Samantha Scarlette is an American Alternative Rock singer/song writer, originally from Saddle River, NJ. She has joined in an array of various activity from being a fashion designer, to doing some skateboard competition, to then doing her thing with music. Samantha herself discusses her musical abilities, new album in the works, and other plans she has planned ahead.
1. What type of artist are you?
Samantha: To pick a traditional genre of music, I'd say I'm an alternative rock artist. If you listen to my stuff, there's a lot of a early 90's alternative & grunge as well as pop influence.
2. Tell us a brief history of how you became the artist known as Samantha Scarlette.
Samantha: I've always wanted to do music since I was a little kid. As a teenager I did vocal training and performed at the state fair and stuff, I had a major music manger interested in me back then but I wasn't ready so I put music on the back burner. I'd say I became "Samantha Scarlette", around 2011 when I recorded my debut EP "Into The Darkness". I dyed my hair blonde around then (as a nod to Courtney Love), and tried to adopt a more confident attitude, if that makes sense. You need a thick skin to make it in the music business.
3. How did you get labeled with being called "soft grunge" do you agree with this label or do you not care for labeling who you are as an artist?
Samantha: I definitely agree with the "Soft Grunge" thing. As I said before my music, is influenced by early 90's alt and grunge…. But I'm a lot more pop/rock then solid grunge… I also tend to dress in the style that the Tumblr crowd refers to as "Soft Grunge" which is a mixture of goth & 90's fashion… So I think "Soft Grunge" is the most accurate way to describe my music and me in general.
4. What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
Samantha: My songs tend to be about love and vampires. Maybe not so much love as heart break. I like a lot of dark imagery, I always have. So I try my best to write stuff with dark metaphoric lyrics. I guess thats why vampires come into play a lot, because the vampire is always such a romantic yet tragic figure.
5. Do you write your own songs? (Discuss the songwriting process in detail.)
Samantha: Yes! I'll usually pick up my electric guitar… I know most people write on acoustic, but I don't even own an acoustic guitar; I've always loved electric… And I will start stringing together chords and creating riffs, and what not until I've got something I like. Then when I've come up with the basic music structure, I'll write the lyrics. I usually write the music before the lyrics. Though in writing songs for my new CD (that I will be recording around May), I have written a few sets of lyrics that I later wrote music to go with. The funny thing with lyrics is I feel like lyric ideas always strike me at the worst times, like I'll be in the shower and lyric ideas will pop into my head. Or I'll be out and about and write song ideas on my iPhone's memo AP.
6. Who are your musical influences?
Samantha: I'd say my biggest influences are Courtney Love (Hole), Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), Ville Valo (HIM), and Jared Leto (Thirty Seconds To Mars). I'm also very influenced by bands from my childhood like Fall Out Boy, The Used, and My Chemical Romance.
7. Why did you want to take "Fallen Star" that was originally released in 2011 and release a video for it now after it's surpassed it's release date?
Samantha: "Fallen Star" was my favorite song that I recorded for "Into The Darkness", back in 2011 I'd intended to release it as a single and do a video, but I never got around to it. This past December winter, I knew I was going to be working on a new CD next year (2014), and so I figured why not release a video for "Fallen Star". I'd though of doing videos for "Mourning Fantasy" as well, which I may if I have time before I enter the studio for the next CD. These days with technology what it is, you can make a decent music video without breaking the bank, so why not? Also to anyone who thinks that video was shot on green screen, it was not. I was legitimately out in the snow in in those tiny clothes freezing. The day I shot the scenes with the candles, I was kind of ok. But the day the cemetery scenes were shot, it was oh so very cold.
8. Your other single "Iron Maiden" and "Fallen Star" will be free downloads why did you want them to be available for free?
Samantha: "Fallen Star" has been out since 2011, like you said, so why not give it away as a free promotional single? People have already bought it, so lets give it out for free to a new crop of fans. "Iron Maiden" I will give out for free when the music video for "Fallen Star" reaches a certain number on YouTube. Anymore, bands and artists rarely make money off of album sales anyway. Singles are essentially a commercial to promote your "brand" so giving it away for free vs. people tracking it down and downloading it illegally. It also provides you with being able to know how many people have downloaded it vs having no clue as to how people getting it off a file sharing web site. So fans get it free, and I know how many people are really listening.
9. While you do plan to release these as freebies - you do know people can always find a way around it - what do you think about downloading music online?
