I recently had the privilege of speaking with twin sisters Kaleena and Kayleigh Goldsworthy, lead singers (as well as piano and violin players, respectively) of The Scarlet Ending, out of Syracuse, NY, who are set to take the indie world by storm with their newest album soon to be released. They’ve already been featured on MTV and have performed for troops abroad, as you will read in the interview. Most of the answers come courtesy of Kaleena, so when she speaks of Kay, she means her sister, Kayleigh. Cute, right? Kayleigh also was able to answer some questions, so you can read her insight as well. The sisters provided a wealth of amazing, fun and articulate information, and I hope (and think) that you’ll soon come to love them, as artists and as people.
Also, you Knox Road readers are going to get a special treat. The Scarlet Ending will soon be sending us brand new demos that were JUST recorded for the new album! In the meantime, check out this chock-full-of-pop, yet edgy (oxymoron? no.), intricately arranged song from The Scarlet Ending’s last album, Secrets and Whispers. Piano! Violin!
- Knox Road: When and how did you get into music?
- The Scarlet Ending: Kay and I have always been involved in music. Our parents were in bands for as long as we can remember, so we grew up with bands practicing in our basement pretty much all of our lives. We took lessons on our various instruments and were classically trained. My sister has been playing the violin for 14 years now, I played flute for 8 years, and I also went to college to study voice. My sister was taught how to play the guitar by my father about 12 years ago, and we were both self taught on piano. We used to have a babysitter growing up who was studying piano in college, and she taught us the basics. From there, it was listening to Ben Folds and Tori Amos and learning the songs by ear. It wasn’t until we were in high school that we actually turned our musical focus away from musicals and classical training to rock and pop music. We continued studying music, but found such joy in performing this vein of music.
- KR: How was ‘The Scarlet Ending’ the artist created?
- TSE: When we were entering our sophomore year in high school, we performed an original song at our Music Honor Society’s talent show. It was our first time performing an original song in front of people other than our family, and also competing against other musicians. We were so privileged to have won the talent show, as well a lot of support from our peers. As the year progressed, we wanted to be a part of our high schools coveted ‘Battle of the Bands.’ The battle was a huge deal at our school, and drew in talent from all across Central New York. It was a great opportunity to get our name out and to expand from playing acoustic shows to becoming a full band. The application was fast approaching its due date, and we were still lacking a band name. We wanted to keep as far away from “The Goldsworthy Twins” as possible, but could not think of anything to go by. Finally, we came up with the name, Scarlet, and it stuck. We were selected to perform in the battle of the bands, and made some amazing fans that still follow us today. Unfortunately, as soon as we were referred to as “Scarlet” and not “The Twins,” a hardcore band named Scarlet surfaced on a major label. We decided to change our name, but really wanted to keep Scarlet in it, so as not to lose the small following we had acquired from our shows. We decided that, “The Scarlet Ending,” was fitting and also a unique name. I honestly wish I had a better story to say about how we got our name, but alas, it was pure strategy
- KR: Who and what are your personal influences (musically and non)? Are you inspired by anything?
- TSE: Kaleena — My personal influences (musically) would have to be Ben Folds, Tori Amos, and Amanda Palmer to name a few. I was fascinated by Ben Folds and Tori’s songwriting and piano playing. It was listening to these two that really helped me to develop my own piano playing. When I was in college, I had a friend introduce me to the Dresden Dolls. I absolutely fell in love with this band; from their music to their live show, they completely inspired me and showed me a new side of what being a performer could mean. I also go through waves of music that completely hooks me in; Death Cab for Cutie, Mother Mother, a lot of classical music (Beethoven is my favorite), and also classics like Queen also inspire me to write. My parents are also HUGE inspirations to me. We have the most amazing, supportive parents, who have done absolutely everything humanly possible to help fuel our dreams. As far as inspiration for songs, I base just about everything off of personal experiences or the experience of others. Every song tells a story, and I could probably tell you exactly what I was going through when I wrote it. Typically, the inspiration comes from past relationships (I know, right? Huge shocker — female singer / songwriter writing angry songs about boys hahaha). Music is an amazing outlet for things like that, and I personally feel I connect with music so much more if I can relate to it. I hope that that comes across to the people that hear it.
