One of my favourite meloncholic artists, Scarlett Taylor, is back with her latest E.P. ‘3’.
All of her previous releases have been great. So my biggest fear with writing about this one was that I would end up repeating myself.
You see, if Scarlett had released similar songs to her previous album, ‘Churches’, although I’d have been perfectly content, I’d have nothing new to say. Luckily for me, she has tried new things with this E.P. which not only expands the variety in her music, but also gives me new ways of discussing it.
In ‘3’ she has gone down a darker path – even occasionally dipping into some more electronic styles. These new ideas of hers don’t create a completely new sound for her, instead they allow her to take her signature style and enrich it even further.
Anybody familiar with her music will know it’s not the most light-hearted of sounds, and with her experimentation on this E.P. she has given herself fresh ways of exploring the darkness.
Her experimentation has allowed her to bring fresh dimensions to her music, further imprinting herself into the very soundwaves she creates.
Lucid by Scarlett Taylor is a very strong footing from which her career seems to be growing well from. Her unique, almost-derelict sounding aesthetic is something to be enjoyed, with Scarlett never afraid to lay her voice bare against these haunting soundscapes. “Monster Movie” from this debut album is a perfect example of this.
Although she is relatively new, in terms of her music’s exposure to the world, she has already managed to carve a unique niche for herself. It is clear that not only did she find her footing with this album, but she dug both heels in and continues to push forwards into new and interesting musical avenues.
I got mommy issues Daddy issues Money Issues Holes in my shoes
Mommy Issues by Scarlett Taylor
Mommy Issues by Scarlett Taylor
If you are new to Scarlett’s music then this will be a great introduction to what she’s all about. If, like me, you are listening to this album after “Churches“, then you’re already a fan and are in for a treat.
Stand out songs
If you go by SoundCloud listens alone, then “Purple Bones” is clearly the most popular song from this album. I do like that song, however my personal favourite from “Lucid” is the fifth song, “Mommy Issues”. It’s one of the album’s heaviest with its distorted guitar filling this song’s larger-sounding atmosphere. It’s one of the heaviest I remember hearing from Scarlett, which is always welcome.
“Monster Movie” is another favourite, and is closer to the style I think of with Scarlett’s music. Her voice filling the stage while only a very small arrangement accompanies her. This song’s arrangement comes in the form of a melody played on a slightly over-driven electric guitar.
As with “Churches”, this album is music to get lost in and experience. It shouldn’t be put on with the kids yelling or as a communal office affair. This music is a personal statement and deserves to be experienced as such.
On my first hearing of Scarlett Taylor’s music I was reminded of Lana Del Rey and Chrysta Bell – both being artists I adore. But now I have listened to Scarlett’s second album “Churches” a few times, I now enjoy it on its own merits, no longer drawing comparisons to other artists.
Churches is tagged as being “Sadcore” on Soundcloud and I had to research exactly what that was. Wikipedia’s definition states:
… [Sadcore] characterised by bleak lyrics, downbeat melodies and slower tempos. The term is an example of use of the suffix “-core”. It is a loose definition and does not describe a specific movement or scene.
Wikipedia definition of Sadcore
That seems like an accurate stylistic description, but the resulting feelings I get from the music, especially Scarlett’s, is anything but bleak or downbeat. I find nearly all music gives me a lift of some sort, and this includes “Churches”. From out of the darkness and delivery, the music uplifts and creates in me, the feeling of reflection.
Let us Pray
The album’s opening song, “Fucked Up”, was the first one I heard before knowing about this album. The song found its way into a soundcloud playlist and I found myself skipping back to listen to it again and again. Although I can’t pick out a bad song from the album, that opening song is still a stand out one for me.
“Fucked Up” opens with a drone effect and Scarlett’s voice, which immediately blew me away with both her power and the way she delivers. She manages to weave her voice around a song’s structure, dancing in the darkness of the song’s core, not being held in too tightly to the rhythm.
The second song “Crazy” stays in the same vein as “Fucked Up” and by now I was fully immersed in the world of “Churches”.
“Imprisoned” is the album’s third song and it is actually a remix version that has found it’s way on. The song opens with a passage from rapper Zay, who himself is part of a Minnesota-based rap group, “The Truants”. This gives the album a new flavour and dynamic without straying too far from her signature sound.
At the halfway point of Churches there sits the beautiful ballad “Ignite”. “Ignite” strips away all of the drone effects and electronic backing and presents Scarlett’s voice bare with an accompanying piano. If I was to give you one song to demonstrate her abilities as a singer it would be this one. It’s so great. And its build up towards the end gives the song an equally beautiful climax.
One of the album’s most haunting songs for me was “Christmas Eve”. Her brooding vocals over a string pedal tone. So emotional and seems to pull me into it every time I hear it. It’s dangerous for me to listen to this one when I’m driving. Also it never fails to give me that Twin Peaks vibe.
Scarlett Taylor would sound great at the Roadhouse.