Samantha: The internet destroyed the music industry. In every way. Prior to Napster and the iPod, major label artists could spend 10 million dollars on recording an album and know they'd make the money back. Now no matter who you are whether your Lady Gaga or the kid on the corner, anyone can pirate your music. They don't even have to go on a file sharing site. You can just go on YouTube, copy a link and paste it into a website that strips the audio out, it's that easy to pirate an album. That's why I'm personally a big fan of Spotify. You, the fan, basically has access to every CD ever made for FREE with ad's in between. When someone listens to my song on Spotify, I, the artist, gets anywhere from 1 to 5 cents. If someone listens to your song 100 times you make the same amount you would off of one iTunes download. It's not great but it's a lot better than people illegally downloading the song. I rarely buy CD's, and I know if I'm going to spend $10 on an album, I'll probably listen to it more than 100 times, which I think is how a lot of music lovers are, so Spotify is kind of a win/win for me at least.
I feel like the internet has lowered everyone's standard of success when it comes to music. One of the biggest examples of this is in 2002, Nick Carter went solo from the Backstreet Boys and Justin Timberlake went solo from Nsync. Justin's album was considered a success and went to #2, Nick's album was considered a flop peaking at #17. Nick Carter's "Now Or Never" album sold 70,000 units to go to #17, went on to sell over half a million albums and be considered a "failure" in 2002. Yet in 2014 selling 70,000 units in one week would easily land you in the top 3 on Billboard.
10. What's your outlook on the record industry and music scene as of today?
Samantha: I think the music industry today, depending on how far you want to make it or what level you want to get to, is more about selling a full package than just music. Some artists like Adele can get by on music alone, or if you're in a technical metal genre. But most pop and rock music, seems to be very image based. You have to sell a personality, a look, a brand, and your music. I try to stay as close to being me and my true self as possible. I've always been kind of a emo/goth kid.
11. You will be entering the studio to start working on the follow-up to "Into The Darkness". How many songs will there be on this release, this time around?
Samantha: I'm not sure yet. I'm hoping to do around 10. But nothings set in stone. I've literally got 3 note books worth of songs, and I'm still writing new ones.
12. Do you already know of how you want this album to turn out, as far as the title, album artwork, whether or not it will be a concept release, producing, etc.
Samantha: I've got some ideas for a title. I'm not 100% sure yet. I've though about naming it "My So-Called Life" or something funny like "Stay Rich Or Die Crying", but I don't really know yet. I've got to kind of see what songs are on the album. As for the album artwork, I don't know yet.. I'm sure I will be wearing black. haha. As for a concept album, I've always wanted to do a heavily themed concept like how My Chemical Romance always have a story with their CD's. I might do that I might not, if I do it will be something with a vampiric undertone.
13. Where do you plan to record this album?
Samantha: So…On my previous EP, I didn't use a producer…I went into the studio at the Saltmine in Mesa, AZ and my friend Justin Salter (he's very talented. He was the drummer for Scary Kids Scaring Kids, he now as of last year lives in LA and does music production & score composing), engineered the EP. Justin played the drums and bass on all the songs (I played guitar on all of the songs, except for Fallen Star, Justin played on that), he'd give input here and there on stuff to change. This time around though I decided I wanted to go with a big time producer, so I picked out a bunch of albums I like, and found out who produced them and got in touch with a few people. Initially I was going to go with this producer out of LA, but I didn't really like the vibe, you had to put down a massive amount of money that was non refundable, just to speak to the guy. So I decided against using him. Around the same time I received an email from a producer out of Europe, who'd produced some of my absolute favorite albums, and it was just night and day how he was; I got an absolute good vibe from him. So I'm going to record with the European producer. I'm pretty excited about it. So I will be recording over in Europe. I might also do a track or two with a different LA based producer.
14. Do you plan to use any new instrumentation you've never used in the recording process before?
Samantha: I don't really know yet. I used a synth for the first time when I recorded "Iron Maiden" this past September. You can't hear it that pronounced because I'm basically playing a dark baseline that follows the same notes as the lead guitar, but it's there. As for the new CD, I'm not sure, it would be cool to add in something spooky like theremin.
15. When did you start writing for this album? How was the songwriting process different/similar to previous Samantha Scarlette releases?
Samantha: I wrote a whole note book of songs around "Into The Darkness". After that I bought another note book (that had a picture of Justin Bieber on the cover, hahah) and wrote songs on and off. But there was a big gap in 2012 and the first half of 2013 where I didn't really write much. I had a really awful breakup situation last August, and I bought a new notebook (that I wrote "book of the dead" across the front of) and started writing immediately to cope with it. "Iron Maiden" came from the Book Of The Dead note book. Most of the new stuff will probably come from that and my Justin Bieber ( lol ) note book. If I use anything from the original note book, it will probably be something that I rework.
16. Do you feel any pressure whatsoever to do this follow-up?
Samantha: I do feel pressure, but not necessarily from the people you'd suspect. I mostly feel pressure from myself to live up to certain things and people. On one hand that's not good, and on another hand it's a huge motivator and driving force. I'm lucky I have really supportive family and friends. My friend Kit and my assistant Jasmine are always there cheering me on.
