Comedian, singer and actress Scout Durwood has been making audiences laugh since she first appeared on MTV’s Mary + Jane and Oxygen’s Funny Girls, now she releases her unique, hybrid comedy-pop album Take One Thing Off, on Blue Élan Records. Documenting her time spent in NYC's burlesque circuit to her move and current home in L.A., Scout's album is ultimately a celebration of being a little different, “I think I’m still that girl in a tiara who doesn’t know it’s weird,” Durwood says. AHC talked with Scout about the new album, embracing the weird and quirky and what drives the heart of her comedy.
AHC: Your comedic repertoire has covered a whole range of different approaches through out the years, feminist story-performance pieces, spoken word, burlesque, stand-up, acting and music, which angle do you favor the most as a performer and artist and is there anything you haven't incorporated into your work yet that you would like to try in the future?
Scout: I have made a commitment to myself to do more legitimate choreography. I love dancing, I’m just not very good at it—yet! I love all of the things I do and am really interested right now in trying to find the places where those things intersect. I’d love to do a scripted series that incorporates original music. Media is so plastic right now, there really is no limit to what you can do with it. That said, my happy place is still on a stage with a mic.
AHC: Tell us about your new album Take One Thing Off, where the impetus for this work came from and what it took for you to create and bring all of the right elements together?
Scout: Take One Thing Off started when Dave Darling saw me in a musical about blues musician Janiva Magness. He asked me if I might be interested in collaborating on an album, and then Blue Élan came on board to make the whole thing possible. The album loosely tracks my time in New York City working in burlesque, and weaves in some of my core life philosophies, like sometimes you just need to get naked and dance.
AHC: Who are some of your go-to comedic and musical inspirations?
Scout: Steve Martin is major for me. As a comedian, it can be really easy to tear things down. He does such an incredible job of building things up, and he isn’t afraid of going to a silly place. Plus, he’s an extremely disciplined banjo player and has has had a career in dramatic writing and filmmaking, which very much resonates with me. Maria Bamford saved my life when I moved to LA because I missed burlesque so much and ended up being really, really sad for a year. She is everything when it comes to comedy within sadness. Musically, I love American Jazz Standards, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and the Original Broadway Cast recording of RENT. I don’t think a better musical has ever been made.
AHC: What catches your creative eye the most, where do you draw from as a performer/writer/actor and how do you channel those inspirations into the work? Do you prefer spontaneity and stream of consciousness over more rehearsed and written material, or a little bit of both?
Scout: I go see as many shows as I can. My general formula is to go out and live my life and see as much as there is to see then once I have an idea, I go home and work on it until it’s where I want it to be. I like a balance of chaos and control onstage. I love finding my way out of mistakes. I used to very much just get out there and wing it, which is still a major part of my live performance, but I’d say at this point ninety percent of my show is written and rehearsed—unless I feel like doing something different.
AHC: The music videos that were shot for this album really capture the humor and quirkiness of these songs brilliantly, can you tell us a little bit about the creative process behind the scenes of the video shoot?
Scout: Of course! The videos we have out now are a combination of teams. TAKE ONE THING OFF was Sammi Cohen and Sarah King, who are two of my favorite homos. The laundry mat was their idea, and from there we got a bunch of our favorite people together and made it a party. We shot it in Echo Park, and all the shops around us had no idea what we were doing. Especially when we brought the motorcycle inside. Neal Bryant who was a camera operator on MARY + JANE shot a bunch of steady came shots for us, which was amazing.
ALL THE PRETTY BOTTLES and THE WEDDING SONG were Matt Mazany and Ian Skalski of Cascade Up, and they nailed it. We shot them at the same time, so the studio where we filmed THE WEDDING SONG is the same room that the shot the ballet dancer in for ATPB.
AHC: At the heart of your work is the embrace of difference, the quirk, the weird, the unique, and telling it all in your own way, in an industry where the pressure might be to do the opposite, do you think it's important that one resists that temptation and just aim for what is most real and authentic?
Scout: I don’t know. I didn’t really think about that at all until I moved to Los Angeles, and now I think about it a lot. In New York, especially in burlesque, everything was just for the joy of it, but you could only reach as many people as were willing to come and watch you sing in a dive bar. My transition to LA was incredibly difficult, and there were times I wished I either had never come here at all or had a more mainstream sensibility. It’s exciting to produce something that so many people get to see and enjoy. I think I tried to be more in the middle for my first couple of years here, but it wasn’t genuine, and it didn’t work. I’d love to say get out there and be true to yourself no matter what, but the reality is that in this business, success follows a pattern more often than not. Fortunately, at this point, I’m too old to be a pop princess so the pressure is off, and I can relax into being a full blown weirdo.
Visit Scout Durwood for more.
Take One Thing Off is available now from Blue Élan Records.
Listen / Buy from: Spotify | Website | Amazon | iTunes | Apple Music
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