In a world ruled by social media, the possibility of becoming an overnight sensation is always one well-timed click away. For Berkshire-based singer Scott Vlassis this possibility turned into reality with the release of his infectious single Golden. Picked up by TikTok dancing sensations Diversity, the song was an instant hit. Filled with melodic singing and the type of beat you can’t help but groove to, Golden propelled Vlassis into the limelight almost without warning.
For other artists, this sudden fame may transform them into a version of themselves they never thought they’d become. For Scott, this opportunity is allowing him to share his authentic self with the world, something that he’s committed to maintaining regardless of how many people are involved with his next music video shoot. A humble, kind-hearted man who pursues his passion for music when he isn’t working his full-time job as a plumber, Vlassis is the type of person you want to root for because they deserve the type of success they’ve always dreamed of.
Focusing on messages of positivity and joy, Vlassis is working on new music with his label Polydor that he hopes is as well received as Golden. The goal is to create a body of work that feels as honest as possible while providing people with the comforting notion that they’re not alone, no matter what they might be going through.
House of Solo spoke with Scott Vlassis via Zoom to discuss his music, the artists he most admired when he was younger, and how he wants to be true to himself above all else.
How are you doing?
I’m good, I’m good. Sorry I’m a couple of minutes late, I’ve literally just got back from work.
That’s okay! How was your day?
Busy, to be fair, very busy. As always, yeah.
You have a plumbing business, right?
Yeah, so I’m a plumber by day. Music has just been a massive hobby since I was fifteen, so it just picked up from that, really.
I wanted to start by saying congratulations on the success of Golden, it’s so addictive! I feel like it’s been stuck in my head for days.
Annoying, isn’t it? [Laughs].
[Laughs] No, I like it!
Everyone’s like, “Would you just shut up?”
And you’re like, “I can’t help it, I’m sorry that I made something that is just really great”.
Yeah! Thank you.
Of course. I was wondering if you could tell us about the process behind constructing the song and putting the different elements together to get the sound you ended up with?
Yeah, so basically, I work with a producer who was a friend of mine and we were literally just sitting in my flat, and we just started to come up with the beat and then started writing together. Literally we just spend a few days together normally in the flat or wherever we can go and just make as much as we can in that sort of period. Golden was one of them. So, we’ve got quite a like…quite an archive, really, of music ready to go, but Golden stood out for me at the time and I thought, “You know what? Let me just put this one out and see how it goes” and then it went out.
I think for something that you were like, “We’ll just start with this and see what happens” it has been a great success. Which is interesting because I see that it’s used on TikTok a lot, so was that an interesting experience for you to see sort of like how it was being received in that medium?
Yeah, when I put it out originally…I was independent at the time…and I put it out just off my own back and the Diversity guys jumped on it, started doing like dances to it which was crazy because, like I’d never paid them or nothing, they just heard the song and were like in love with it. And since then, everyone else started like jumping on and doing dances and just loving the tune, really.
It’s cool to see how that happens nowadays where somebody will latch onto something and then it continues to grow in popularity from there, because everyone sees those videos like the Diversity group one and want to make up their own dance, which is amazing.
[Laughs]. Yeah, it was decent! It was not a bad result. I think the only problem I had with it was the original that I did myself, it had like a long 30 to 40 second break in it. So, it wasn’t, like, radio friendly to say the least. So obviously, when I signed with Polydor, they sort of did a radio version. But again, I made sure the original was coming back out, [because] I keep getting a lot of comments about when’s the original back out, so keeping that in mind as well now.
You’re like, “These are the six different versions that we have to offer”.
Literally, which is cool as well. I like the fact that there’s like an assortment of different varieties of it so everyone can sort of latch on to the one they like.
I think that’s nice because everybody has a different style preference for the type of music that they’re interested in. But then at the same time, if somebody likes one version, they can find a new one that maybe will open their eyes to a different type of music or kind of expand their horizons a little bit.
