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Scarlet

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Very occasionally an artist comes along with music that compels the listener within seconds: potent hooks that draw you in, powerful choruses that create an immediate connection and melodies and lyrics that spin around your head fordays. Scarlet is one such singer-songwriter.

Growing up with classic crooners like Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Roy Orbison as well as punk bands like The Clash on her parents' stereo, West Londoner Scarlet started writing her own songs when she was 14. By her early teens, a powerhouse voice, which has led to comparisons with Adele, Amy Winehouse and Florence Welch, emerged. "Celine Dion was an influence growing up. I loved big voices and luckily I got one," she says.

While she was classically trained on the piano from the age of six as well as singing, indie and emo rock was where her early heart lay, and while honing her craft and performance skills at the prestigious BRIT school, she formed an alt-rock Paramore-esque band called Siren, cutting her teeth by gigging across London in iconic small venues such as The Water Rats and the Half Moon.

She'd already taught herself to play guitar and, inspired by an eclectic array of artistsfrom the wordsmith Kate Tempest to Lana Del Rey, Kelly Clarkson to My Chemical Romance, Mystery Jets to Alex Turner, struck out on her own after a few years, ready for the world to hear her own tracks and spilling open her diary for us to read. "I love rock but I grew up, I got so far with it, but I needed to leave it behind. Pop music is just that little bit harder and I felt I could express more doing that," she explains.

That autobiographical, open and raw quality of expression characterises Scarlet's songs. Like all the best writers, she is interested in the human condition and her honesty drives an immediate humanconnection in her tracks. Frank and self-revelatory while also being charismatic and clever, her lyrics and imagery suggest an old soul, observing people, relationships and the modern world with a unique eye. With a funny,charming personality as big as her addictive hooks, she can hold an audience in the palm of her hand, recently keeping a crowd spellbound at a recent gig at The Social in London with her quirky onstage repartee and acoustic set. Stripped-back, acoustic sessions online showcase her songs in all their strength and complexity. She doesn't need props, gimmicks or fancy costumes - her songs speak for themselves.

Take new single 'Addicted'. A song about the obsessive opiate of love, it twists and turns down harmonic avenues that surprise and delight. A jungle/breakbeat-esque rhythm erupts into a huge, chorus that'll send dopamine through your brain, all exquisitely produced by her songwriting partner Jessica Sharman (Ward Thomas, Sigala, Dakota) who she describes as an older sister. "She gets me," says Scarlet.

Debut single 'X' is stripped-back, propelled by gentle chords and gorgeous harmonic changes.With compelling imagery and a beautiful middle eight, it shows a songwriterwith an astonishing sense of the craft considering she's just 23. "I love a great romantic story that goes wrong, that fairytale gone bad," she says, of the song's theme.

'Warning Sign', about self-delusion, is another track you'll have on repeat with a chorus you'll want to belt out while no one is watching.
"A chorus always has to be strong, if I don't hear a chorus in a song I'm like well, what am I meant to sing along to?" she says. The stunning guitar riff and clacketing, synthesised drums also perfectly complement Scarlet's honey-rich, opulent vocals and gorgeous harmonies. With a strong grasp of dynamics, her voice can be husky and earthy before switching into a rich timbre, using tone to tell the emotional stories of her life. 'Phoenix' is an "angry song" that anyone who's ever clashed with a love one will relate to.

'Freedom Fighters' is an anthem for the modern world inspired by the Croydon riots of 2011, which took place near to the BRIT school, where Scarlet was studying. "It relates to everything going on right now, the situation in the world, Brexit, Orlando - 'we're not going to sit on the sidelines, we'll stand and be the freedom fighters.' My cousin went to Afghanistan, the silhouettes of the soldiers, we're not going to sit down and take it any more. It's my response to all of that."

So Scarlet's pop music isn't just about lost love - there's much more to it. From a track about the mental health struggles of someone close to her that many will relate to, to the experience of being bullied, she draws from both the inside and outside world to produce something layered, complex, emotional and human. "Everyone can relate to a love song but I'm lucky that people have got my songs that are about something else. There are million things in the world to talk about."
Similarly, this isn't straightforward pop music: with processed and synthesised drums, intriguing sonic flourishes, key changes and imaginative production,it's pop with an indie edge, scuzzed up, raw and created by a writer with a clear idea of how she wants each moment to sound.

"Pop is such a broad term and that's interesting to me," she says, citing the way Lana Del Rey and Jessie Ware use different sounds in their work. "I love synthesised, processed drums. In 'Infinitely', for example, a new song, there's going to be an electric guitar breakdown. Less rock, more indie," she says.

While she dreams of playing Wembley Stadium, Alexandra Palace and other venues she's seen her favourite acts perform in - the first being the Spice Girls when she was a child - she's not driven by a desire for fame. For example, she turned down the X Factor because it was the wrong direction for her. "I want to have a long career doing this," she says.
"I appreciate a musician who's had a struggle. There's too much 15 minutes of fame."

With nods and support already from BBC Introducing, record executives, radio DJs such as Huw Stephens and music blogs, Scarlet's star is rising. Where does she see herself in five years time? Playing Glastonbury Festival, she says. "I just hope it doesn't rain the year that I'm headlining!" Watch this space: it might have been delivered with a wry smile but Scarlet's got the soul, songwriting chops, lyrical nous and badass hooks to take her music to the top.

Lucy Jones

"'X' is a gorgeous track musically and vocally... Scarlet is a talented musician you must keep a keen eye on." - Record Of The Day

"left us absolutely spellbound with her incredible voice" - Tom Simkins, BBC Introducing Cambridge

"I loved the sentiment behind the track, the assured composition, and Scarlet's entirely gorgeous voice. I hate to be greedy, but more of this would make my day." - Aimless Skylarking

Scarlet

Scarlet

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