SCENARIOT - Q&A
With composer & guitarist Michael Totta
How did you become involved in the world of music?
When growing up I was exposed to a whole range of music thanks to my older brothers. The moment of inspiration and curiosity started in my early teens when my older brother brought home a flying V electric guitar. This prompted the beginnings of a lifelong love affair with music. My circle of friends at school were also avid musicians and together we formed our first band. I was writing and performing music for various bands over the years before deciding the time was right to create the scenariot album. Getting to this point has been a journey but it would not have been possible without the other members in the band helping to bring this album to life.
Who are your inspirations and what was the motivation behind the album and the songs?
I listen to and appreciate a wide range of music however I’m particularly interest in progressive rock as there are no boundaries or limitations as there are with some other forms of music. However I do like to incorporate commercial elements to my music. Some of the bands I like and are pink floyd, rush, simon wilson, the tea party, and tool. The inspiration behind the album and songs was motivated by the album concept which deals with the struggles of an obsessed writer. All the songs on the album are related to this key theme and each song tells a story about several interconnected characters in the writer’s mind.
What are your interests besides music?
My interests outside of music are travelling and exploring new places and cultures around the world, spending time with my family and friends, watching movies and reading all sorts of books. I often take inspiration from things I take in around me in my normal life and this tends to find it's way into my music too. Whether it's lyrics or a particular sound I'd like a song to have it all ends up in there in way one or another. I also have two young kids who keep me inspired and on my toes. During the week I work in finance, then when the sun goes down music balances me and provides an artistic escape.
Could you tell us about the band and what makes you different from other artists?
One of the most unique aspects of the music is that even though it is progressive rock it is very accessible to most listeners across the rock and commercial music genres. This is not only due to the versatility and talent of the other members playing on my album but also a passion of mine to combine catchy melodies and instrumental parts to progressive rock music. The members in the band and I have come together from diverse musical backgrounds to collaborate on this album.
Tell us about the self-titled first album Scenariot?
The album is a concept album exploring the struggles of an obsessed writer who finds himself trapped between normality and fantasy when he begins to live his life through the characters in his book. The characters: a scientist, lawyer, hit man and time traveller are all strangely connected in the writer's mind, and all exist due to a tragic loss of a loved one which causes him to spiral out of control. I set out to achieve an original and more commercially accessible progressive rock style, blending all my influences together in this record.
What was the highlight of making the album?
Each track represents its own unique highlight and story within the major theme of the album. The opening tracks of the album encapsulate the concept and flavour of the album and were therefore released as singles prior to the full album release. The track ’The Writer’, which is also the unofficial album title, is written from the central character's perspective as he transitions between the written page and his sense of reality. Also, the slower tracks "A Future Moment" and "The Pieces Fall" balance the album and display some of the more darker and emotional elements of the album.
How are the live shows so far?
Up to the present time Scenariot has been strictly a studio band, however I am planning to bring our music to the stage in the coming year. We feel that live shows are very important as an artist as you get to display all your hard work and connect with your audience. The goal for us is to gain more exposure, build a fan base and continue to release music we are passionate about. It's been interesting to experiment in the studio without rules to give the music the right of way. The difficulty now will be translating that to the live performance but we are up for the challenge. It's exciting.
Where was it recorded who produced it?
The album was recorded by our vocalist/engineer Dan Swan and produced by Dan and myself in Melbourne, Australia. During the recording process we used one main studio for all recordings, re-amping and experimenting with sounds and another for all the mixing. The process took around 18 months from the time the first riff was written until the mastering was completed. Also, we allowed the tracks to naturally evolve as different instrument parts and sounds were layered which kept things dynamic and interesting. Dan worked around the music I laid out for him with an interesting approach in that he would sing melodies over sections before any lyrics were written. This really allowed me to get a sense of what he was hearing for the parts and helped me fit words into those melodies. It felt like a really organic process working together that way.
What's next for Scenariot?
Currently, I have started writing new material for a follow up release in the background while we plan some live performances in the immediate future. The aim is to release something new in 2018. We are also working on a live acoustic video of one of our existing tracks so there's a lot to think and get excited about. My personal goal is to keep producing music that I love in the progressive rock genre which has no rules or limitations. We look forward to challenging ourselves on the next record and taking the Scenariot sound somewhere else. That might be an experimental place or a more traditional place but wherever we land the most important thing is that we have served the song and given it every chance to evolve naturally.