We caught up with Philadelphia native and GRAMMY winning songwriter, Scot Sax earlier today in preview of his debut documentary film release, Platinum Rush on July 28th at the New Hope Film Festival.
After decades as a successful songwriter for Warner Chappell, who penned Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s “Like We Never Loved At All” and as a musician fronting RCA Records’ Wanderlust, Sax set out on a mission to uncover what drives artists to write songs and to keep writing while making the necessary sacrifices long after the glitter of pop music and youth fades.
1. What’s your most favorite song you ever wrote and why?
I wrote a song called “Now I’m Dreamin'” when I lived at 7th and Christian St. around ’91. The song flew out of me in what felt like a magic trick. The words and music came to me at lightning speed and were recorded right then and there in the kitchen with my keyboard-drum machine thing. No one was there but me and No one to even play it for. I was so excited I ran down the stairs of the apartment building and knocked on doors to see if anyone was around. I never released it or recorded it professionally. It was such an amazing moment for me not just as a songwriter but as a human being that I wanted to leave it at that. One special moment in time.
2. How did you get into the industry?
Writing, gigging, rehearsing, recording, traveling, honing, phone calls and determination. Eventually this all lead to getting people to really take notice. It’s all a ladder, and I just kept climbing.
3. Have you ever done a job you hate but stuck with it because you knew it would get you to where you need to be? What was that job?
When my old band Wanderlust was in the beginning stages I worked at The Walnut St Theater from 5-9 a couple nights a week. It was a fun job; calling people and talking then into buy subscriptions to a series of shows. It was great training for getting managers and record labels and booking agents to “subscribe” to my music, our band. It also felt great to have some money in my pocket and the hours allowed me to do all the music stuff and playing out as well.
4. When you visit Philly, what’s your favorite spot and why?
No one place in particular. I just love walking down Walnut St, up Locust, couple side streets here and there. Just being there and seeing people do their thing. I used to walk around with my video camera from morning till night on those (and other) streets making little movies of my day.
5. Your upcoming debut LP w/ Suzie Brown coming out in September is titled “Our Album Doesn’t Like You Either”– is there a story behind that? What is it?
Seems like musicians have turned into beggars. Please like me, please help me, please come to my show, please-please-please. **ck that. I think that may be hurting the already ailing climate in the music business. Have we lost all pride? It’s like how in certain countries cats are considered royalty or something. I’d rather be a cat in that country than this one. And I don’t think that cat would care if you liked him or not! Ya know?
6. Platinum Rush debuts next week, how long have you been working on the film and how do you feel knowing that it’s about to debut?!
About 3 years in the making. I’m used to working on something that is 3 minutes long, so working on something almost 2 hours long was a whole different thing. I guess I feel proud and excited about people watching it in a theater. When one plays in clubs some people talk while you’re playing. I love that people are quiet in a theater and so my message of sorts will actually be received. Of course someone could always shout “fire” knowing my luck.
7. What was your favorite part about making Platinum Rush?
Not the editing! Man that’s real work right there. My favorite part was interviewing people and watching them really open up. Connecting with them was such a great thing for me. I’m not good in some social situations as I get overwhelmed easily. But one on one conversations with interesting people? Well, that was truly special and enjoyable for me.
8. What advice would you give someone trying to make it in the music industry today?
I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
Platinum Rush is about those 3 minutes and 35 seconds that so many songwriters out there live for. Die for. That one song that can change their life. Or so it seems. It’s about the unknowns at open mic night and the mega writers of Nashville. Unlike most documentaries, Platinum Rush is an insider’s look at its subject. Sax knows what questions to ask because he is one of them. Julie Gold who wrote the multi-million selling From a Distance has a few words of wisdom that only someone who went from being a secretary jotting down “from a distance” in her notebook over and over to a world-wide GRAMMY-winning songwriter with high expectations from the industry, followed by a 20 year lull. How does a mere mortal survive those peaks and valleys? Then there’s Brianna Cash who goes to open-mic every week not in search of fame or money per se but out of a sheer need. Sax spotted her outside of World Cafe Live and knew just what to ask: It’s cold and raining, why did you leave your house to come here tonight? Two weeks later Sax interviewed her at length and found out more than he ever imagined. Platinum Rush is not American Idol or The Voice in documentary form. It’s not a snapshot of singer’s lives. It’s a full-blown look at the kind of heartache that propels someone to live and die for the sake of a song and an audience that will listen. It’s a face-to-face confrontation with the other side of the coin: the money hungry, get-rich-quick performers too.
Scot Sax was born and raised in Philadelphia where he attended Plymouth Whitemarsh High School and recently taught songwriting at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. Sax’s songs have appeared on film and TV including placements in American Pie, Ghost Whisperer, NCIS, CSI: NY and Keeping up with the Kardashians. In 2014, Scot and his wife, fellow songwriter and Vanderbilt University cardiologist, Suzie Brown relocated to Nashville, TN. The couple tours as Scot Sax & Suzie Brown and will release their debut LP as a duo, Our Album Doesn’t Like You Either in September of 2015.