18: Music Can Literally Save Lives with Scott Langdon

Scott Langdon
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Scott Langdon was in music school and he realized that he was surrounded by people who had never actually learned to play music or love music and so he “got the fuck out of that.” Now he’s living in Seattle playing drums in multiple bands and teaching music lessons. I showed up on Scott’s porch as he was stepping out of the shower. His home is full of music posters and instruments. All his roommates are musicians and the entire basement is a devoted music practice space. Their cat is named Thelonious Monk (after the pianist). Scott is determined to make music until the day he dies and I get it. Music kinda takes over your life and nothing else quite compares and a retirement plan seems unnecessary. Music is so powerful that despite the cost of isolation, never ending hard work, public vulnerability and all the levels of crazy, we still love the reward so deeply we cannot say no. We mold our lives around the music. Wander with me into Scott’s back garden for this conversation about the real meaning of life, the magic of the drums and the wisdom we find in psychedelics. All them Good Vibes ❤ CHA


Think of something you want to do and start doing it…You can do anything; the only limits are whatever you put.” – Scott Langdon

This isn’t a competition, it’s about a message and enjoyment, not about, I won.” – Scott Langdon

It’s never ending puzzles (playing the drums).” – Scott Langdon

I feel like if you were to look at the origins of all these things (that) would have to be almost coincidence because rhythm exists in nature. As our brains evolved as human beings, we got more dialed into it and then people started reproducing it. Everything exists in rhythm. The world spins in rhythms, our bodies operate in rhythm, and I think that once we learn to open our minds to all of that and realize that you can produce it. Our hearts beat in a specific rhythm and you can literally just imitate it.” – Scott Langdon

To me, it is a search (making music), and you’re not going to find anything not searching.” – Scott Langdo

There’s no dollar sign that you can put on living in a way that feels authentic to yourself.” – Scott Langdon

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“What traumatic experience changed you for the better?” [28:45]

Question from Lindsey White (Episode 16: Singing About Death, Gay Stuff and Women)

“My step sister died July, 2016. It was a very heavy, terrible experience, and it was right after I had just decided to quit drinking. I had a very, very bad drinking problem for almost a decade. I wasn’t dealing with my problems in a healthy way. I was running from them. I was pursuing the path of maximum perceived pleasure, and the easiest way to get pleasure is to just get a big old bottle of whiskey, and drink as much of it as you can take, at least in the moment, and that balance shifts. That balance is significantly shifted in my life, and I refused to address it because it would mean a drastic lifestyle change and it would also mean addressing that I had been making some bad decisions. My younger sister, she’s my step sister, our parents were married for about ten years, and she died in July, 2016.That was incredibly heavy and I had to figure out a way to cope with that without getting fucked up. That was probably the single most difficult, the aftermath of that…I was working at a pizza place on Aurora, I was not doing well mentally, I had to take a little time off and I basically would just go to Golden Gardens…and I bought a lot of books, and I just tried to enlighten myself. Surely, I’m not the first person to go through these things. There is better information out there. I don’t like the way I’ve dealt with these traumatic experiences in the past. This is the most traumatic thing I’ve ever experienced and I have to find a way to deal with this in a healthy way. That experience of a devastating, life-changing reality that I was now in, that I had no control over, my emotions were all over the place, I cannot deal with this in the same way. It led me to a lot of good information and I found that, it’s been almost three years now, and it never gets easier. It’s been very helpful to give some people some advice based on experience, rather than me just reading books and regurgitating information. I have a lot of first hand experience now with that reality and it’s helped me a lot going forward…It made me really want to do it more (music). She was a huge music fan and she’s obsessed with Queen, Freddy Mercury was her favorite…She would always say, ‘I wish I could play…And so you have to do it for me, because I can’t do it.’ I realized how much music means to people…I can’t fix that situation, but I can use that information going forward into the next situation and realize that these are very mentally trying time for people and that good music can literally save people’s lives.”

“Are you focused more on building your following locally, globally, or online?”
Question from Spence Hood (Episode 5: Expressing Yourself and Building a Cohesive Brand on Instagram)

“Yes. We have the internet, we live in America, you have an audience because we’re from Seattle. Go online right now, find a radio station in Brazil, and send them your music. They’ll for sure give you the time of day because you’re from Seattle. If you’re not from Seattle, that’s fine too. If you build it, they will come. This is what you chose to do with your life, do it all. You have access to the entire world now. So, yes, everything…This is your responsibility. No one going to do it for you; no one is ever going to care about your music more than you, no promoter, no manager, no one, it’s up to you. Stay driven. Don’t sleep until 2:00, do nothing until 6:00, rehearse from 6:30 to 9:00, go home, smoke weed, go to bed, start it over, and wonder why nobody’s coming to your shows…I will say this though, all life exists locally. You can go online and you can make your recordings and everything like that, but everything you do, focus on what you’re doing right now. There are no small shows. Everything matters.”

