Jazz In The Bubble
By Maddy Belton
With Christmas Ball on the horizon and Halloween just over, I thought we’d lull you into the festive season by talking about Jazz. As a beautiful kind of music, Jazz, is somewhere between an OG and a hipster, it soothes those winter blues just like country music makes you want to put on sunscreen; it's mellow, its fun and it only gets better. A while back now I asked Megan Scott to make us a playlist, and boy did she ever. A beautiful mix of old and new this playlist really will wake you up to what jazz is, can do, and still does. We had a chat to, of course, in which, I got to know one of St. Andrews’s Jazz singers and the president of Jazz society.
An interview with Megan Scott:
ST.ART: How did you get into Jazz at St Andrews?
MS: I’d always dreamt of signing with a jazz band, and so, when I was coming to uni I did my research and made sure it had a one! When I turned up in September, I made my way to the jazz jam, which we still have every week, and started to get involved.
ST.ART: Did you find it a good place to meet people?
MS: Jazz Soc was, and still is for the most part, a very small society, and, as a result, we tend to be a close group of people, so yeah by the nature of it, you do make some really good friends.
ST.ART: Do you have events coming up?
MS: Yeah! This semester we have Christmas ball, which is one of our biggest events, and it's so exciting to be at and be part of.
ST.ART: How do you decide who does what at the events?
MS: Well, when we know its coming up we will send an email out explaining that that week’s jazz jam is going to be a sort of ‘audition’; then they come and sing their songs, and if it all goes well (and the band manager agrees), we will then start rehearsal.
ST.ART: If you could pick one jazz song to sing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
MS: Oh that’s hard! I will say it changes all the time, but at the moment, I would have to go with Moonglow by Doris Day, but I might change my mind later.
ST.ART: What would you say to someone who wants to be a part of the jazz scene here in St Andrews?
MS: Come to the jazz jam, that's the best place to start. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere, you can have drink, watch us sing, and play, and you don’t even have to get up if you don’t want to. We try and make it as approachable as possible.
ST.ART: Do you think jazz is a music that’s accessible to everyone, or associated with a particular generation or type of person?
MS: I think it does seem to be associated with a more niche group, but at the same time, I’ve spoken to so many people here who are like ‘oh I love jazz! I didn’t know it was here’. It has this stigma of being exclusive and intimidating, but it really doesn’t have to be at all.
ST.ART: Do you play any other instruments or have singing grades? And do you think these are important?
MS: I used to play a lot of different instruments when I was a kid, less so now. Aside from a little training with my GCSE music teacher, I didn’t really have formal lessons until I started here. But when I arrived in St Andrews, I took a year of signing lessons, and it really helped. My signing teacher here has helped me access a sound that I really didn’t know I had. I think that the thing about jazz is, it is very technical but it is also so much about improvisation and musicality; it is about what you hear and how you respond to it, so formal training isn’t everything. You have to have someone to be honest with you and a safe place to experiment with what you’re trying to do, you have to be able to know and feel the song you’re signing.
ST.ART: Is this something you want to do as a career?
MS: I think a lot of people, because it’s a big part of my life here, expect me to say yes, but I don’t know. I need jazz as a part of my life, as it is something that makes me happy, but I don’t know if I would do it as a career. I think for me, the thought of touring or being told what to sing puts me off having a career in jazz, when actually, it is some something more relaxing in my life.
ST.ART: What was the first song you performed here in St Andrews?
MS: Oh gosh… I have to think...well, I wanted it to be a safe one, but actually I’m pretty sure it was Girl from Ipanema, which I wouldn’t say is safe at all! It is actually a song that I often get singers to try when they come to jazz auditions now, because its good for seeing if you can actually hear the music. The way it jumps and skips is a good example of how jazz moves, it has a musicality of its own, and that is something a jazz singer should be comfortable with.
ST.ART: Were you nervous when you first performed?
MS: Absolutely! I think I messed it up even, and the venue, back then, was Golf Place, which was tiny. However, I kept going back and trying again; that’s what you’ve got to do.
ST.ART: Have you ever been to a jazz bar?
MS: You know, I actually haven’t really, definitely not round here. I went on a date once to a jazz bar in Manchester, and it was great, with red walls and cheap drinks, but the level of jazz was amazing. We’re currently trying to work out the logistics of a trip to an Edinburgh jazz bar at the moment, so hopefully soon!
If Megan and I have managed to wet your appetite, then please tune into her ST.ART playlist, or come along on Thursday's jazz jam!