THROUGHOUT 2016 I have been seeking a solo artist that not only…
intrigues with their music but has a certain allure and originality to their personality. In terms of ticking all those boxes, Scarlett Saunders seems a perfect fit. Her recent E.P., Blue Again, has been received with praise and reflects on some hard times – relationship break-up and overcoming fraught emotions. Not only does one (when hearing Saunders) get a rich and beautiful voice but a songwriter with a unique and fresh bent. I talk to Saunders about her, some might say, unorthodox upbringing – where nature and art were favoured to distractions like T.V. – and how that affected her life today. She also chats about this Christmas and plans for next year; what it was like putting an E.P. together and how the reaction to it has affected her.
Hi Scarlett. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey there. My week has been okay: long and wintery, but okay. How’s yours been?
For those new to your music: can you introduce yourself, please?
Hello. I’m Scarlett. I’ve been writing songs since I can remember and I really hope you enjoy them.
I Should Know was released a couple of months ago and was received with praise. Has it been quite humbling hearing that sort of feedback?
Yeah. It’s been great actually!
It was a song I wasn’t going to put on my E.P. as it was very personal and I was worried how people might react – especially my dad as it was written about his relationship with a girl my age.
But I think there are so many interpretations you can take from the song. It was interesting to see what everyone’s slant on it was.
Circus – also released this year – is taken from the Blue Again E.P. Can you tell us about the rest of the E.P. and what inspired it?
The E.P. was largely inspired by the seaside town I grew up in, Felixstowe. And my first love who was, coincidentally, called Felix (haha). I was getting into that stage where I was reminiscing a lot about my younger life and how everything seemed so much easier then – a longing for the sea and a longing for home.
How hard was it putting the E.P. together? Had you been working on them for quite a while or were a lot of the songs written quite a while ago?
It wasn’t difficult at all actually. I did it with a friend and an amazing producer, Barnabas Poffley. Everything flowed pretty naturally. Most of the songs I wrote all around the same time with Barny’s help (apart from Windmill). I had written that on a train a year before and had been saving it up.
I believe, when growing up, you did not have a lot of exposure to T.V. and video games – your parents favouring art and literature. How influential was that style of upbringing to you with regards your ambitions to be become a musician?
I think it gave me a lot of scope to ‘think’.
Screens and technology seem to create an extra barrier for people to get through in order to be creative today. I think the more time you spend in your own head and company without distractions is a damn good thing.
It keeps you open, aware and malleable to ideas and possibilities. It’s what I hate and don’t fit into in the modern music industry though – the last thing I want to do is check my Facebook page or Tweet about my day.
You have quite a passion for art yourself. Do you get a lot of opportunities to indulge that and how does your music and art connect would you say?
I do love art. I don’t get a lot of time for it though I have to say – although my Christmas presents this year will definitely have to be painted and I am skint as hell (haha). I think all things creative connect. Sometimes just reading a poem can spark an idea or seeing people on the Tube.
A lot of new artists tend to come to the cities in order to find opportunity. You are based out of Suffolk. What is the area like in terms of the music scene? Are there quite a few promising new artists there?
There’s loads of stuff going on there! Ed Sheeran is from there (have you heard of him?). He’s rather good. But I never got massively into it. I suffer from terrible stage fright when I have to get up there on my own but am getting over it.
In terms of local talent or artists that have impressed you this year: which would you recommend we check out?
My best mate’s band Loud Mouth Machine. Great guys.
Who were the artists that influenced you growing up?
Bob Dylan was a massive part of my childhood. Nina Simone, Cat Stevens and Janis Joplin’s exploding energy. I always wanted to look that cool and sing that well on stage.
I have noticed the female singer-songwriter is coming more into view: a lot of this year’s best albums have been created by solo female artists. What, would you say, is behind this shift?
I think people are just starting to become more aware of new artists now as there’s so many ways online of finding them out.
But I’ve noticed female artists are leaning less towards the Pop/X Factor in-your-face thing and stripping everything down – so they are just writing and singing from real places that we can all connect to.
Looking ahead to the future: is there any new music planned for 2017?
Yes. I have written a new E.P. for next year. Fingers crossed it all goes to plan.
This year has seen a lot of great albums and singles released. Which album and song would you choose as your favourite of 2016?
Adele’s 25 without a question. That album came out at the same time me and my flatmate were crying in our bedrooms about men. I don’t care if it sounds ridiculous – she sorted me out.
Is there any advice you would offer to new singer-songwriters coming through?
Just write what you like and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.
It is nearly Christmas. How would you be spending it this year? Any gifts that you particularly want this year?9
I will be spending it by going back to the (Splitz) Bandbox in Felixstowe (voted the worst club in Britain, apparently) to hang out with old friends on Christmas Eve. Otherwise, I will be drinking tea and snuggling up. I actually don’t know what I want! (Who does?) That’s such a hard question.
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can select any song you like (rather than your own as I’ll include that) and I’ll put it here.
Raury – God’s Whisper
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