Skarlett Riot – Stronger and StrongerThursday, 6th May 2021
Four years after their impressive Regenerate, Skarlett Riot has returned and once again upped the heaviness and intensity of their music. Invicta balances visceral riffing and screaming vocals with some more gentle and pop-driven moments in a combination that will instantly grab ahold of most modern metal listeners. We had a chat with vocalist Skarlett to get her thoughts on the new album and the increased energy, what they’ve been up to for the last 4 years, pandemic impacts, and more.
Dead Rhetoric: What have you been up to in the years since Regenerate?
Skarlett: When we released Regenerate in 2017, we were literally touring for like 2 years straight. We were constantly out on the road with different bands, and it was super cool. But in 2019, we decided it was time to write a new album. Touring is fantastic, but we needed to write again. It had been two years since Regenerate. So we started writing again, and we went into record Invicta in March 2020. Obviously, the pandemic struck, and it was literally the day after we went into the studio we were sent back out again. So we didn’t get back to record the album until August 2020, but we had to all go in individually. I didn’t get to record the album with the guys. The drums were done, then he was out of the studio, bass, etc. It was such a weird experience. Invicta was actually meant to be out in September of last year, but due to the pandemic things have been delayed.
Dead Rhetoric: You said it was weird to record on your own. Did you find any benefits in doing it that way though?
Skarlett: Maybe not the benefit of one person at a time, but the benefit of waiting a little bit longer to release it. We weren’t rushing the album out, so it gave us more time to look at the production. We could look at it after the parts were recorded and decide where we wanted things like piano, violins, or the brass section. I think that shined through on this album. You can really hear all the string sections in each song. We had more time to concentrate on that sort of thing without rushing to a deadline.
Dead Rhetoric: Skarlett Riot continues to get heavier with each release. Where did the inspiration come from for Invicta?
Skarlett: I think it’s been a natural progression of getting heavier. I think as the years have gone by, we have matured together as a band. We are more experienced together as well. The progression of heaviness has been more of a natural thing than just being planned. While we were writing Invicta, we were listening to bands like Architects, Parkway Drive, Trivium, and In This Moment. I decided I wanted to start screaming as well, so I stared learning the technique and our new bass player already knew how to scream, so we used it in the song “Gravity.” So things kind of naturally went that way.
Dead Rhetoric: Did you do any sort of special training to start screaming or did you play it by ear?
Skarlett: Played it by ear really. I watched a few videos on YouTube. I didn’t have any technical training on it, so it’s taken me quite a while to actually learn it. I had to spend a lot of time going, “Nope, that hurts. That’s not right. Don’t do that.” So it was a trial and error process finding the scream and even today, I’m learning more and more about it. How to get the power out and how to not wreck your voice. There’s so much to learn about it, and I got quite into it – learning how to do it. I found it quite addictive to practice. I’m looking to get some training in the future, just to advance me even further.
Dead Rhetoric: What else makes Invicta stand out to you?
Skarlett: Like I mentioned before, I think the production layers are more prominent now. I love the brass sections we put in – there’s a song called “To the Flames” where there’s a nice big brass section which I think is a bit different than what we usually do. The album has a lot more dynamics in comparison to Regenerate, so when I think people listen to it, it won’t be exactly what they expected but in a good way. I think some of the songs are a little softer – you have softer sections and heavier sections. Halfway through the album we have a song called “Into Pieces,” which is probably the softest song we have done. I just think that track complements the album and breaks it up a bit. I feel people will be pretty pleasantly surprised by the dynamic of the album.
Dead Rhetoric: I was pretty surprised by “Into Pieces” when I got to it. Did you feel it was time where you could pull off a ballad or more just dynamics like you were saying?
Skarlett: We kind of listened to what other people said about Regenerate. That the album could have done with a couple of softer tracks. It was hard-hitting, which was great, but a couple of softer songs here and there would have been cool. So with Invicta, we wanted to work on that dynamic. We don’t tend to write softer songs and we aren’t amazing at them because it’s not something that we do. So we thought we’d spend quite a bit of time on that one, and it took quite a while to produce it as well. There’s a lot of layers that came out in the production process. But I am glad we spent the time on it, because I think it’s the hidden gem of the album.
Dead Rhetoric: Any other tracks that strike a particular chord with you?
Skarlett: I really like “Black Cloud.” I think it combines more commercial elements with metal. For me, I was brought up on pop music and then I started to get into rock and metal music. I feel like that song has all those rock, metal, and pop elements in it. It’s going to be one of those songs that people will remember the words and sing along live.
