Interview by Uriah Young
QFTD: Tell us a little about yourself. Who is Scott Carter?
Scott: I would say that I’m an individual who speaks truth through music. My life's journey and musical inspiration help me to communicate through sound. I'm a person who likes to open the minds of people through my music. A teacher is something I'd consider myself, too. Working with young artists, engineers, and producers is something I value. All in all, I'm someone who tries to give back to the world, keeping in mind that everything is everything.
QFTD: Like the Lauryn Hill song, right?
Scott: Absolutely. The meaning of that phrase is simple, yet profound.
QFTD: Obviously, music plays a huge role in your life. How, and when, did music mold you?
Scott: Music is the unspoken word. It gives our souls to the universe. So, music is powerful and very important to me. As a baby, my mother would play "Peter and the Wolf" when I was in the crib. What's fascinating about that song is each animal had an instrument for its voice. For example, the wolf was an oboe, and the bird was a flute. Music started that early for me. Growing up, I remember hearing my father play the piano and the flute. He played "Love Story" and "Autumn Leaves" more times than I can recall. Funny thing, because I was a kid, I used to hate it when my dad had on NPR; it was all classical music, all of the time. Yet, all that exposure to music seeped into my subconscious, leaving an imprint on my soul and developing my ear.
QFTD: Tell us how your production company, Matrax, started.
Scott: Well, I had moved from Virginia to Philadelphia when my brother started an entertainment firm. My brother convinced me to quit my job to work with various music artists. At the time, I was known as "Great Scott" and working with Grammy Award Winning producer, Chris Henderson. Working in my brother's building, there was a guy in the mailroom, who would always send beats to my brother. His name was Damon, and eventually, we linked up. It was perfect because we liked each other’s sounds, even though it was like a friendly rivalry. For us to mesh our sounds was inevitable. Before we knew it, we were producing music and gaining notoriety because of our distinct style.
QFTD: What about the name? Where did it come from?
Scott: That happened because my brother decided to put inspirational posters up on the walls in the studio. One of them was of the movie, The Matrix, with Neo as the featured image. At the time, we were stuck on a name for ourselves, so while we sat there gazing at the poster, Dame said, "What about Matrax?" I thought about it, and I was like, "Yeeeah." Shortly after, because I am also a graphic designer, I got to work on a logo, and that's the story of how Matrax got its name.
QFTD: Who are a few of your musical influences?
Scott: (Laughing) Man, I don’t know if you have enough time.
QFTD: (Smiling) I have the time; let's just hope I have enough paper. Go ahead; shoot.
Scott: I could go through genres, but I will try and take you through time periods. So, I will start with my roots and mention Mozart, Vivaldi, and Bach. Though Vivaldi is my favorite composer, Bach's Branderburg Concerto # 5 is a sublime piece of classical work. Then...let's see; I have to mention Quincy Jones, Rod Temperton, The Gap Band, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Who else...who else? Can't forget about Prince because of his musicianship and creativity. Hip Hop artists who've influenced me include Blacksheep, Tribe, and Lords of the Underground.
QFTD: I haven’t heard anyone mention Lords in a while. "Chief rocka, number one chief rocka."
Scott: Yeah, that’s the jam right there. One other group I cannot leave out is the set of producers who changed the game. Sean Combs, Timbaland, The Neptunes, and Dr. Dre all left their unique mark, not just on me, but on music as a whole.
QFTD: You've worked on music for some talented performers over the years. Artists like Kendrick Lamar, Karina Pasian, Keisha Chante, and Glenn Lewis to name a few. As the producer, who creates the musical world that their lyrics eventually fill, how do you approach the collaborative process of creating a song?
Scott: I approach the process like a tailor who wants to fit his client perfectly with the right suit…like the designer who wants to create a dress that complements a woman’s body impeccably. The thing that is most important though is energy. It is the key to the collaborative process. The energy shared between a producer and a singer can dictate the outcome of a record. For a song to meet its potential, everyone has to be on the same page: producers, engineers, singers…everybody.
QFTD: I heard and downloaded "Ugly Face" recently. Great song! What was it like working with R&B sensation, Glenn Lewis?
Scott: Glenn is one of the most down-to-earth, humble people I know. His energy is remarkable, too. He is so self-aware and knowledgeable about his own journey. We've had so many talks the last two years. I think he and I are connected more than just musically; he and I are like brothers. I remember he collaborated on Bread's record, and Glenn just came up with the hook so easily. His talent and voice are so unique. At times, I am even amazed at his rehearsal sessions. Overall, it has been great working with Glenn.
QFTD: I understand you aspire to score films one day, and that legendary musician, John Williams, is an icon in your eyes. What is it about his scores that inspire you to follow in his footsteps?
Scott: There is something about the way he controls music to create a feeling to match the visual aspect of film. His music can lift emotions and bring them down, effortlessly it seems. I mean, just look at his body of work: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Superman...the list of his accomplishments is incredible. How can someone stir fear in the hearts of people using only two musical notes, like the way he did in Jaws?
QFTD: Da Da, Da Da...
Scott: Exactly. John Williams is a true artist, and I'd like to touch people one day through music, the way he has for so many decades.
QFTD: Have any sound advice for someone trying to break into the music industry?
Scott: The best thing to do is to follow your heart. Also, take everything as a learning experience. You can't be considered a failure until you quit, so just endure through the tough times, knowing there is a valuable lesson in there. Finding a mentor is a huge key, too. Be open to the fact that you don't know everything. And don't be afraid to ask, "Why?" Always self-evaluate, because it can help push you forward.