STORY WRITTEN BY FERN BRODKIN
For Digital First Media
Sean Scolnick, a.k.a. Langhorne Slim, has reinvented himself. The vagabond musician has gone through some significant changes. He is single for the first time in his adult life. He celebrated 2 years of sobriety on Aug. 20. And he has laid down new roots in Nashville. I had an opportunity to interview a very upbeat Langhorne Slim from his home while on break after 2 months of touring. We discussed his life and his art, including his great new album “The Spirit Moves” (Dualtone, 2015). He will be performing with his band The Law at Union Transfer on Sept. 16. The following are excerpts from our interview.
Brodkin: You’ve gone through a lot of changes in your personal life. How has that affected your creative process?
Slim: It’s tough to sum up in a matter of words because it exists, I think, in a kind of an energy and spiritual realm, and it’s tough to find all the right words to do all of that justice. But when you’re a songwriter or an artist, you’re creative through whatever (stuff) you’re going through, and so the (stuff) that I’ve been going through certainly plays a part in the new music and in the new record.
I’ve been a traveling person since I left Pennsylvania when I was 18 … it’s just what (I’ve been) used to in my life for the last, I don’t know, 15, 16 years, just living that sort of way. Changes as far as finding myself in more of an independent role, as I had been in two relationships from the ages of 20 to 30, and (I) found myself single for the first time 3 or 4 years ago, and navigating that, which wasn’t something I had experienced in my adult life before. And then moving from where I was and being on the road with the band and crashing with friends and then finding Nashville, and then probably the main thing is my sobriety.
That, of course, changes everything because I was either a little high or a little drunk or a lot of those things every day for almost 15 years. The lens (through which) you see the world and the energy that exists around that kind of dictates the things that you’re doing and how life is affecting you and how you’re affecting the world around yourself.
I felt like I had a lot to prove to myself to write and to perform and to live as the best version of myself within the new skin that I was wearing and to make sure that I was being really raw and real and diving into the (things) that scared me and trying to find strength in that as opposed to getting scared and running.
I did the best that I could and I proved to myself that I could write a record that I (am) really proud of and live a life that I (feel) — not (at) all times comfortable in my skin, that is for sure — but that I could feel comfortable in my skin in the times that I do. And when I don’t, I don’t need to run to something; I can deal with it. That’s a major change, obviously, and gives me a lot of pride in this record.
Brodkin: What made you decide to move to Nashville?
Slim: I was just sort of hopping around and I went to visit a dear friend in Nashville. People had been telling me for years that I’d love it there and coming through, playing music, I’d never found the connection. I didn’t feel that spark that people were talking about. When I went there to visit, I saw another side of it and I felt immediately comfortable, embraced, sort of like hugged by it. I realized quickly that it was the next place that I was going to live. Nashville and I met at a great time. It just immediately felt like home and so I figured I wouldn’t fight against that feeling.
Brodkin: When you’re an entertainer, a lot of times drinking and drugs is part of that whole lifestyle. When you’re on the road is it more of a challenge for you to stay sober?
Slim: No. It’s not. I have always been a very stubborn, passionate, rebellious spirit. As into the life of being a drinker and a drug-taker as I was, I feel myself standing pretty firmly and pretty strongly in this new way. The show immediately improved. I realize how incredibly lucky I am (and) how I’ve improved things for me and for the band.
Brodkin: How do you think this album is different from your previous albums? Being as it’s your first time writing and recording sober, how has that impacted your sound?
Slim: I don’t know. I’ll leave that to those that are listening. For me, it impacted me in a deep and profound way. I wanted very much to prove to myself, to see if I could, and I didn’t know if I could. Music is the most important (thing in my life). It’s my life’s work. It is truly the air that I breathe. Without it, I would perish. I’m certain of it.
IF YOU GO
What: XPN Welcomes Langhorne Slim & The Law with Twain
When: Wednesday, Sept. 16. Showtime 8:30 p.m.; doors open at 8.
Where: Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia.
Tickets: $16 — $18
Info.: Check www.utphilly.com or call (215) 232-2100.
Artist’s website: www.langhorneslim.com