Overcoming a Physical Disability - Interview with Marc Scott
by Robert Flis / August 13, 2020
For the Summer Edition of our Music Industry Talks webinar series, the Sincop8ed Noize Foundation is excited to be spotlighting Canadian musicians of diverse backgrounds and communities. For this first episode we had the privilege of speaking with Marc Scott, a talented Montreal singer, songwriter and bass player who has lived his whole life with a physical disability and has overcome an astounding number of challenges as a musician.
Marc’s musical journey began when he was very young. In school he took every opportunity to perform in concerts and musicals, performing at both the Téléthon Enfant-Soleil and Shriner’s Circus throughout his childhood. Encouraged by his mother, Marc knew he wanted to pursue an education in music, but he didn’t quite know which direction to take. As both a bassist and vocalist, he had options, and he ultimately decided to study bass in CEGEP, with the idea that he could always fall back on teaching bass if his career didn’t pan out the way he envisioned. However, it was around this time that Marc’s health started to deteriorate, putting a strain on not only his music career but his entire life.
Marc was born with severe bilateral clubfoot, meaning that both of his feet curled under, making it impossible for him to walk. As a result, he spent years dealing with treatments, surgeries and therapy while growing up. Although these procedures did eventually allow him to walk, it was a long and painful process that took both a mental and physical toll on him. Marc also suffered from micrognathia, a condition in which the lower jaw was much shorter than the upper jaw, for which he had two surgeries during his high school years. Marc had further surgery on his left foot in 2017 and spent a year and a half in recovery.
All of these health issues severely impacted his life as a musician. Playing shows became extremely difficult, as transporting bass amps and other gear was virtually impossible. Even with the help of his outstanding entourage of musicians who went out of their way to bring whatever gear he couldn’t bring himself, getting to gigs and actually performing was a struggle. “It’s been tough,” says Marc. “There have been times where I wished I wouldn’t wake up in the morning.” These challenges had a severe impact on Marc’s sense of self confidence. For years he suffered from depression and was on high doses of medication. “At a point bass teach took me out of the class and told me ‘I can’t teach you, you’re too high,’” he explains. “I was on so much medication that I don’t really remember my last semester of CEGEP. I was really in a dark place.” What got Marc through these dark times was a combination of finding the right tools and having the right frame of mind. “There are lots of things that are out of my control – the genetics that I was born with and everything - but I can control everything in my environment, and how I think and how I visualize things. It’s a lot of work with the mind, but it’s worth it.”
Marc also found practicing yoga to be a game changer for him. “Yoga means union. It really means to unify what’s outside of you - the reality that’s outside that’s not yours, with your reality and yourself. For example, when I wake up and everything hurts and I don’t feel like it’s going to be a good day, I’m just going to say "I’m alive, everybody that I know is alive, the sun still showed up – there are all these forces in the cosmos that are working together for us to be alive on this planet doing our stuff and playing music. So many things outside of myself are going well just for us to be here today." So when you see that you are also part of everything else outside of you that is doing well, you rebalance your vision of it. Everything outside of me is working well, and that’s also a part of me, because I’m a part of that.”
The elements of yoga and meditation that helped Marc in his personal and health struggles also translated into his life as a musician. Marc explains, “What happens when you meditate or just when you sit and be silent with yourself, is that you realize the importance of that silence. And that’s the case also in music. Silence is a beautiful thing that has to be balanced with the sounds. With yoga you feel more grounded and you can bring that into when you play. When you meditate it’s a bit like the state when musicians are playing a solo and they’re just in the vibe. Well, you can be in that vibe when you meditate too, and you can transpose that when you play music.”
It’s that positive attitude that really allowed Marc to make the best of his situation, and even apply it to his songwriting. “Life experience is what I have,” he says. “That’s what my music has always been about. A lot of it is about struggling, and how to overcome that struggle.” Finding the confidence to express those experiences is something that took time and effort. "I’d often think - why would anyone give a shit about what I have to say?’” he says. It’s a process that many musicians have to work through, but one that is clearly important, as Marc’s message is something inspiring that so many people would benefit from hearing.
Recently, Marc has been taking this time to work on a new project that is not yet ready to be officially announced, but we should hear more about it in the coming weeks. He has written over a dozen songs so far that are reggae-inspired with hip hop influences. He also continues to be active with his progressive rock band Algorhythm who are also working on new music during the pandemic.
When asked if he has any advice for listeners who may be dealing with similar struggles, Marc has some truly wise words. “Never give up when you want to give up. Adapt. Focus on what you can do instead of what you cannot do. And be silent – when you give attention to what’s going on outside of you instead of what’s going on inside, it starts to get better."
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