-August Artist of the Month-
In the heart of Summer, we celebrate with August’s “Artist of the Month”, a local Bay Area band from the East Bay of California. Meet one of the Bay’s rising metal music configurations, Lipshok. Founded in Hayward, this band’s symphonic metal/rock band has given their community a polished sound that displays all members’ abilities and flair. Their songs accent different tastes of rock and ballads, using melancholy yet beautiful harmonies. And combined with that double kick drum, you’ll get a taste of both worlds.
Today, the band has 3 studio albums available on Spotify, iTunes and Amazon. Lipshok’s energy and stamina will without a doubt continue to soak up audiences with their sound, giving onlookers a taste of something different that they may not have heard before. With captivating harmonies that cut through intros of tracks such as “Bad Place”, heard on their album To Haunt a Quiet Realm, the mood will entrance you at first listen. The band’s production in the studio plays with diverse sounds- heavy and upfront arrangements with contrast to the condensed and personal sound, such as songs like “You’re Not Alone”. Lead singer Scarlett Dark describes their sound as “Genesis meets Pink Floyd meets Evanescence meets Ghost meets Within Temptation meets Elton John. I think that's an interesting combination.” Meet the four members of Lipshok, with Scott Bullerwell on guitar, Phil Jameson on bass, Joe Londeree on drums and Scarlett Dark on lead vocals and keyboard. Scarlett Dark founded the band, and draws many of her influences from her fascination and respect for "earth and nature, and especially magick. Yes, spelled with a 'k' to represent the real thing," she says with a smile.
Formally a pro tennis player, Dark chose the stage name "Scarlett Dark" to capture and harness an energy that feels most authentic to her. "First, most of my influence does come from a "dark" place, although I don't see dark as a negative term. Just somewhat of a different way of thinking out of the norm, sort of like the song Path of Stone. It's following your own path, that is usually harder, like stone, and darker because it's unknown but you have to do it because you're compelled." She has been writing songs since childhood, always singing and performing anywhere and for anyone. However, only in the past 20 years did she truly find where she belongs musically and spiritually. "It's still a unique way of looking at life and doesn't fit in with the norms, but of course a lot of artists feel like that. That's one of the reasons to become an artist I think." We sat down with Dark to explore the stories behind Lipshok’s career together.
Where did you first get your interest in music?
“I think from my mom. We used to sing harmonies and she played the piano. I just went from there into singing and playing piano and now keyboards. Writing songs just came naturally to me. I've been into music and working as a musician since childhood. And writing songs and singing. Let's just say I am compelled.” Says singer Scarlett Dark.
What can audiences expect to see and feel when they see you play live?
“Audiences will see something they don't expect. I don't look like or act like the typical female front person/keyboardist/songwriter. And if they listen to the songs, they will hear stories and messages and feelings that can be considered different and yet relatable. Especially if you have an imagination.” Their latest album, "To Haunt a Quiet Realm", is the collection of Dark's newest songs. She tells us,"I reach more into a quiet realm in my head, which is haunted. I let out a bunch of thoughts. Some might think them disturbing, I kind of think they're cool and dark and wonderful. For example, "Bad Place" is really about going to Hell, and is it really such a bad place?"
What is it like working as an artist in the Bay Area particularly?
“It's tough as we don't fit any molds. But the Bay Area is so diverse that you can hear every kind of music any day anywhere. Live original music is a tough scene though.”
Have you collaborated with other Bay Area artists?
“Yes. I did a duet with Norman Skinner, (Niviane, Skinner) on our 2nd CD "The Soul of a Broken Mind" on the song "I am No One". And on our latest CD "To Haunt a Quiet Realm", Glen Avelais (Forbidden, Testament) played all the guitar parts when we went into the studio as we had lost our guitarist right before recording time. Fortunately, we finally found a permanent guitarist with Scott Bullerwell, along with bassist Phil Jameson and drummer Joe Londeree.”
What is the importance of playing live music for people?
“There is nothing like performing live. There is a spirit, an energy, you can feel. And it transcends what you're doing up on stage. Then of course when people drink enough, and it becomes something else” they laugh. "The current Lipshok configuration is finally the one I've been looking for my whole life! Especially in the last 10 years. I have the musicians I want and love. I have the sound I've been searching for and the people I want to play it with."
How do you want your music to reflect your impact in the world?
“I would love it if we could make some impact on the world. My music is somewhat dark and brooding, as I am, but the messages are clear and important. In the future, we would want to make another album. Another video. And trying. And hoping then as long as I'm alive I can keep doing it. But then again, probably after that too.”
Any advice for young artists and musicians?
“Always follow your heart. Do what you love and love what you do. And don't quit your day job. It's okay to have a day job and be a musician. In fact, I recommend it. Being a musician can be an expensive hobby so arrange your life so you can do both. Don't suffer and be upset because you can't make enough money to live on in music. Not many do. And do the music for the enjoyment of being a creative and wonderful human being and for yourself and your soul and your spirit.”
Lipshok's latest 2016 album, found on Spotify