root there.

4. Your live show doesn’t incorporate as many clichés or sing along moments
as many of the other singer-songwriters associated with the whole Whelans axis. You’re quite droll onstage, if anything. Also, from your album I get the sense you favour original musical ideas and exploring new sounds over very catchy pop songs. It’s a relief to hear this, but I was wondering how you felt about this?

With the live thing, maybe it boils down to the fact that I began as a writer, then took to singing and finally writing songs, so I’ve never really felt like an entertainer in the traditional sense of the word. What I’m trying to do really requires an open-minded audience, because some of it is cryptic. There’s nothing too blunt, too literal or shock-tastic in the lyrics - I don’t find that kind of thing challenging enough as a listener or a writer. When I play live I try to tap into something internal rather than going for the cheesy gags, and although I have some very straightforward songs, a lot of it is escapist or arty or whatever and that requires a certain kind of listening - not the drunk Friday night, play something we know - kind. I get frustrated with a lot of the music you hear nowadays because it’s not adventurous, it’s formatted, it follows rules, it’s become more conservative nowadays, particularly on radio than it was in the seventies.

On the album I spent a lot of time trying to create certain moods, and get across certain ideas through the type of sounds. You have to use a different approach to recreate this live, particularly if you’re working with a limited budget or worse still, sometimes no band. But in ways this can also be very freeing, just you with the guitar, breathing the songs - that way they can really come alive.

5. How have you found the independent process? Would you prefer to be on a
major label and have other people do the work for you? What way do you see yourself working in the future?

I think if you are signed or independent or whatever you still need the thing in show business that they call ‘the break’ You can chip away at small gigs for your whole life or you can show up overnight in the charts after your management has bought you in there? It doesn’t matter, the music industry is never not going to be hard... If somebody on a major label was to come along and do the work for me I’m sure that would involve integral changes to my music which I don’t see happening.
I’m hoping to build on what I’m doing in order to be able to delegate tasks
and become more efficient.. I would be open to management or licensing or sponsorship, particularly having made the album because then both sides know what they are getting into.

6. Your lyrics are dark and oblique. What sort of things inspire you to
write and what process do you adopt for lyric-writing?
Songs usually write themselves involuntarily like a twitch or something, and when you go poking and scratching at them you can ruin them, you can just spoil the mystery of them. I have umpteen songs that I will never finish because I won’t be happy with them. You have to wait, sometimes a long time, for the intrigue. I use a lot of characters and sometimes story lines, but I leave it up to the listener to complete the picture,. I leave them versatile so that there’s a lot open to interpretation. I find the easiest way to write lyrics is not to write them, just to let them come, and I concentrate less on the wording and more on the phonetics and ultimately let my gut instinct decide when something is finished.

7. You mostly play with a band. What sort of band/rock music do you like? I
can hear shades of Slint and Papa M in your music.
Yeah, Slint would be one. I like the hardness of bands like shellac, but would probably go a good bit softer with my own music. I’m a big Albini fan. I’ve got a spot for old Led Zeppelin stuff, Velvet Underground, Captain Beefheart, Nico and Patti Smith. Nirvana and the Pixies and Fugazi. But I’m into a quiet vibe aswell and would have been into electronic stuff like aphex twin. I’m also into some classical stuff and Italian opera, and some free form jazz - don’t ask me to name any.
- The Cork Examiner (Leagues O'Toole)


"Album Review - Galway Advertiser"

Ann Scott manages herself and released her debut album on her own label Raghouse Records. Poor Horse is an oddly captivating collection of shadowy, guitar songs, whose subtle qualities mark the young Dubliner out as an intriguing new talent. Scott's low-key, mournful voice conveys a sense of cracked fragility and her songs' 'less-is-more' philosophy proves to be highly effective. There is a stong Dry era PJ Harvey influence at work here particularly on the stop start dynamics of To Adore and the jilted refrains of Whistle Tom, but Scott is no PJ wannabe and comes off with a style completely her own. The complex melodies, are of the kind that, once absorbed, meander around your head for hours afterwards. To these ears Scott is by far the most intriguing female singer-songwriter to have emerged of late and on the strength of this debut, she wipes the floor with the opposition.’ - Galway Advertiser (Kernan Andrews)


"Interview - Galway Now"

The Pulse with Galway Bay FM's Jon Richards

Ann Scott, Meteor Music Award nominee, is tipped to be this year’s guiding light when it comes to intelligently crafted songs. Her debut album ‘Poor Horse’ peaked at a bold 58 in the greatest albums of all time compiled by Hotpress, the only Irish independent female artist to feature in the poll. I first got to meet Ann as part of the instudio sessions in 2002 and from there have watched her evolve into the accomplished artist that she is now becoming.

