Q&A with Scarlet Sails: "This Album is the Glue Between my Past and Present and a Necessary Step to See the Future"
Scarlet Sails, the new musical endeavor from drummer Brian Viglione (Dresden Dolls, Violent Femmes) and his Russian-born pianist/vocalist wife, Olya Viglione is a match made in heaven. Joined by members Mark Kohut (guitar) and Jesse Krakow (bass), the band just released their debut Future From The Past, funded from an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign. Future From The Past touches on exactly what the title suggests - it is a marriage between these artists' past and present, all merging together to further launch them into their future.
With Future From The Past out now, a few music videos planned soon and a run of tour dates alongside Radiator King kicking off at the end of April, Scarlet Sails have begun an incredible journey - one that you're going to want to be a part of!
Interview by Dom Vigil
Can you tell us a little bit about Scarlet Sails for anyone who might not be familiar?
Brian Viglione [drums]: Olya and I met in June 2013 when I went to the Black Flag: Barred For Life show at Bowery Electric. I fell in love with her the moment I saw her. We slowly got to know each other through old-fashioned courtship, and after Olya played me the songs she’d written, we began playing music together that fall. We both shared the same passions musically and wanting to pursue this life path. However, I had just joined Violent Femmes at the time shortly after we’d gotten married, so I was away on tour a lot making it difficult to focus on creative work. But I decided to leave the Femmes at the turn of 2016 to go full-time with Scarlet Sails, as that was really where my heart was and the more Olya and I worked together, the better our relationship became, so it was meant to be! Olya’s an extremely dedicated songwriter and bandmate, and is FAR more connected than I was in New York City from all of her music and nightlife friends she’d made, so we make a fantastic team. I’ve never been happier.
Olya Viglione [vocals, piano]: I came to New York City 7 years ago and had a challenge to turn my life around and start on completely new path that my heart was calling for.
Meeting Brian and starting a band together solidified my faith and brought me strength, helping me to become the person I wanted to be all my life. So Scarlet Sails is not only a tribute to that but a beginning of a new era, where if you stay true to what you believe in and work focused and hard at it, you might find yourself living the life you want and you don’t have to become oblivious to what’s going on around you because you’re not quite comfortable in your skin. It’s the opposite of that - it’s about living the life to the fullest, about walking firmly on your path and carrying the light in your hands so you can light up the world.
You two obviously have quite a bit of experience in music prior to forming Scarlet Sails. What are some important lessons that you’ve learned over the years and have been able to apply to this project?
Brian: Always be resourceful, take care with the people you surround yourself as your team, and remember to have FUN at what you do. It’s easy to get overloaded by the work aspect and you need to stay in touch with the enjoyment of what drives you in the first place.
Olya: Be proud of yourself, of all the work you put in, don’t let others dim your light. Stay humble, no matter how much experience you have or how much work you put in, it’s about a journey, it’s not about measuring yourself against other people. Consolidate the good energy and let go of what brings you down. Life is too short.
Scarlet Sails is a bit of a marriage of your pasts and merging of your present as artists. When did you know that it was time to begin this musical journey together?
Brian: I sound like some hokey, carnival fortune teller saying this, but I could tell right off the bat just from the energy and overall sense I felt from both Olya and her music. There was something at the core that my intuition just picked up on, in spite of how many times I have had to start over or been burned by projects in the past, I saw through all the “things that could go wrong” and felt deep down this was a very good match and worthwhile endeavor for both of us if we could rise to the challenge.
Olya: Despite of being scared to trust I never felt more sure about something in my life that I felt about Scarlet Sails. And the journey began before we knew it.
You just celebrated the release your debut album, Future From The Past! Were there any goals that you wanted to accomplish with the songs on this record?
Brian: The main goal was to fully manifest the scope of the music as we heard it in our heads, which logistically, was unknown territory for us having never recorded with horns, strings, and all of the beautiful touches that brought the album to life. So that was a fun challenge. We also wanted to prove to people and ourselves where we could take this band given the time and tools to do so. I feel like we packed a massive amount of work into the 12 days we were in the studio to record, and were blessed with a great team who know how sculpt it with us. But with anything we do, we are always driven to do the best job we can and give the proper energy to the songs.
Olya: To me this album is the glue between my past and present and a necessary step to see the future. Ideologically, I wanted it to translate through the songs and the sound. Using all kinds of elements as horns, strings, keyboards, synthesizers, different guitar textures, space echo on guitars and piano, we were able musically to create that space where different decades and eras could collide forming the sound of Scarlet Sails.
What were some of the most challenging and most rewarding moments of working on the album?
Brian: Actually, mixing "Precious Times" was the one that was the trickiest. We worked a lot on trying out various sounds to get that where we wanted it. "THERE’S ONE IN EVERY BUNCH!” as my grandmother used to say…
Olya: We went to the studio and did 14 days in a row of recording and then went straight into mixing, so not loosing sanity while also being on top of our creative selves and having fresh ideas 12 hours a day was one of the most challenging aspects for me in working on the album. One of the most rewarding was seeing people’s reactions to the first time they heard the record and all the incredible support that started pouring in as soon as we launched our Kickstarter which brings us to your next question, haha.
In order to fund the release, you guys launched a kickstarter campaign, which you surpassed by quite a bit! Did you ever expect the kickstarter to be so successful?
Brian: I certainly did not expect it, I was really nervous to even START the campaign! But Olya had the vision early on, and once we figured out our strategy and how to lay out the month and the steps, it became a very enjoyable process to reach people and make contact. We are so thankful for the support and are working away on making new videos, getting tour plans together, the vinyl, shirts. We learned a tremendous amount from it.
Olya: You never know what’s gonna happen. You plan things out, you work at it, you keep your faith strong. It’s important to have a vision and believe in what you do solemnly. That’s how I rolled with it. The amount of support that we’ve got from our community was astonishing. We did 197% of our original goal for our debut record and our first Kickstarter ever. We are so grateful for everyone who helped us reach as many ears and as many hearts as we did. We are working on so many projects now, including 2 videos that were our Kickstarter stretch goals, more show dates being booked, more creative ideas being brewed, more songs being written, and it’s all thanks to the creative freedom we were able to gain through this crowdfunding campaign.
What drew you to the crowdfunding route for this release?
Olya: We wanted to get in touch with our community, find out who was watching and listening and offer them something of an exclusive value from us. Nowadays it’s so easy to get lost in the noise and loose the human connection. Crowdfunding route helps you to stay directly in touch with your audience which allows you to feel connected in such detached and discombobulated times. And that is such an incredible feeling to experience. As an artist it gives you hope, it gives you confidence, it inspires you and allows you to create more.
What would you like listeners to be able to take away from the album?
Brian: The entire overtone of the album is one of believing in yourself and having the guts to stand up for who you are. So if anyone gleans something positive from it that emboldens that feeling, then the message is getting through.
Olya: Stay true to who you are, believe in yourself. Find what you love and let it light up your way and elevate your spirit.
With the album out now, you’re getting ready to hit the road on a short run of tour dates this April and May! What can fans expect from these upcoming shows?
Brian: I’ll be playing drums for both Scarlet Sails and Radiator King, who I love. Fantastic bill you wanna see!
Olya: We live for playing live. We’re gonna get down, pour our hearts out and rock your socks off. Come out and join the fun, haha.
Do you have any other big plans for the rest of 2017?
Olya: Oh yes. We are going to release a couple of awesome music videos, tour our record, write new material, have fun and maybe have a couple of surprises ready by year end. So stay tuned and follow our 'ship.