Kayleigh – I’d have to agree with Kaleena on a lot of the artists. We grew up listening to bands like Tori Amos, Queen, and Elvis Costello – and like she mentioned earlier, we taught ourselves piano to Ben Folds Five’s “Whatever and Ever Amen.” I also have a soft spot for unique bands like The Dresden Dolls and Mother Mother (bands who I personally am just amazed by, album after album). Ben Gibbard is also a big one for me, as is Sarah Slean. Lyrically and musically I think they are both absolutely phenomenal.
- KR: What kind of musician do you consider yourself to be?
- TSE: Kaleena — As a musician, I like to be different. I studied music in college, where you were taught “chord progressions must move from THIS to THIS” and “You CAN’T sing this” or “You CAN’T play piano and sing properly.” I believe that musical rules should always be broken; no one wants to hear the same things again and again. The best musicians from the classical eras to the classic rock eras have all pushed the boundaries and the rules to break out and be different. When I say this, I by no means claim that I have shifted a musical era with my own two hands; it is because of these people and ideas that I desire to follow in their footsteps. I do what I can on such a small scale to be something different; to be a part of a band that people have trouble placing into a genre. It’s very fun and rewarding to me when people can’t place TSE into a category. I aim to try to find a connection between classical music and rock music and to blend that into something that when heard, people want to hear more.
Kayleigh – I’m the same way when it comes to moving from the ‘academy’ to the public stage. That sort of mentality was something I honestly couldn’t function under. As to what kind of musician I consider myself to be, that’s definitely a tough question. I’m constantly in a state of trying to reinvent myself; I want to be the type of musician who doesn’t have any sort of boundaries or musical ‘niche.’ Our first ep was the far left of pop music, “Cries and Whispers” ended up being way different from that, and with this new album we’re doing that again. I like it though, Kaleena and I definitely have a lot to say, and I think that we are the type of musicians that see music not only in our band sense but also as a whole. Songwriting, no matter the genre, has always been something I’ve highly regarded. I feel like with this new album we’re starting to find our own voices as songwriters, and I think it’s coming together in a way that we’re all very excited about.
- KR: You recently told me you’re working on a new, slightly different sound for The Scarlet Ending. What sound are you looking for? What’s your thought process going into each song, and how do you approach the music?
- TSE: When we started out, as I stated above, we were an acoustic duo. We performed with an acoustic guitar and two female voices. From our start 8 years ago, we have expanded to three voices, 2 guitars, a bass guitar, a violin, a cello, a piano, an accordion, a melodica, and MANY other instruments and points of view. Our music progressed from our first EP being very pop-oriented with a distinct acoustic feel, to our also pop-inspired, but slightly darker full length, “Cries and Whispers.” This cd opened a lot of doors for us both locally and internationally, and gave us a lot of attention. In Syracuse, we were nominated and won a SAMMY (Syracuse Area Music Award) for the 2005 Best Pop Recording, and also landed at number 3 in the best releases of 2006 in the Syracuse Post Standard. On a larger scale, this cd won the attention of MTV’s personnel which gave us a licensing deal with MTV resulting in “The Way We Used to Be,” being on MTV’s “The Hills,” (and also on the DVD release) and “Winter” being played on VH1′s, “Tool Academy.” After being played at a South By Southwest demo listening session, “Such A Shame,” grabbed the attention of Armed Forces Entertainment and landed us two tours overseas performing for the troops (in Greenland and Germany). We also just signed a publishing deal with Cherry Lane Music Publishing for songs on this album. Each record symbolizes a growth of the band both physically and mentally. We went from a duo in the first cd, to a trio in the second cd, and now a six-piece in the upcoming release. By blending all of our inspirations, the upcoming release definitely veers toward a darker, deeper sound while still maintaining our pop edge and hooks. We enjoy being unpredictable and using unique instrumentation in our songs.