Miss Scarlett in the Ballroom with the haunting voice
Some people hear emotive music like this and immediately say things like “That sounds depressing” or “Is there anything more upbeat?”. These are people I want to slap.
I mean, yes, most people wouldn’t get dressed up to go for a night on the town while listening to an album like this. I probably would, but that’s another topic all together. But to dismiss music like this as depressing is, in my opinion, completely closed minded.
We are lucky to have artists like Scarlett Taylor, who openly bare their souls in their writing and performances; artists who remind us what it is to be human.
I get really excited when I find a new artist, whose music I can obsess over. I discovered Scarlett Taylor’s music on Soundcloud as part of a playlist. Specifically it was the song “Fucked Up” that grabbed me.
As soon as I had listened to the song, along with it’s album, “Churches“, I immediately wanted to know more about the artist behind the music.
Imagine my complete surprise, and excitement, when Scarlett accepted my request to ask her some questions about herself and her music.
Please tell us about yourself in as many or as little words as you like.
Why are the easiest questions always the hardest to answer!
Well I guess I’m in love with music and I have been singing even since before I could talk. I also started writing songs early in my life. I am a highly emotional individual, which is in favor with music because being emotional allows me to tap into deeper feelings and assists me in writing.
I love everything music has to offer, and how performing and recording can take me to a completely different place. There’s really nothing better to me than that.
Growing up, who were your heroes in music?
I didn’t really have a specific person or group that was my hero, but growing up I listened to a variety of different genres of music and artists.
I remember listening to quite a bit of male rock groups, but I also listened to everything in between. One day I’d be listening to The Deftones and the next I’d be listening to opera! I was also heavily influenced by female singers such as Sia, Amy Winehouse, and Stevie Nicks.
What was the first album you remember buying?
I remember the first album I bought was actually Sia – Color The Small One. I remember hearing “Breathe Me” when I was in grade school and was completely entranced. I would listen to that album quite often.
Was there any defining moment in your life when you knew that you wanted to write, record and perform music?
I always knew I was meant to do something artistic. I was heavily involved with theatre throughout school, a total of 8 years. I would always be writing music. In high school, I was very involved with choir and extra-curricular choir groups including jazz singers.
I think I always knew I wanted to sing. It was my senior year of high school when I was involved with a production and sang “School’s Out” that I realised just how powerful my voice was. Around the same time, I had met my current producer by chance at my part-time job. I think it really all came together at once, during some of the first couple sessions I had at my producer’s studio – I realised I wanted to sing, perform, write, and record more than I’ve ever wanted to do anything.
More recently I withdrew from college because I knew I didn’t want to do anything else but music.
Who is your biggest influence in how you approach what you do today?
I would say I’m actually very influenced by other musicians! I am a very observant person and I love learning new things and approaches to doing music, writing, etc. I love to read about other musicians and their stories and how they go about doing things. I watch at least one live performance or interview of another musician every other day.
What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
I would say I have a lot of moments where I’ve been extremely grateful.
I performed at 7th Street Entry on First Avenue a couple nights ago and that was a very memorable experience; being in the same area that a lot of talented musicians have been.
Any time I perform, whether it be at an open mic or bigger venue, I am extremely grateful I get to do what I love and share my music and soul with other people.
I would say one of the proudest moments would be receiving a message from someone telling me I saved their life with my music. That was so rewarding.
What is your favourite Album?
There are so many – I wouldn’t be able to pick just one if I tried!
What is your favourite Film?
The Shining – that movie will never get old to me; I love the suspense and overall concept.The end still gets me every time!
What is your favourite TV Show?
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I was really into American Horror Story and The Walking Dead for a while.
Are there any new albums you are binge listening to at the moment?
Yes, Honeymoon by Lana Del Rey (2015), and bits of “The Altar” from Banks – I’m impatiently waiting for the full release!
You’re walking somewhere and your mp3 player has only a little battery left; You’ve only got time for one more song. What song do you play?
I’m too indecisive! I’d probably just let the battery die and sing a song (-:
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell myself not to let anyone talk me out of following my dreams.
So often in my life, I’d have people try to put me down or tell me that I couldn’t amount to something big. I remember starting to not believe in myself but soon regained my strength when I started to push myself during high school. Whether it be in theatre or choir; I would push myself to work harder so I could be the best I could possibly be.
I am now a very determined individual because of that. I would tell myself to keep working because it is going to pay off! I would also tell myself to learn a ton of instruments!
If you could ask any person – living or passed – any question, who would it be and what would you ask them?
There’s too many options for that! But I often wish I could ask Amy Winehouse to duet with me and have Nina Simone accompany me on piano. That’d be groovy!
Could you tell us a joke?
My taste in music ranges from “you need to listen to this” to “I know, please do not judge me.”
A big thank you to Scarlett
Thank you very much to Scarlett for sharing those insights into herself and her music. I feel privileged to have discovered her music and I think you will too.