by Mike Coles
My Scarlet Life is a band that I recently became familiar with thanks to S.S.B.H. opening up for them one night in Champaign, IL. last summer. I bought all five of their releases without hesitation, easily falling in love with the angelic female vocals and the atmospheric electronic beats.
When I asked someone what style of music they played, I was told that they were a goth band, but during the interview I found out otherwise which explained a lot when I asked certain questions or made certain remarks.
For those of you who are into angelic female vocals, melodic tunes, and just an overall great "I want to get up and dance" type of style music, I suggest you write Preston and purchase all their material. Fans of Lacuna Coil, The Gathering, Switchblade Symphony, Loreena Mckennitt, or any other band that may be similar in genre might enjoy this band very much.
Fortunately, but unfortunately, I was present at their last performance in Chicago, a show that many will remember. Preston Kilk, founder of My Scarlet Life, is still performing with several bands in the Chicago area; Karma Sutra, Pointy Teeth, Scarlet Life, Bed of Roses, etc... Interested parties should go to www.DivaNation.com.
"Take electronica trip-hoppers Portishead and Tricky, add the ethereal qualities of Kate Bush and Dead Can Dance, stir with mystery, and youíve got My Scarlet Life." - Des Moines Register
Julie: What kind of magazine is this?
The Outcast: Itís mainly a metal magazine, but no need to worry, most of the people who read the magazine are pretty open minded, well, I think.
(From afar with a concerned tone in his voice) Preston: Metal?! Metal?
The Outcast: Yeah. Iíve got Eva O and Wedding Party in my last issue and they are not metal, so itíll be alright.
The Outcast: Eva O, she used to play with Christian Death, you know?
(A confused look on Christy and Julieís face.)
The Outcast: Arenít you guys goth? Or what do you guys classify your style?
Christy: Not goth, but goth friendly.
Paul: More electronic.
Christy: Electronic pop, an electronic band. Itís dance able, but itís not dance music.
Amy: (Walking out from inside) How far away do you guys think you are from actually hitting the road?
Paul: Fifteen to twenty minutes (Pause).
The Outcast: Okay, well sense youíre not goth, why do you think My Scarlet Life attracts a gothic crowd?
Paul: Well, uh...
Christy: Itís got a good beat and you can dance to it.
Paul: There is darkness to the music... I mean we donít try to do it, or weíre not trying to cater to a certain particular audience or genre, they, the goths, just sort of gravitate towards the darker elements of our music.
Julie: And towards the beautiful elements probably as well.
Paul: It has an ethereal sort of quality to it, you know? Itís very flowy.
The Outcast: I personally thought it was goth when I first heard you guys.
(All of them together): You thought it was goth?
Christy: By looking at it (their performance) or by listening to it?
The Outcast: When I first heard you guys.
Julie: On the CD?
The Outcast: When we (S.S.B.H.) played with you guys was the first time I ever heard or heard of you guys.
Julie: What band are you in?
The Outcast: SS Bounty Hunter.
Julie: Oh really? Cool...
Preston: (Without knowing what we were talking about.) Somebody last night said; "You guys arenít goth, but you are goth friendly." I was like, okay...
Christy: We already said that (Laughter).
Julie: Thatís funny, I remember them (S.S.B.H.).
The Outcast: Yeah, I was the "keyboard" player and the nun-chukka guy.
Paul: Was that with the sideburns and the...
The Outcast: No, that was John.
Paul: Ah, that was John.
Christy: Ahhh, you guys.
The Outcast: But going back to the darker side of things. Are you talking about musically, lyrically, or what?
Paul: Um, probably a little of both. Musically, thereís a darker element in some of the songs. Lyrically, these two (pointing at Julie and Christy).
The Outcast: You guys write all the lyrics?
Christy: Yeah, we write our own lyrics to the songs we sing.
Paul: I think when we write the music and they write the lyrics I think it all comes from inside, from something weíve experienced and stuff. You know, everybody has experienced some darkness.
Christy: (Really loud) PAIN!
Preston: Are you guys talking lyrically?
The Outcast: Both.
Preston: I still donít find it very dark. Iíve watched the audience, and theyíre dancing, smiling, Iím up here smiling, the band is smiling.... nah, weíre not that dark.
