Guillermo Scott Herren moved into his Brooklyn Heights space almost one year ago to the day. He’s on the hunt for a new apartment before the contents of old moving boxes stacked throughout his convivial clutter have even been fully unpacked. Amidst the entanglement of vintage eyeglasses, literature, bargain designer threads and dustless musical instruments of every manner he folds himself, compressible like an arboreal jungle cat. Along the lines of a hybrid between man and margay, which to all intents and purposes may as well be his totem animal, Scott Herren has unique physical features which help him to survive in a milieu long imperiled by creative deforestation. With the grace and efficiency of his spare and rangy frame, he wouldn’t look out of place making his way through a treetop canopy, stumping zoologists with his anomalous ways. A cloud forest of imagination glows behind his bespectacled eyes. He’s tawny and clean-limbed, the articulations of his hands meet the requirements of his territory (from classical guitar to thumb pianos fashioned out of gourds) and not one feature marks his age. The Taurean makes no bones about turning 34 next month (“No one believes it! But read the “sounds like:” in any of my reviews. I’m getting old!”) And the drove of phone calls and emails awaiting his response indicate that he’s one very hunted cat.

His home/studio is bright and accommodating in its schematized chaos, with brimming bookshelves and a sparsely stocked fridge. The enigmatic Scott-Herren diet is still under research. “I have a hippie mom,” he clarifies, “who made such bland food. My diet just has bland-ass taste! Sometimes I feel like I should supplement with fish or meat, but you’d think I was on some freaky Muslim diet. Oatmeal. Granola bars. It’s a good way to eat, it just lacks flavor. And when I’m on tour, it’s terrible… if I look skinny to you now… I come back from touring emaciated!’ But no longer buffered by an assistant (he’s hiring, folks), he’s left unaided to forage for food. “I need a helper,” he says. And in a myriad of other ways, Herren’s got his work cut out for him.

Online social utilities, which he’s affectionately nicknamed “necessary evils,” glare at the self-proclaimed Luddite from his computer. What’s more, today he’s supposed to take a look at a space over The Bushwick Country Club, which he’s been told by a dubious renter will be reasonably quiet by night. He Googles the bar downstairs from the prospective nest and grumbles, ” Frozen Jim Beam and Coke slushies? I have a kid! I feel like scolding the dude who suggested I check this out!” A common problem faced by this endangered species: being in the game far more for love than money, he takes an economical beating. Of equal annoyance are blog-wide attempts at labeling his style.

“I hate the stigma of terms,” he remarks of recently being dubbed “MrGlitchpop” in a popular blog forum. But this is not a case of another pampered artist nursing their ruffled ego. In response to an industry vying eagerly for his production skills throughout the past decade, he stubbornly averted his energy to smaller projects until he began to consider what the monetary spoils might have meant for his son, Alejandro, with erstwhile-partner and collaborator Claudia Deheza.

Voted Artist of the Decade by Better Propaganda, the Miami-born wit makes refreshingly little issue of other artists less strident principles. In face, when he’s not being plain lippy (“When a mothafucker starts collecting guns, I go the other way!”), he’s likelier heard lauding his colleagues. He calls MF Doom “a dope dad,” and acclaims the hip hop persona’s hands-on approach to recording (“…those beats were recorded on clock-radio cassette“). He empathizes with RZA’s choice to take up with highbrow art cinematographers in addition to his native Shaolin brood, and has nothing but words of adulation for originators like Jim O’Rourke, Jose Gonzales, Battles’ Tyondai Braxton and beloved cohort and muse, Roberto Lange. He also describes childhood influences like Fleetwood Mac, Crosby Stills & Nash, Michael Jackson, Prince and punk (via the cool older sister’s influence) as his “gateway to everything.”

That said, Scott Herron is also known to throw folks off kilter. “I work really fast,” he concedes. “I’m a dinosaur, rooted in what I grew up with. And I can seem like I’m ordering people around.” Which is why he holds musical consort Eva Puyuelo Muns in such high esteem. Her team spirit and dulcet vocals exceeded his hallmark exigencies on Savath y Savalas. Cut from the same cloth as Guillermo and Puyuelo Muns pooled their melodic and linguistic resources to yield “some serious stoner music,” and a long-anticipated expansion of the Stone’s Throw label aesthetic.

“Catalan is hard to sing in,” he owns. “It’s hard to make a pretty song with it. But Eva- dude, there’s an artist who’s good for a feature article and a half!- and I said, ‘how can it be impossible to make a dope song in our language? We drew from ’60s and ’70s Brazilian Tropicalia and stripped-down Franco Era Catalan folk, when people really had something to say. Translating Spanish to Catalan… you can forget it. You can’t just bend the translated word around a note the same. There’s no crossover. In the same way that you can’t quite say ‘Bunny’ any other way than, ‘Bunny’… to a lot of people, [Catalan] is a dead language. It’s hard to make sensible… you can pick up a dictionary for the lyrics if you want, but it’s only really gonna make sense to Eva!”

Diamond Watch Wrists, (Warp Records) is a more “literally written” album, serves as the most “acidic throwback” of Scott Herren’s troika of releases this year. Of Zach Hill, his artistic ally (on the DWW album), Guillermo marvels, “Nobody plays like that. He’s so ahead of his time, he’s timeless! You can’t believe [Hill’s drumming] isn’t programmed. All that Fela/Frank Zappa/Tony Allen shit? Half the time, where it’s rolls and fills? Zach turns simple songs un-simple. Imagine, this is him restrained. I was baffled and honored that he picked me to work with.” And giddy from looking up some fond performance footage on the internets, he goes on to explain the Prefuse 73 album.

“It’s detail-oriented, and all happens in real time, though a long, prog-like formula. But it’s way more than that… No, it’s not. I figure when I perform it, if I go deaf then so be it. You won’t get a show otherwise- just a mud puddle. And if the venue doesn’t give us the sound we ask for, we give them feedback.” Scott-Herron is grinning like a little kid now. His own son’s going to have a riot spending time in his dad’s jovial universe of gems, wizards and shields. Luckily for Alejandro, Dad’s personal musical philosophy extends to his parenting. His projected epitaph?

“I don’t know how to word this… treat music communally, not selfishly. Some people are all, ‘Mine! Mine! Mine!’ But it’s gotta be quali and sincere.”

by Joan Wolkoff
[Photo: Gracia Vilamil]

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