Interview: Scarlet Dress

Scarlet Dress is a progressive metalcore outfit with its members hailing from Mumbai, India and Albuquerque, United States. In its true sense, Scarlet Dress really is a form of expression through heavy music in the new age of internet collaboration. With music that is fueled by ambient melodies, heavy breakdowns and intricate guitar riffage, Scarlet Dress’ emotional hooks and hard hitting breakdowns appeal to an audience sitting at the borderline of Prog and metalcore. Scarlet Dress is for listeners who appreciate layered atmospheres but at the same time desire catchy melodies. Set to unleash their debut album “Endless upon the world February 28th, Scarlet Dress is ready to come out swinging in the scene. Packed with 9 tracks of extremely solid metalcore, the album also features guest vocals by Jordan Chase (Shreddy Krueger) on “Withdrawn” and Josh Ford (The Luminary) on “Empty Breathing”, and Alan Rigdon (Ex ERRA) performs a guest solo section on instrumental “Evade”. Recently, I had the chance to talk with Sushant Vohra, who currently happens to write and compose all the instrumentals for the band. The interview, which you can read below, covers multiple topics including how difficult it has been being in different countries, where the band name originated, albums Sushant is looking forward to, and so much more.

Do yourself a favor and follow the band on Facebook, check out a little more of their backstory on their official website, and pre-order/pre-save on Bandcamp, iTunes, or Spotify!

What is the music scene like in India? Where is the rest of the band based in the
US?

Music scene in India is a nightmare for metal bands. There are of course venues and audiences that support radio friendly music, but I have only seen metal bands struggle in the country. Most of it comes from the lack of infrastructure for metal promotion, gigs, venues and distribution. I think the audience is growing and so are the professionals, but it requires a lot of time and effort to put your name out there. Some do it right like “As we keep searching”, “Noiseware” and “Pineapple Express”. Scarlet Dress has always been an internet project and the vocalist is based in Albuquerque and I’m in San Francisco. We plan to meet later this year.

 

What have you all been up to since the release of your EP? Howʼs it feel to finally
be writing a full length? Were there any extra challenges in doing so?

We are really excited for our full length album. It’s been a long time coming. Our EP “Prose Edda” was released in 2015 and right after that I started writing all instruments for new music and started handing it off to Tanveer, the then vocalist of the band. As much as Tanveer wanted to write music for the band, his schedule made it impossible for us to work at that time so I was burdened with the task of finding a new vocalist. Long story short, I approached Michael and asked him if he wanted to try out doing some vocals on a song. I had worked with Michael before when he used to sing for a band called Noble Lie and I knew he would do justice to the music. That one song engagement then got expanded into a full length album. Between all the travel and our individual lives it’s hard to say if these were challenges or just the way it is for everyone.

 

Where did the name of the band originate from?

Scarlet comes from blood and Dress is a garment that goes on the body. The elegance and softness of our name Scarlet Dress contrasts heavily with its meaning – a bloodied body, just like how our music has contrasting elements from heavy breakdowns to ambient melodies. We operated under the name A Scarlet Dress for the last 4 years but decided to drop the A recently to make it visually cleaner and all my friends called it “Scarlet Dress” anyway. So that works.

 

What made you all decide on sticking with the progressive metalcore genre? Did
you ever experiment with other genres before deciding on the aforementioned?

I grew up listening to a lot of heavy music but mostly post-hardcore and metalcore including bands like As I lay dying, Deftones, A Day to Remember, Rise Against, Scary kids Scaring kids, Miss may I, etc. Around the same time I picked up my first guitar and started learning and writing music in a similar style. There was a big Djent wave in the 2000s so I experimented with that as well, but metalcore really is what inspires me today as well but when it comes to writing, I just focus on emotion. Michael on the other hand keeps experimenting with RnB and Trap songs here and there but mostly sticks to heavy music. I have been learning a little bit of jazz and plan to incorporate some of it in our future material.

There are a lot of bands playing similar music, what do you feel separates you
from your contemporaries?

More than a musician, I am a curious listener as well. I like discovering obscure bands and finding underground artists. I feel like I have heard a good amount of music (both good and bad) in the scene to write something that is familiar as well as engaging. Our goal is not to be a completely different or unique band but really engage the audience in meaningful and emotional song-writing. Throughout our music we incorporate a lot of layered ambient melodies which I picked up from prog bands while having them contrast against aggressive breakdown patterns that really bring forward our roots in metalcore. Having a vocalist that can sing beautiful catchy melodies is a plus that a lot of good bands don’t have today.

Conceptually, what are you trying to convey with the lyrics on this album? Are
there any reoccurring themes or meanings?

