Faces of Fairview #2: Jay Stott
Jay Stott started playing guitar when he was 13, and now, many years later, he is working on his second record.
“I was kind of your average, campfire guitar player for a very long time,” Stott said. “I didn’t really think of myself as a songwriter.”
Before he considered himself as a songwriter, Stott was a journalist, a poet, and wrote manuscripts for several novels. He was a writer before he was a songwriter.
“I always wanted to write songs, and really I just didn’t know how to be bad at stuff, which you need to know how to do to get good at stuff,” Stott said.
Gradually, this mindset began to change in his mid thirties and he learned to accept bad rough drafts.
“That was a switch that turned for me, and all of a sudden I could see how to do the work and I was writing and enjoying the process of writing songs,” Stott said.
Stott lives in the small town of Lyons, which has influenced his music career.
“One of the reasons [Lyons is] really cool is it has an amazing music scene,” Stott said. “So all of a sudden, I was hanging around people who really do do this for a living.”
Stott did not begin as solo artist. He only began playing solo five years ago, and before that he played for bands.
Stott plays in local venues in places such as Longmont, Boulder, and Lyons.
“I was getting enough response for the stuff I was making that it kept me going,” he said.
Stott left a band about four years ago and began to experiment with home-recording.
Stott put a group of people together, including his friend who is a musician, producer, and composer, and together they made the first record.
According to Stott, songwriting is a good activity for somebody who has ADD, or attention deficit disorder.
“You don’t need a lot of attention span to write a song, and it’s easy to let go of,” he said. “It's also a venue for bringing everything I’ve learned as a journalist and a fiction writer about storytelling into this super compressed format.”
Stott also enjoys the performing aspect of music.
“There’s a piece of me that that part really speaks to,” he said.
According to Stott, his new record will have ten songs, and the inspiration behind these songs varies.
“A couple songs are about disastrous stupid things I did when I was really young, there are some songs I think probably come from my more grown-up experience as a person in the world and being married,” Stott said.
One song on the record is inspired by politics, and despite the fact that it was written six years ago, Stott believes that it is fitting in today’s political climate.
To write songs, Stott said that many times he begins with lines or rhymes that he likes the sound of.
“Part of the fun of songwriting is wordplay, and making lines work out, like it has the same kick as poetry,” Stott said. “It becomes like a puzzle, trying to make the pieces fit and work.”
According to Stott, the fact that the song “[has to] sing” is like “a whole other piece of the puzzle.”
“You’ve gotta be able to get it our of your mouth while playing guitar in front of a whole bunch of people and not sound like a total idiot,” he said.
Stott said that one of the major lessons he has learned in the process of making his record is patience.
“I’m the final arbiter of whether we’re done or not, and it's really easy to get all anxious and go, ‘I just want to be done!’ But then you end up with something you don’t like,” he said.
The first record took Stott approximately two and a half years, from the very beginning of the process all the way to the end.
Stott has to pay to make his records, and this also adds to the time it takes to complete it.
“Just don’t quit, that’s like the number one thing I’ve learned. Don’t stop,” Stott said.
“I don’t have some ginormous fan base that’s dying to buy records, but I have some people who like my music, and people buy the CD, and people stream it on spotify,” Stott said. “And so there is just enough validation that I’m doing something that there’s an audience for out there.”
Stott’s first record was mainly country.
“I think of myself in some ways as a very traditional country writer, as a songwriter, not in the Top 40 Pop Country kind of way, but maybe the music I grew up with kind of way,” Stott said. “I grew up listening to 70s and 80s country music, before it was really poppy.”
However, Stott is hoping that his new record will not be as country-sounding as his previous record.
“We’re going to do something a little more fun, a little more rowdy, a little bit more emphasis on the Rock’n’roll in this album,” he said.
The process of making a record has taught Stott many lessons about the technical process, his strengths and weaknesses, and about being a musician.
“I’ve learned so much about being a musician. [...] It is kind of cool to be the captain of the boat, I’m kind of sailing the ship,” he said.
According to Stott, it would be a "great luxury" if he had the money to make his music career a full-time commitment, yet it isn't a necessity.
"I don't need it to keep doing something that feels meanigful and cool to me," Stott said.
“The thing I say over and over again: if it’s calling you, just don't quit,” Stott said. “Just keep plugging away at it. And about 99% of life is just showing up everyday and being willing to slog away at the work.”