By Dominique WaldIt doesn’t take long to realize Hilary Scott puts more than her heart and soul into her music and lyrics.
It’s her creativity and talent that have earned her a handful of awards, including best song at Festival Degli Autori in Italy, and best local musician from Inside Columbia Magazine in 2005 and 2006.
The singer, songwriter and Pullman native released her 11th record since 2000, “Freight Train Love,” in November.
The 1994 Pullman High School grad broke into the music scene in 2000, and in her latest effort had the opportunity to collaborate with such Grammy-winning musicians as Johnny Lee Schell, who has worked with Bonnie Raitt, and her featured bassist, Bob Glaub, who has worked with Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and John Fogerty.
“Freight Train Love” is made up of 10 songs, seven of which were written or co-written by Scott.
During a recent interview, Scott discussed her favorite artists, embarrassing onstage blunders and, of course, Cougar Country.
360: What was the process behind putting “Freight Train Love” together?
Hilary Scott: Usually, I’ve always written on my own. I usually don’t partner up too often, but I did some co-writing projects in Nashville, and I had an amazing time working with other professional writers. Half the record I co-wrote with Michael O’Neill, who I met in Gig Harbor. One of us suggested writing together, and his friend Kevin Fisher, who writes for Rascal Flatts and Sara Evans, joined in.
360: How long does it typically take for you to put together an album?
HS: It kind of depends: I’ve done live records that take a day. This is the biggest-budget album, with working in big studios in Los Angeles and working with Grammy winners. I had to fly from St. Louis to L.A., so the entire process took about 13 months. But interestingly enough, I was actually only in the studio for two-and-a-half days.
360: Was there ever an alternate career path or were you always certain music was something you wanted to do?
HS: There was and there wasn’t. I feel like music chose me more than I chose music. I was playing piano when I was 2, so my mom put me in piano lessons when I was about 4. Then I added in violin, then singing and then guitar. I ended up majoring in English and minoring in music at Whitman College. The fallback was either med school or law school, but shortly after college I started performing, and it just took off.
360: Let’s go back in time. You’re a student at Pullman High School and it’s a Friday night. What are you out doing with your friends?
HS: Well, I love Cougar Country, and we’d go see a lot of movies, too. I was back in Pullman this past summer to perform and noticed how different everything looked, but I hope to be back this summer to perform again.
360: Did you take part in talent shows at PHS?
HS: I did orchestra, I did concert choir, I did all of the dramatic and musical productions. There were talent shows, as well. I basically took part in any opportunity to perform to overcome my performance anxiety.
360: We’re all human, and we all have embarrassing moments. Any onstage blunders you want to talk about?
HS: Anything you can imagine, it probably has happened. I’ve never had anything as drastic as a Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction, but when you perform so many hours and so many nights, you’re going to have good and bad days. Or you’ll have days where you trip and fall or even burp into the microphone. Sometimes the audience appreciates it, because at that point the ice has broken. In a way, I use it as a moment for comedy, and I’m able to connect with the audience.
360: What does your current music catalog look like these days?
HS: I still listen to Peter Gabriel, Sarah McLachlan. I listen to so many different artists, but I love Bonnie Raitt, Otis Redding and Patsy Cline. My music taste is all over the map.
360: What’s the most difficult thing about being a musician?
HS: You never stop striving. The daily struggles are more present, but the biggest challenge is sometimes people think you’re a musician because you didn’t want a real job. I have a degree, and I have thousands of hours of training. This is something I’m qualified for and good at. This is a real job, and it’s a lot of work, too.
360: What’s the most satisfying thing about performing?
HS: The audience interaction, definitely. If you never get any feedback regarding whether or not people are enjoying your music, you don’t grow as an artist. Performing is when I realize “this is why I’m doing this.”
Own the music
“Freight Train Love” is available for purchase on Hilary Scott’s website, www.hilaryscott.com.
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