Del Osei-Owusu interviews Caitlyn Scarlett…
Hello Caitlyn how are you?
Hello, I’m alive and well thanks!
Congratulations on the release of Forgive Yourself, how does it feel?
Thank you, it feels great to have it out in the world.
It’s a gorgeous song with a great melody, what’s the story behind it?
It’s a song about letting go and growing up. I wanted to celebrate the gaining of wisdom that comes after loss of innocence.
You collaborated with Her Ensemble. How did that come about?
I’ve known Ellie, the creator of Her Ensemble for years. She was moved by the song after I asked her to add some violin to it and suggested we play it live as part of the orchestra’s first showcase. After that I couldn’t imagine the song without them and we recorded it properly.
What was your favourite moment of working with them?
The thrill of hearing it in person, the honour of watching a group of skilled musicians channelling my art.
You are a singer songwriter from London, how did it all begin for you?
I’ve always loved singing since I was a baby and during school I thought I might grow up to be an author or performing in The West End. Eventually during my teens I realised I could write and sing as one career and starting picking up instruments and gigging. I moved out of my childhood home and into London with friends from college when I was seventeen and I’m still here.
What did you listen to growing up?
I had a great musical education, my grandad loved nothing more than sitting someone down and forcing them to listen to his favourite vinyl. I fell for blues and country first, immediately relating to the depth in the lyrics. Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Muddy Waters, Ray Charles etc. My mother’s taste is very eclectic but I have her to thank mainly for songstresses like Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, Suzanne Vega, Erykah Badu, Tori Amos… the list goes on. My dad is responsible for my obsession with 80s synths and New Romantics. Every year we go and see an 80s act live, we’ve seen Depeche Mode, Marc Almond, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, you name it. We have tickets for Adam Ant this summer!
You attended the Rihanna songwriting camp, what did you learn from that experience?
I learnt how to be nocturnal, mostly I was just honoured to be there.
You’re with Ferocious Talent with music manager and legend Kwame Kwaten, what are the best lessons he’s taught you?
He’s taught me patience and self-belief, and he reminds me that there are still people in this industry driven by passion and the preservation of culture.
COVID impacted the creative industry, what kept you motivated?
The fact that the whole world was in it together, and sometimes we just have to surrender to life’s ups and downs. I did my best to find the good in the time off and work on myself.
The last two years have been a time to reflect, what did you learn about yourself?
That I’m not driven by the same things I used to be, and there’s a lot more to me than productivity or appearances. I feel like I’ve grown up in a sense, I’m very excited to get back out into the world and kick some butt.
Did you pick up any new skills?
I took a music production course with Point Blank Music School, I’ve been meaning to learn to produce for years and lockdown gave me the opportune moment to slow down and focus on it for a while. I’ve now set up a home studio and am having writers come to my place for sessions which is so great because I’ve been the one commuting for like eight years. I’ve also started making vlogs.
What are you listening to at the moment?
A lot of Elvis Presley, I’m really looking forward to the Baz Lurhman film about him that’s coming out soon! I’m also super into Mitski, The Marías, Allie X, Strawberry Man and Caroline Polachek right now.
What are you looking forward to doing next?
At the moment I’m obsessed with working on my debut album, it’s being written and recorded at Rak Studios with Jonathon Quarmby, who also did Forgive Yourself. I’m really excited about the sounds we’re creating.
Photo by Shane Benson