Yeah, it’s been a cool process to be fair. Sometimes it’s been a bit overwhelming, like obviously with my work as well. And then obviously because I’ve been so busy nothing has really sunk it. And it all happened sort of over COVID, so it’s all like crazy times going on. And obviously, now I’m back to work full time, it’s not hard to manage but it’s like, without sounding rude, the music doesn’t really pay you enough at the beginning to be able to just to do music. I’ve got a mortgage and stuff to pay for on my own,so I have to support myself as well. But yeah, it’s been, it’s been busy, but it’s been good.
It’s good that you have a positive outlook on it. I was interested in seeing how you balance everything, because obviously you’re working full time during the day and then you have extra time to devote to your music, but like how do you not get burnt out by everything? Do you still take time for yourself to do other things?
I play football. So I’ll play on a Saturday. So doing that as well, like before music was a hobby like I said, so it wasn’t really taking up too much time. If I had a few days off work, I’d bring my friend, he’d come around, we would make some music. But then obviously when work gets busy again it’s just on the back burner. But now it’s like I’m working full time, trying to do music as well, trying to play football. I think it’s having its effect on me, so I don’t know how…Obviously there’s going to be ways of coping, but it’s just…I’ll find out when the road continues, I guess.
Yeah, if you want to avoid burnout you need to have time during the week where you say, “I’m just going to do nothing. Catch up on some shows, zone out for a while”.
To be fair, when I get home from work, a lot of the time, like, I’ll watch football because it’s on every minute, or I always make sure I watch a couple of episodes or something before I go to bed. So, I do have the time. I’m not literally coming home from work and going straight to the studio. Because I’ve got, like, a big array of songs all ready to go. I only go into the studio now when the label asks me to go with someone they work with, so it’s quite nice having that planned. I think it’s like three or four times a month, so it’s not that hard to deal with, to be honest.
That’s not too bad. So it’s been a better transition, you think, since you started working with the label and you have coordinated times for everything?
Yeah, I mean, with regards to being signed and stuff, obviously I didn’t realize it was gonna be like a job, you know? It’s literally like, “Post this at this time and this time” and because I’m at work as well, it’s hard like maintaining stuff and like the hardest thing for me is content because I work on a building site, no one’s gonna want to see me at work all day every day just like they are. So, like, when my label are like, “We need content, we need content” I’m like, I can’t really give you content unless you want me standing in my work clothes, you know? I’m just like, and I’m not a selfie guy. But even in my music video, I’m very in the background like making the visions, what I want it to look like, instead of actually being out front. Obviously, when you sign to a label I guess that’s something you’ve just got to do.
You have to overcome that sort of, like, hesitation to be part of that. I did really enjoy the music video, which is something I wanted to discuss with you. I loved that it was really fun but also a little intense at the same time with all the colors. Did you come up with the concept for it and that’s why you wanted to be in the background? Or how did that vision come about?
The car in the video is actually, like, the owner of my plumber’s merchants, he owns that car. So when the song came out, I kept going to the merchant and saying,“That care is wasted! I need to use that car!” And then I spoke to a guy that I knew from years ago and I was like, “Are you still doing music videos?” and he was like, “Yeah, bro!” and I was like I’ve got to get something booked in. And then I said, “Do you know any dancers?” And that’s when he got in touch with Will West and Mary, and they did their own choreography when I sent them the song. So it was just finding the location and then it was…in my head I knew, maybe me and Will should drive in so it’s a little cameo for me. He sees the girl, and then it’s just from there, like, he’s gonna try and talk to her and try and make it as interesting as possible.
I liked that you were just being the supportive friend in the background where you were like, “You can go do your thing, I’ll wait just in case this doesn’t go well”.
I think because it was all on such a budget as well, even when I spoke to Polydor [Records], they were like, “We thought you signed, this video is amazing” but it was done with me and my friends. Yeah, it was crazy that they were blown away by how it had been done. They thought it was very professional.