Were you surprised by being the only independent female artist to make the greatest albums of all time compiled by Hotpress?

I was the only independent female in the poll but there were about five or six other females in there – a couple of albums from Sinead O’Connor and the Corrs, still it was very thin. I suppose if you look back over the last 30 years, feminism was slow to come to Ireland, it’s even slower coming to the music industry..There’s a lot of creative female talent in Ireland today and it’s coming up the ranks so maybe you’ll see it in the next poll or whatever, but there’s still little in the way of female engineers, producers and management.

What about outside of Ireland? Do you feel the same barriers exist to female artists trying to forge their way in the big business?

Just at the moment, the female artists most visible seem to be products of dumb-down marketing campaigns geared towards the stereotypical male consumer, I often think the pop music industry is really more like the soft porn industry, you really see sexism at its best. Ironically though, it’s men that could turn the tables on that kind of thing, after all they’re being cheated too, in particular the consumers. Men have become more sensitive, there’s such a blurring of roles nowadays, more men have changed nappies, plugged in the hoover and likewise women are moving into traditional male roles, - directing soft porn movies for instance. I think both sides are going to reach a point of saturation and say – ‘No more! Stop feeding us crap’

The new album is nearly here, what can we expect from you?

I’ve been rehearsing with saxophone which I’m excited about and there is going to be some cello and violin, but overall the songs will feature more keyboards and less guitars than we had on Poor Horse. I’ve learnt a little programming and bought a cool little synth but this may not crop up til album #3. I’m in experimental mindset so that is there, but I think people may come to this album quicker than the last one. I feel like the awkward task of introducing myself is done and now I can be myself a little more.

I wouldn’t put you in the category of most hyped/talked about. This I believe has helped you grow, but now with the Meteor Music nomination behind you that could all change. This is a tricky time for you, the casualty rate is so high, how do you plan to handle it?

I’m just going to stick to my guns I suppose. While I have ideas I’m going to make albums and try to improve what I’m doing all the time. If I sign I sign- If I don’t, I don’t. I really can’t see how things could have been any harder than they have been for me previously and in a way I’m not about to give that up very easily. I have begged, borrowed and blagged, knocked on plently of closed doors, but I’ve also been really nurtured by the scene in Ireland, so it’s all character forming, the hard slog has become utterly a part of what I am. I don’t know that I’d be any better off waltzing around the Clarendon Hotel talking up suits and sipping champagne. I’d give it a go though – laughs

Setting up your own record company must have helped you, and now that you are tipped on major international success, what advice would you give to aspiring songwriters?

Well setting up a record company is not so daunting nowadays. There are lots of people with business plans these days but you need the raw material to begin with. I’d tell people to concentrate their efforts on the art above anything else. There are lots of different ways to go about a music career, it really depends on what you ultimately want to achieve.

- Galway Now - Jon Richards


"Interview - Dublin Songwriter"

Ann Scott is one busy lady. With a Meteor Music Awards nomination under her belt, she is putting in the studio-time on a highly anticipated second album, running her Raghouse Records label and gracing venues across the country with her collection of both equally sultry and haunting songs. We caught up with her during a quick break from Temple Bar Music Centre.

I always feel slightly more aware of my interview technique when I meet former journalists. Ann Scott puts me at my ease immediately. Scott, a DCU journalism graduate, has worked on a number of publications. Ultimately, the life of a hack held little appeal. She points out that she couldn’t be a music journalist and then ask her interviewees for support slots!