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“What are you doing that’s new and not traditional? How are you experimenting? How are you pushing boundaries and moving forward?” [43:36]
Questions from Zachary (Episode 9: Focus On the Art Because That’s What It’s Really About)

“So recently, being a drummer, I think the biggest advance that’s going on here is that the technology with electronics has advanced to the point where, I think early adventures into electronic drumming, the dynamics were just awful. You couldn’t play with dynamics, there was basically three volume levels. You could have soft, medium, loud. It wasn’t a wide range and so you don’t feel like you’re playing music. Growing up listening to the music of the early 90’s, just listening to the radio, drum machines were just as commonplace as drum sets. I remember the whole time I just loved the sounds and I loved that music, but there was always that human element missing. Art reflects society, and societies are becoming more ingrained between computers and electricity, and traditional instruments of music: drums, guitars, piano. It’s all advancing. Trying to be open to those realities and still basing them in the tradition of music and the way we make it, with beats, baseline, lyrics. As far as pop music goes, the live performing and really being able to dial in, it’s a whole different skill set, being a drummer between getting your coordination down, and now I’m, I have to dial in the delay, and I gotta get the balance right, and I gotta tune these electronic sounds because they are clashing sonically with the mix. Just exploring effects, which guitar players have been doing for decades, and piano players have been doing for decades, synthesizers technology has advanced incredibly as well. That would be the biggest way I’m starting to experiment musically, because I’ve always been curious…just being open to trying things I think is the biggest thing.”

“What can we do to support the arts given financial realities that are becoming increasingly austere? How can music and the arts be reconciled with a world that sometimes values profits over love?” [1:04:30]
Questions from Tobias the Owl (Episode 12: You don’t have to be a mathematician OR an artist (you can do both!)

“I’m not sure that I have the answer to this. I’m still searching, myself. I think that this day and age, reality is shifted so rapidly, in the digital age. I grew up in the old world, pre-internet, and then becoming an adult as the internet is developing, and now we’re at the point where everyone’s got a phone, albums don’t make money, and the business structure of it all is going away. How do we figure this out? I think there’s a lot of avenues and a lot of ways to make money, because we have a worldwide audience now. I think it’s just a matter of figuring out how to get that out to the right audiences and to show people. Unfortunately, what will have to happen as well, is there will be a period, it might be five or ten years, we’re actually currently in it, were society just doesn’t financially value art and it’s going to suffer. We are going to have to decide as a culture, how much this really means to us, because if we want high quality art, it’s not possible unless people have the ability to focus on the art. If you look at entertainment as a whole, like people in the NBA, used to have to work summer jobs…if you can’t make money, we can’t live…The finances of the whole situation are definitely in a fluctuation at this point. I don’t have the answer to that at the moment. Check back in a few years and we can re-ask this question.”

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“What made you decide to be a musician? Was there a single moment? Was there something in you the whole time and you just decided to let it out?”

-- Question from Scott Langdon

“It never occurred to me to be anything but a musician. I imagine you’ll ask this question to some people and they will be like, ‘what do you mean?’ It’s like asking me, ‘what made you decide to be this, I don’t know, did I make a decision? Or is this just how I am? I couldn’t imagine doing this any other way. There are people who love doing taxes, and it’s like, how? I don’t know I just do…What made you decide to be a musician; I don’t know if there was something else. I guess I could do other things, I’ve done other things, but I could never put this down. I have a very large emotional capacity, not just emotional in the sense that I’m going to cry at sad movies, there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just emotion in the sense that I feel things very heavy. When I’m sad, I’m very sad. When I’m happy, I’m very happy. When I’m outraged, I’m fucking outraged, and when I’m ready to have fun, it’s turn the cameras off, don’t anybody ever talk about this, it’s time to have fun. Music definitely gives me an outlet for all of those things because I like to be very peaceful. Sitting with an acoustic guitar and finger-picking tunes and trying to understand cool chords changes, that’s a huge part of my life, but going out and partying, music is essential to that. Imagine going to a club and there’s no music, and I get to do this? How awesome is that. I feel fortunate. I feel like everyone could do it if they wanted to, but maybe everyone doesn’t pursue it. People who are musicians, you just are musicians. It’s a natural attraction to those sounds. It’s ‘I will ruin my whole fucking life to let this happen.’ I don’t really think you’re a musician until you start…experiencing failure. Everyone talks about being an artist and the struggles, but until you go through it, until you been eating ramen for a week, for real, not like ‘oh I don’t have this,’ when you’re really in these dire straits, and you don’t quit, now you’re a musician.”

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Heather Thomas (Episode 13: Drums are for Everybody)
Briana Stewart (WNBA)
La Fonda (Episode 14: Music Will Heal Your Freakin’ Beautiful Self)


“I’d like you to love yourself. I always say the first thing you need to do is love yourself, because if you don’t love yourself it’s impossible to love anybody else. You might have a hue capacity for love, but if you don’t practice love, it doesn’t really matter. Treat yourself like you’re your own friend. If you’re going through a hard time or maybe you have some bad habits that you’re not very proud of, think about if you were your own best friend, would you criticize this person like you criticize yourself? Most people would not, and it’s good to have standards, but forgive yourself for your flaws. Maybe don’t accept them, but realize that you’re a human being. You’re not perfect and you’re going to make mistakes and that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it just means that you made a mistake. Just don’t do it again. Not learning from mistakes is really the only problem. I would say, learn to love yourself, and once you can understand that, then you can put that energy out into the world. But until you realize that, the whole world can tell you they love you and that will not make you happy. What will make you happy is the love that comes out of you.

