Notes From The Artist: Introducing Caitlyn Scarlett
Caitlyn Scarlett is an independent artist from London who has previously received high praise from BBC Introducing, The 405 and Clash.
With over six million streams on Spotify so far, you may recognise Caitlyn Scarlett's voice from her pop single "Happy When", remixed by Miko Waye.
Following the release of her brand new single "Ornaments" last week, I caught up with Scarlett to discuss the track, her background and to find out what we can expect to hear from her later on in the year.
Tell me a little bit about your background. How did you first break into the music scene?
I grew up in Berkshire in a village called Bray. I left home at 17 and moved to London to go to music college. I moved in with friends who were a bunch of creatives, they were rappers, actors and models and that’s when I really started pursuing a music career.
I’m 22 now and I would say I took the long way around in terms of my career. Rather than signing at 17 when I was very young I have remained independent, until last summer when I signed a publishing guild with BMG. I started writing for other people alongside doing my music project so now I do 50/50 in East London, where I live now. Now I’m just navigating my way through modern life really!
With regards to you taking the long way around, would you give this advice to other people who are in a similar position?
Yeah 100%! I get a lot of people asking me that because they have seen me grow up from the same place as them, in the city. I always say just try and be as self sufficient as you can. I’m so happy that I took a longer time to figure myself out and to not rely on anyone or jump into anything too soon.
You released your first EP "Jurassic Jukebox & Other Drugs" in 2014. How would you describe the evolution in your music since then?
I would say that I’ve matured and focused a lot more. I was in college when I made that EP and didn’t expect it to get any attention at all, in fact some of the tracks started out as college assignments! I wrote one called Bad Love, which had a little moment on the blog circuit and that received hundreds of thousands of listens. I think my sound was promising but I had electric guitar with real life drums on one track and then totally different fruit loops, glitched up, along with other things going on in other tracks. I think I’ve definitely matured with my sound and realised that some of the stuff I write isn’t suitable for my artist project so that’s why I write for other people.
"I’m so happy that I took a longer time to figure myself out and to not rely on anyone or jump into anything too soon." - Caitlyn Scarlett
Are you eager to pursue the writing aspect just as much as your own musical career?
I would say so because I don’t see myself as a straight down the middle, mainstream artist. I aspire to that level of operation if I’m working with people and expressing other sides of me that I don’t necessarily want to be every day. There’s a team mentality with writing, which I like as I enjoy working as a group. Pop music is really fun for that reason and a lot of the travelling and the general community of song writing is far preferable to the community of performers for example because that tends to be a lot more like one person is the centre of attention and people are seen as your competition. As much as I want to do that and be an artist I really like working behind the scenes as well.
Your new single "Ornaments" came out last Friday (09/03/2018). How excited are you now that it has been released and what has the reaction to it been like so far?
It’s been amazing! If I’m honest I’m not much of a numbers watcher so I don’t get too obsessed over it, but my management will tell me if it’s going well! I’m so happy to have received support from Spotify on New Music Friday in three countries, as it’s one of my favourite songs that I have ever written. I’m so happy it’s out, I feel like I’m putting Moses into a basket and sending it down the Nile and so far, no crocodiles have appeared!
"Ornaments" has a very interesting and unique instrumentation, particularly the brass ensemble. Were you heavily involved in the production of the record?
Yeah, it’s crazy isn’t it! That’s Raf Riley but we have an influence on each other and he is one of my favourite people to write with. He is just like the Willy Wonka of the music world, at least that’s how I think of him! There’s no two sides to the process, I’ll sit there with a lyric and he’ll say, ‘have you thought about using that word?’ Then I will say can we have a meatier sound, and can you go up to that note? It’s totally collaborative, so what you hear is totally a mish mash of our two brains.
How would you describe this track to those who haven't heard it yet?
I would call it a vulnerable banger. It has a great beat to it and in a way it’s motivational and I think it has a lot of attitude. But at the same time there’s a lot of my personal insecurities and my trials and tribulations woven into the lyrics. There’s a supernatural quality and beat to the production and then a superhuman quality to the lyrics.
You refer to this record as having a "superhuman quality to the lyrics". Is that with reference to you opening up about your experiences of coping with social anxiety?
Yes, and I think this issue is more prevalent now more than ever. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that my generation has extreme social anxiety as social media comes into play, with the world being so opened up to everybody now. People are extremely socially anxious and I’m getting the sense that people are relating to this song, which is funny because I wrote this specifically about my experiences. There’s lyrics in there which have come from real life situations that strangers are relating to so it’s very interesting to see.
What can we expect from you next? A new EP, or possibly even your debut album?
Right now, I’m in the middle of a three-part project. The EP’s I’m working on are called the Red Tapes, there are three volumes. Ornaments is one of the singles to be taken from Volume 2, which will be released within the next month or so and then EP three, Volume 3, will be here in the summer!
"People are extremely socially anxious and I’m getting the sense that people are relating to this song, which is funny because I wrote this specifically about my experiences." - Caitlyn Scarlett
Caitlyn Scarlett's "Red Tape, Vol. 1" is available to stream, download, and buy now.
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