A late newcomer onto the Dublin music scene, Scott has been playing live for six years. Beginning with singer-songwriter nights in The International, she honed her craft whilst sharing the stage with stalwarts such as Declan O’Rourke, Paddy Casey and Damien Dempsey, amongst others. “There was great variety, it was really rich” she remembers. “You would go in and people would be really quiet and respectful”. Once she began to frequent other venues it was, in her own words, “like coming from the womb”. She was able for bigger audiences though. An accomplished live performer, she has played support for a variety of acts in recent years, including Blondie and Fairport Convention.

Like other Irish artists looking for an alternative to getting signed and who wish to retain full artistic control, Scott founded her own label, Raghouse Records, in 2002. “I just wanted to get the music out of my head and into other people’s heads!” she says. It was a wise move and later that year she came to greater prominence with her debut EP Pauper Tiger. Scott released the Poor Horse album the following year, to much critical acclaim. Carefully produced with Karl Odlum - who also features in the live band - the album displays Scott’s astonishing vocal range and is full of raw emotional intensity.

While the second album is still untitled, one wonders whether the animal motif will continue? Scott admits she takes some of her inspiration from nature and wildlife programmes on television. “That kind of thing really strikes a chord in me. I’ve got a lot of animals in my music”.

Blessed with the ability to write songs dealing with matters of the heart in a succinct but moving way, some of Scott’s repertoire involves the use of characters such as Whistle Tom and Jane Doll Sorrow. Are her songs based on personal experiences or more on the observation of others? “I think a lot of what you learn from your own relationships and personal life, you always apply that, but when I’m writing a song it’s not me speaking directly about how I’m feeling, it’s sort of me drawing on the past or putting observations into context with current things, or other people or whatever. Sometimes you can see situations more clearly when it’s not you”.

I put it to her that while there has been a welcome growth in the number of Irish women on the singer-songwriter circuit in recent years, it is still a largely male dominated scene. Scott agrees, “Yeah, I don’t know why but there seems to be a lot more successful guys. It could just be trend or it could just be coincidence though it’s strange that there are so many talented women (if not more talented) that are not making the money”. However, Scott faces healthy competition in the form of Sinead O'Connor, Juliet Turner, Bronagh Gallagher, Cathy Davey and Eleanor Shanly in the Best Irish Female category for the forthcoming Meteor Ireland Music Awards. “I think the winner gets a glass yoke!” she laughs.

Her second album is currently being recorded in different stages. Fans can expect a slightly different sound to Poor Horse. “I hope to work with some cello and saxophone” she reveals. Scott’s approach is also somewhat altered, before setting off to record Poor Horse in the prestigious Black Box studios in France she had rehearsed intensively. Now, her sophomore effort is being worked upon in different stages between rehearsing, gigging and writing. Recording is incredibly time-intensive. “It’s extremely hard work. You have to allow as much time as you think that it’s going to take and then treble it”. Like her previous work, the album will be set on her own terms. “Other people would probably be pushing me to write the big hit or aim for radio with production, or cover a well known song, but I don’t think that it’s the proper approach” she says. I don’t sit around planning out how to takeover the world, I just write songs, lots of them. I think you have to make the music honestly first, and then decide where its going to go, and if you come up with number 1 song that way then so be it.”

2005 looks set to be a groundbreaking year for Scott. Does she feel that she might be on the verge of something big? “I suppose when you’re looking at it you don’t notice it grow and then six months later you see the big difference between then and now”. Somehow, one feels certain that Scott’s sheer determination and her defiant independence spells a very bright future. Let’s hope that happens.
- Dublin Songwriter.com - Sorcha Nic Mhathúna


Discography

2002 - Pauper Tiger E.P. (Ann Scott) Raghouse Records
2003 - Poor Horse (Ann Scott) Raghouse Records
2004 - Madness (Ann Scott) Raghouse Records
2004 - Knife (Ann Scott) Raghouse Records
2005 - Winter Radio (Cracklebox feat Ann Scott) Earsugar Jukebox

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Since emerging onto Ireland’s thriving songwriter circuit with her distinctive Pauper Tiger Ep Ann Scott has been going from strength to strength, in particular with the release of her debut LP and recent nomination for an Irish Meteor Award.

