Scarlet Keys is a songwriting professor at the Berklee College of Music where she also attended receiving a B.M. in 1991. Scarlet is a talented and nationally touring vocalist and pianist. She has played solo piano for the past fourteen years in San Diego, Nashville, Boston, and New Hampshire. She has performed with Anna Wilson and with the hit songwriter/producer Monty Powell at the New Orleans Arena at the Bass Masters Classic for ESPN. She was a full-time staff songwriter for Warner Chappell Music/The New Company for two years in Nashville, and has written and performed with some of the best songwriters, producers, and artists in Nashville and Sweden. Her recordings include “Gonna Dance,” cowritten with recording artist Anna Wilson, “I Wanna Be Rich” by Canadian artist Krysta Scoggins, and “So Much Love to Make” by Swedish artist Jill Johnson, which went gold in its first month. She released her first CD, Pieces, in 2000 and is planning another CD of original music soon.
“I create an environment in the classroom that is relaxed, fun, and creative because although craft is an intellectual pursuit, creativity needs to run rampant. It’s like a child learning to walk; it needs to have the freedom to try things out, to play and discover itself.”
– Scarlet Keys
Here is an interview held with Ms. Scarlet Keys.
Interviewer: How did you get into music? Songwriting?
Scarlet Keys: My mother was a singer and a piano player and my dad was a singer. He had his own daytime t.v. show where he sang and interviewed guests etc.. a lot like Merv Griffin at the time. My brother was also a professional singer and it all felt like a very natural path to pursue.
I used to write lyrics to my piano teacher’s melodies but really found songwriting while I was a student at Berklee. It was something I tried once after of course, a heart break and it all felt so natural and fun and I fell in love with writing.
Interviewer: Who are some of your influences?
Scarlet Keys: As with any music lover, my influences are vast. For piano playing, I love Bruce Hornsby. For singing, Ella Fitzgerald, Bonnie Raitt, Ray Lamontange. And For songwriters, I would say: Joni Mitchell, and many Nashville writer’s who I have studied, like Gary Burr for example. All the Tin Pan Alley writers of the Great American Songbook era and just everyone from Ellington to John Mayer.
Interviewer: What was one of your biggest songwriting dreams? Most valued career accomplishments/collaborations?
Scarlet Keys: My biggest dream that came true was to get signed at a publishing company as a full time staff writer and then, to teach at Berklee in the Songwriting Department. My biggest accomplishments have been getting my publishing deal, having cuts with artists, having a song go Gold and getting the chance to work with great singers and writers such as Blue Miller (India Arie’s guitar player/co-writer), and many great writers in Sweden, Nashville and Boston too. I am still finding the next dream in my writing, but so far, I have enjoyed the ride of each co-writing session and each class I’ve taught.
Interviewer: How do you feel about the way technology has changed the music industry? Recording, Distribution, Kickstarter, Youtube, Blogs…?
Scarlet Keys: I think the changes are great! I think the craft of writing is the same, it’s just the process that’s a bit different and how track writing has become such an art in itself. I think all of the new ways to get your music heard is wonderful for artists because they control their careers, their music and have a much better chance of reaching an audience than through the old channels of the music executives. They have a better chance of writing for the sake of art without the pressure of a corporation behind them and maybe music will have even more heart and art in the future.
Scarlet Keys: Yes, I belong to Taxi.
Interviewer: There are many ways to break into songwriting. What are few helpful ways?
Join a performance rights organization: A.S.C.A.P, S.E.S.A.C. or B.M.I and meet the writer representatives and get them interested in your writing so they can help you get meetings with publishers or set you up with co-writers. You can also join Taxi, and collaborate with as many people as you can, especially artists who need songs, meet the talented people here at Berklee now, they are going to be the next big thing.
Interviewer: What are your plans for the future?
Scarlet Keys: My plans as a writer are to continue doing what I’m doing, writing, co-writing and learning to be a better producer and to create better tracks for my own songs. To travel more for co-writing sessions and to continue to grow as a writer.
Interviewer: Any advice to upcoming songwriters.
Scarlet Keys: My advice for upcoming songwriters is to WRITE! Get as good as you can, learn an instrument and especially learn protools so you can create your own tracks. Meet as many people as you can, don’t burn bridges, be professional, be on time, work hard and be fun to work with and be good!