A Very Sweet Place In Our Hearts
San Cisco’s Honeycomb
There are some people you just have a soft spot for. Some people who, even though you have never met, continue to draw you in and keep you captivated. People who you feel a deep adoration for; a sense of closeness or familiarity that cannot be swayed. Scarlett Stevens is one of these people. Warm and kind-hearted, Stevens and the rest of the San Cisco band, have cemented a very special place in all our hearts. For over ten years, the Fremantle trio have grown to become some of Australia’s most successful independent artists. A band who we will all continue to love and admire.
On a brisk Tuesday evening, I was lucky to chat to Stevens and hear all about San Cisco’s latest single Honeycomb. We delved into the band’s journey since their last album in 2020, the harmonious relationship between fashion and music, the importance of individual expression, and the triumphs and tribulations of being an independent artist in an ever-changing industry.
Rachel Weinberg Hello! How's your day going?
Scarlett Stevens Good, it's been busy. I'm here [in Sydney] for Fashion Week, so I've just been running around.
RW Did you go see any shows today?
SS Yeah, I went to the Aje show.
RW How was it?
SS Yeah, it was really good. It was beautiful, actually. And then I went to the Anna Quan show, which I snuck into because I'm staying at the Ace. I wasn't actually invited.
RW Is it strict? Or do they just let you in?
SS Yeah, no, really [laughs]. Where was the security?
RW Good to know [laughs]. Anyways, thanks for getting on the phone with me. I really appreciate it. It’s an exciting week for San Cisco. What have you guys been up to since your last album in 2020?
SS It is! We released Between You and Me in the middle of the pandemic. At the time, we were sort of confined to Western Australia, and had been touring for about a year. Once everything started opening up again, it was still tricky to tour because there were a lot of cancellations. That's when we started writing this next album. Maybe in 2021?
We wanted to take a different approach for the album and work with a new producer. We worked with James Ireland, who's actually my boyfriend!
RW What was that like?
SS Actually, really good! At the beginning, I guess, we had never collaborated on anything so personal. But he'd done bits and pieces for the band over the years, so it was fitting that he could work on the album. By the end of it, we were working really well together. It's been an amazing experience.
RW Beyond collaborations with your partner, who else do you work with?
SS Well, we worked with the same producer, Steven Tram, on every album until this one. We wanted to shake things up and make something new that we're really proud of. Something that would sound quite different from anything we'd done before. It was quite a big departure for us, both creatively and personally.
RW And the writing process for the new album... What were you all going for?
SS Honeycomb started off with James and Josh in the main studio, playing around with the beats. Josh really wanted to incorporate a UKG beat, and James is such a whiz with beat making on Ableton, so he was able to come up with some chords and put this amazing piece of music together. Jordy was on acoustic guitar, and I was coming up with the lyrics and concept for the song. I really like the word honeycomb and the imagery associated with it. I went away and wrote the second verse at my house, and then it all came together pretty quickly. The song kind of wrote itself.
RW And the music video for Honeycomb was directed by Caeley Wesson? Where did the idea for the video come from?
SS Caeley is a close friend of mine and really wanted to get into video making. She has a background in advertising and is an amazing producer. I told her to pitch an idea, and she did, and I really loved it. The boys liked it too. I think the first video clip we did was awesome. Working with Levi
RW I love that one. I often think, what's a music video for nowadays? but then you watch something like Lost Without You and you think it really does supplement the song and visualise it in a new way. It drives home the narrative.
SS It totally gives it another life.
RW Do you enjoy collaborating?
SS Yeah, we are really open to collaborating. If someone comes to us with a great idea, we're stoked, and we want to make it happen.
Caeley is a very visual person. She came to us with an amazing mood board, and Ash Brockman, a makeup artist I work with a lot, came up with these incredible looks that I'm still obsessed with. Tülay also sourced some amazing outfits. Then it all came together in the south-west.
RW The styling direction was definitely different from the previous video. That Paco Rabanne dress! What role does fashion play in your personal and professional life?
SS I think fashion and music have always complimented each other. I love dressing up. I love exploring that side of myself as much as possible. Being in a band can be quite homogeneous, especially when you all have to do the same thing and perform together. So, when I get a chance to express myself and my own individual identity, I really thrive.
RW Can you talk a bit about how you protect your personal space and make sure that you're always being the artist and, I guess, woman that you want to be?
SS I think it's really good to say ‘no’ to things when something doesn't feel right. I really go off instinct, having been in the industry for a long time. Just do whatever feels right, I guess.
RW That's all you can do, I guess. You’ve been in the industry for over ten years? Where do you see the state of indie music in Australia? How has it changed over time?
SS I can't believe how much it's changed, even in the space of three years. My manager, who is my dad, and in his 60s, is talking about having meetings with TikTok [laughs]. I asked, 'What are you going to say to TikTok?’ [laughs]
It's kind of daunting. For each album, we are faced with a new challenge: how to get our music heard and out there. We know that the traditional ways may no longer be valid. It's really scary when your whole career depends on a landscape that is so rocky. But we've got some amazing fans who have grown up with us, and I just hope people still love the music.
RW What keeps you coming back to making music?
SS I really think it's how music fosters a genuine connection. I think the way people connect to music is so special, and the way music can evoke a memory, take you back to a certain time in your youth, or remind you of a lover or a person is so special. A lot of other practises don't have that same, I don't know, depth, I guess.
RW Do you all share that sentiment?
SS I think so. I know the boys love playing big festival shows where people sing along to our songs. I think that's why we do it. For the shows and the fans. We do what we love and what we know how to do.
RW And you've got your album coming up. What can we expect from it? What are you most excited about sharing?
SS I'm just really excited for everyone to hear the songs, the production, and this new direction, this new phase of the band. I think it's really strong and exciting.
RW We saw you perform at Beyond the Valley earlier in the year. It felt very sentimental. Like history!
SS Oh, really [laughs]! I think it's funny when people come up to us and say they have been listening to our music for so long.
RW It’s nice to check in with you at this stage, five albums in, and see where you are. I guess when you start so young, you don't even know what could happen.
SS We were very young and quite naive when we had our first taste of success. We probably didn't even know how to fully appreciate it. Now we're older, and we're really grateful and stoked to be doing it still.
RW Well, hopefully many more!
Photography by Olivia Senior @oliviasenior
Makeup by Ash Brockman @ashbrockman
Styling by Tülay Dincel @tulay.dincel
Music video director Caeley Wesson @caeleywesson
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