Poor Horse is an assured album that unfussily asserts the arrival of a fully-fledged and luminous talent. Served well by Karl Odlum's sensitive production, Scott brings her singular dreamy lyricism and remarkable vocal versatility to bear on deeply shadowed emotional terrain.

Recorded over two years, involving two trips to Blackbox studios in France and several intervals of work in houses in Dublin, Avoca and Kerry, Poor Horse was released in September ‘03 on a small budget. With word slowly getting around, Ann has been building a dedicated following and the album was voted into the top ten debut and top ten overall albums in January’s 2004 Hotpress readers poll, while Ann was voted among the top ten female artists in both Hotpress and Cluas polls.

More recently Poor Horse stunned observers by shuffling into the Hotpress poll of Ireland’s Greatest 100 albums of all time, as chosen by the musicians of Ireland. Sitting in at a bold no 58 alongside recordings from greats such as Thin Lizzy and Horslips, Ann Scott’s album was notably the only album recorded by an independent female artist to sit in the poll, marking the esteem with which she is held by countless musical peers in Ireland.

A performer of striking originality, her fresh takes on love, obsession, freedom and sorrow reveal a writer with a fondness for stories and characters, with songs such as Wilbur Clown and Whistle Tom ultimately telling their own tale.

Ann has shared the stage with artists as diverse as Blondie and Fairport Convention, slogging hard on the live circuit, with small headline tours, support tours and festival dates around the country. In 2004 she released two singles funded from her own pocked alone. Additional live highlights include showcasing at the Legendary Lisdoonvarna Festival at the RDS, stop offs at London's renowned Barfly and 12 Bar Venues and more recently counting in the New Year with Eddi Reader and friends of Mic Christopher on Gay Byrne’s infamous Late Late Show for RTE 1.

Ann has also recorded for the renowned Fanning sessions on 2fm, and has performed live on Network 2's Last Broadcast programme and on programmes for TG4, TG3 and BBC Choice.

Distributed by Gael Linn, and released on her own fledgling Raghouse Records label, Ann’s music is for sale in shops throughout Ireland including HMV, Golden Discs, Road Records, Tower Records and Rough Trade outlets in London. Her music can be heard regularly on 2fm, Today FM and RTE 1, and was chosen for use in an RTE series called The Big Bow Wow.

Ann Scott also crops up on a number of compilation cds including Notions of Sound, HMV playlist and Embraces, while her 2005 electronic collaboration for the Earsugar Jukebox Label under the guise of Cracklebox, has received a warm welcome and some well deserved airplay in the UK on BBC1, XFM and BBC 6.

Ann has sung on recordings for some of Ireland’s leading lights including David kitt, the Frames and Mark Geary, with whom she recently collaborated with on the soundtrack for the forthcoming film Loggerheads (loggerheadsmovie.com)

Background
A writer of various guises, Ann graduated from Dublin City University with a Ba degree in Journalism, before settling on writing and performing music as her preferred craft. She made her first musical inroads while in college, busking around the bars and bistros of Paris with a trusty acoustic and a friend called Jenny who played the violin. On returning to Dublin, Ann set about assembling her own puzzle of lyrics and chords, honing her craft at late night sessions on Dublin’s thriving acoustic singer-songwriter circuit.

Ann quickly earned the respect of more established peers and began to open shows for contemporaries such as Damien Rice, Mundy and Gemma Hayes. With invitations to play flooding in from small corner pubs in Longford to venues such as Vicar St and the Olympia in Dublin, Ann began wooing audiences up and down the country.

Encouraged by this positive response and in keeping with her independent nature, Ann formed her own label Raghouse Records in June 2002, releasing her debut EP, Pauper Tiger the following July.

Recorded in Dublin's Temple Lane Studios with Karl Odlum and Dave Hingerty, the EP successfully captured Ann’s natural but edgy sound and Ann followed up the release with a six-week residency in the International Bar and Irish tours while working continuously on her debut.

Musical background
Experimenting with unusual melodies, ideas and lyrics, Ann Scott’s musical armoury consists of a range of left-field guitars, detuned mandolas and some quirky ideas on how to go about playing them. From the warm spidery-folk of Whistle Tom to the dreamy electric vistas of Diamond Edge, Poor