Michael wrote most of the lyrics based on his own life experiences. He has a unique style to writing music where he has these hooks that really contrast from the story line but still make a lot of sense. Michael sings about his girlfriend on “Limerence”. And on “Nucleus”, He talks about existing in a dark space, going insane and just being trapped. I wrote the lyrics for “Farewell” and it talks about my mother and her suffering through cancer. She is in a better place now. All songs are very relatable and open to a broader interpretation and that is one of the themes in the album. Lastly, the name “Endless” just reinforces the fact that life goes on, contrary to the popular belief that life is short.

 

About how long would you say you spent on writing the album?

I’d say a couple of years. We originally wrote 13 tracks for the album but we really want to put the best work forward.

 

Who would you say your biggest influences are? Are all of you mainly into the
same genres or are your tastes in music more varied?

Some bands that left a lasting impact on the way I write music are Underoath, Erra, Elitist, Deftones and Radiohead. We are mostly feeding ourselves with a good amount of heavy music during the day but I’d say both Michael and me listen to other genres like Rnb, Trap, Lo-fi, Post Rock and Alternate Rock when we grow tired of listening to breakdowns and riffs.

What kind of experience did you have with your guests on the album? Did you
originally plan on having guest features or was it kind of spur of the moment?

With guest artists I had a clear vision of the persona I’m looking for, not the people. I remember listening to “Shreddy Krueger” on my way to work everyday and I thought to myself it’ll be so dope to have this guy on our record. So, I tried to get in touch with Jordan from SK and told him I was a fan and if he’d be up for a collab. He was super humble throughout the process and I have had some great conversations with him about music in general as well. On “Farwell”, Josh Ford sings the whole song. I found him through his covers on youtube and I knew his voice was perfect for the song I was writing then. Josh really liked the song and was happy to help. He also plays for a band called “The Luminary”. Lastly, the guest solo part on “Connect” was a hard one to realize and I knew Alan Rigdon would be the right guy to approach. Alan wrote a lot of the music for older “Erra” and is now operating his own studio. He is a professional at his craft and I feel lucky to have him on the album.

Whatʼs the story behind the album artwork? Is there a specific theme behind it?

The “Endless” album cover features a levitating girl, she is open to interpretation, we think it represents memories and thoughts … which is also a reoccurring theme through the album. The mysterious symbolism are hidden messages like dates and work in progress song titles, etc. which we wanted to keep so that we can put forward an honest side to our music.

What albums were you listening to while writing/recording the album?

Definitely a lot of Architects. I also remember obsessing over “Void” by Stories and “Lost Isles” by Oceans ate Alaska.

Any major albums youʼre looking forward to that come out this upcoming year?

I’m looking forward to the new Wage War, Periphery and Northlane

Who did you work with as a producer? What kind of experience did you have?

I recorded all guitar parts, wrote all the drums, keys and synth at my home studio. Michael wrote all the lyrics and recorded his parts in his studio. We then sent it to Drew Bender and Chris Mandel from Bender Recording for Mixing. I also had the chance to visit Drew and Chris and their studio to record some extra parts for a couple of songs. Drew really helped polish a lot of stuff. Both Drew and Chris are stellar at what they do, the vocal production was on point and I was really excited to have the finished mixes from them. I have to commend Michael for sending all stems for his vocal parts from his home studio. It’s really difficult to track without any help and he did a great job.
For Mastering we went with Joe Lewis Brown from the UK. He has produced, mixed and mastered some hard hitting records and it was pleasure to work him. He is extremely humble, has a great setup and has a unique eye for shaping a bands sound. More than that he is super quick.

Whatʼs it been like working independently to release the album? Has it been
challenging for you all?

I think the real challenge is to promote the music. Distribution has become so easy for artist that one can just sit back and relax after you submit all the music. We have our album coming out on the 28th of February and our biggest challenge is to spread the word, get people to hear us, give feedback and learn and grow from this experience. If no one hears us, all this effort will go in vain haha.

On the topic of touring, do you ever think it would be possible simply based on the fact that you all are spread around the globe?

We have given this a lot of thought but couldn’t conclude. Of course, if the opportunity is right we will do whatever we can to get on the road and play music but we are equally satisfied if our audience simply supporting out music online. It’s hard for internet projects to really make it into the heavy music scene because there are so many bedroom producers, so we are definitely open to playing live but we don’t know if it’s going to happen anytime soon. But who knows?

If you had the opportunity to tour with 3 bands, past or present, who would you
tour with?

Deftones, Old Woe is Me and Post Malone.

Is there anything youʼd like to say your current or future fan base?

We are just extremely thrilled and equally nervous to put out our heart and soul in the form of music. Scarlet Dress is just a small project and no matter how many people come across our music, we just hope that you can connect with it and can feel the emotions we poured into creating it. Our current fans is really what motivates us.