Christy: There are some songs though that are dark like "Silent Screams"...
Paul: I think the themes to some of the songs are dark, and we pick that up musically, but itís not conscious, we just do it. Itís whatever the song calls for, the music kind of creates itís self.
Amy: Is that a cockroach?
Amy: Donít let it get in the bag.
Paul: Weíre in the middle of an interview.
Amy: Oh, hi.
The Outcast: Weíre in the middle of an interview, tell us about killing cockroaches?
Amy: It went... (ccccuueeee) when I stepped on it (laughter).
(Iím not to sure about the spelling on the sound effect, sorry. - Mike)
Amy: So who is this, who are we talking to?
The Outcast: My name is Mike.
Amy: Hi Mike (reaching to shake my hand).
The Outcast: What happened?!
Amy: I got cut and I just took off my band-aid.
The Outcast: Iím sorry.
Amy: Its okay (pointing her finger towards the tape recorder). Can you record my owie (laughter)?
The Outcast: If I had film in my camera I could.
Paul: We feel your pain.
Amy: Man, this thing hurts, man.
Christy: Well, if you think goth music.....
Amy: Weíre not goth.
Christy: Right, exactly. Weíre the five non-goths. It isnít the first time itís been said.
The Outcast: So how did you guys get hooked up with Switchblade Symphony?
(I have a confession to make guys, I messed up saying Switchblade when I meant to say SCSI, but I played it off like I knew what I was talking about. - Mike)
Paul and Julie: We didnít. It didnít go through.
Christy: Actually SCSI played with us tonight.
The Outcast: But you guys were, werenít you?
Julie: We were supposed to, but it didnít go through.
Christy: So this ruins your whole interview now!
The Outcast: No it doesnít, because I heard that you guys were supposed to play with them (Lie!).
Christy: We were going to tour with them but we turned it down.
Julie: We turned it down, why?
Christy: Because we were in the middle of recording.
(Amy says something, but realizes what she says is bad and asks me to PLEASE edit her remark out, youíre welcome, he, he. - Mike)
The Outcast: Well, Iíve got to make sure because I print word for word.
Paul: Oh, you do?
The Outcast: Oh yeah.
Amy: No way...
Christy: Look at the magazine.
Amy: Why? No one wants to hear all this.
The Outcast: Oh yeah they do.
Julie: Itís more fun that way.
Amy: (rrrreaidjfoii;iofjo) How are you going to print that?
The Outcast: Read the first two interviews in that issue and youíll see.
Julie: You should have told us this beforehand.
Christy: We would have been much more pretentious (laughter).
The Outcast: This magazine is about being yourself, it doesnít matter what you say, just as long as you mean it.
Amy: Youíre getting it all man.
The Outcast: Thatís good, thatís what I want.
(For some unknown reason, I ask a question that I already asked, but in a different way. - Mike)
The Outcast: So why do you think youíre drawn to the goth crowd?
Paul: Weíre drawn to it? Weíre not drawn to it.
Christy: Theyíre drawn to us (speaking loudly to someone walking by). Why is the goth crowd drawn to My Scarlet Life?
The Outcast: Yeah, why do you guys like them so much (goth looking character on the street with his girlfriend)?
Goth dude: Weíre not here to see them, we think they suck!
The Outcast: No, you guys like them, donít you (hoping heíll give me the right answer)?
Goth dude: Oh yeah, I like them. Iíve seen you guys a bunch of times actually. I was just in Chicago, but the night you guys were playing I didnít know you guys were playing. I was at the Double Door watching a black metal band play.
The Outcast: Was that the Emperor show?
Goth dude: No, it was the Dimmu Borgir and Samael show.
The Outcast: Theyíre playing at the Creepy Crawl on Monday.
Preston: Answer his question though.
Christy: Would you say weíre goth?
Goth dude: I wouldnít say youíre goth, but you guys definitely have dark qualities in your music. There are certain little moody things that are thrown in there musically. Itís hard to pin point, but itís in there.
The Outcast: Well, thanks man, Iíll see you Monday.
Goth dude: Yeah, see ya.
Preston: What was his answer?
The Outcast: Youíll just have to wait until the magazine comes out. Whatís been the most memorable show?
Paul: The Metro in Chicago is really good, and the M-Shop in Iowa, those were some of the best shows.
