illScarlett is a Canadian reggae/pop/rock band originating from Mississauga, Ont., and I am proud to say they come from my hometown! When I was in elementary school I can remember going to my friend’s house to work on school projects and being completely smitten by her older brother Swavek Piorkowski (drummer of illScarlett). His sister and I would be colouring our project, when suddenly her brother would jaunt down the stairs past us sprawled out on the floor and sit behind his drum set. I remember being in awe of him from the minute he started playing, I must admit that I was smitten! Being so young, I didn’t really have an appreciation for music yet, but I could definitely recognize that this guy was talented. He played the drums with such ease and such passion, but never did I think that I’d one day be attending his concerts. Swavek and Alex Norman (lead vocals) attended the same high school as me and they eventually and formed their band, illScarlett. The band found their break when they decided to play outside the Vans Warped Tour in 2004. After that breakout performance, they went on to play at many other venues both locally and internationally, touring through Canada, Japan, Germany, the U.S. and Europe.
illScarlett has released two EPs, Epidemic, being one my favourites, and four studio albums: illP, Clearly In Another Fine Mess, All Day With It, and 1UP! I feel so proud knowing that I went to school with such talented guys! I attend as many concerts as I can, but the one that stands out the most was my first illScarlet experience back in 2007. The band was playing at the Opera House in Toronto and Down With Webster was their opening act. Both bands rocked the venue and everyone in the crowed left pumped! It was from then on that I became a true illScarlet fan.
Since then the members of illScarlett have changed, currently the band consists of Alex (lead vocals), Swavek (drums), Will Marr (lead guitar) and Justin Zoltek (bass). They have just released their new single, ‘My Money’, along with a lyric video to go with it, and I can’t get this song out of my head! The song is a step away from previous illScarlett tracks, in a good way; it’s very catchy and relatable. The video is a lyric video with shots of the band candidly recording the new single in the studio, laughing and goofing off. If this song is any indication of what the rest of the album will be like, than we can all look forward to their album release this summer!
Raz Mataz Magazine (RMM): Who came up with the band’s name, illScarlett? What’s the meaning behind it?
Swavek Piorkowski (SP): I came up with the name on a little drive around Mississauga with Alex and Yarko (a member of the band’s crew). Drove by a street named Will Scarlett Drive, and I just said “How about illScarett?” and Alex was down for it. At first it was going to be a temporary name but it stuck. It doesn’t mean anything it just sounds good.
RMM: What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you and the band since starting illScarlett?
SP: We have definitely experienced a lot of crazy / interesting things in our time as a band. . . so it’s hard to just pinpoint one event. But, in 2004, we set up in the parking lot of Warped Tour guerrilla-style and played a full set. That stunt led to a very cool relationship with Kevin Lyman (Warped Tour founder) and the Warped Tour. We have been invited back many times since, and did the full 46-day run back in 2011.
RMM: Your new single ‘My Money’; what’s the story behind this song?
SP: There isn’t a specific story that is directly related to ‘My Money’. It’s just a song that is about being in a situation where one has been taken advantage of. I think, at one point or another, everyone can say that they have been in that situation. Whether it is with a brother, sister, friend, or in a band’s case, a record label. . . .
RMM: I read that you’re working on a new album for this summer; what can we look forward to on this new album?
SP: The album is now complete. We actually just got the masters back in April and it sounds amazing!! We spent some time in New York City with David Kahne, a very talented producer that really helped us bring our songs to a new level. I know every band says their new album is the best stuff they ever did, but, in this case, I really do feel that way.
Not to take away from our past material, it’s just I feel confident and proud of this new collection of songs that will be out in August 2013 on our self-titled album. We experimented with some new sounds but definitely kept our signature feel that has always driven our music.
RMM: How has your music evolved since you first started playing together?
SP: Our music has evolved in a few ways. We have definitely gotten tighter as musicians and we’ve had a few lineup changes since the start, so every time a new player joins their personal style adds to our overall sound. It’s hard to explain the evolution of our music, but the new album is most definitely a perfect example.
RMM: Has your relationship between one another changed since you first started the band?
SP: As a band, we’ve definitely learned a lot about each other after being together for over ten years, and the main thing is to have respect for one another. We all know what buttons not to push and for the most part we avoid those buttons [laughs].
SP: Festivals in the summer are lots of fun but my personal favourite is a packed club (anywhere on earth), full of fans that are out to have a great time.
RMM: If you could perform or collaborate with any band or musician who would that be?
SP: MIA or Damian Marley would be a pretty rad collaboration for illScarlett