Scott Guild to Embark on Tour for Book/Music Project 'Plastic'

Plastic: The Album, releasing on May 31, serves as a companion to his debut novel.

By: May. 23, 2024
Scott Guild to Embark on Tour for Book/Music Project 'Plastic'
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On May 31 author and musician Scott Guild will release Plastic: The Album via North Street Records (The Orchard/Sony Music). The LP was produced by Grammy-winning producer Peter Katis (The National, Sharon Van Etten) and is the companion project to his wildly successful debut novel, Plastic (Penguin Random House) which was released earlier this Spring to wide-spread critical acclaim. Together the album and book lead audiences into a surreal near-future world, peopled by plastic figurines and filled with the perils of climate crisis and a recent nuclear war. 

The LP is a collaboration between Scott and the artist and producer Cindertalk (Son Lux, My Brightest Diamond), as well as the singer Stranger Cat (Sufjan Stevens, The Shins) who stars as Erin on the album, embodying the fears and desires of the plastic protagonist. Scott also drew on his background as the songwriter/guitarist of the Boston band New Collisions, which toured with the B-52s and opened for Blondie. Plastic: The Album allowed him to explore a different kind of songwriting, creating a concept record in the tradition of Joni Mitchell, The Kinks, Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, Kendrick Lamar, and Jazmine Sullivan, using the album format to tell a compelling story song by song.

Guild and his collaborators have been touring the project and are heading back out again with the first show - a record release party - scheduled for May 31 in San Francisco. Additionally, Guild will appear live on Instagram on the B-Drop Los Angeles Podcast and live on YouTube on the I'm Probably Wrong About Everything Podcast.  All dates are listed below.

Scott Guild to Embark on Tour for Book/Music Project 'Plastic'

Plastic: The Album bio

When the plastic figurines started singing, Scott Guild was at first confused. Luckily they were characters in a novel he was writing—he wasn’t having a daytime hallucination. But his book, Plastic, had just sold to Penguin when his characters interrupted his edits, pausing an important scene to burst into song. He wasn’t sure how his publisher would feel if his ambitious debut novel—peopled with plastic characters in a troubled near-future world—suddenly became a musical as well. 

To his good luck and ours, his editor loved the new direction, and the first seed of Plastic: The Album was sown. Scott had spent his twenties touring in the Boston band New Collisions, writing the songs and playing lead guitar in the eclectic art-pop group, which toured with the B-52s and opened for Blondie. Now, in his thirties, he immersed himself in a different kind of lyricism, exploring the fears and desires of his main character, Erin, an all-too-human young woman despite her hinges and hollow body, struggling to rebuild her life in a future of climate crisis and ecoterrorism. Before long, the novel was full of Erin’s songs—along with a blue spotlight that shone down on her as she sang—and Scott was starting to hear a Plastic album take shape in his mind, leading him back to music for the first time in years.

He reached out to his friend Jonny Rodgers (a.k.a Cindertalk), a baroque-pop artist who collaborates with Son Lux and My Brightest Diamond, and whom The New York Times once praised for his artful use of tuned glass. Jonny slipped into the plastic world with ease, and from there he and Scott began a year-long collaboration, transforming the novel’s lyrics into stunning, unique creations, often built around string or wind arrangements, or discoveries from Jonny’s vintage Prophet synth. The music gave sound and texture to Erin’s story, as well as the book’s political and spiritual themes—healing from grief and loss, finding new love in a crumbling world—with instrumentation that defied genre, adventurous song structures, and melodies centered on Erin’s longings. A wide range of influences flowed into the music, whatever helped to plumb her emotional depths: Anohni, Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, Bon Iver, Nina Simone, Peter Gabriel, Jazmine Sullivan, Brian Eno, Radiohead. This led to songs that felt wholly singular, but also in dialogue with expressive pop of the last five decades.

From the start, Scott and Jonny had planned to make a true concept album, like The Kinks’ Arthur or Janelle Monáe’s The ArchAndroid. The album would guide listeners song-by-song through Erin’s story, beginning with “A Doll’s House” in the first chapter, and ending on the last page with “The Absence.” As the pensive strings faded on the final track, the novel in song seemed complete.

What the album needed now was Erin herself, a singer to embody the plastic protagonist. Enter the artist Stranger Cat (Cat Martino), a frequent collaborator of Sufjan Stevens and Sharon Van Etten, whose visionary music ranges from soulful folk to soaring electropop. Her voice brought Erin into being on the songs, whether singing about her terrorist sister in the lead single, “Fiona,” or the thrills and doubts of newfound love in “Lightning,” or political violence in “Only Killers,” or the carceral state in “Nighty Night Now.” Through Stranger Cat’s nuanced vocals—which could switch from vulnerable to biting in the same phrase—Scott felt like he was meeting anew the character he’d known for years.   

Around this time, the Grammy-winning producer Peter Katis joined the project. Scott had met him years before at a crowded The National concert, recognizing his favorite producer from an old picture in Tape Op magazine. The auteur behind nearly all of The National albums, as well as Interpol’s Turn on the Bright Lights and Jónsi’s Go, Peter brought his singular brilliance to the album, placing Stranger Cat’s voice at an intimate closeness to the listener, while the strings and synths and echoing pianos swirled around her like the torn fragments of Erin’s world. While never leaving a pop aesthetic, Peter favored innovative, unconventional choices, letting the story and emotions guide the music.

The final result is an album that feels as ambitious and immediate as the novel. The album and book together create a unique, multimedia experience of the story, drawing readers and listeners deeply into the world of figurines. The audiobook of Plastic will feature songs from the album throughout, weaving the words and music together in a format that offers story through sound.

“All my life,” Scott says, “I’ve been obsessed with art that pushes boundaries, especially boundaries of genre and format. Kate Bush with her high-concept videos, Anohni’s work with Marina Abramovic—I love art that creates an immersive world, that lets me lose myself in someone’s vision. That’s my hope with Plastic: to find new ways to tell a story, to put people in a vivid space of imagination. It might sound silly, but I’ve grown very close to Erin through the years. I’m excited for everyone to meet her.”

Plastic: The Album Tracklisting  

1. A Doll’s House

2. Boytoy

3. Only Killers

4. Lightning

5. Until They’re Home

6. Worth the Loss

7. Fiona

8. Nighty Night Now

9. The Absence

Photo Credit: Anna Powell Denton


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