INTERVIEW: Scarlet Sails



Scarlet Sails


THE fantastic Olya and Brian…


from Scarlet Sails have been talking about the video for their track, Hideaway, and how they met one another. I was eager to know whether the American group has plans for more material and whether Olya and Brian have any precious and special memories from their time in music.

Brian talks about life away from The Dresden Dolls (he is one half of the famous duo) and what Scarlet Sails hope to achieve before the end of the year; if there are plans to come to the U.K. at any point – Olya recommends some new artists worth watching out for.


Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?

Olya: Heeey! This week’s been crazy! The Hideaway video came out and we’ve been receiving an amazing response on it so far. also just spent last two days on set waking up at 4 A.M. and celebrating my eighth New York Anniversary in Brooklyn shooting our new music video for our next single, Upside Down.

Brian: I am a veritable flower of elation. This week has been an insane confluence of things in the works for many months and they all bore themselves nearly at once. We had the premiere of the new Scarlet Sails video for Hideaway; we signed with United Talent Agency booking - which gives a huge step forward touring the U.K. and Europe. The Dresden Dolls' shows at Troxy for Halloween were announced and the pre-sale sold out in fifteen minutes and we’re preparing the next Scarlet Sails video shoot. Bonanza.

The video for Hideaway is new. What was it like filming it? Was it a lot of fun?

Fun and slightly harrowing, as the original person we hired to film it bailed two days before the shoot and Olya’s very good friend and director/videographer, Karina Kandel, swept in and saved the day like a hero at the eleventh hour - with about seven of our friends who helped out with everything from production to costume design. Video shoots always, without fail, leave me feeling lucky to have the awesome people around us that we do...

Olya: Yes. Something that could have been a disaster turned into a miracle thanks to the wonderful, magical people around us. We pulled it together at the last minute and I consider myself extremely lucky to collaborate with such incredibly talented, resourceful and hard-working people like Karina and Brian - and the rest of the crew who showed up on a short notice and made it all happen.

Is there going to be more material from the band later this year?

Brian: Absolutely. Olya’s been on a writing streak over the last few months and we’ve been amassing demos here…so you can count on it plenty of new songs, especially at our live shows.

Olya: Yes. Like I mentioned earlier, we just finished shooting a video for our next single, Upside Down, which will be A LOT of fun. There are many new songs in the making and we like this new material so much that it is hard to pick which one has to come out next. It is a blessing and a curse of an independent artist: you make all of the decisions on your own. (More of a blessing, of course). No, total blessing, but a pain in the arse sometimes. Haha.

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Can you reveal how Scarlet Sails got together? How did you find one another?

Brian: I had all but given up on the idea of finding someone until one night I found myself at a Black Flag tribute show on the Lower East Side at a club called Bowery Electric and, after the show, I was not just ‘shot’, but maimed by Cupid’s arrow, upon seeing Olya and talking with her. A friendship led to courtship and soon we began playing music together, working on her songs.

Since she told me it was her dream to pursue music for her life, and the amazing foundation we’d developed together, we knew that we could share our dream together and found the right person in each other - rather than feel at odds with a partner who couldn’t relate to our passion to play music.

Best fu*king thing that’s ever happened to me.

Olya: BOOM! I think Brian’s answer sums it up perfectly. Haha. I feel the same way. ALL THE WAY…

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Brian. You are half of The Dresden Dolls. Was it easy transitioning to life in a band like Scarlet Sails?

It was absolutely second nature by this point. There are so many parallels in terms of the passion, commitment; the focus and the creative process involved, especially when one feels a stake in a band’s mission as a founding member and not just a sideman to help achieve an end, that it spoke as an absolute extension of my life, rather than switching gears.

Ironically, it was Violent Femmes that I left to pursue Scarlet Sails (not The Dolls) and the Femmes were, in many ways, the same situation as a new band because they hadn’t released an album for nearly fifteen years…so there was a lot of work to do, interpersonally and logistically, when I joined them...just like a new band starting out.

The most crucial thing for me is feeling like I’m working to my capacity with other people who equally invested in creating music we love. It’s very rare, so I appreciate the fact I can share that experience with Olya, Mark and Kevin in Scarlet Sails.