Julie: The most memorable (everyone talking and thinking, so I ask something else)?
The Outcast: Are the crowds in Chicago goth oriented or is it always a variety?
Paul: Itís a huge variety.
Julie: A lot of different people. Some nights, itís just a goth crowd. Like last night in Champaign, it was all a goth crowd.
The Outcast: When you guys first started, did you know or did you think you guys were going to attract the goths?
Christy: We had no idea. We didnít get together and had the intention....
Paul: (In a robotic voice) We-are-a-goth-band-letís-write-eerie-music. I mean we didnít do that, you know?
The Outcast: So what influenced you guys musically?
Paul: This will definitely show weíre not goth.
Amy: English and French impressionist music, Cat Stevens,70's rock, blues, Dead Can Dance, jazz improvisational music, folk and popular music from Africa and the middle east.
Christy: When I was 16, I had every Janis Joplin record I could get my hands on.
Paul: I was into the Beetles and Hendrix.
Julie: The range of music I listen to is broad. Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney, Portishead Mono, Cibo Matto, The Zombies and The Monkees and The Beatles, etc... But itís strange that the music that I tend to listen to is not the type of music that I want to create. I listen to much lighter music than I tend to sing. I donít know why, but I am sure that its influence seeps into my subconscious and comes out when I am singing. I just canít hear it. As for my words, they are influenced by things I see or read or hope for, nothing like Peggy Lee would sing about, usually a bit dark, but not always.
The Outcast: How old is everyone?
Christy: Old enough.
Paul: Old enough to get in bars.
Christy: Old enough to know what matters.
The Outcast: I promise I wonít print it (laughter). How about spiritual beliefs, do you guys have any spiritual beliefs, or what do you think about religion?
Christy: Religion is from the outside in, and spirituality is from the inside out.
Paul: There you go!
Christy: Itís not my quote...
The Outcast: I was getting ready to ask that, I like that a lot.
Christy: Many people have quoted that.
Preston: Religion and I have a troubled past, but a more comfortable present. Iíve found a community that brings me love, laughter, and wisdom. Spiritual nurturance is certainly something Iíve found missing from my life.
Julie: Spirituality is what we should all seek, our goal in life. Organized religion can be a good thing as far as having a sense of community, but from my experience I think it is a joke, just another form of exploitation. Jesus is probably the most exploited person in history.
The Outcast: What do you guys, and gals, think about Jesus Christ and what he stood for?
Amy: I dunno. Perhaps he lived. I mean, if he did, he was well ahead of his time. Thinking about it, I guess someone had to kinda shake people up there to get the ball rolling, so why not him? If he died as he did, I could believe that he stood by his convictions, as he knew he was right and to prove it to an ignorant fuck like Caesar, he would only be spinning his wheels, so why bother? He knew what was right, and if he were strong and highly evolved as he sounds, then yes, he would not have to prove him self he would have no fear of death because he knew death is only a transition and not what people fear it to be. It sounds like he had a lot of good things to say. It seems like JC sought out spiritual enlightenment, received it and went back home talking about it to some open ears, but also, he must have freaked out a lot of people, the feds caught wind of it and took offense. People are generally fearful of new ideas. I think he was trying to teach people self-empowerment, but if people get strong, they start to stand up for themselves and Iím sure, like any hard working tyranny, Caesar would have a problem with that, so perhaps they did him in to shut him up. But a church formed out of it anyway and got all fucked up in the process, because people are people and they need their power trips. Luckily there have been others in the world to pioneer the spirit as well. Anyway, factual or fictitious, I think JC represents to people, a metaphor for who each of us is supposed to become and where each of us is really headed. However, the whole persecution thing and the martyr thing, I think was played up. The churchís way of keeping people ignorant and staying enslaved and poor, at the expense of the people, so that the church could be powerful and keep people, especially women, under control and it's fucking bullshit! But the Jesus thing is really right on, in many ways, but getting this info from the bible is almost a dangerous thing, because itís threaded thickly with false and unwise, wrong interpretation. But, based on my own inner explorations, I have learned that I am just as Jesus as the next person. JC is a template of what we are all to know eventually. We (and all of life here) are a part of life/death/rebirth, we all have to stand trial to our beliefs, we all get our times in "hell", we all ascend hell to better "places", renewed, we all must learn to be servants to nothing but to whatís true thatís what inner work does. We are all healers and we are all students of life as well, and we become teachers. JC was not a god that we canít be, but representative of something that weíll all become.