So then that kind of gives you, like, a good direction moving forward of having an idea of knowing you can work on a set budget but still make something that looks high quality as you continue to put out new music and make new videos.
Yeah. When I met my manager for the first time he was on a video shoot local to my house, so I went there and there were about 150 people there just filming this guy’s video. And I was just like…woah. I’m not used to there being that many people. And he had people go out to get him food, there’ll be people there making sure you had your masks on, they were watching the video being done from another room whilst the cameraman was in the room, and I was blown away by all this. This is crazy. But, yeah, mad experience.
It’s gonna be interesting when you get there yourself and you’re used to it being, like, so scaled down.
I think they’re trying to wean me in lightly, which is nice. I’ve done like a live video which is coming out soon as well, that was me and probably like fifteen people including the band. There was the drummer, the guitarist, and the pianist and they had all the sound control stuff. So, that was pretty cool and that’s coming out, I think, in a couple weeks. So I think they’re trying to, like, build up slowly, so I’m not thrown into a room with 150 people. Because as a plumber, that’s new to me. I’m literally working in people’s houses and when there’s so many people in the same room just for you, it’s quite like, I feel so…like, the other day I was at that live set and it was so hot and there was a lady, my stylist, she was like fanning me, and I was like “Please, stop. You really don’t have to”. Yeah, I can’t sit there and be that guy and, like, just eat it all up and be like, “Yeah, keep doing that”. I’m quite laid back when it comes to that. I think the main thing for me is I want everyone to be happy to work with me. I don’t ever want anyone to think, “Now that guy’s an idiot”, or “That guy is so selfish”. Like, when I first met the guys at the shoot, they were like, “What do you want for food? I’m here to get you food” and I was like, “What do you guys want? Like, let’s get some fruit and whatever, I’m easy” and they were like…it’s such a blessing to have something like that instead of someone going out with some sushi with this sort of topping and being like a pain to deal with. But, I don’t think that’ll ever change [for me]. I’m quite a grounded person.
I think that will benefit you though because I feel like especially in that type of industry where it can be really, like, superficial, or people can get caught up in their own sort of presentation of themselves, you can kind of get lost in that with, you know, these people coming up and they’re kind of catering to you. I think it’s better to be the way you are and just stay grounded and be polite and just be yourself.
No, definitely. I think what I’ll need to deal with is…I think it’s going to be like trolls and stuff, I think. I don’t adapt well to being thrown, like, negative comments and abuse and I know it’s part and parcel of the industry, but I think that’s another reason why I don’t get my face in all the videos. I’d rather just make a real nice song and put it out, and let people resonate to the music. Like, this is quite uplifting music and positive music that I’m making. So it’s hard when people are judging it saying this is horrible. I think that is something that I’m going to have to try and deal with. But that’s probably the only thing that I find hard I think I’d say.
Yeah, I think it’s just a matter of finding a way…like, you want to obviously interact with people that are responding positively to your music, but still keep the negativity at a distance where you’re like, “This just doesn’t even concern me”. Their opinion—it’s just whatever it is, and it’s easier said than done, because if somebody doesn’t like something that you worked hard to produce, it’s still a bummer. But you want to make sure it’s not weighing on you, because at the end of the day it’s just somebody at the end of a keyboard who probably has their own issues.
In my head I’m like, “If you don’t like it, don’t listen to it, you don’t have to be negative”. For instance, when the label put out their radio version of Golden. Everyone was just like, where’s the original, I can’t believe you took the original down like, what have you done, and stuff like that. I’m like…that is coming back, I always said it was gonna come back out, and it’s just fighting against people that I shouldn’t even have to fight. If I didn’t put out a song, no one would even know I existed.
It must be weird to be thrown into the lion’s den almost where…you just wanted to make music, and the song happened to catch on and people really liked it, and now you have to deal with the barrage of everything that comes along with it.
