Interview: Scarlet Sails on coming to America, new music and life

SS Rooftop (1k)

Concert Crap: Could you give anyone who might not know you a brief history of your band?

Brian Viglione: Olya and I met in 2013 and the first thing that grabbed my attention was that she was a songwriter recently moved to New York.  As we got together as a couple, we began making music together and eventually formed Scarlet Sails in 2015, releasing our debut EP and heading off on a US tour in 2016, and released two videos for “I’ll be There” and “Wonder Why”. We then headed into the studio to record our full length, Future From The Past, due out April 10th 2017, after a successful Kickstarter campaign, and ready to tour in April and May. So much has happened in just the last 12 months alone, it’s been exciting to say the least!

CC: Olya, I read that your from Russia, was it shocking coming to America and seeing the music scene over here vs. what you’d known in Russia?

Olya Viglione: Coming from Moscow to New York was definitely a culture shock. But as soon as I stepped on the streets of Manhattan I felt like all those doors that were closed before to me suddenly were wide open. It felt like I’ve come into my own. I had never felt so alive. Every day there was something new to explore and be inspired from, all the different genres of music, all the different clubs with all kinds of sounds and vibes. Ultimately, freedom to create whatever you feel like creating. Moscow has got a couple of good clubs and a few bands that I like but it doesn’t feel real in the moment, if you know what I mean. Things are not really “happening” there. As much as I would want it to be more like NY, it’s not. There’s a lot of talented folks back there but there’s not much of artistic freedom because there’s no real platform to support it.

CC: Olya and Brian- When Scarlet Sails first started, was it hard for you to get used to each others styles and make music together?

BV: Not at all, I think we had a very intuitive relationship right from the start. Although having different tastes in music has in many ways helped push us out of our comfort zones and explore different ideas in the songs, so it’s healthy overlap. But overall we share the same vision and it’s a very symbiotic relationship.  Like anything, the more you do it, the of a telepathy develops between you and the other people involved, and that’s what we’re excited to explore with our guitarist, Mark Kohut, and new bassist, Ed Goldson. They both bring a lot to the table musically and make the whole process that much richer.

CC: Your new album Future From The Past comes out April 10th. It’s mainly about the journey Olya faced coming to New York from Russia. With that, did Olya do most of the writing for this record? How did the writing process work?

OV: I usually write all of the music and lyrics as I did for this record. I started writing musical compositions on piano when I was eight, but I didn’t start writing songs till about six years ago and the very first one that I wrote and finished was “Butterfly”. It is the 10th track on the record and a favorite tune for many people that I know, which is funny because I wrote it as a love ballad and I didn’t think much of it. All the songs on the record were written in the past six years and they reflect different parts of my path and the formation of my character from the point of my arriving to New York to the present. A couple of recent songs, as recent as the end of 2016. Like “As I Am”, for example. In that song I’m finally claiming myself back as I decide to break out of being scared or looking foolish despite what someone else made me feel like. And it kind of completes the circle, “As I Am” is the reason “Butterfly” ended up on the record. I’m finally writing that love song that someone told me not to. I’m finally taking myself seriously and going full force for what I believe in.

CC: Where did you get the idea for the single “Boy You’re Wrong” ?

OV: “Boy You’re Wrong” is about being disconnected with the person you want to connect the most because of previous experiences that made you build the walls around yourself so you won’t feel hurt again. “BYW” is about breaking out of it and opening a conversation. Even if it is painful at first, like Thom Yorke once said: “If you take me then you’ll get relief”.

CC: What are some of your musical and non-musical influences?

OV: Growing up I wasn’t submerged in a music scene, nor did I really have friends to play music with, so I found my joys in reading books. So my non-musical and my biggest influences are Kafka, Sartre, Dostoevsky, Bulgakov, Maugham, Kundera and Hugo. There are many more, but I’m afraid I’ve already listed too many, haha. Musical influences are definitely Queen, Radiohead, Bowie. Debussy and Tchaikovsky from classical composers. I also love soul music, its emotion and storytelling is everything to me.

CC: Would you ever want to go play a show in Russia with Scarlet Sails?

BV: We already played two shows in Moscow on this past New Year’s Eve and had a great time! Olya’s good friend, Nash, put them together and we were joined by some guest musicians and had a blast.

CC: How has your time with the Violent Femmes and Dresden Dolls influenced your music today with Scarlet Sails?

BV: All of those cumulative experiences have helped me work to be a more dynamic player, a better listener, and resourceful with making a lot from very little.  Both the Femmes and the Dolls were fairly reductive groups in terms of instrumentation, so that helps stretch your creativity, as well as blending in a wide range of musical styles from punk to musical theater, bluegrass to jazz.  But I credit a lot of other bands I’ve played with like World/Inferno and Botanica for helping me grow just as much. I consider myself fortunate to have worked with people who help me reach beyond my immediate musical horizons for something more.

All questions answered by Olya and Brian Viglione.

Purchase “Scarlet Sails” EP

Post and interview by Madeline Cronin

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