Feb 22, 2023
Ever so often, I will stumble upon a musician whose sound truly resonates with me all the way to my soul. This holds true with Boston singer/songwriter, Scott Clifford. Scott goes by the handle “The Clifftones” on Instagram, but he is a one-man show. He sings, he plays guitar, he makes his own promos, he produces and records his own music, AND he is one awesome guy.
A fellow Veteran of the armed forces, such as myself, when Scott and I first connected, we were able to talk military, and that was initially how the conversation started. Scott served in the 82nd Airborne Division overseas in Iraq but has since ended his enlistment. His smooth, soulful voice is truly beautiful, though, and it puts me in such a calm space. I am certain it will do the same for you.
Over the past few years, Clifford has released several original singles, but with his latest release, he has decided to pay homage to those who have inspired and influenced him since adolescence. “The Exchange St. Sessions” EP is available March 1st via all streaming platforms, and I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy. It has been on repeat for the past two weeks. This EP of cover songs is hauntingly beautiful and gives me the chills … the good kind you get when the music is truly special. With Scott’s renditions of such classics as “Fade into You” by Mazzy Star and “The Drugs Don’t Work” by The Verve, it’s as if I’m hearing this music for the first time. With a voice that is a cross between Ryan Adams and Tom Waits, I insist that everyone give a listen to his newest release launching soon. You will thank me; I’m sure of it.
Scott and I sat down to have a lengthy discussion recently about his music, his career in the Army, and just everything in general. Take the time to read about this incredibly talented man, and then go check out his Instagram for everything Clifftones related.
MaM: Good Morning! So, how’s it going?
SC: It’s going alright. I was actually going to crack a joke with your text that said, “Alright, I’ll call you at 11:15.” I was going to say, “I don’t know what unit you were in, but it’s 11:18 here already … and then I realized you are an hour behind me.” (laughs)
MaM: I forget that I’m in a different time zone from others sometimes, being in no-man’s-land Louisiana. (laughs)
SC: At least people are polite there.
MaM: Well, kinda sorta. My family isn’t from here. Dad is from San Diego and mom is from Ashtabula, Ohio, so I’ve always been the odd ball, but let’s get this started. First, I love your accent. I know I probably have a southern accent from being down here. (laughs)
SC: Well, I wouldn’t say I have a thick one, but I wouldn’t say you have a thick one either, but now, if I have a drink, it really comes out. (laughs)
MaM: So, I know you had mentioned prior to this that you were in the military. 82nd Airborne?
SC: Yep, so I was stationed at Ft. Bragg and did basic at Ft. Benning and then did AIT at Ft. Gordon.
MaM: I did both my basic and AIT at Ft. Jackson.
SC: What was your MOS?
MaM: It started out as 71 L, but when they did some restructuring, the nomenclature changed to 42 L, but no matter what the number was, was always a clerk. I think I processed more Article 15's than anything. It was as if someone was always in trouble. (laughs)
SC: I was a Commo guy. I laughed when you had mentioned the “E-4 Mafia” when we spoke another time.
MaM: It wasn’t like the opportunities weren’t there to advance past E-4, but I was happy with my MOS, so I figured, why change it just to gain rank. So, I was E-4 my entire military career and I like to say we knew stuff, but we didn’t want the responsibility. (laughs)
SC: Oh, I’m one of ya. (laughs) Yeah, after my 15-month deployment to Iraq for the surge, I just didn’t really care about advancing. I got home from my deployment and just wanted out. That was in 2010, though. It’s been a while.
MaM: Same. Ok, so let’s talk music. I could talk military forever. Give our readers a little more background info on you.
SC: I am Scott Clifford, and I’m 38 years old. I live in Boston, Mass., and I’m inspired by Rock music, and from an early age always wanted to emulate my favorite artists. I like being able to convey feelings, thoughts, and experiences through music. It’s an outlet for me. While I’m from Massachusetts, I’ve lived and travelled all over the world. I am an 82nd airborne combat veteran, as we already spoke about, and while I’m glad I’m out, I am glad I served. Fun fact: While in Iraq, I managed to get ahold of a guitar and laptop, and in the rare event we had free time, I would make spoof songs with my friends and fellow soldiers. I made a song called “365 in the 325” (325th Infantry Regiment) where me and some of the other guys would sing about the monotony while serving and various broken promises our unit/leadership made. After my time in the military, I studied towards a bachelor’s degree and later a master’s degree in the United Kingdom. I loved living in the UK, and the music scene there was incredible.
MaM: When did you first get the itch to make music?
SC: The first time I recall music registering in my brain as something fun to do was when I was around four or five years old. I remember my grandparents having an old electric keyboard. I can recall slowly playing the piano from the highest note to the lowest, all the while daydreaming about a little red riding hood storyline in my mind. I really believe this is where I sort of picked up or wired my brain for melody. With every note, I associated a feeling and a picture in my mind. I still do!
MaM: Name one influential person in your life who you can credit with putting you on your path to making music.
SC: I was lucky as a kid. I remember my dad realizing that I was starting to care less about sports and more about music. He bought me my first guitar. That’s when I realized I didn’t just want to be a fan of music but also someone who creates music as well. Because of my age, I had just missed the Grunge movement, and then here comes this Brit-Pop stuff, which you know I love. In fact, I ended up talking to one of the Gallagher brothers. There is a third one, who is not famous, and he found me on Instagram a while back, and he said to me, ‘You know what your problem is?’ And I’m thinking, ‘Oh, here we go …’ (laughs) He says to me, though, ‘You’re not doing anything new.’ I’ve had so many people say that I’m stuck in the past with my music, but if I sound 80’s, 90’s, or even 60’s, I take that as a compliment.
MaM: Well, you know what they say: What was once old will become new again. That’s just the nature of the game. What is your favorite type of music, and who is your favorite artist or musician?
SC: My favorite type or genre of music? I’d have to say it is Alternative Rock with a solid Pop leaning. By that I mean everything I’m writing now is heavily based around hooks and a verse/bridge/chorus-sort of structure. Not only do I want the songs to be catchy but also meaningful with the lyrics (the hard part). One of my favorite musicians would have to be Noel Gallagher of Oasis, obviously. The way he crafts a song is often simple but so melodic and anthemic.
MaM: What is one of your most memorable live shows you have played?
SC: Live music … my experience playing live consists mainly of small pubs and open-mic nights. One of my favorite times playing was while I lived in England. A few of my friends knew I played the guitar and volunteered me to play. Learning all those Oasis songs as a kid paid off that night!
MaM: Where do you see yourself headed in the future as far as your music career?
SC: Well, so far, it’s looking like an eventful 2023. I’m releasing the acoustic five-track covers EP followed by an Originals EP. I’m also in talks to collaborate with an electronic artist from Europe (trying to push myself out of my comfort zone a bit) and possibly creating the soundtrack for an indie film set in NYC, not to mention planning some live dates and limited run merch for the upcoming EP. Exciting times! I’m still navigating the world of Indie music, but I’ve been fortunate to have had some talented musicians and artists reach out to talk about my work. It’s beyond flattering and tells me I’m on to something.
To check out Scott’s music, be sure to follow him on Instagram and then download “The Exchange St. Sessions” EP out March 1, 2023!
*All photos provided by the artist*
Questions or Comments? E-mail email@example.com