17. How do you think the vibe in the studio will go?
Samantha: I'm not sure. It definitely will be different than previous times I've recorded. I had been friends with Justin Salter for about 6 years before he worked with me on Into The Darkness. And the engineer I used on "Iron Maiden", John Gray, I'd known from when he worked at the Saltmine. So this is going to be new, working with someone I've never met before. I'd say the first day might be a bit nervous, then it will be cool.
18. Why did you want to go for a harder and darker vibe on this release?
Samantha: I feel like my stuff is a bit too pop-ish. I want to have more edge and more soaring guitar, etc. I don't want to seem too bubble gum.
19. When can we expect the new album to be released?
Samantha: I'm hoping for end of August early September, but it's not set in stone.
20. Where do you shop your clothing, you wear what looks like a Victorian mini jacket in your photos am I right or wrong?
Samantha: The jacket in the picture isn't a real Victorian jacket (I do have one though), it is a brocade bolero style jacket I purchased a few years ago from "Trash & Vaudeville" in NewYork City. "Trash & Vaudeville" is one of my absolute favorite stores, it has everything from $20 vintage reproduction band t-shirts to several hundred dollar hand made punk items to gothic morning jackets. Jimmy, the stores manager, is an absolute sweet heart and has picked out clothes for pretty much any band you can think of. My favorite shops in New York are Trash & Vaudeville, OAK, Gothic Renaissance and Search + Destroy. I also like to customize or make my own clothes. Most anything you see me wear with spikes or studs on it, I've done myself. I've also got my clothing line A Goth or Goth By Samantha Scarlette, that's got a pastel goth/soft grunge/Victorian vibe to it.
21. What about your hair, why the two tone style, and how long did it take you to grow it that long?
Samantha: I dyed the two tone myself, believe it or not. My hair is usually blonde, but I had dyed it pastel purple. I wasn't really feeling the purple and decided to go for the two tone hair. I'd been wanting to try out the two tone look for a few years so I did it.. Nervously. I never use foils when doing my own hair, but this time I did… Very patiently and carefully. I was terrified I was going to wind up with gobs of black on the blonde side. I'm still shocked at the fact I was able to do it without messing it up. haha. As far as growing it, it took me 5 seconds. I will be the first person to admit I wear hair extensions. Do you know how hard it is to grow out hair when you're bleaching it? haha.
22. Did you think of doing the two tone hairstyle or did you get the idea from New Years Day's frontwomen Ashley Costello?
Samantha: No & No, I don't even listen to NYD. Cruella DeVille was the original chick to rock the two tone hair in Disney's 101 Dalmatians cartoon. I wish I could say I got the idea from there, but I really fell in love with the look of two-tone hair when I saw Porcelain Black rocking similar styles a few years back, I think Lady Gaga had it as well. So if anything when I think of half black/half blonde hair I think of it as "Porcelain Black Hair". haha. I felt kind of bad copying Porcelain's hair style, but she got rid of it about two years ago, and I've seen a bunch of people with half black half something (I've seen people do it with pretty much any color) hair online and in real life (heck in NYC I think I have at least 2 or 3 friends with this color way).. So I feel like at this point two-tone hairs been done enough for it to be fair game. Heck Ke$ha recently had pastel two tone hair in her video for "Timber".
23. Tell us a story about a day in your life?
Samantha: It just depends if I'm in New York, or Scottsdale, or traveling somewhere. My days fluctuate from boring, to going to the VMA's then being mistaken for One DIrection going to a bar afterwards (this really happened). haha.. I guess my average day in Scottsdale is: I wake up, check internet stuff, go to the gym, get dressed, get lunch (usually sushi or salad), write music, dinner, internet, Netflix… New York, for some reason I get up early so: wake up, internet, breakfast, gym, get dressed, lunch, work on music, go shopping, dinner, get dressed again, go clubbing.
24. What's your claim to fame?
Samantha: Music & Fashion.
25. What inspires you to do what you do?
Samantha: I love music, and I love fashion. I also can't really picture myself in a regular 9 to 5 job. So it's the drive to do something I like to do. If music stops being fun, then I'll stop doing it.
26. How does music affect you and the world around you?
Samantha: Music is the soundtrack to your life. It's there through the good and the bad events.
27. What are the biggest and smallest obstacles for artists and bands?
Samantha: The biggest and smallest obstacle is getting people to listen to your music & take notice.
28. Do you have any advice for those artists and bands known or unknown who want to do what you're doing?
Samantha: If you don't enjoy doing it, you shouldn't do it.
29. What do you have planned for this year besides the new album?
Samantha: I'll probably release new stuff with my clothing line, possibly a tour in the fall. I also am going to be attending some film festivals this spring for a documentary film that I was the music coordinator on.
30. Is that your final answer?
Samantha: Go after your dreams not matter how big or small they are! <3 p="">3>