Welcome to The Drop, Refinery29's home for music video premieres. We want to shine the spotlight on women artists whose music inspires, excites, and (literally) moves us. This is where we'll champion their voices.
Scarlet Parke wants you to taste every feeling in her new music video for “Anxious,” debuting exclusively on Refinery29. Off the Seattle music scene’s pop singer/songwriter’s new LP, Flight Risk, “Anxious” is a gold-hued ballad about the loneliness and isolation. As a whole, Parke’s album, which dropped earlier this summer, is a body of work that represents breaking out of your shell and discovering your identity. "All my videos have storylines to them and this song is less of a story; it’s just more of a feeling," Parke told Refinery29 over the phone recently of her new song and accompanying visuals.
Parke — also an activist who fights for homeless youth and rising artists through the community she’s built with Parke Ave Foundation — has been creating music for the past decade, but was always a little unsure of her future in the industry until she dipped her toes into the pool of pop music with “Moonlight” in 2018. Her passion, experience, and library of songs she’s been building along the way aided in her transition from part-time artist to blues singer to rising pop singer, even recently opening for Lizzo at Capitol Hill Block Party, a Seattle music festival.
In “Anxious,” she sings about searching for love in all the wrong places: “I've been trying to climb / My way to the top of your / Heart beats slowly / Hardly even know me,” hinting at the idea of growth and finding yourself. This collection of verses really displays her vibe as a musician; a sound she describes as “Amy Winehouse meets The Weekend.”
As she steps off the high of her recent LP release, we spoke to Parke to learn more about the music video for “Anxious,” and what’s next for the Pacific Northwest-born singer.
Refinery29: This video is very visual. From the gold covering your face to the lit candles around the bathtub, what was the inspiration?
Scarlet Parke: “The reference [for the music video] is from the album cover for Flight Risk. It's supposed to represent how you feel before you break out of your shell and actually realize who you are and what you stand for. A lot of these songs represent the time I went through in my life where I was just kind of shooting in the dark and trying to figure it out. The album’s called Flight Risk ‘cause I was constantly running away from things into other things [and] trying to make things work. So, that's where the gold comes from. It really fits to this song because the entire song revolves around the feeling of anxiety and the series of thoughts that run through your head. By the end of the song, all the gold has come off — you've broken out of that shell, and you're starting to actually come into yourself.”
It’s different from “Man Like You”, which told a soap opera-ish story. How has your vibe changed?
“All my videos have storylines to them and this song is less of a story; it’s just more of a feeling. I wanted to work with the videographer and the team to really figure out how we could make somebody feel the way that we wanted to. With the water elements and the candle elements and the hazy, neon light room — it all creates this feeling of solidarity and loneliness, but also reaching out, you know? [There's] a lot of the singing directly into the camera, reaching out, like, ‘Is anybody seeing what I'm going through?’”
You wrote “Anxious” — did you write the other songs from the album? How would you describe your song-writing process?
“I write all my own music. A lot of these songs are actually about eight to 10 years old that I wrote when I was a teenager. I’ve re-imagined them as pop songs. I've been performing them in different ways for eight years, with a blues band, with a jazz band, [or] just me on piano. So, it's actually really cool to see them all re-imagined over these pop beats.”
Has that process changed since then?
“It hasn’t changed too much. I've always been a lyricist before putting music to it. Usually, I try to deep dive what's on [my] mind and start writing it out with senses: what do you see, what do you hear, what do you smell, what do you feel? [Then I] can find that flow and then it becomes taking it to the piano ‘cause I write most of my melodies acapella, like “Anxious”. It was just an acapella voicemail in my memos, and there was no instrumentals to it. It was just this melody that came to me first, and then its words and the melody kind of all [led] into one another.”
How would you describe your sound?
“This is always an interesting question because I draw a lot from Amy Winehouse vocally. But, [from] modern sounds: Jessie Reyez, Kehlani, Kid Cudi. I pull a lot from [his writing style]. I guess I would describe it as Amy Winehouse meets The Weekend.”
What was the message you really wanted to send with this song, and then with the video?
“[I want to] encapsulate that [idea that] growth comes from these moments of anxiety and that’s where the line “Fill me from the bottom’s up…” [comes from]. Even when you feel like the anxiety is rising to the top and you're about to bubble over, that's where the magic happens. I think a lot of times people are kind of scared to feel all the feelings. But for me that was always when you would get to that tipping point and you would be like, “Okay, I just broke through this mental hurdle, and now I'm able to analyze or process and grow.” All the lines in the song kind of lead up to that last question: “Why are you so anxious? What is it that's making me so anxious?”.”
You’ve filmed videos in Spain, and included Spanish dialogue. Is it important for you to include that Latina flare within your music?
“It's something that I'm definitely exploring more. I am half-Mexican. I wasn't raised to be super involved in the culture. So, now that I’m my own person, I’m so drawn to it and it seems to be a little drawn to me. I want to really dive into my heritage and my culture and pay homage to that and learn more about it. And I want to learn Spanish!”
You’re a big fixture in the Seattle music scene, but it was only in the last few years that singing and songwriting became your full-time job. What has that transition been like?
“Honestly, it was pretty smooth because it was something that — as far as the actual ‘quitting’ of my job — I was able to plan out. There were some bumps along the road, for sure. When I quit my job, I was still playing in my blues band. I had an accident that really kind of woke me up, that shook me awake to [wonder], is blues music what [I] really want to be doing? I always felt this big draw to pop and hip hop without really knowing why. The transition...it's easy now that I've found pop. It was really hard before that point.”
So, you just released Flight Risk. What’s next?
“Well, now that I’ve dipped my toe in the pop pool, I'm kind of just rapid-firing songs from here on out. I have such a large library of songs that I was waiting to put out until I figured out who I was and what my sound was. So, I have another song called “Nowhere To Go” coming out in August. I'm going to release another song in October and another song in December, an EP in January, and then another full album called Extra, Extra in the spring.”
Check out the video for "Anxious" below:
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.