It’s quite frustrating, to be fair. Because obviously growing up with my mom…I grew up with a lot of soul music, a lot of 70s music, which is amazing to listen to and it’s very positive music. But I think the music could speak for itself, like if you had a good song, it’s just a good song regardless of what you look like or anything, you know? But now, it’s like you have to be this perfect guy or woman, with great looks and a great personality. You have to come across like you’re something that maybe you’re not. I think that is something that a lot of people struggle with, but I feel like people should be who they are regardless of whether some people don’t like them. Because at least then you’re true to yourself.
I definitely agree with that. I am always of the mind, with everything, that like…what other people think of me is none of my business. Because at the end of the day, it just doesn’t matter. You have to do what you think is authentic and true to yourself. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is thinking or saying. As long as you’re proud of the work you’re producing, I think that’s all anyone can really ask for.
Yeah, I mean it’s always more positive than negative, but I think I’ve not been in that position before. I think you concentrate more on the negative than you do the positive. I don’t know why, that’s just how our brains work. It’s quite…it’s annoying because you kinda just want to feel uplifted. I’ve had so many messages where people are like, these songs help me in every way, like mentally and everything like that, and that’s an amazing one and that’s great. And then you get people that are like, where is the original. This is blah blah blah…it’s just like, I don’t need that.
That was one of the things I wanted to talk to you about, because you’re so focused on bringing positivity to your music and you want to be able to produce things that, like you said, somebody could listen to and be like, “I was having a really terrible day, this cheered me up”. I feel like, especially now with the difficulty of the last year, it’s really needed to kind of have music that takes you out of it and makes it positive. Do you always want to continue to write lyrics and songs with that goal in mind? Or are you going to just kind of see what happens fluidly?
I mean I do, but I’ve also got like…because I’ve got such a vast array of music, I’ve got like ballads that are quite….not sad, but like heartbreak songs, you know, that everyone listens to in their car. And then I’ve got a few R&B heartbreak songs. I mean I’ve got a song that I’m really excited to release for like the winter time, which is kind of like, people might cry to it, you know what I mean? But it’s, it’s very emotional, but it’s a great song at the same time. I played it for my nan, bless her, and she cried and I cried and it was nice to see that it can reach people in that way, you know what I mean?
I have to release that but it’s very different to what I’ve previously put out so it’s kind of like, I don’t really know if the label is going to be looking to put it out, but. Yeah, I mean it’s something that I want to do personally. And who knows, I could release it independently. Who knows.
So, with the label now, are you making an EP or creating an album? You mentioned earlier that you had been making other songs around the time you were making Golden and went with releasing that first, so what’s on the horizon with everything else?
They sort of asked me if I could send them, like, a catalogue of music that I’ve done, and I sent them like 10 songs and just said, this is what I’ve done. And they were like “Okay, let’s sign you for a three song deal”. So I’ve just got three songs with them and obviously Golden was counted as the first one. So, I’ve got two more with that. And I think they want to use new music, so that’s why they put me in with new producers and stuff, hoping that I come up with something better than I’ve got. That’s sort of their view on it, really. So, yeah, I’m happy to keep working and hopefully something nice comes out in the end.
I think that’s a good outlook to have. You have to remain positive and take advantage of the opportunity you’ve been given but still make sure, like you said with the other song that’s more of a ballad, that you’re still putting out the music you want to put out regardless of the direction you’re brought into with the label.
It’s crazy because like when you’re independent everyone’s just…you get such a mixed signal. Like when you’re growing up all you want to do is sign to a record label and get the sort of recognition you deserve. But then when you’re actually signed on, everyone’s like don’t sign, stay independent. But to have the money to stay independent, it’s so expensive. And I think everyone’s just like, labels try and change you, making you something you’re not. But obviously the guys at Polydor, they love what I’m doing, so with them we sort of made an agreement where they just want me to be myself. That’s another reason why I signed with them, because they were one of the few people….I was in talks with a few labels, but with Polydor, they said they didn’t want to change me and they loved me for who I am and what I’m doing, which was refreshing to hear.
