“So, 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…”
We love when bands cross our musical radar here at I’m Music Magazine for all of the right reasons. We’d like to introduce you to the NYC piano-based rock band Scarlet Sails. It’s the new music endeavor from drummer Brian Viglione (Dresden Dolls, Violent Femmes) and his Russian-born pianist/vocalist wife Olya (read about her journey to America). Joined by band members Mark Kohut (guitar) and Jesse Krakow (bass), they have cultivated an exciting modern sound with the soul and attitude of iconic classic rock, exemplified in their debut album Future From The Past which was released on April 10. As you would expect from an artist like Brian who uses so many colors from his musical palette to create with, Scarlet Sails’ sound defies being confined to a specific genre. It not only thinks and creates outside of the box, it totally obliterates the box! This new album is one of the coolest and most original compositions from beginning to end that we’ve had the pleasure of hearing in a very long time. The Vigliones were gracious enough to sit down with us and answer a few questions about this new album, the journey to get here and much more.
I love a band’s back story and the way that you two ended up meeting at The Bowery almost seems like a movie script. There is definitely something very special and magical there that transcends on so many levels. Going into the release of this album, do you sometimes pinch yourselves to make sure that this isn’t a dream?
Brian Viglione/Scarlet Sails: Ha, yes there was a lot of pinching. Most of all, many moments to feel thankful for where life has taken us. There were a lot of risks in jumping into the project like this, but it’s what we knew we had to do and anything less would feel supremely unsatisfying. So when you know there’s only one real path to take, you take it and give everything you have to it.
Olya, your story after arriving here in the US is fascinating and it seems as if you didn’t already know you were such a strong person and it helped you tap into that inner strength that maybe you weren’t aware of?
Olya Viglione/Scarlet Sails: Thank you very much; I’ve come to understanding that I am strong. It was a fairly long process of eliminating self-doubt (laughs), but I strongly believe that I can accomplish whatever I set my mind to, and that’s what I live by. Sometimes it gets really hard, mostly because you don’t know what demons you are setting yourself to battle with, but it is always incredibly rewarding.
The power of the people, and more importantly the fans, is an amazing thing. Were you surprised by the response to your Kickstarter campaign?
Brian: Yes, we were absolutely bowled over by the response and we used that encouragement to dig even deeper into the projects at hand. It is really making the work we need to accomplish possible and knowing we can include the fans with every step is the best feeling.
The message in the lyrics is such a powerful and positive one that is so incredibly inspiring that so many of us can relate to. What was the songwriting process like for this album? Is it just a natural flow of ideas that happens when it happens or did you lock yourself into a room with the intention of not coming out until a song was written?
Olya: The songwriting process for this album lasted for seven years (laughs). It includes the first song I ever wrote called “Butterfly” and some songs are as recent as this past October. Lyrically, the idea behind the album was to talk about the path that I’ve taken since I had decided to turn my life around. I started writing my first year in; it helped me through some of the darkest times. When I felt discouraged and didn’t feel like I had the strength to keep on going, I always found relief in singing and playing piano. It helped me to stay on course, to find strength from within when I felt like I was at a dead end. The songs played in my head and kept me going when everything else failed. So, I hope that could translate and our music could help someone else find their guiding light and help them not to fear.
You chose “Boy You’re Wrong” for the first music video from the album; was there a reason for picking that one to start off with?
Olya: Right before we embarked on our first tour, this song came to me and wouldn’t leave my head for days. I don’t know why, but as soon as I started writing it I had this strong idea that it would be the first single for the record. So, I guess it came and claimed itself.
Was there any song or songs that were more difficult (for whatever reasons) than others to get to the completed version that you hoped for?
Brian: During the writing process, “One, Two (Fear)” transformed from sludgy piano dirge into more of the heavy backbeat form, then adding the Parliament-esque Moog synth part and the horns reshaped it in a very satisfying way, but that took some time to get to. Otherwise, “Precious Times” actually was a bit confounding to get the right sound from and took a lot of experimentation with the bass guitar and drum sounds. I wanted to sound a bit like The Supremes’ “Can’t Hurry Love” meets Jack White. Vocals were another tricky part to capture in the studio setting on some songs because of how new the arrangements were, Olya barely had time to find her grasp on them, but she did a killer job adapting to the new approaches and you can hear the guts she sings with on songs like “Alive” and “One, Two (Fear).” That raw emotion really comes though, it’s absolutely her own style; she’s not trying to copy everyone else out there and I love that about her.
Even after a successful Kickstarter campaign, how nervous do you get going into the release date of the new album?
Brian: It’s nerve-wracking as hell! You plan for ages and want to make sure you keep up on all the social media, PR, fan correspondence, plus the zillion other general life things you need to keep a band rolling, in addition to nuts and bolts things with banking and accounting to make sure you’re organized and not throwing months of prep down the toilet. Occasional freak-outs, beer, and exercise, all help keep things balanced.
Olya: Kickstarter helped reassure us that we are on the right track. We are never-endlessly grateful for all of the support we received during the campaign and we are so happy to get in touch with our community. It’s just the beginning and now it’s where it all starts. We do believe in this record undoubtedly and we hope it will get to as many ears as possible.
Olya, this whole new world of creative freedom has to be especially rewarding to you having come from Russia where, as you stated in an interview, that “We were a communist country for such a long time that there wasn’t much freedom of expression. The mentality of people has stayed the same. You have to be equal. You should not stand out.”
Olya: Absolutely., but with this astounding freedom comes great responsibility. You have to be aware of what you’re putting out into the world. I think one of Scarlet Sails’ biggest missions is to ensure we bring the light and unity with us, and we spread this message wide and strong.
What’s on your radar that you might want to mention?
Brian: Certainly getting more touring happening as much as we can. It’s very costly, but it’s the most rewarding part of the whole process. We also have two videos coming for the songs “Butterfly” and a Kickstarter house party video for “Spell My Name” in June, so keep your eyes peeled for that!
Any message that you’d like to close with?
Olya: We want to thank everyone who’s been supporting us thus far. We hope you enjoy the record, and we would like to hear your stories. Is there a song that inspires you the most?
Purchase your copy of Future From The Past HERE
Connect with Scarlet Sails