INTERVIEW | Scarlet Sails Elevate Rock Noir To New Heights

Rock noir with dream pop flavors

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Rock noir band Scarlet Sails dropped their debut album, Future From the Past, in 2017, followed by three national tours and a performance in Moscow on New Year's Eve. In 2018, they are releasing a series of singles and music videos. Their current offering is "Hideaway," a dreamy pop noir music video full of baroque sensibilities.

Popdust sat down with Scarlet Sails to find out more about their backstory and what the future holds for them musically.

How would you describe yourself?

Brian: Intense, Muppet-like. Also, like a big black lab in human form.

Olya: Lover, dreamer, thinker, creator.

Who is in the band and how did you get together?

Olya: It's me, Olya Viglione, the lead singer and the songwriter, keys, guitar, uke; Brian Viglione, the drummer extraordinaire, multi-instrumentalist; Mark Christopher Kohut - guitar; Kevin Jones - bass.

Brian and I met at a Black Flag tribute show on the lower east side of Manhattan; we "recruited" Mark at the same club, and Kevin just recently joined the crew in April.

What's the story behind the band's name?

Brian: The name comes from the famous 1923 Russian novel by Alexander Grin. It was one of Olya's favorites growing up, and in a way really mirrors our story as a couple and in forming the band. The book is about two dreamers, both of whom don't fit in with the hardened people and situations of their day-to-day lives, and through their meeting and finding love in each other they make their dreams come true against all odds. It's about how when no one else seems to believe in you, sometimes finding that right person can drastically open up your life.

What is the most trouble you've ever gotten into?

Brian: Golf ball theft, and drunken idiocy when I was 16 years old. My friends and I had a weird situation where we used to hang out at this driving range across the road from my friend's house in Mason, New Hampshire. One night for no reason, we totally cleared out every single golf ball we could find in a big army duffle bag and were gonna sell them to a used sports gear place as a prank, but the cops saw our foot prints in the sand and were at the door the next morning. It was absolutely dumb and hilarious. The drunken behavior part was on a school trip to Italy when I was in 10th grade. I had been told by an older friend that our language teacher might be inclined to share a brandy with a few of the guys to celebrate the trip, so I asked him and there were about 6-8 of us on the roof top of our hotel in the evening having a drink. Only things got out of hand and one of the other kids got totally hammered in their room, so one of the chaperones was alerted and SHE was getting trashed with the other teachers in HER room, but when she went to get our guy on the roof, the shit hit the fan and EVERYONE got in trouble; we all had to do 20 hours of community service and the language teacher got fired for drinking with the students. It was a drag, he was a good guy. I shoulda never said anything to him. Fun trip otherwise.

Olya: I don't think I can beat that one so I'll pass, haha.

What's your favorite song to belt out in the car or the shower?

Olya: Haha, the first song we yelled on the top of our lungs int the car was "What's Up" by 4 Non Blonds. We also love Whitney and Aretha for that purpose. Brian is especially good at "Respect."

What musicians influenced you the most?

Olya: Freddie Mercury (Queen), Radiohead, Diane Arbenina of Night Snipers, Debussy, Oasis.

How, if at all, do your musical influences shape and impact your music?

Brian: They open up the whole color pallet from which we draw. There are so many directions you can pick from to steer the mood of a song that all our influences basically wind up providing the gust of wind in a certain direction, and then we can craft it from there. Some people have criticized the band for being too diverse stylistically, but I think that diversity of musical expression is an absolute asset, and we choose to color the music in ways that speak to us, rather than feel confined.

How would you describe your style of music?

Brian: Pure, unadulterated Rock Noir. A friend of ours once described it as, "Joe Raposo and Freddie Mercury are walking into this piano bar and wave to David Bowie, who introduces them to George Gershwin and Alice Cooper..."

Where do you find inspiration for your songs?

Olya: All around the city of New York, on the road, reading books I love, listening to the sounds that inspire me, living life.

What is your songwriting process? Do the lyrics come first, or the music?

Olya: More often than not, music comes first. But it always is different with every song. Sometimes the melody comes to me and I record it as a voice memo on my phone. I sing to myself on the streets and on the subway which might be confusing to the passers-by, but, on the other hand, I don't think New Yorkers can be surprised by anything by this point, haha. The most amazing is when the melody comes with the lyrics and you have 70% of the song within the first 5 minutes, that is a very inspiring place to start working on the arrangement.

I really like your music video "Hideaway." Who wrote the song and how did it come together?

Olya: Thank you! "Hideaway" was the first song I wrote on ukulele. I have a 6-string beautiful instrument with a special timbre I got while traveling in Hawaii. I was never interested in ukes until I saw a Hawaiian artist, Paula Fuga, playing a six-string, and I completely fell in love with its sound and also Paula's.

When I returned to NY after the trip I started playing it and almost immediately wrote "Hideaway" which sprang out effortlessly. I was never taught how to play ukelele, so it gave me an immense freedom in writing on it, making up chords as I went along with the melody in my head.

The video exudes an elegant baroque quality. What inspired the video's appearance?

Olya: This old New York townhouse where we live as an artist collective, and the trips to the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter in Orlando, haha.

Is a new album or EP on the horizon?

Brian: We're releasing a series of singles and making a video of each one this year, giving full attention to the recording and production of each one, so absolutely keep your eyes and ears open this summer and fall!

Will you be touring this summer?

Brian: Yes, we've got a string of headline shows and festivals on the East Coast, between recording sessions. Then heading to the U.K. in November!

Check out their tour dates here.


Follow Scarlet Sails on their Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.

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