--Answer from Scott Langdon

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FOLLOW Scott’s Band: Trick Candles

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“Think of something you want to do and start doing it…You can do anything; the only limits are whatever you put.” -- Scott Langdon

“This isn’t a competition, it’s about a message and enjoyment, not about, I won.” -- Scott Langdon

“For me, it’s about communication…I don’t feel like I need to prove anything, it’s just about getting the message across.”  -- Scott Langdon

“I pursue what inspired me rather than what I thought would make people think I’m the best. I think that’s how I’ve tried to approach everything I get involved in, whether it's complicated or not. It’s like, what are your motivations behind doing this, you know…”  -- Scott Langdon

“As far as the style of music I’ve played, I enjoy everything so I don’t understand why I should limit myself, it doesn’t make sense. I enjoy the challenge of new styles; I love working with people and helping them get their vision out.”  -- Scott Langdon

“I’m not interested in impressing people; I’m interested in continuing that tradition of just having a good time.” -- Scott Langdon

“I would much rather play music that speaks to me on any level, makes you feel anything. I don’t like hyper intellectualizing music. It’s something that I feel. You have to use your brain, obviously, you’re using your whole being. I love Beethoven, and it’s super complicated music, but that music speaks to me and it’s not difficult for the sake of being difficult, he was just a genius who knew how to use music in ways no one else could conceive of.”  -- Scott Langdon

“My first memory in life is sitting on my floor with my mom and my dad and my brother just listening to records and having a good time…I remember, it was always a source of community and enjoyment. The world can be so bland and mundane, and you play music and it just lightens everything up. It makes you feel things.”  -- Scott Langdon

“I just wanted to be a good as it was possible for me to be…Music really matters to me and it is serious for me to become as good at expressing myself as is possible to be; to be in control of my own voice as is possible to be.”  -- Scott Langdon


“The physical energy that you get from the instrument (drums) is powerful. Watching people respond to you making music really powerful when you see the ideas are coming across.”  -- Scott Langdon

“It’s never ending puzzles (playing the drums).”  -- Scott Langdon

“Every time I see a great drummer, I’m inspired all over again.”  -- Scott Langdon

“Your drum set is such a personal expression of you.”  -- Scott Langdon

“Besides the human voice…stretching a hide on a drum and hitting it, that is the first instrument that human beings ever came across. Hundreds of thousands of years ago they found drums or things imitating drums. I feel like if you were to look at the origins of all these things that would have to be almost coincidence because rhythm exists in nature. I think as our brains evolved as human beings, we got more dialed into it and then people started reproducing it. Everything exists in rhythm. The world spins in rhythms, our bodies operate in rhythm, and I think that once we learn to open our minds to all of that and realize that you can produce it. Our hearts beat in a specific rhythm and you can literally just imitate it.”  -- Scott Langdon

“You spend 95% of your life either in a practice room, writing, or promoting, or just on your computer…the manifestation of all that on that stage is such a small part of it and it’s hard to stay motivated in the day to day…Taking that love (of music) with me is something that motivates me to this day.”  -- Scott Langdon

“You’re not outside of the universe. You are a product of the universe. You’re connected to everything. You’re going to go back into the ground.”  -- Scott Langdon

“You’re putting these frequencies into the world and it’s all the same level. Wherever you are in the world, the frequencies of an A major chord are the same. There’s not a magic A major chord in different parts of the world. You’re literally putting those same wave lengths out there.”  -- Scott Langdon


“Being open to trying things is the biggest thing. What’s going to happen? I teach music and kids…they are always afraid of making mistakes, and I’m like, make a mistake on purpose right now. And the do it. And what happened when you made that mistake? Nothing. Nothing happens, now you just know, oh I didn’t like that. But nothing happens, so just try it. If you don’t like it, now you know you don’t like it. Now you have more information going forward, but don’t be afraid to try things because you think you may not like it. Especially experimenting with electronics in my drumming. I find a ton of stuff that is just bad, and no one should ever hear this, but that’s fine, that’s the process.”  -- Scott Langdon

“To me, it is a search (making music), and you’re not going to find anything not searching.”  -- Scott Langdon

“There’s nothing in the world I would regret more than quitting being a musician.”  -- Scott Langdon

“I got through this insane rush everyday of just making art and being a vessel for music to move through you.” -- Scott Langdon

“There’s no dollar sign that you can put on living in a way that feels authentic to yourself.”  -- Scott Langdon

“Being an artist is something that means something to me and it’s something that I can do, and I would much rather leave that behind.”  -- Scott Langdon

“I did this (music) so I would never have to retire.”  -- Scott Langdon

“If you don’t make decisions, you’ll have decisions made for you.”  -- Scott Langdon

“I think that’s the point of being an artist, to communicate with people.”  -- Scott Langdon

RECORDED: May 16, 2019 in Scott Langdon’s House in Seattle