As much as this is a story about a comedian, singer, and actress, it really starts with a kid who wore a tiara to school every day…
That kid grew up to be Scout Durwood. Many years before she made audiences laugh starring on MTV’s MARY + JANE and Oxygen’s FUNNY GIRLS, she knew that being different was her greatest strength. That free spirit defines her first album for Blue Élan Records, Take One Thing Off.
“Growing up, I was painfully weird, but blissfully unaware of it,” she smiles“I was everybody’s lovable little weirdo. After college, I moved to New York. I knew I wanted to be in show business, and in my mind, the way to make it was to be the most original, most creative, and most outside-the-box.”
She went way outside-the-box, spending nearly five years as a draw in New York’s burlesque scene: named as one of the Huffington Post’s “20 Burlesque Stars to Know,” to boot. With this unforgettable experience under her belt, she traded the Big Apple for Los Angeles in 2012. Cast as the lead in the musical Original about the life of blues singer Janiva Magness, she caught the attention of producer Dave Darling [Def Leppard, Queen Latifah, Tom Waits, Brian Setzer] during a performance.
“After the show, Dave come up to me and was like, ‘Can I take you to lunch? I’d like to know more about you’,” she recalls. “We went to lunch, and I told him that I do comedy and act, but that I used to sing in the cabaret world. He looked at me and said, ‘We have to do an album!’”
Throughout 2016, Durwood architected what would become Take One Thing Off with Dave riding shotgun in the producer’s chair. The 21-track album intermingles a hysterical standup set at underground Los Angeles comedy theater The Pack with songs “loosely mapped over my life in New York.”
“There’s a track for when I arrived, a track for when I started working as a Go Go Dancer, a big breakup in the middle, and my departure for L.A.,” she continues. “The idea is for the album to be its own little show.”
With a music video planned for each song, Take One Thing Off undresses Scout’s musical world. Gleefully unveiled first, the handclaps, surf-inspired guitar, and impressive delivery of “Go Go” yield the ultimate “dancing in your underpants” anthem with a clever twist.
“The chorus is making fun of pop songs, but with a lot of love,” she laughs. “I came up as a performer in queer nightlife, so a lot of what other pop songs were about didn’t resonate with me. I don’t come from a world where there are pressures to look a certain way or to move forward in your career or to find the perfect boyfriend. There are so many pop songs that do a call and response between ‘the ladies’ and ‘the fellas,’ and that feels ridiculous to me. Go Go is my fun and gender-fluid Hey Ya.”
Meanwhile, the title track “Take One Thing Off” flaunts an upbeat and undeniable chant over a propulsive musical backdrop.
“The title for the album is a reference to a Coco Chanel,” she says. “The actual quote is: ‘Once you’ve dressed, and before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off.’ Coco’s talking about accessories, but I’m such a believer in random acts of public nudity and being true to your inner beat, that for me, it means taking off one expectation others have about how you should act or who you should be. Get naked and just be you. The record is taking that one thing off.”
Elsewhere, she successfully tries her hand at an (anti-)love song on “Here We Are,” while her rendition of “My Funny Valentine” proves both poignant and powerful, spotlighting her dynamic voice.
“When I first moved to L.A., that’s what I used to sing to myself when I got sad or felt like I was failing at life,” she admits. “It’s the serious moment on the album, which, especially as a comedian, was a wonderful moment to get to have.”
In between making Take One Thing Off, Durwood turned heads as a main character on MTV’s 2016 breakout Mary + Jane, executive produced by Snoop Dogg. The Hollywood Reporter claimed, “Durwood commits with gusto,” Vogue called her, “Brazen, brass,” and The Los Angeles Times lauded the series’, “sharp satirical observations about stoner culture, celebrity, the Silver Lake lifestyle, and female friendships.”
Ultimately, Durwood always does things on her own terms, and that’s why Take One Thing Off will undoubtedly connect.
“I think I’m still that girl in a tiara who doesn’t know she’s weird,” she leaves off. “That’s become the heart of my comedy. I’m happy to be different, and I hope other people feel the same way. It’s about letting your freak flag fly, and if that isn’t reason enough to dance, I honestly don’t know what is.” — Rick Florino, January 2017