An interview with Scarlet Soho

So, if you’ve been at all an ElectroPop or Indie-Electro fan in London, or the UK, or Europe in the past ten years you’ll know the name of Scarlet Soho, and probably seen them live a few times. Like troopers they have held the line for ElectroPop and Indie-electro through some of the genre’s dark times. Scarlet, Jim  and Stu are that rare breed, a British ElectroPop band that gigs, a lot. With some pretty high profile tour supports under their belt, including Zoot Woman, Razorlight, IAMX and A Flock Of Seagulls, these guys have honed their skills in the live arena, and that translates to energy in their records.

Take their new release. ‘When The Lights Go Out’ is one of the catchiest, slickest ElectroPop tracks you’ll hear all year and sees Scarlet Soho right at the top of their game and making their comeback in a Pop climate that could be really welcoming. So after years as one of the top underground ElectroPop acts in Europe, it looks like 2012 could be the year Scarlet Soho  gain that wider recognition they so deserve.

The lovely Scarlet, keyboard player and bassist extraordinaire, took some time out of their busy promotional schedule  to chat with us about the past, present and futures of Scarlet Soho.

ER: We were quite surprised (in a good way) when ‘When The Lights Go Out’ hit the electronic rumors inbox. We weren’t sure whether you were still going. So what have you been up to since ‘Warpaint’ and what makes now the perfect time to return to people’s consciousnesses?

SS: It feels like we’ve not been away! Despite the lengthy gap between ‘Warpaint’ and ‘When The Lights Go Out’ we’ve been gigging sporadically, breaking new ground and working hard on the new material. Lots of stuff has been written, rewritten, reworked, scrapped and revived in the last couple of years. We probably have enough tracks for some kind of triple album, but decided to bite the bullet and drip-feed the new tracks to the world in a series of EPs. And get back on the road where we belong!

ER: How does it feel to be back promoting a record again? As an ElectroPop webzine we’ve definitely seen a change in the musical landscape in the past three years, HURTS’ success has suddenly made ElectroPop with a shot of melancholy, and a bit more intelligence, more of a commercially viable option. This must make it a pretty exciting time for you guys to be releasing a new record?

SS: Yes, we’ve been chomping at the bit for so long now it’s a huge relief to be pushing something new. In the meantime I’ve grown to love ‘Warpaint’ again and the new songs fit nicely into the set and are being received well. Having not toured for a little while you have a slight concern that maybe you’ve forgotten how to do it. But the recent tour to promote the EP has been our best to date!

HURTS look distinctly like Bros to me… Which I find slightly (very) off-putting. When I first saw their video I thought they were a joke band… But a gazillion Germans can’t be wrong. Can they?

I’m a huge fan of Robyn and Ronika and the more out-and-out Pop acts that are about at the moment. HURTS have always seemed a little smug and po-faced.

But yes, exciting times for music at the moment I think.

When The Lights Go Out (2012)

ER: So, tell us about the new EP. It seems polished compared to the ‘Warpaint’, which now seems quite raw and gritty in comparison. How, and why, would you say your sound has evolved?

SS: As I mentioned we have been working and reworking the tracks for a long time. And came to realise that less is more. It’s the Ramones effect I think – the less going on, the more it hits home. The same can be said for AC/DC, the more simple you go, the louder it allows you to be. I like loud.

ER: For us, listening to the ‘When The Lights Go Out’ EP, we felt like this was the point ‘Divisions Of Decency‘ and ‘Warpaint’ were leading to? Do you feel like this is the ultimate incarnation of Scarlet Soho?

SS: I believe we are now the band we always wanted to be. In the beginning we were a little cautious of being “too Pop” and often whilst writing the songs would wonder if we could actually get away with some of the stuff we were coming out with. Being a little older and wiser now you just do what you want to do. People go to watch bands to have a good time. They don’t want to be stood around gazing at the floor being miserable. There’s a time and a place for that – at home. We love touring and like to see people drinking and dancing.

I’ve always been in awe of comedians, because making people laugh is an incredibly difficult task, but so is getting people to dance.

It feels good to know that you’ve contributed to people having an amazing night.