- KR: What would you like to accomplish as an artist?
- TSE: Kaleena – As an artist, my goal is to make music my career. It is my ultimate dream to find success with music, and I can’t imagine myself holding any other job than one that involves it. It is so rewarding to know that people enjoy the music and can relate to it. I think that having people relate to your music is one of the biggest accomplishments a musician can have. Kayleigh – Ditto what my sister just said. I think there would be nothing more amazing and rewarding than having your music be your occupation.
- KR: What are your plans for the immediate future and beyond?
- TSE: The immediate future involves lots and lots of hours in the studio (The Hollow) recording our third album! We are so excited about this album, and each have a very close connection with all of the songs. We are also looking forward to working with our new publishing company, Cherry Lane, and seeing what becomes of that. We are hoping this record will open a lot of doors for us and help us to get back on the road, overseas and stateside. We would love to have the opportunity to perform for the troops again, as well.
- KR: Anything else you want the Knox Road readers to know?
- TSE:We are SUPER down to Earth, quirky, funny individuals. We have a youtube channel where I have attempted to capture this side of the band (www.youtube.com/thescarletending). Hopefully you might be able to find a bit more about us through some of the videos.
Kayleigh – Yeah, we are definitely an unpredictable and interesting group of people. As a birthday present, the bandmates put my old guitar tuner in jello a la ‘The Office’ and served it to me with candles in it. Thankfully, they also supplied me a new one : )
Other than that, I really think that with the way music is shifting in this point in time, there is a need and interest in music that doesn’t necessarily sound like what’s in heavy rotation on the radio. There is a growing excitement for indie music right now, and I think it’s absolutely wonderful. The goal of our band, from day one, has been to create music that we feel strongly about, and we have always had a sort of different take on what is ‘normal’ and ‘not normal’ in a pop or rock group. I love the fact that people have a hard time classifying us into a genre. I embrace it, and think that it’s one of the coolest compliments in the world.
- KR: Finally, tell us five songs currently on your “hot” list. What are you listening to?
- TSE: Kaleena – My musical taste changes almost every day I feel… BUT, I am currently addicted to:
1. “Hayloft” – Mother Mother (really ANY song off of “O MY Heart” is AMAZING)
2. “Love of My Life” – Queen (SUCH AN AMAZING CD! – A Night at the Opera)
3. “Grace Kelly” – MIKA (my happy song)
4. “The Climb” – Miley Cyrus (Killer pop song. Love the hook. Don’t judge. hahaha)
5. [MP3] “Say it to Me Now” – Glen Hansard (off of the ‘Once’ soundtrack. WHAT AN AMAZING collection of songs.)
Kayleigh – Oh boy, let’s see…
We are basically looking for a sound that grabs all of us and excites us. I can honestly say, that every song on this next album has offered everyone in the band these feelings. Kay and I write most all of the music. Our guitarist, Jon, also wrote a few songs for this upcoming album. We basically present the song to the band, and work it out — typically over a week or two. We all come to practice with ideas, and we always have different views. This is always exciting, because we all have such different musical inspirations, so the resulting songs are always different and exciting.
- “Bixby Canyon Bridge” – Death Cab For Cutie (saddest song ever?)
- “Makers” – Rocky Votolato (this is one of those songs you hear and go ‘I wish I wrote that.’)
- “Breathe” – Taylor Swift (no matter what anyone says, the songwriting on this album is amazing. The way the chorus moves in this song is beautiful. I sing it in my car every time I’m alone in it)
- “Sound of Water/Change Your Mind” – Sarah Slean (the arrangement of this song is so so so good)
- [MP3]“Skeleton Key” – Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s (a band that trumps us in size by a longshot. I love the variety of instruments this band uses)
A huge thank you to my roommate, Matt Dengler, for helping me to get in touch with Kaleena and Kayleigh.