Interview: Cloudchord – “This Album Is A Garden, And Each Of The Songs Is A Different Plant”

Prior to the release of his latest album, Bloom Bap, Recordspin caught up with Austin-based multi-instrumental Derek VanScoten, better known as Cloudchord.

Cloudchord, the American musician and producer, has gained popularity for his unique blend of electronic, jazz, funk, and soul music. With a career spanning over a decade, Cloudchord has released several albums, EPs, and singles that showcase his signature sound. Bloom Bap is the latest installment, which was released on March 24, 2023, via Nettwerk.

Born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, VanScoten developed an interest in music at a young age. He started playing the guitar at the age of 11 and began producing music in his early 20s. His early music drew inspiration from a variety of genres, including bluegrass, folk, and indie rock.

However, it was his experimentation with electronic music that eventually led him to develop his signature style. Cloudchord’s music is characterized by intricate guitar work, live instrumentation, and soulful melodies that are often accompanied by electronic beats. Cloudchord’s music has been featured in various films, TV shows, and commercials.

Recordspin caught up with CloudChord via email to discuss his latest album, Bloom Bap, and what else lies ahead in 2023. Here’s what he had to say.

Hey Derek! Thanks for spending the time to answer some questions for us. First off, congrats on the new record; how are you feeling?

Pretty good because it’s springtime here in Austin! I can play guitar in my yard every morning!

You’ve collaborated with a number of different artists on your upcoming album, Bloom Bap. What was the process like working with so many different musicians?

I look for a sense of effortlessness in my collaborations. Everyone on this album gave that to me. I don’t really start collabs unless I think we’ll have a nice flow. I’d rather be playing my guitar than editing audio.

Bloom Bap feels like a blend of musical elements. You have “Disco Fizz” with its funky groove, “Music Is Medicine” with that downtempo classical guitar or your rendition of TLC’s “Waterfalls”. How do you approach incorporating these varying styles into your music, and what do you hope listeners take away from the experience?

To me this album is a garden, and each of the songs is a different plant. I like my gardens to have variety: leafy greens, root vegetables, and pretty flowers that attract the pollinators. I hope the listeners feel adequately nourished from these vibes and they are able to spread the energy, just like the pollinators do!

Listen to Cloudchord’s “Music Is Medicine” below

What would you say was the inspiration behind your latest album and how do you feel it differs from your previous work?

Most of my work is inspired by the simple complexity of nature. At first glance it may look, sound, and feel simple, but the longer you study it, the deeper it gets. That being said, this album very much represents springtime energy.

Are there any particular songs that you’re excited for people to hear for the first time?

“Music is Medicine” and “Keep on Movin”’ have had the most positive fan feedback so far. Which is funny because they are most polar opposite songs on the entire album! “Junior High Dance” has had a good buzz too, because it’s so different. It’s like if [J] Dilla went to the school dance in Back to the Future movie.

Watch Cloudchord & Big Gigantic’s “Keep on Movin'” video below

You’ve won an Emmy for your scoring work on the documentary In Football We Trust. How does your approach to scoring differ from your approach to creating your own music?

Scoring definitely informed my own music in a great way. It showed me how to write for particular situations outside of myself, and perhaps even remove my own musical inclinations. It can be good to come from a truly selfless place in music sometimes. 

With a show in Austin, Iceland, as well as an appearance at Sonic Bloom 2023, what can people expect from a Cloudchord live show?

My guitar is the center voice of the show. A lot of my softer stuff gets reworked into a higher vibration so that it can command a big room energy. A lot of my peers in the lofi and chillhop realm don’t really gig. I wanna show the world that you can bring beautiful, deep, melodic music to a dance floor.

Aside from those confirmed dates, what’s next in store for you in 2023? New music, more touring? 

Always more music on the horizon! I’m starting to stream on Twitch a lot this Spring. This will help me connect with so many more folks about all the things I do: guitar, studio production, and education.

To close, what song/EP/album have you been playing on repeat recently? 

In the guitar world, I’ve been listening to a lot of Hermanos Guitierrez and Ali Farke Toure. In the beat maker world, I’m always curious about people like Kenny Beats, all my lofi friends, and even people like San Halo and Skrillex

Bloom Bap by Cloudchord was released on March 24th, 2023, via Nettwerk. For more information, visit his website here.

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