Iraqi-born, New Zealand-based artist WHO SHOT SCOTT is a self-produced anomaly. Without being restricted by a particular soundscape, his eclectic blend of drill, shoegaze, indie rock and rap has evolved more and more into his signature sound since his 2020 debut.

In a short four year run, WSS has completed his MERCY EP trilogy, supported the likes of Snoop Dogg and Yung Gravy on tour, and began 2024 with his latest project BRAIN (SIDE A). The five-track EP is the first in a new series of stream-of-consciousness projects, born from his overcoming of the common imposter syndrome many artists suffer from.

“I’ve now slowly started to figure out what my workflow is and with BRAIN (SIDE A), it was a really momentous moment in terms of workflow for me,” WSS explains. “I put down 50 ideas, took maybe three or four months and then at the end of it, I went into the studio and listened to each one and just made notes on which ones felt good. I picked five that I really liked and that I couldn’t live without, and I knew that they had this energy behind them.”

WHO SHOT SCOTT’s selection process was defined by one rule: to refine songs that are “already providing the goods at its core element.” This intuitive flow-of-conscious approach saw the fruition of his fearless production style and his most honest storytelling, telling the events detailed in each song just as he experiences them.

One such event would be the story behind ‘MI6’, which he wrote after attending an Auckland club filled with pretentious influencers who place their self-value into VIP cards and Instagram numbers. As the first thing that came to mind to a frustrated artist after a humbling night out surrounded by egomaniacs, this experience sparked some of his favourite lyrics from the EP: “Fee-fo-fi, he tell them let us in, she’s so fly, she’s so ten-out-ten. Bathroom lines to take their medicine, these shy guys never felt no heaven-sent.” 

“I don’t know what it is about it, but it just tells that night perfectly.” WSS says.

Storytelling remains one of WSS’ most useful assets, extending past the music and into his accompanying visuals. Headed by the visionary Conor Pritchard, every music video is shot with the same directing/editing team, delivering consistently simple concepts with strong aesthetics. Much the same way he hands the reins of his music-making to his intuition, WSS offers his sketchbook of concepts and references for each video while remaining in the backseat of the visual process. This belief and consistency in process and in collaborators is essential to what success WHO SHOT SCOTT has seen thus far.

“I’m a big believer in not dictating too hard. So I’ll explain the colour in the world that I want things to live in but then I know Connor Pritchard is an artist in his own right, so for me to be there and to overly dictate his potential, it would limit him,” WSS continues. “There’s just so much trust in the team. I truly believe that everyone that I have involved working on my stuff, whether it be on the creative side or even on the business side, is just super, super talented.”

BRAIN (SIDE A) is injected with an overdose of energy, all made the same way but without a connecting thread besides the sound, conception, and the mind behind it all. “‘BUGGIN’ is about feeling paranoid that people around me who pretend to be cool with me are actually plotting against me,” WSS laughs. “But then realising that I’m just antagonising them because of my own insecurities and I’m probably buggin’.”

In similar fashion, ‘I HEAR THEM LAUGHING’ deals with more of the tricks our brain plays on itself. The high-octane and paranoid track is inspired by his maniacally laughing sleep paralysis demon, who turned out to be his “flatmate downstairs playing League of Legends.”

‘SAD SOMETIMES’ is a song about fluctuating emotions, which he expressed by giving the production an out-of-key, “wonky kinda feel to it, which spoke to me in my state of diagnosed bipolar tendencies.” The EP closes with the perspective shift of ‘WIPEOUT’, a monologue about feeling sorry for past trauma and hardships, and “feeling guilty for feeling sad” before finding contentment.

In line with his creative vision, the artist and producer is a big fan of concept albums. Similar to that of RussCHOMP series, his previous three EP’s make up a trilogy of interconnecting projects, and BRAIN (SIDE A) is the start of the next WHO SHOT SCOTT saga. The first instalment reveals an honest depiction of psychological factors we cannot properly explore in song without first stripping away that ego to enter the kind of unconscious state in which the EP was written.

“I’m writing SIDE B now, but the only way it is connected is how it’s born from the same intuitive process,” WSS says. “This is the first time I’ve given up control and surrendered myself to it like this, so this is sort of an era of my creative works. BRAIN (SIDE B) is just an extension of that, and I’m letting the songs be what they want to be.”

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