Alternative Indie rock collective features vocalist Olya Viglione and her drummer husband Brian Viglione known for his work with The Dresden Dolls and Violent Femmes. When all you see is darkness within you find the light that’s what Scarlet Sails sound like.
Interview Meikee Magnetic
Where were you born and where are you now?
Brian: I was born in the woods of southern New Hampshire, and Olya was born in the middle of cosmopolitan Moscow, Russia. We both wound up married and living together in Manhattan, NY. Life is full of surprises.
Olya: Thousands of miles away. “It wasn’t so hard to cross that street after all, it all depends on who’s waiting for you on the other side…”. This quote from Wong Kar Wai film “My Blueberry Night” started to make a lot of sense to me when I found myself on the other side of the Atlantic. New York, Brian and Scarlet Sails were waiting for me here, and somehow, somewhere deep down in my heart, I knew it.
Define the meaning behind the band name for our readers:
Brian: Scarlet Sails is the title of a 1921 novel by Alexandre Grin about “dreams coming true, no matter how silly or futile or far-fetched they may seem.” Which was a story Olya felt very close to growing up. In a way, striking out and starting a band and becoming captain of your own ship and meeting the person who shares your same dream was very close to what happened between us, so it fit perfectly.
There is a love story behind the band, could you share a special memory that ties this unique bond together?
Brian: There was a night where we wound up talking outside of Olya’s apartment on 44th St at about 3:30am and I delivered a passionate soliloquy, (not unlike the one Nicolas Cage gives to Cher in Moonstruck) about how even though both of us had been badly burned by relationships in the past and were scared of getting potentially hurt again. It would be a worse crime to live life forever walled off to the possibility of falling in love again and that I was willing to take the risk because I cared for her. I hoped that she would feel the same courage, and dare to let herself be open to being loved again. I really laid my heart out on the chopping block and was pretty terrified saying these things. I figured it would eat me up inside even worse not to express myself to someone I cared for so deeply and let it pass me by. Olya said she would think about it and we said good night. My heart sank and I walked home feeling like a foolish idiot-failure and crumpled into bed in a pile of humiliation. However, I was surprised when I received an email from Olya late in the afternoon to following day. I had butterflies when I clicked to open it, and it read: “I think you made me understand a couple of things yesterday… And first of all.. fuck the past! I wanna make the present count and I don’t wanna be scared anymore :) so here’s a Mini requiem for the past I wrote this morning thought I’d share it with you.” There was a piece of piano music she’d composed. I kid you not, her words, her smiley emojis, her music- I swear I morphed into one of those cartoon characters that goes shooting up into the sky like a rocket and their head explodes into a Fourth of July fireworks display or something. I knew Olya’s love and trust were worth fighting for, and from there we truly set off together.
Your line-up consists of Mark Kohut on guitar and Edward Goldson on bass. How did this collaboration start?
Brian: I first saw Mark when he was playing in a New York David Bowie tribute band, Michael T and The Vanities. He was just the perfect match for us as a player and a person. His spirit and creativity on the guitar just vibes perfectly with us. He joined in the summer of 2016 for our summer tour with Nina Diaz. Jesse has actually been replaced now by our wonderful new bassist, Ed Goldson, who came through Olya’s friend. Ed has played on some huge recordings by Jay-Z, Dead Prez, Talib Kweli, but he just kills it in any style, he loves every kind of music and brings that passion into the group. The whole band just gets more dialed in the more we play together and it’s been great to build on the chemistry we have as we started writing new songs. It’s funny, but both Mark and Ed told us they had felt a little bit out to sea and unsure of where they were going in life with music and work. Joining the band has really given them something to focus on and put our hearts into. Olya and I feel the same. So, it goes deeper than even just chemistry, everyone is really putting their collective energy into it, it’s what I’ve always searched for.
What has been the greatest moment for you onstage?
Brian: The feeling of total connection to the music you’re playing and the people your playing it with. I’ve had that feeling many times and it’s the singular experience that keeps me coming back.
Olya: Overcoming the fear of being on stage and coming into my own. Feeling the most present and the most connected in the moment makes it the greatest for me each time.
When can we expect your new music video SPELL MY NAME?
Brian: We’re aiming to get it premiered before we hit the road for our west coast tour from LA to Seattle starting July 28th, so keep your eyes peeled in the next month!
The new album ‘Future From The Past’ consists of 12 tracks, “Another Chance” among others caught my ear. Who wrote the lyrics and tell us the meaning:
Olya: I write all the lyrics, and this one came to me while I was sitting at Raul’s, one of the oldest restaurants in New York. I felt nostalgic for the past, like it was much easier for me to fit in in the atmosphere of this historic sight than crowded streets of Soho surrounded by modern tabloids of our smartphone generation. I had to push myself to snap out of that sweet melancholy. The truth is, all we have is now. You can always take another chance at life, at any given moment, and if you don’t like something, you have to change it or shift your focus, and create something you do like instead, and also mute the voices that try to bring you down.
Your tour starts in July, what are you looking forward to on this tour?
Brian: I’m excited to finally play for our fans out there, to be with Olya for her first visit to this part of the country, and to travel up the Pacific Coast Highway again into the Northwest, it’s one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever been on.
Olya: Everything. From a plane ride to driving a bus through the West Coast, exploring California, playing in front of new crowds, and meeting all of the wonderful artists and fans along the way.
Are there any new artists out there that have inspired you?
Brian: Occasionally there are some artists out there that really stand out to me like Tank and the Bangas, Anderson. Paak, of course Kendrick, and an Atlanta rock band called Starbenders that Olya turned me on to, but hard to say if they qualify as “new” per se? I spent many months in an effort to stay up on current music, going through page after page on music sites to see what was considered “hip” and 99% of it just makes me want to incinerate myself. Bands that are often complimented on how “soulful” they are seem all use the same MoTown-ish programmed drum loops, or the pre-occupation with this sparse EDM numbed-out, floaty, Zoloft ambient shit. For me it totally misses the point of what makes music interesting or engaging to listen to. I like hearing the humanity in music, the people playing and creating it, it’s that particular transmission that feels satisfying to me to hear. With so many people relying on laptops to generate the same bland beds to main over it sometimes feels harder to latch onto it for me. Embrace technology, but don’t lazily use it to substitute further thinking. Bjork incorporates this amazingly well. Thundercat also has a brilliant way of fusing technology and intense musicianship that’s wildly sophisticated. But, you have to keep looking all the time.
Olya: I just recently discovered this Israeli rockstar Ninet Tayeb, I think she’s amazing, she’s not really new though. Starbenders, hell yeah. Ala.ni is just wonderful. My dear friend Lauren Ruth Ward has got a really cool band in LA. Also Woodhead out of New York, the band we played together in November 2016 is fantastic too. Nothing mainstream really.
What’s coming up next for Scarlet Sails?
Brian: We have our first West Coast Tour coming up, which is very exciting, as this was one of our Kickstarter goals, so we’re very excited to hit a new part of the country and play for our fans for the first time. We also have music videos for both, Spell My Name, and Butterfly, coming in the next few months. Some of our Kickstarter backers were able to join us for the filming of Spell My Name, which we did here at our crazy old house in Manhattan. We had an absolute blast with them and the video is really fun. We’re also busy working on new songs with the band and we’ll see how things develop for the next album. It’ll be an exciting evolution, since we’ve now begun to gel with the band so well and we can find new ground to explore together.
What does Dark Beauty mean to you?
Brian: This could be a way to describe catharsis. The kind of beauty that can be unveiled through transcendence of pain.
Olya: Couldn’t have said it better.
Photo credit Ekaterina Belinskaya