Séamus Scanlan Talks Improv and His New Album

FCI instructor and house team member, Séamus Scanlan just released his debut album, Blue Bright! It is a beautiful work of art. If you haven’t listened to it yet, head on over to seamusscanlan.com and pick up a copy!

We’re feeling extra lucky because Séamus will be playing his record release show right on our stage! The show is on August 8th, 2021. Make sure to reserve your ticket ahead of time!

We all know that improv improves our lives both on and off the stage, so we asked Séamus if the skills he learned in improv helped him in honing his creative process for the album. Here was his response: 

Oh, of course. I think the primary relation between what I’ve learned in improv and what I learned in creating the record is letting go of where you think it (a song, a lyric, a scene) should go and letting it show you where it wants to go, and then responding to that. Songwriting for the album was a pretty isolated process, but even by myself, there’s moments that feel easeful where you’re letting the words pour out rather than trying to craft something perfect. And then recording the songs in the studio was a level up of that because now I had other people in the room, building the songs, and that takes some letting go. 

I worked on this record with Ace Enders (The Early November, I Can Make A Mess), who has been someone I’ve admired and listened to since I was 15 years old. Despite the love I have for his music, I still found myself occasionally resisting an idea he threw out in the studio because it didn’t line up with my original demo or idea of the song. On one of those occasions, he said to me something like I don’t want to make a song you could have done on your own. And that smoked me like yea, of course, I’m here in a studio with him and his unique abilities, and building something together is going to be so much better than simply following my own idea with his cooperation. Improv is the same way. It’s not you and your idea, it’s the combination of you and your teammate(s) and all the permutations of ideas and abilities that create the most potent possibility of something totally unique and cool and sometimes really, really funny.

The whole reason I signed up for my first improv class was because my therapist at the time and I were talking about aspirations, and music came up as the dream – like my wildest fantasy was me, playing songs I wrote, and people are in the room of their own volition and we’re all just having the sickest time. She suggested singing at an open mic as a first step and I told her how terrifying that would be, that I could never. Her response was: we need to look at THAT. We landed on trying an improv class as a way to lean against that fear I had. This was November 2015. It’d be hard to encapsulate all of the learning and growth I’ve experienced since day 1 of improv. It’s been an incredible part of my life and my learned ability to redefine what I think I’m capable of. I’m still pretty terrified to perform songs I’ve written for a live audience but I also know that I can do it, and every time I choose to do it, I get better and it gets a little easier. And I’m just really pumped to play these songs on a stage that I love.”

We learn so many life lessons on stage, connection with ourselves, our creativity, and others. For many, improv is the bridge that carries you to your dreams and it’s incredible to see Séamus doing exactly what he was what he thought he could never do.  To what dream is improv leading you?

Are you ready to try improv? Register for a free Discover Improv class here!

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