It would be unfair to label Brooklyn-based artist Lawrence Scaduto under the moniker Shopping–at least, unfair to label him under that name alone, since he also has over a decade of albums released with his other project: Fourth Grade Gladiators.
In fact, the sheer volume Scaduto’s music will likely make you feel very, very lazy; and then you’ll learn about how he also hand-makes guitar pedals and you’ll start to question what exactly you’re doing with your life. At least, that’s what happened to us.
Clearly, creativity runs in Scaduto’s blood. His instinct for experimentation manifests itself in complex, tantalizingly diverse explorations of texture and sound. For a taste, consider his track “Me X You.” Larwence tells BTR before writing it he asked himself “what’s the most narcissistic thing I could do in a song,” and decided it would be “to sing the word ‘Me’ like 3000 times,” so he did. That eventually became the high pitched voice in the track’s background.
Intrigued? We were too, so BTR caught up with Scaduto to chat about his writing process and how he got into pedal making.
Note that, though at the time of this article Scaduto is a new father to a human child, he tells us the photo running with this feature is of his “firstborn child, Ladybear,” and “will function as my press image and evidence if I’m ever found dead with a half chewed face and a couch covered in a truly disgusting amount of cat hair.”
BreakThru Radio (BTR): Tell me about your background as a musician?
Lawrence Scaduto (LS): I’ve been in a bunch of bands, but I’ve always been recording on my own, since pre-9/11. I’ve been playing music and recording at home, and then I started making guitar pedals about eight years ago under the name Ohnoho.
BTR: I did see on your website that you make pedals, that’s so cool! How did you get into that?
LS: Well, I’m super cheap, and I also love gear, and buying, selling, and getting new equipment. I found this guitar pedal in a store and was like, well, that’s really nice–but for 50 bucks I can buy a kit and make my own–and why not? I’ll learn how to solder! So I did that and I loved it, and made a couple pedals for my friends, and then a couple extra and put them on Craigslist, and then some guitar pedal forum was like ‘oh there’s this new guitar builder in Brooklyn and he doesn’t even have a name yet and I just bought this rare pedal!’ And then all of a sudden, the producer dude form TV on the Radio bought one of the pedals too, and then it was a thing! I bought a domain name and have a business. It was like crazy how quick that came.
BTR: You just released an album, “Practice,” under the name Fourth Grade Gladiators, and you posted on Facebook that you had like 40 songs for it. That’s…a lot…
LS: I think I actually said I have around 5,000 for it–but, yeah! For my last record, which I think I put out in June under Shopping, I had written probably around 60 songs in all, and then these are the first 20 songs that I thought were good enough to be finished. But I didn’t feel right about putting them out under the Shopping name, and plus I didn’t want to go through the whole process of making videos for each one, which is what I do for Shopping. I just wanted to be done and move on and write more songs, so I put it up under a different name.
BTR: I’m picturing you at home constantly writing songs and not really eating or breathing or sleeping, am I off on that or is it accurate?
LS: [laughs] Every day, for a couple of hours a day, I write and record. But I do eat, I do sleep, I do breath, I do rub my cat, and I run another business from home. But yes, every day I do create, and I feel super blessed to be in that position and try and appreciate it as much as I can.
BTR: So you released this last album under a different name because of the music video aspect, but do you also consider these songs stylistically different from Shopping?
LS: No, I mean…it’s me, but it does sound differently in that I’m fucking around with different sound catches than I would for Shopping, which tend to be a little but more straight up rock music, with all the history that comes with that, whereas I tend to play more with the songs I just released.
Mostly I released it under Fourth Grade Gladiators because this things happens to me where I start a project and get wrapped up and create rules for myself, but then those rules just feel so restricting, and super depressing, because I feel like I can’t live up to them…and then I’ll come up with a whole new name and release something as a clean slate.
BTR: Could you expand on your writing process?
LS: I’m kind of ADD in a sense–it’s hard for me to stay focused, so I’ll be working and then be struck by an idea and pick up a guitar, or go sit in front of the drum set and just kind of play, just to get the energy out, and then suddenly I’ll be like ‘oh, that’s pretty good let me see if I can develop that.’ And I always have microphones set up, I always have my audio recording software open, so I can instantly go and record if something good comes out. Usually I’ll start playing a riff and then some other idea will come in for vocals or another part, and I just hit record for ten or fifteen minutes. Then from there, if it’s good enough, I’ll start to chop it around or see that there could be a song there, take it and massage it, re-record it, and turn it into a full song or a jam. Jams are what the second half of the new record is; the sort of jams that didn’t turn into songs but are instrumental explorations.
BTR: Would you say that you have any major influences?
LS: Probably…I mean, lately I’ve been really trying to understand the mechanics of pop music, and I started going back and listening to what is probably the most important band in my life: Nirvana. I really don’t know anything about music theory and I want to learn more, so I’ve been Googling like crazy for the past six months to see what smart people say about Nirvana so I can maybe understand and pull out some of those concepts. So I would say they’re a big influence. But I also listen to tons of new stuff, like I’ve been listening to a ton of the rapper Future lately, and I’ve been trying to figure out if I could do, like, that trap sound with guitars. I absolutely love the dystopian, nihilistic, gothic, black and white world view, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to bring that to my love of guitar.
BTR: Any future plans?
LS: Now I want to get back to the other forty or so songs that I’ve been meaning to finish, and there’s always stuff coming out, this is my third album of the year. And I [just had] my first kid, so everyone says my creative drive will go down, but we’ll see!