Caught Up: Scott Sullivan

Scott Sullivan is a world class snowboard photographer. Remember the Nicolas Muller cover of our magazine last year? Yeah, he shot that. He also shoots with Travis Rice, the Absinthe crew, and a ton of other legendary shredders in the pacific Northwest. But what does he do when he puts down the camera? Well Scott is also an incredible musician. With his 4th record recently released, and new music video, we thought now would be the perfect time to catch up with Scott and see exactly what’s happening.

nicolas muller snowboard photos powder
Nicolas Muller. PHOTO: Scott Sullivan

Hey Scott, what’s happening?

It's all happening. Just having a great summer, minus the crappy surf part.

So let’s talk about your new record, Cracks and All, how did the cover art for your new album take place? 

Cracks and All is my 4th album. Each album has embraced a different feel both visually and sonically. As this one grew, I just had this idea in my head of the white cracked egg and how the egg represents so much potential at the inception of life, similar to human life, and as it grows and develops it becomes subjected to cracks from inner and outer forces. It's tragic in some sense, but it's also victorious because every egg out there is in the same boat. The album is no different. The songs start out simple and stripped down like an egg, and then as the process continues with recording they develop some beautiful flaws throughout which give them character. So it became a matter of showing off the cracks with pride and that’s where the pedestal comes in. I made a mini egg photo studio out of my daughters paper easel and lit it with natural light…et  voila! Stefan Hofmann, the artist behind Spacecraft, helped me to lay it all out and he also created some amazing custom art for the back cover and liner notes.

Art by Stefan Hofmann

 Do you like soft-boiled eggs?  

 I have grown curiously fond of soft- boiled eggs over the years after spending many a pre-riding breakfast with the likes of Nicolas Muller, Wolle Nyvelt ,and the lot of the euro Absinthe crew. Europe is big on 3 minute eggs, over here in the States not so much. The Euros kind of know what's up though with good living and good food. I have even lately taken to making my own at home, for which I have purchased some “eggy pants” for them to rest in while me and my kids decapitate them and eat their brains.

 What are the main influences for the album. Did you take any influence from the places you’ve traveled to with your snowboard/ camera?    

 Some of the influences come from dealing with personal struggles, and also the energy that comes out of resolution of those struggles. I am also influenced by the art of songwriting and the ability to convey the emotion, or the message, from the song in a concise and effective way. Similar to how one would edit a video part- you want to cut out all the unnecessary BS and get to the point.

Travis Rice, Revelstoke, Art Of Flight, Snowboard Photos PHOTO Scott Sullivan
Travis Rice. PHOTO: Scott Sullivan

I always feel inspired when I am on photo trips, it's something to do with being on the move and experiencing new things every day.  The title song, “Cracks and All" I wrote at the end of a snowboarding trip to Chile. I was seeing a lot of music in Santiago on that trip and was inspired by the different time signatures and instrumentation. The song ended up in 3/4 waltz time and has some melodica and various rhythm gadgets throughout.

Check out Scott’s new video for “Last Call” on the next page.

 Talk about the video, where did the inspiration for the video take place, who made it, where was it filmed?

Scott Sullivan   photo,  Lucas Debari at the Mt. Baker Road gap
Scott Sullivan   photo,  Lucas Debari at the Mt. Baker Road gap
Scott Sullivan   photo,  Lucas Debari at the Mt. Baker Road gap
Scott Sullivan   photo,  Lucas Debari at the Mt. Baker Road gap
Scott Sullivan   photo,  Lucas Debari at the Mt. Baker Road gap
Scott Sullivan   photo,  Lucas Debari at the Mt. Baker Road gap

 For me the inspiration was born in the music at the very beginning of the song where the high piano note hits and my eye opens. I always pictured the image of myself passed out on the piano, and then jolting abruptly awake to the note with my eye being the focus. I talked about making the video with my friend Eric Brandt and shared this idea with him. He expanded on the idea and we came up with a concept that we felt lent itself to the elements of the “drunken” piano, and the country-ish feel of the song. A sort of dream state I would be experiencing in a hybrid 1850’s saloon style/silent movie era meshed with settings from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s- In the end all coming full circle to the modern day.

We began working on the storyline for 6 months prior to shooting anything. The process was kind of the exact opposite of the experiences that Eric and I both had with shooting snowboarding where a lot of times you just go out and hope you get a shot. Eric has been one of the key contributors to Absinthe Films for years. Lately, he has been branching out and expanding into a more narrative style. He’s ruling it. You can check out his reel and some of his other work here  http://eb-vision.com/

We shot it right at home on the Olympic Peninsula, in Washington State, with the help of some great friends providing acting skills, filling key roles, and hooking up locations. Also, my wife, Natalie Murphy, who is a clothing designer for Roxy and Lib Tech, helped us with the costuming and styling for all the ladies in the video. We did the whole thing pretty guerilla style as far as budgets and sets were concerned, but the planning and prep that we did allowed us to come together and shoot the whole thing over a 4 day span. Eric then went to town and did the edit, using his ideas to create a different visual feel for each scene.

Are you planning on going on tour to support the record?

 I am more interested in playing regional shows, instead of an extended tour. I am pretty down right now to combine my love of photography with my music and make some more videos. It's the perfect combination for me and it's rad how much visibility you can access by creating within the realm of music and imagery, using the wonder web as a tool to get it all out there.

Nicolas Muller. PHOTO: Scott Sullivan

Do you think recording the record in Seattle had a big influence on the sound of the record?

Yea. I had access to amazing coffee every morning. Mainly though it was the experience of working in a new studio for me. I worked with Pete Remine at Dubtrain in sunny West Seattle. Pete is so connected to a wealth of great musicians in the Seattle area. I was able to bring in different players for different songs if I needed to on a hire basis. On past records it's been a bit more fixed, but this was a good opportunity to craft every song individually. I played most of the stuff, along with Pete, who’s a great multi instrumentalist, but when we needed to, we were able to bring in some precision players to fit the song.

 How long did it take you to grow such a kickass mustache.

It's been a while for sure and it has gone thru several stages of different kickassness. A lot of it was ramping up for the video, and now it's just like another one of my kids.

 What’s next on the horizon?

 Deciding how long the ‘stache remains.

I’m also going to be writing some new songs, finishing my home studio, I’m going on a Chile photo trip with Volcom, chasing surf while at home, and enjoying this amazing life.  I once read a quote somewhere, and it still resonates within:  “Live every day like it's your last … and one day you will be right.”  That's the truth.

 

PHOTO: Kevin Zacher

You can find Scott’s album, Cracks and All, on iTunes right HERE!