Those of us familiar with SXSW Music Festival
(South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas) know how pivotal it can be to a band’s career. The unknown can go from a no-name to the next big thing, the poor band can get signed and finally have money to support their hobby, every band can prove to the world that they have what it takes. For some, even a few bands, they simply don’t know how big SXSW really is. That is how it was for Office when they were asked to come play at this year’s festival.
Office’s beginnings stems from, oddly enough, the creation of sculptures made of office supplies. Scott Masson (songwriter, producer, guitar, piano, and lead vocals) was in art school, living in London, and filling galleries with papers and cell phone sculptures and calling them “Office Sculpture 1” or “Office Sculpture 2.” In fact, the office theme was coming out in everything Scott Masson did, including an album he recorded upon his return to the US after living abroad. Yes, he did call it Office. Then, in Chicago, he met Alissa Noonan (bass guitar), Erica Corniel (drums and vocals), and Tom Smith (guitar and vocals) and now they collectively call themselves Office.
I had the chance to speak with Scott Masson about Office. And other than admitting they are a little nervous about playing SXSW because they didn’t realize just how important it was when they agreed to play, Scott had a few other things to share.
For those unfamiliar with Office, what do you want them to know?
Just that we are trying to spend a lot of time on our songs. Sure it is pop, but pop music is not necessarily easy to write. We work hard. Our goal right now is to get on a label that will allow this to be our day job. Then we can work even harder on our music. We are normal people, we read a lot, and have a good time. We aren’t in it for the parties. We are interested in making music and that is why we do what we do.
Where do you get your inspiration?
That’s a hard question to answer. I don’t know if it is social commentary or not. I normally don’t think about what a song means until I’ve written it and recorded it. Several months later, I might think “Oh, that’s what that song means.” But I am inspired by classic song themes like love, and politics, pop culture and sarcasm.
When you write a song, do you sit down to write it or does it pop up randomly?
It creeps up like a bad headache out of nowhere. I could be at a party and start to feel uncomfortable so I leave and go home. I want to be alone. Then I pick up a guitar and it hits me that I should write a song about the Olsen Twins or something.
What are some of the biggest difficulties you have come across? On the upside, what are some of the biggest perks you have found?
Well, the industry is set up for bands with a lot of money. They don’t hunt you down anymore; you have to go to them. It is a lot of money, especially since I am paying for most of it. It’s a lot of mailing. But it is paying off because people are liking our music. We’re getting interviewed. We even have a few dinners with labels during SXSW.
Maybe you’ll be able to find that label that let’s music be your day job.
Yeah, you have to have money for that to happen. So who knows.
What was your first album purchase?
This is going to be embarrassing. It was DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. I think I bought it because everyone else was too. But the first one I really wanted to buy for me was St. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in fourth grade. And I was never the same. Probably a little too psychedelic for the fourth grade.
What are some of your guilty pleasures?
I really like goat cheese and try to put it on everything. Elvis, I like Elvis. I don’t really feel guilty about anything, I just go and do.
What are some bands you’re listening to right now?
Destroyer and Broadcast. A lot of older music like Johnny Cash and Motown like Smokey Robinson. Actually, a lot of Motown. Some weird new music. And my friends’ music. I have some friends that make good music.
Well it has been a pleasure speaking with you. Good luck at SXSW and don’t be too nervous
Thanks. We’ll be fine, we’ve been rehearsing a lot.