In Conversation: The Present Moment

When you think of L.A., what are some things that come to mind? Sunshine? Beverly Hills? The beach? Hollywood? The Walk of Fame? Let's forget them all, for now, as i would like to focus your attention in a different direction. The Present Moment are a bit of a hidden gem but very much loved by those in the know. That said, i've chosen to shine some very well deserved light their way. Comprised of main man and songwriter, Milton Scott, who crafts an infectious blend of melodic, dark, atmospheric, electronic goodness. And may i add shimmering abstract undertones in some places. Well, that's what i get out of it. I urge you to give them a listen and i'm sure you would highly agree.

Scott is a very busy man as he's in the process of finishing up a soon to be released LP. This will actually be his third and the follow up to 2010's "The High Road" and 2011's masterpiece, "Loyal To A Fault". Back in September, he reissued the debut album with the addition of four bonus tracks, two music videos, and some utterly flawless repackaging. Limited to 150 hand numbered pressings, you'll be very lucky and oh so happy to find a copy. Doing the reissue honors was German label, Hidden Treasure Music, who also played the role of booking agent, along with Antistars Booking, for last years very successful European tour. You can check out several tracks and purchase a digital download copy at Hidden Treasure Music @ Bandcamp if you're so inclined.

Being that he had a few days off, Scott agreed to answer some questions i threw his way. I was genuinely interested in finding out more than what i've shared with you. Let's see what he has to say, shall we?

1) Let's start off with talking about the band origins and your initial vision, in aspects of direction and accomplishments:

