Many people around the world don’t know it, but they’ve already heard alt-pop singer / songwriter Scott Oatley aka Vân Scott’s voice. As a sought-after singer in the Hollywood session scene, Oatley has had the chance to perform on some of the industry’s biggest, high-profile projects. It all started with a recording session at Capitol Records in 2008 for Disney's High School Musical 3 soundtrack. Since then, he’s had the opportunity to sing for renowned film composers like Danny Elfman and Michael Giacchino, influential music producers such as Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins and Mike Elizondo, sung on blockbuster scores for Mulan (2020), La La Land, Jurassic World, and Sing, been a featured singer on ABC's Black-ish and The Goldbergs, performed as a background vocalist for The Voice, and most recently was in a Burger King ad that debuted during the MTV Video Music Awards, to name just a few of his credits.
As a musical artist, Oatley saw success as a member of the alt-pop duo, Lord & Lady when their "La La Land Medley" exploded on YouTube, amassing over 5.5 million views. The song was also heard on the global stage at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games during the Russian pairs free skate. But now, Scott has been gaining momentous recognition as the solo artist, Vân Scott, and is poised to break out on a larger scale when he releases his debut album in 2021.
At a young age, Scott, the son of an Air Force pilot, moved around a lot. Often feeling like an outsider, he found solace and stability singing in the evangelical church. When he graduated high school, his church offered him a part-time job as a worship leader so he willingly accepted. While there, he met his best friend, the inspiration behind his latest song “Starry Eyed,” out October 7, 2020 on AWAL / Oat Brand Music.
“Starry Eyed” was written in the wake of his best friend’s coming out. It was a tender period that included many tough conversations, which tested both of their belief systems. “I had to re-examine my views on faith and sexuality,” says Scott. “I was faced with challenging questions about what exactly I believed, and I felt like my faith was slipping through my fingers.” During this time Scott became isolated while guarding his friend’s secret, which only he knew. One night, feeling particularly alone and overwhelmed, Scott retreated to his studio where he sent up a wordless prayer in the form of a faint whistle and a melancholy melody (the same whistle that opens up the track) in hopes of finding some sort of catharsis. “There’s something naturally light-hearted and carefree about whistling. It was the opposite of what I felt, but it was my last-ditch effort to inspire hope within myself. I ended up doubling the whistle melody on electric guitar, and then layered a bunch of synth textures on top of it with my Moog. Before I knew it, my feelings existed in sonic form. And to just sit in my studio, with the lights off, the glow of the instruments, and the music on loop was incredibly healing for my soul. There’s something expressly vulnerable and spiritual that inhabits that part of this song, and it makes up the bed of the entire track.”
Scott’s previous track, “Poster Boy,” released April 17, 2020, was also inspired from his experience at his church. Over the course of a few years his worship leader role grew in scope to the point where he was overseeing music throughout the church as a full-time job. In this newfound elevated position, he was often exalted to a point of unease. On “Poster Boy” (Honorable Mention winner of the USA Songwriting Competition) he tells the world that he has never been comfortable or happy being so revered. “People tend to put you on a pedestal when you hold that kind of position,” Scott explains. “I was constantly treated like I could do no wrong, and that’s a dangerous place to be. I felt like I had to play a role and hide my flaws, and so it was hard to be myself. ‘Poster Boy’ calls out that unhealthy expectation of perfection, whether self-imposed or brought on by others. It’s meant to give the listener permission to be human, since mistakes are inevitable for us all.”
“Poster Boy” followed the overwhelming response of Scott’s debut and sophomore singles. “Die Young” released in November 2019, sheds light into the shadowy corners of Scott’s mind, revealing an almost taboo fear that he won’t live long enough to experience life’s biggest milestones. “It’s a bit morbid, I know, but I’ve always had the hardest time imagining myself very far in the future, getting married and having kids. I’ve actually been surprised to hear from fans how I’ve helped articulate something they felt too but could never put into words. And that’s a really special thing.” “Tough Love,” released in September 2019, is a candid appeal for a true friend. “I wrote the song at a time when my best friends seemed to have disappeared. I was stuck in some pretty unhealthy patterns in my life, and I was secretly longing for someone to help snap me out of it. This song is that cry for help; for the hard facts; for tough love.”
Through everything, Scott’s faith is the most important thing. “It’s always been my source of hope and love. I care deeply about others, and I seek to help and encourage as many people as I possibly can. That perspective will always play a part in shaping my music.” Even though he still leads music at church when he can, Scott quit his full-time job in 2018 to fully devote himself to becoming an artist. “I simply reached a point where my own personal songwriting was bringing me the most satisfaction and enjoyment. I had sacrificed a lot of time and energy in my years of doing ministry, and I felt it was important to finally allow myself to experience more of the personal fulfillment that writing and performing my own music has brought me.”
There was a time when he thought he wanted to become a CCM artist, but that all changed when he discovered U2 in college. “I saw real beauty in how that band wove spiritual power into their songs. There’s a kind of next-level creativity and poeticism that it takes to pull a thing like that off, to the point where people respond so passionately on a global scale. It’s amazing!” Some of his other influences include John Mayer, Coldplay, Mutemath, and ‘70s icons, like Elton John, David Bowie, and Freddie Mercury.
Sincere and true to himself, Vân Scott’s journey has only just begun. With multiple singles under his belt and a forthcoming album, he’s already amassed almost 1.5 million streams on Spotify, his monthly listeners have soared, and his videos have millions of views on YouTube and Facebook. He hopes that his music encourages others to embrace who they are, and to be their best self. “I want people to feel less alone, and to be reminded that there are plenty of other people out there that share their same worries and fears. I want them to feel better understood and have a stronger sense of belonging. I want them to have hope and to be inspired to be the best version of themselves. I think that people will discover this through my own vulnerability, and I hope that they’ll be able to see and discover more of themselves within my songs.”
It's "Vân Scott's time to step out of the background!"
"Undoubtedly one of the USA’s hidden gems...
[Vân Scott] clearly has a
gift for writing songs..."
- Gig Goer
"...it's hard to understand how he's somehow avoided the limelight as long as he has. His talent is unstoppable..."