Brooklyn is where you are based. What is the music scene like there? Is it the best area of New York to discover hot new artists?

We’re actually based in Manhattan and the music scene across all N.Y.C. is diverse and fragmented; always in flux with bands, venues and neighborhoods hailed as the next cool thing that people flock to. I lived in Williamsburg, BK in 2007 and have lived at this crazy, huge old rent-controlled brownstone since 2008 and I absolutely love it here as a home base - though I’ve always looked internationally when it comes to music. 

I get out to support the bands here I do love here and, otherwise, keep my sites on the big picture for making the best music we can building a connected scene with bands across continents…

Olya: You can discover a hot new artist anywhere. I don’t think it’s fair to say Brooklyn is the destination for it. There’s Lower East Side, there’s Harlem; there are some random clubs in Queens and all over five boroughs where you can hear someone or some band incredible playing. We’re lucky in New York: we just have to provide eyes and ears. Everything else is already here in abundance.

Where are you heading on tour? Where can we catch you?

Brian: We have a run of headline dates and festivals in the Northeast U.S. in June and July which people can find right HERE - including playing with The Posies in Boston on their thirtieth-anniversary tour, which we’re stoked about.

Might you come to the U.K. before the end of the year?

Yes! As we switched agents just recently, we’re booking a short U.K. tour in the first ten days of November to follow the Dresden Dolls shows. Updates soon. Can’t wait!

Olya: We just got a confirmation from our booking agent that we will be there sometime in November! I love British music and British culture and it’s gonna be my first time in the U.K., so I’m extremely excited for this run.

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What do you hope to achieve in 2018?

Brian: Worrying less about controlling the outcome of things and having more trust in everything working out and presenting situations I couldn’t have imagined.

Olya: I hope for us to continue doing what we love and to get to travel more playing shows across the globe.

Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?

Brian: SO MANY! The camaraderie and friendships that stemmed from the 2007 tour with Cyndi Lauper; the surrealistic experience of recording with Nine Inch Nails on a junk-pile drum-kit I made; stumbling around the majestic setting in the rainforest at the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan.

This might seem a silly one, but one of the best things I ever heard was driving back from New Hampshire after Scarlet Sails first gig there and Olya had her feet up on the dash of the van. Judas Priest cranked on the stereo, munching snacks, and she says with a smile: “This is the life…”. I get emotional thinking of it…

Olya: My new fave is this video shoot we finished yesterday - the time we recorded our new single for Upside Down. Almost every new music memory is my favorite. Haha. I loved touring with Nina Diaz and covering Under Pressure with her...

Loved singing Delilah with Dresden Dolls. Love every show we get to play with Scarlet Sails; headlining Gramercy Theatre was amazing at the end of 2017. Really looking forward to playing with The Posies in Boston and headlining the Not Your Mother’s Music Festival with Drake Bell.

If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?

Brian: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, with an endless supply of noise-makers and Silly String on the rider, for contrast.

Olya: The Killers put one of my fav live shows so they would be great to tour with. Nick Cave is great, too. For the rider, I just need plenty of water, cucumber; strawberries and a massage therapist.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Brian: Don’t spread yourself too thin: pick something you’re passionate about and commit to it and give it all you’ve got; never do it half-assed. Ask around for help and use your resources creatively for everything else. Get people involved around you that care.

Olya: Believe in yourself. Don’t let anyone put doubts in your head. You pick the road, you stick to it. It’s your life and nobody can’t take it away from you…


IN THIS PHOTO: Vista Kicks/PHOTO CREDIT: Anna Maria Lopez

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Olya: I like Woodhead (New York band, really good friends), Vista Kicks (based in L.A.); Kelli Schaefer (Portland, OR), Uni (New York); Starbenders (Atlanta), Fiona Silver (New York) and Luke Buck (New York).


IN THIS IMAGE: Kelli Schaefer

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

Brian: I have pet dogs. I do some gardening, or go to the beach and get in the ocean (or a combination of one and three...).

Olya: Walking, biking; reading, seeing friends; watching movies and traveling for fun.

Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

Brian: Here’s a song more people should sing to relieve stress: 

Fuck 'Em - Shell Silverstein

Olya: Something that was stuck in my head while I was answering the question for this interview: Childish Gambino - Redbone


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