Like most things in life, it was an idea planted in my head for quite awhile before the situation presented itself to actually embarking on doing a solo project after being in a band structure for so many years. Most people don't know that my first love was drums. I played for years and was always a songwriter. Mainly, I would create synthethic drum and synth sequencer based electronic music for the band I was doing and then sit behind the drums for the live performances.That band was Catalog, with a partner I had been working with since the late 80's in many different projects. Here is a link to one of the videos we did for a documentary called "Synthnation" by Danny Luci, featuring many of the pioneers of synth based music. We did the title track for the film and here is the video:
After that, things started to dissolve, mainly for economic reasons, lack of motivation across the board for everyone, and being burnt out on the entire LA scene. We were all going thru a rough time, were doing our best for over eight years to make a mark in LA, and get the record deal and all that. We got promised a lot of different things that never materialized. So I just decided, at that point, to start working on my solo music at home and see what would happen with Catalog down the road. So my first attempt, being that I had never sang on a album or fronted a band for that matter, was to do a cover of The Cars song "Candy-O" and see if I felt that I could pull it off. That actually got picked up by a local music magazine, gave me that push I needed, a vote of confidence to move forward, and continue to create original material. So I started to write songs for what ended up becoming "The High Road". That motivation came from my interest in the Houston based label DISARO, which had became quite a well known underground and slightly notorious label. They were responsible for the first Salem, Passions, and //TENSE// releases at the time. Many of which were all very exciting bands to me personally, not only musically but also from a art aestethic and the use of occult symbolism, magic etc. It was a new definition of dark electronic music that felt new and interesting to me. So naturally I was thrilled to have a homebase label to work and release with, so I dived in deep and made and produced that record here at my place in Echo Park/LA. The album was well recieved due to the strength and varied nature of that record, but also in part to hype that was happening with what people were calling witch house. I continued working, while putting a live band together for shows, and continued working straight thru without a break. During that time, I created the follow up 2nd TPM album called "Loyal To A Fault". So essentially 2 albums in 2years =2010-2011. We had gained the interest of Desire Records, in France, which is a great label, lots of fantastic bands releasing quality music, They released the first album on vinyl picture disc and then Mannequin Records (minimal synth italian label ), also another wonderful label, paired up with Desire to release the second album "Loyal To A Fault" in Sept. of 2011.
So I was just very lucky in many respects, and once the oppurtunity that I had worked and waited a lifetime for finally presented itself, I ran with it, and basically that became my world for 2 years, and still basically is the one I choose to live and create in today.
2) Being that you are the main songwriter, what influences you in this process?
 I'm not sure as it's all very second nature to me. When I was able to get up every morning and throw on a drum machine and get a synth sound pulled up. I can write things very easily. It's just a matter of whether it's good enough to be heard. I have a very specific way of doing things. I wanted to make very simple, effective, singer-songwriter material without it being overkilled by overplaying and adding too much onto the tracks.The whole idea of less is more was very crucial to that way of approaching a song, It was minimal in its purest sense. Having been in a band for so long, having so many cooks in the kitchen adding more and more tracks, over complicating things, and trying to be over creative has it's drawbacks. I wanted nothing to do with that at all, so the music made was to fall into, very om-esque-with simple synth overdubs, simple beats, and a strong vocal. Thats all I set out for. I wasn't trying to wow listensters with my chops and how musically complex I could make something. I just kept things more fluid and something that I felt sounded cool, haunting, and had a good hook and that's basically it, that was the motivation.
3) Who were your early influences? Those who had a huge part in driving you to becoming a musician.
If I go way back and dig deeply, first it was what my mom listened to, which was Chic, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and a lot of old school classic soul music. Then I discovered bands like Adam and the Ants, Berlin, Devo, The Human League,  The Sisters Of Mercy, Bauhaus, Joy Division,  The Sex Pistols, The Cure, Ministry, Depeche Mode, Echo and the Bunnymen, and so on. We just dived into all of that great music as kids. They were our heroes and all the punk bands like Crass, The Clash, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys etc. They had a profound influence on me both politically/social politics, and the injustice and hypocrisy of the world. I lived in a very conservative small New Hampshire town back in the 80's. You had to travel out of state to get that music on vinyl, CD, or cassette, If it wasn't for college radio we would have been completely oblivious to good music. We had one record store in our town, for a brief period of time, and it was all classic rock music. I think the only cool record I bought there was Pink Floyd's "Meddle". I loved that album at  the time especially the b-side, "Echoes".
4) Your second album, "Loyal To A Fault" , rightfully made its way onto quite a number of "Best Albums of 2011" lists. Your collaborator, for this particular project, being Philipp Munch ( Synapscape / The Rorschach Garden). How did this partnership come about? How was the recording process and did the end results turnout as you had hoped?
I met Phil on Myspace. I do remember I had hit him up after hearing his music and asked if he wanted to collaborate on a track because I was very specific about creating a minimal synth project. He agreed to work on a track with me and that first song we collaborated on together was "The High Road", which is my favorite song I think I've ever done. It truly captured the essence of what I wanted TPM to sound like at that time. He also did work on the more industrial track, "The Damage is Loved", from the first album, Additionally, he mastered the record for me in Germany where he lives. After that album was completed, I had approached him about doing an entire new album together with him producing. He's such a brilliant musician and producer, so giving of his time, and so easy to work with, he agreed. So I sent him probably 20+ demos for the "Loyal To A Fault" sessions, we narrowed it down to 10, and then he almost couldn't do the record due to a lot of factors. That was a bit devasting to me, at the time, as it's a lot to ask of anyone to make that kind of commitment. Making an album is a lot of work and psychically uplifting as well as draining. So naturally I was feeling pretty down about that. I then wrote the song "New Day". He fell in love with that track and decided to come back on board and we spent, I think, about 4+ months working on that record going back and forth via emails. A very strange way to make a record but it worked. The end results, we were both very pleased with. He is truly a great guy, gifted, and a generous soul. I was very blessed to have had that working relationship/union with him. Hopefully, we'll someday create something beautiful again.Time will tell.
5) You've done more than your fair share of playing the live circuit. Sharing the stage with pioneers such as Iron Curtain and The Legendary Pink Dots to newer acts like Light Asylum and Soft Metals. In doing so, you've had the opportunity to perform on US and European soil. How has this experience been overall? Which audiences do think received you best?
I've had a great time performing, shared the stage with some really wonderful people who made the live performances possible and more proper, as a band, rather than me just standing there, alone, with a laptop and a synth doing vocals. There was Isul Kim on bass and Gary Snider on drums. I've had Dre Robinson, from the Skinny Puppy days, help me out with a show, and people on the mixing boards like Jeff Swearagin. My buddy, Simon from Lab XIV, who risked everything, life and limb, to go over and take the jump with me for the EU tour which was crazy. All involved, doing this for the love of music. I mean we were doing things for very little money or no money at all and you know they worked their asses off to make that happen. I'm always very humbled by that and that they believed in what I was doing. I've been very lucky to have shared the stage with some really amazing bands. EU was fantastic and a great response from people over there. They made me feel so appreciated, as a artist, by the outpouring of emotion given to me from them. Especially, because I know what it's like to be that kid, when someone wrote a song, and for one reason or another it changed your life, or got you from not taking your own. I had a few unexpected experiences like that over there. For the first time, I felt like what I was doing was worthwhile. It had made a diference in someones life! It was a very intense situation and i was very moved by that. It inspired me and relit the fire. That for me was really needed at that paticular time in my life.
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6) We'd love to know what you have in store with the new album. What are you willing to share with us?
Well, my intent for The Present Moment, as a project, and from the very beginning, was to always attempt to make each album very unique and different sounding from the last one. So that being said, it is something I feel will surprise people by where we are going musically with this record. Sonically it has a much different feel then "Loyal To A Fault". It's more organic, more ethereal aspects, and more punk, in approach on some tracks. We've gotten very experimental on the b-side of this record which is where I'm getting very excited about the outcome. We're very close to being done. It was initially going to be a EP, but I was swayed and convinced by my producer, Ross Totino ( Beautiful Skin / Fans of Collision), that we actually had a albums worth of material, and that we should consider moving forward with making that a reality. I agreed, so I'm very much looking forward to turning the page and offering this new album for everyone. I hope that they love it as much as we do.
7) What are your plans post album release? Any special promotional activities? I'm thinking and hoping maybe a show or two on the east coast?
Our first TPM show was in Brooklyn. I've had a lot of interest in getting the band to play there again. It's really about how to get us there. It always comes down to the financial reality of making that happen. If and when that happens, I would be looking to do at least 2 shows in NYC, Providence, Boston and perhaps Portland. It's something that will happen but someone has to be willing to get us there.
8) What drives you as a person and through everyday life?
 Smokes.....haha....I dont know, man these are tough times. I just take it day by day. I would just have to say music. Music is everything to me, it's my life force, and i'd wither and die without it.
9) Can you give me one word that would best describe Milton Scott?

In closing, i'd like to thank Milton for his time. The following is a track from the upcoming album and it's called "General Relief". The official video is still in the making but we'll be sure to post it, here, once it's forwarded our way.
And just because i'm so nice (ask anyone who knows me), i'm including an additional video. This comes from the "Loyal To A Fault" album and it's the official video for "The Start.