That’s a relief, because you don’t always expect a label to say they don’t want to change you and that they want you to continue on the path you’ve already created. That’s a rare opportunity.
Yeah, they love it as well. They’re like, “You’re a plumber, like just do a video of you listening to Golden in your van on your way to work”, which is cool as well. Like, they’re not trying to perceive me as something I’m not, which is another thing I’m a great believer of, because at the end of the day no matter what happens to you, you’re going to come out of your shell eventually. The people that like me for who I am are the people that are going to help me push my career and push me in the right direction.
That was something I found appealing when I was learning about you and your music, that you have the career you have and you’re making time for music on the side. I know you mentioned having to create content and you didn’t know how to do that while you’re at work, but I think that would be a great idea to do something like Polydor suggested. Make a video of you listening to the song on the job site or something. It makes you relatable to other people because you’re working a job like they’re working a job, but you’re still following your dreams. I think that would help people because it would encourage them to do the same. And with you caring as much about positivity as you do, it would be another way to do that.
That’s the main thing for me is to carry on doing what I’m doing, trying to create more music and good music and just being happy with it, really.
You mentioned your musical influences growing up, specifically soul music and 70s music, and I know you’ve spoken before about being influenced by Stevie Wonder and Luther Vandross. I’m curious, what was your relationship like with music when you were younger? Did you automatically take a liking to these types of music and did you always have an inkling that this is what you wanted to do with your life?
Not really. I think I just got so heavily influenced by them, those sort of major artists like Luther Vandross, Al Green, Stevie Wonder. Even the band Brass Construction, they were unbelievable. Just seeing real music was so refreshing and it was so…I don’t know. I like any genre, I can listen to anything. Maybe not like heavy rock, I don’t really listen to that, but I don’t have a judgement, you know? But I listen to every genre…there’ll be slow songs on my playlist to house songs. But listening to them back in the day was sort of how I imagined, like a happy time, and discos and all that sort of era just screams out to me like…just turning up to a club in the 70s and 80s and everyone’s got fros on and flares and they’re having a good time. You don’t hear “Oh no, someone’s been shot”. It was just happy…just a happy vibe.
You can tell that is something you’re interested in through the music video for Golden from the outfits the dancers are wearing to the style of dance and the way they’re connecting. They don’t look self-conscious or anything, they’re just feeling the song in the moment which is reminiscent of that era of music, I think.
Definitely! That’s what I mean. I just want to make happier music that people are connected to or might say, like, this isn’t normally what I’d listen to but I like this sort of thing.
That’s good because then you’re opening people’s eyes to something different and helping them have that same experience of listening to the song and enjoying it, without feeling pressured to be a certain way. They can be themselves.
No, definitely. I’ve had a couple of photo shoots and stuff, which was a cool experience, and like the stylists picked the clothes for me which I liked. But at the same time, it’s nice to see me as a person on Instagram or social media, just showing people that I’m a normal person. I’m not a guy trying to be something I’m not. I’m at work driving a van every day, driving home. My hobby is more the studio than the pub. Some of my friends are like, “You coming to the pub?” and I’m going to the studio, and they call me crazy. But I enjoy the journey.
It’s important to do what you enjoy and to be grounded in reality and to be happy with your life. You’re following your passion but you aren’t letting it change you, which some people might struggle with.
Yeah, I don’t think it would change.
One last question: what’s your fondest musical memory? Like a moment in time that is so perfectly tied to the music that was playing, you can’t listen to that song without thinking of the memory.
I think I would have to say, for me, Luther Vandross’ Never Too Much had a major part of the music I’m drawn to. While I listened to all the music my mother loved, I picked up on that song. That song was always a song we used to sing loud and always be smiling regardless of the situation. We would always put a smile upon our faces when we heard that. I know it may seem odd as there’s so many classics from the era, there’s so many to choose from. But that song is a big vibe for me and my family.
Photography Abeiku Arthur
Fashion Gurdit Singh
Groomer Anni Rademacher
Words Sam Cohen