Dead Rhetoric: I think there’s almost a gateway feel to Skarlett Riot. There’s the heavy stuff there, but there’s also that pop side where it might pull in some people who might not listen to it otherwise. You can hook them with the melodic piece.
Skarlett: Yeah, definitely. I have noticed with our fanbase we have a mixture of older fans and younger fans – all ages. Some bands are predominately younger, but we have a mixture so we try to have a little bit of something for everyone in our music.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you see as the strong suits for Skarlett Riot at this point in the band’s career?
Skarlett: That’s difficult. People from an outside perspective have a bit of a step up with that type of question. I feel like they can kind of look and say, “Oh they are really good at this.” But for you to realize it yourself is quite difficult. I would say, performance-wise, we are good at delivering the energy of the songs live. We like to involve the crowd and we like to involve our fans. We are good with communication as well, such as on social media. We are constantly on there and wanting to talk to people. After shows and things, we will go down to merch and have all of the time in the world to talk and sign things for the fans. So I think communication is one of our strong points, and just being real with people.
Dead Rhetoric: You mentioned the recording process already. What else has been a struggle for the band during the pandemic, outside of the ‘no shows’ piece?
Skarlett: I think it’s been difficult for us not to see each other and practice. Even if we had no shows, we like to practice for the social piece. You get together, you talk a bit, you play a few songs, and you have a laugh. It’s more about connecting with each other. Not being able to see the band, as well as fans, friends, and family, while we are trying to keep things going behind the scenes – like social media, getting merch going, and trying to release the album – we haven’t been able to see each other so you very much rely on calling/videoing each other but it’s not quite the same as being able to meet up and have a few beers and a pizza and just talk. All of those things that you take for granted.
Dead Rhetoric: How important has having other avenues been, such as art and modeling, during this time?
Skarlett: Definitely. Doing my drawing is really relaxing and it kind of takes me to another world. When I am drawing I don’t think about anything apart from the drawing that I am doing. It’s quite relaxing for me. it’s been important for me to keep having those orders, and it hasn’t stopped throughout the pandemic. People send me pictures, I draw them, and I send them through the mail so that business has kept going. It has kept me having something to concentrate on while I can’t do the band. The modeling, I haven’t been able to do any during the pandemic, but I’m starting to get back on it now. It’s something good that can sit alongside the band. it’s a little bit different and gives me that kind of playing on stage and letting my feminine side out on the modeling [laughs].
Dead Rhetoric: You didn’t get any lessons in for the screaming piece, but is there anything you do to keep your voice in shape?
Skarlett: I warm my voice up. If I have a show and I’m singing for more than 30 minutes, I do a 30-minute warm up. I do thinks like lip drills and breathing techniques. I have a vocal/facial steamer that I breathe into and it puts moisture on your vocal chords. It’s good to do both before and after the show as well. So I do warm ups and cool downs religiously before and after a show. I will also make sure I’m not talking too much before a show because shouting can wear your voice out before you even get on stage. Just staying hydrated too, drinking plenty of water and not alcohol or caffeine. The general things – I try to eat dairy as well, as it creates mucous in your throat. There’s quite a few little things that I tend to do.
Dead Rhetoric: Are you kind of stuck with purple hair at this point?
Skarlett: [Laughs] I keep thinking to change the hair, but a lot of people keep commenting. Even when I turn it blue, I get the comments asking where the purple hair went. But I do like the purple. I just keep looking and I have had it for like 6-7 years. I feel like I want to change it, but I don’t know what to change it to. I feel like red is very typical, and there’s a lot of people with red hair. Over here, there’s not that many people with purple hair. I do like the idea of having full jet-black hair, but then I thought that as soon as it happens, there’s no rebleaching it back to purple. It stays black [laughs], so I’m holding off as long as possible.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s going on in 2021 for Skarlett Riot?
Skarlett: As soon as the album is out, we will probably do a couple Facebook live sessions and chats with the fans. We are going to be releasing another single as well. Normally we only release a few, but because of the pandemic and lack of tours, we are going to do another 1 or 2 singles just for people to be in on the socials. We are hoping to plan a few dates late this year, but it will very much depend on things. We keep seeing people who planned dates this year move them to next year. We don’t want to put something in and have it cancelled. But we would love to actually support the release a little bit later this year.