The Outcast: Interesting way of putting it.
Julie: A good man with principles that mankind was not ready for. But will mankind ever be ready for such a spiritual revolution? People have to be willing to let go of their possessions. Most surely Jesus would be sent to the electric chair today. Nothing has changed, the world is still fucked and anyone who tries to make a difference is considered a threat to the system and is killed.
Preston: Like many people, I have problems with the church, but not with Jesus Christ. His message is timeless, and universal. God is within all of us, acknowledge that; live as a child of God. I'm making myself more available to that message.
The Outcast: So do you guys play with a wide variety of bands, musically speaking?
Julie: Oh yeah.
Christy: From S.S. Bounty Hunter, to SCSI, Son of William....
Paul: Some rock ní roll bands.
Christy: Tom Spacey....
Julie: Mostly female fronted, but not always.
Paul: Itís surprising who bookers will put us with.
Amy: (From afar) Can we please go?
The Outcast: No, you guys are going to have to wait. I drove a while also so you have to give me this privilege, please.
Christy: A little guilt trip.
The Outcast: Itís a habit I learned from my mom.
Christy: A little manipulation goes a long way, wouldnít you say?
The Outcast: My mom knows.
Christy: Sheís probably your best teacher.
The Outcast: She is actually.
Christy: What nationality are you?
The Outcast: Why? What do I look?
Christy: You look kind of Indian, but...
The Outcast: Iím Mexican; Iím from Mexico City (trying to impress Christy).
The Outcast: I donít have an accent either way, so thatís a plus.
Christy: Well, itís kind of the same.
The Outcast: My sister and I were lucky because we moved back and forth so much that we picked up both languages really well. My other brother and sister were born here so they donít speak Spanish really. My grandma has lived here so long and she doesnít even speak English. It sucks though because Iím forgetting a lot of it. Itís been a while since Iíve been there, but huh...
Christy: Enough about you (laughter).
The Outcast: (In a shy little voice) Iím sorry.
Christy: Iím totally kidding.
The Outcast: Amy, on your bio sheet on the web page, you mentioned that you've always gravitated towards the darker side of life, what attracts you to the darker side?
Amy: Damn, I had hoped to not get into depth with this...errrr....undeniable issue....damn! It's a rock and a hard place! Which way do I go, which way do I go...well, heavy sigh here...this is a really deep thing, and I could go on forever here, and if I start, how the heck am I gonna end....I mean, I could go into my whole philosophy on life here, big time....well, let's see where I go with this...So what I mean when I say darker side, I mean sadness, anguish, fear, anger, hate, isolation, sorrow, desolation, death....tsk, ooh, how goth....like, how angst...okay, I'm gonna get defensive here, cuz I'm thinking people reading this are thinking, "What's up with Mortisha over here?" but that's the truth, and I 'm not talking about pondering this stuff, wallowing in it and writing poetry about it.... I mean FEELING this shit, facing it, going thru it and transcending it into a place beyond it, because I'm tired of it eating me up and ultimately it will be those things that will kill me in very cruel way (like cancer) and every other disease you see people carrying with them until it devours them....this, I believe, outside of environmental toxins, is the result of NOT facing your "demons". Iíd been feeling all this shit intensely all my young life and instead of ignoring it all, like the happy little yuppy girl I perhaps should've grown up to be (fuck that!), hoping it goes away doesn't work, it only gets stronger. Iíve decided to live with it and work with these things until they no longer affect me, and so I gravitate toward the darker side in order to become wiser and stronger and truly at peace with myself and the world around me how? By going within and looking at myself truthfully and HOLY FUCK! All I can say is, "HOLY FUCK"! Thereís a whole huge new world waiting for those with the guts to look, and I think itís inevitable, that is, going within and finding peace, but in order to get there, thereís none of this happy "I forgive you, now everythingís better" shit getting there, you gotta go thru hell, well, that's my experience anyway........like Helen Keller wrote.. "the only way out is through." If you don't know, you'll see, there's no avoiding it, cuz avoidance means fear and your not supposed to be afraid, so that is how I look at my life and how I behave in it, still, I'm scared shitless of stuff, but asking me "what attracts me" may not be the best way to word it, but it got me talking, so I guess it worked. What attracts someone to ponder death and dying? I mean, thatís deep, personal, many faceted, multi leveled, past life, even.
