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It’s a bit of hyperbole, but you could probably trace almost every music innovation of today—and tomorrow—back to Scott Eric Olivier’s bedroom.

From when he was 10.

You may know Scott’s name. Steeped in the world of music, sound design and digital audio technology, Scott’s worked with a who’s who of musicians, including Michael Jackson, Gwen Stefani and No Doubt, Van Halen, Christina Aguilera and Chris Cornell. A multifaceted talent, he’s also a studio musician extraordinaire (drums, bass, guitar, synths) and a music engineer who’s worked on over 200 albums.

Now, add a few other endeavors: producer, songwriter, mixer and programmer.

Through his companies — including Casa Distortion, Skyscraper Holding Company and a number of subsidiaries—Scott’s also become a technical innovator, both in the music world and outside of it. Ideas just starting now are going to be an integral part of the creative world for years to come.

Again, this all goes back to Scott’s rather precocious childhood.

“I built a computer when I was 8,” says the musician, who grew up about 100 miles from New Orleans. “Then I moved to music when I was 10: I earned some money doing chores, bought a drum kit, and started practicing for hours every day.” Along the way, he also picked up keyboards and guitar, built a studio in his walk-in closet, and bought a mixer (that he still uses) at Radio Shack, cashing in some silver dollars from his grandparents.

You know, normal kid stuff.

“I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time,” he says. “But I’ve probably built 16 studios for myself since then.”

Scott’s spent some serious time as a musician: drummer and recording engineer in New Orleans when he was still a teenager. Thousands of gigs in Austin and Seattle, his next two homes. And then, a fortuitous phone call after a move to Los Angeles, his current residence.

“A friend recommended me to Alex Van Halen,” he explains. It was during the band’s first reunion tour with David Lee Roth. “I was never a drum tech—which is what he wanted me to do—but more of a drummer and an engineer. But that really helped with what Alex wanted to achieve; recreating vintage VH drum sounds from their early catalogue. I’m savvy with music software, and I can play instruments.”

It also helped Scott land a number of high-level engineering, studio and touring gigs. “Musicians are not going to trust an IT guy,” he says. “They want to work with someone who understands what they do. I make them comfortable.”

Scott took some time off from the music world in 2010, after spending extensive time with Michael Jackson to prep for what was to be the singer’s comeback tour. (Scott remembers the singer as “gracious and gentle,” and was with him at a rehearsal just hours before his passing).

While Jackson’s death greatly affected Scott, it allowed him to pursue his more technical endeavors. “When I was on tour I noticed some tech problems that no one was addressing, like safe data transport,” he says. “I had all this sensitive information for recording or playing back music that was being harmed by X-rays and security.”

In response, he implemented Laptop Roadie, a secure cloud portal he designed in 2006 to combat intense post-9/11 airport and cargo shipping screening (pre-dating Dropbox by a year, too). Laptop Roadie later became an integral part of Skyscraper Holding, a tech startup firm Scott founded in 2010 and still holds a majority share of today (Skyscraper purchased Laptop Roadie in 2010). The company works with fiber optics and remote data storage not just for musicians, but also for all types of businesses.

Those early tech experiments continue to influence his current projects. Some of them are versed in the music world, including PEDALpUNK!, which allows analog devices (like guitar FX pedals) to interact with computers. And sample packs for Elektron, which crafts hardware music machines for DJs, electronic artists and remixers.

Others cast a wider net: including PrivatePipes, an encrypted Extranet data transportation protocol, and enviroNET, a digital, time-based application that allows an unlimited array of computers and electronic devices to operate as one large environment.

He’s even started dabbling in public speaking. “I seem to have the ability to translate complicated things into English and then explain them, calmly.”

But for Scott, it’s all part of the same rubric.

“All these things I’ve done, in music or with technology, are designed to make people comfortable and promote creativity,” he says. “It’s about customizing an environment. The same things I’ve been doing for myself since I was 10.”


-Kirk Miller
March 2015



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