Born in Kawakawa and Northland-raised, indie singer-songwriter Scott Cleary made his start in music as a member of the super-successful 2010-ish power pop group Kingston. These days he calls LA home and musically is going it alone with a low-pressure project curiously called And That. His new single Sailing Again featured as part of NZ On Air Music’s NewTracks compilation this June.
Scott Cleary. I was born in Kawakawa and grew up in Paihia, Whangarei, Omaha and Auckland. I’m a guitarist.
I took some guitar lessons in my early teens, but it never really stuck.
I was getting together with my good friend and artist Zac Farro [Ex-Paramore] to work on some of his music and he asked me to send through any ideas we may be able to work off. I sent him five finished songs I’d been chipping away at and he was like, “Let’s just do these! It can be your thing and I’ll produce it.” We got in the studio that week and And That was born. It was my first go at my own thing. Zac produced the first EP and I Am The Mirror – he also played a lot on both releases.
I think back then (Kingston), we were just trying to write pop songs. Trying to crack something that would shoot us to the top or get us noticed in the US or something. It was super fun and I wouldn’t change it. But now, writing music is just about having an outlet. I want to keep it as simple and enjoyable as possible. Basically, “…there’s this thing I like doing and when I have the time I’m gonna do it. And I’m gonna do it for me.” I have a busy life – I have a job and a family, so And That is a creative space for me to do the band thing on my own terms.
It’s based off the slang term that Kiwis throw on the end of sentences. A way to say all the things that accompany something, without having to say them. Like, if some asks what you’ve been up to, you could say, “Oh, you know, work and that.” Meaning you’ve been working, and all the things that go along with work. Zac Farro and I used to joke around about it and it just made sense to name the project after it.
I think getting a band together and playing live has been amazing! Once I get through my nerves in the first few songs – that home stretch is just so much fun! The last show I played was at the Moroccan Lounge in Downtown LA and we finished with Count Your Blessings (12345) – the crowd and band was full of energy and it was just a magical moment!
It’s one of the more poppier songs on the album and I think it represents that side of And That well. It’s catchy with an easy-going and summery vibe. What more would you want in a single!?
Sailing Again is about drinking and the art of knowing when to stop – or – “bring your sails in.” I didn’t want to write a song about drinking – I somehow got started along this nautical route and the song just found its way there. No matter how much I tried to pivot, all these sailing themes and the way they tied in with a night out on the town was hard to get away from!
I think the lyric, ‘I feel a second wind, let’s go sailing again’ has to be one of my favourite parts. It just ties in really well to the theme and kicks off the second verse with such a natural ease.
I wrote it at home just hanging about and we recorded it at Zac’s Congrats Records studio in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles. Once it was clear I wasn’t getting away from the nautical themes in the song I couldn’t stop thinking about Six Months In A Leaky Boat by Split Enz – and perhaps that’s what gives the song its Kiwi essence. For whatever reason Sailing Again to me, sounds like ‘Kiwi music’ – whatever that means!
I just want them to enjoy it. I want them to feel good when they hear it. In terms of it being a song about drinking, I really wanted it to exist on the lighter side of the discussion, where things are still fun and no one is hurting themselves or others. I don’t want to glamourise drinking or alcohol abuse or anything.
I think I pick a few potential candidates and just go from there. Bounce them off friends, live with the songs for a while. It could even be tied to me having a good video concept. The singles I choose are usually the songs I want the world to hear the most.
Zac Farro is my producer, but also founded my label Congrats Records. Our good friends Mark Mercado and Gavin McDonald are also on the Congrats team. Paula [Yeoman] and Nicole [Thomas] from Nicnak Media are running publicity for this release too which has been awesome.
Not at the moment.
Sailing Again was a ‘third time’s the charm’ kind of situation. Before that, I’d applied with both I Am The Mirror and Another and was unsuccessful. My advice would be to reach out to NZ On Air and aim to get a handle on what was missing in your application.
Being a new band that’s based overseas can make it really hard to get started with NZOA funding – and rightly so – but you have very little track record with radio and some of the recognised criteria. Being based in LA they really wanted me to connect my project more with New Zealand, which makes a lot of sense. I chose to use as much homegrown talent as possible when looking to PR and video – I think this helped my chances and was a win win as I got to reconnect with the NZ music industry.
Thanks for having me! I hope you enjoyed/are enjoying the record!