ER: What’s been your influences writing the new material? And what are you guys listening to these days?

SS: When we toured with Zoot Woman it was the first time we had toured with a band that were that mainstream. And around that time we also started listening to a lot more commercial music. James loves his Italo. I think that has figured in the studio more this time round. When writing he has a in-depth vision of exactly how he wants the songs to sound (which often is miles away from the original demo he comes up with). I’d love to tell you the inner workings of that man’s brain but thankfully I’m not privy to that.

ER: How’s The promotion of the EP going? It looks like you’ve been pretty busy hopping back and forth from Europe for shows.

SS: It’s going well thank you! We’ve had some amazing reviews and great support from the Electro scene. We were a little worried that we’d be starting from scratch, but the EP and shows have been well-received from fans old and new.

Speak Your Mind (2009)

ER: So, what’s in Scarlet Soho’s studio? Any favourite or go-to bits of kit?

SS: We’re not really a ‘gear’ band. We used to own a lot of old synths, I had a couple of CZ5000s and a CZ1000 but we ditched them when we started playing abroad more often. I worry enough flying with the guitars, let alone a big old synthesizer rattling around in the hold! I love the vintage kit, but it’s so unreliable. I had shows where I had 2 synths and had to program sounds mid-set because the memory was faulty.

We’ve streamlined everything down to make travelling easier, and in the writing process the less options the quicker things get finished. I watched an amazing recent interview with Giorgio Moroder and he remarked that making all of those classic songs was easy due to the lack of variables. You had a kick. A snare. A bass sound. A string sound. Boom. Done.

For years James has preferred to manually program drums on a shitty drum-machine rather than using Logic or anything fancy. We’re luddites where that is concerned.

ER: And how does the writing and recording process work?

SS: We try to mix things up a bit. If you rehearse or write in the same place all of the time I think it’s very easy to get stuck in a rut.

James writes whilst walking. He has a Dictaphone and puts ideas directly into that. Writes snippets of lyrics on his phone. He knows how he wants things to sound so the rest is relatively easy. We use a variety of studios to keep it interesting. We’ve done bits recently in Hamburg, London, Southampton and Winchester. The studio isn’t that important in terms of getting things done. The wonder of the internet means you can achieve whatever you want wherever you are. The real work happens in the writing and mixing.

ER: If money was no object, what synth (or bit of studio kit) would you love to own?

SS: Ha! Well… It’s more about space than money! I’d love to have my CZs back. I love Vince Clarke’s Cabin. He has this amazing Cabin with all of his gear in. It’s like an Aladdin’s cave of nerdiness.

I fucking hate my Korg. It’s a piece of shit. The sooner that bites the dust the better. Every time I see a band with a fucking microKorg I want to kill myself. Sadly I think they are probably indestructible. I may put that to the test in the not too distant future.

City Behaviour (2004)

ER: When can we expect a new Scarlet Soho full length album? And what can we expect from it?

SS: We’re in the midst of doing EP2 at the moment. Vague release date for Sept/Oct 2012. It’s a little moodier than WTLGO. People that have heard the lead track have said it’s the best thing we’ve ever written. So, happy with that!

After that we’re going to do a full length album that completes the series of releases. My lips are sealed on what it’s going to sound like.

EP: Are you a cereal for full English breakfast kinda’ band? Would that change the night after a big show?

SS: I can happily speak for James and Stu in saying that “they like meat”.

We work hard on stage so probably sweat out a lot of calories.

I’m not particularly fussy, a like a bit of porridge. But often a beer will suffice 🙂

ER: Thanks for taking to time to share with out readers Scarlet.

SS: Thank you! This interview was brought to you by Scarlet from Scarlet Soho and a pot of Chai tea.

Go check out their new EP, ‘When The Lights Go Out’, and it’s awesome reMixes.

‘When The Lights Go Out’ is released 21st May, you can pre-order here.

Buy Scarlet Soho’s music from:

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2 comments on “An interview with Scarlet Soho

  1. I like this group but come on now… don’t be hating on HURTS. Speaking of which when the hell is HURTS going to put out something new?

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