Scarlet Monk is a multifaceted vocalist, songwriter, producer, performance artist and dancer from Poland, who now calls Las Vegas home. She recently released very dope visuals for her new single “Short Film”, featuring jazz guitarist Jeff Parker, and of course, we featured it on DCWS and CAB. Not just that, we connected with Scarlet for an exclusive interview to discuss “Short Film”, as well as her upcoming album “BAJKI”, which drops very soon (Nov. 7th), and much more.
After reading our Q&A with Scarlet Monk, be sure to connect with her on social media and check out her website. Most importantly, get ready to support Scarlet by streaming and sharing “BAJKI” when it is released next month.
You are a vocalist, songwriter, producer, performance artist and dancer now, but you had to start somewhere. Were you a dancer first who realized that she could write songs and sing later on?
I’ve always wanted to perform, ever since I was on a farm in Poland and first saw music videos. I saw people dancing and singing, and I don’t think that in my mind I separated those two things back then. In high school and college I also did both singing and dancing, and practiced many different styles ranging from classical to urban. So to me it’s always been more about wanting to create and perform, and using whatever felt like the best way to do express myself at the moment; sometimes it meant writing a song, sometimes dancing at a party was enough. But it’s always been just a part of life.
Tell us about how your time living in Chicago molded you as an artist, dancer, etc.
Chicago is the best training ground you can ask for. It is filled with extremely talented and experienced people, but you have to put in work before they take you seriously enough to help you hone your craft. I went to both high school (Whitney Young) and college (NEIU) in Chicago, and had access to legendary teachers. My first dance teacher at Whitney Young was a former Alvin Ailey dancer (Lisa Johnson), and my jazz teacher in college toured extensively with Ray Charles (Mayo Tiana). I played shows alongside some of the dopest Chicago MCs, and I always felt welcomed even though my music was a lot more experimental and Trip-Hop based; I often performed with a cellist (Ira Ochs), a beatboxer (Blackdaylight), and modern dancers on stage (Laboratory Dancers Company). It was an amazing, creative, nurturing time. I miss it.
Congratulations on your new single and video "Short Film"; it's very dope! Describe your creative process for making the song itself and for the video treatment.
Thank you! The song came first, and it was one of the first songs I wrote for the album. When I played it to my friend Joel, he said it’s making him picture me looking into one of those old school oval mirrors. So that was the starting point. I later had the idea to make some of the shots black and white so that it is essentially a film being shot inside of a film. I looked for a space with a mirror, found the perfect actor, and talked ideas with the cinematographer Alex Laya. Once in the space, it was a collaborative effort and we just went with what felt and looked good.
What can you tell us about your upcoming album "BAJKI"? Do you have a release date confirmed?
Yes! November 7th, 2018. “BAJKI” means fairytales in Polish, and I think stories/tales are at the heart of all performance art forms. It’s how we communicate, share, preserve, and make our mark on the world. It’s important to control our own stories, but also to be open to them coming from other points of view and different experiences. The complete picture will always end up looking more like looking through a kaleidoscope though, and that’s ok. I tell my stories on the album, and on the last song, “Bajki”, I pass the mic to two remarkable Chicago MCs to tell their stories (Rita J and Dee Jackson). And this is where anyone can get involved: with the album download you get a bonus version of the song without the MCs on it so that anyone can record their own story. I’m currently working on making it into a contest, so stay tuned on my social media for details (I tend to be most active on IG, @scarlet_monk).
If you had to describe your music to a stranger in three words, which ones would you select?
Downtempo, eclectic, electronically-vulnerable (I know that’s kind of 4 but I’m not good with rules lol)
Finish this sentence "When someone hears "BAJKI" for the first time..."
…I hope they can take the time to sit back, relax, and listen all the way through, because I crafted the album to be a sonic journey from beginning to end. I know we’re all more accustomed to bite sized music portions right now, but I hope people can enjoy the ride with this one. But later there are definitely plenty of singles to choose from :)
When you are not creating in the recording studio or on the dance floor, what do you like to do for fun and/or unwind?
Ohhh I love traveling. I adore little coffee shops, a fresh breeze, nature, forests, reading in front of an open window. I’m really, really good at doing “nothing” and just enjoying free time when I have it. I try hard not to get caught up in the trap of always needing to be busy. It’s so much better to take time to reflect, and then go in the right direction, rather than just staying busy for the sake of being busy and exhausting myself. At least I try to do that :)