HOK #115: Meet Scottie Irving 

Scottie Irving sits on a dark stage and holds up a keyboard in the lights
Scottie Irving is seen in “Deluge.” Photo by Kate Smith.

“I grew up in a very musical family, from being given a couple of maracas as a Christmas present when I was three years old to starting piano lessons formally at age six.

A huge part of my upbringing — I’ll call it my “secret weapon” — was being a drummer in a bagpipe band, a snare drummer. My brother played the bagpipes, my dad played the bass drum and I played the snare drum. And what that forces the musician to do is to really think in terms of timing, not just at the 16th note but the 32nd note. That just sort of sharpened my ears and my mind. And so a lot of the complex, classical piano stuff that I ended up studying in university at Guelph was just more intelligible to me; that precision really helped me.

My Guelph years, from age 18-22, were a big, big, big, big expansion. But I didn’t become cool until I came to Ottawa — and I say that, obviously, facetiously — [because] that was the first time I started playing with other people in pop music and rock music, and that has been such a great way to enjoy music.

I was trained as a soloist, but there’s no comparison between being alone on a stage with being with other people on a stage, especially eight other people. It’s just a huge, huge rush. There’s just nothing like it.  

I’ve been a member (of The PepTides band) since it went on the stage. I have been there — I’ve been in every single stage appearance.

We didn’t know what this virus was all about — but singing, we still know, is one of the most hazardous things to do when you’re around other people. And The PepTides has five vocalists in it, so rehearsals really became impossible. The knee-jerk reaction for musicians was to try and find a way to go online and rehearse but that presented a whole bunch of technical problems. So we really haven’t been able to rehearse. We’ve been able to socialize as friends, but that’s about it.

Having said that, last year has [had] a lot of work for me as a musician.

In music, there’s a very rich interaction between the live product and the recorded album, let’s say. People have been hiring me for their recorded projects, and those are trucking along apace with all kinds of projects happening.

I also compose a lot of music for theatre. The Undercurrents Festival, for example, just featured my work [in] the production called “Deluge.” I co-wrote that production with nine original songs with another Hintonburg resident, actually, who is called Kate Smith, who runs Skeleton Key Theatre.

I grew up on my father’s father’s father’s farm in Spencerville, and I was on the farm until I was 18 and then I studied in Guelph. 

I had always thought I would live in the country, but Ottawa is the city that sort of changed my mind on what cities could be.

Coming from this small, small place, to me it is very, very normal that people strike up conversations with strangers. And I’ve never been in a part of town where that’s more common  — it’s [very] common to just speak to someone you don’t know, and I think that’s one of the best features of Hintonburg.

My love for the community is real and I think that we’ll make it through this pandemic one way or another together.”

Story collected by Maureen McEwan.

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