The Outcast: What do you hope to find after your life has ceased?
Julie: A world where I can write music all day and sing all the time without having to work a crappy day job or worry about my future, or fear other people. A place where we all support each other and truly care about each other's well being, a utopia! But I seriously doubt that is the case after death. I will be happy to be buried in the dirt and have worms eat me for eternity. I find some comfort in that idea.
Amy: jeez, I guess it depends on when it is I die. If I die now, I feel I could find myself in a kind of limbo, stuck to planet earth, a ghost of sorts, because Iím 1) not at ALL ready to go, and 2) pretty angry and weak and stuff still and I think Iíd be faced with my own limitations and vulnerable to coerciveness and attack from other entities who are at my level. I don't think Iíd be in the best of places. My plan is, however, to be in a place where I can willfully go to that "light" deal that others have talked about, so, instead of hanging onto the planet, instead I can perhaps wind up back at "home" where the realm of all possibilities exists, where I can "unwind", relax for a "bit" and then get back into it where I left off, when Iím feeling rejuvenated. But honestly I would prefer to crack the code of the death cycle, okay, that's a tough one, but it would be a feat, or at least somehow come to another altogether different relationship with this life/death cycle on earth, where, as Iíve heard of yogis being able to do, one can live well over a hundred years, even three hundred years, because they have learned to "die" willfully.
Preston: My life has ceased? It's not going to! Is it?
The Outcast: What do you guys and gals want written on your epitaph?
Amy: What's an epitaph? Iíll guess it to be a tombstone? I could say "HOLY FUCK!" would sum it up, if I live a long, healthy, prosperous life, or "FUCK", if I die too soon, or by suicide.
Julie: "Here lies Julie Axis: She really lived!"
The Outcast: Julie, what are the musical differences between MSL and Jute?
The Outcast: Do you write all the music?
Julie: Innumerable differences, the way we approach a song, the way we write together, the way we treat each other, the way we rehearse, the way we record. Everything is different. It's built on reality, not false dreams. The foundation is solid, built on love and respect; therefore the music will be allowed to soar. The core members are: Joe Axis, Robb Workman, and my self. We all write the music. We are all equal members of the band. The band is not about me or Joe or Robb, but about all of us.
The Outcast: Where did you come up with the name Jute? What exactly does it mean?
Julie: Jute is a type of rope made in India. It has a peculiar smell and reminds me of my childhood. My mother used to make macramť and wall hangings out of jute. It is simple and earthy and useful, all qualities that I admire. I picked out the name before Joe and Robb joined the band, and although I was willing to change it if they didn't like it, they decided to keep it.
The Outcast: Is the Jute CD out yet, if so, how can we get a copy (Itís out now!!)?
Julie: The Jute CD "Beneath the Wheel" should be out in year 2000 sometime, but no date has been set yet. We may put out a sampler in the spring. You can get a copy through the web-site or at our shows.
The Outcast: Any closing words?
Preston: Music is my life, my passion. I have to keep making it, and hopefully the music Iím involved in with other people will mean something to the public, will communicate. I sure hope so, there's nothing more satisfying.
Amy: And another thing! ...uh.....oh, never mind...but it's been a pleasure for me to blow hot air, god it feels good! Thanks Mike.
Julie: I hope to live in a beautiful place, probably in Oregon, with a view of mountains and the sea. Musically, I would like the world to see that I have talents beyond MSL (referring to Jute). I would like to keep growing as an artist and singer all my life. I want to make an impression on people, musically. I want to be an impetus for change. I want to bring back the feeling from the 60's when musicians felt they could change the world with their songs. I know there will always be your Backstreet Boys and your Spice Girls, but I hope to be at the forefront of a revolution in music and thought. We need to turn off our televisions and turn on our minds. I am a hippy at heart and proud of it. Live your life so that you become your own hero!
5602 N Ridge
Chicago IL 60660
PO Box 57278
Chicago, IL 60657