LadyScarlett Farstrider: A View From A Tree

By Traci Nubalo

During my time reviewing groups here in Second Life, I have pretty much limited myself to singer-songwriter type performers. This was not due to a prejudice of any kind - I just have not had a lot of experience writing about groups who play to track. So I was kind of excited when fate conspired to change this for me.
I had been chatting with a friend of mine who manages an act or two in SL and she had gone on and on about someone named LadyScarlett Farstrider. Now, people tell me about performers all of the time but this manager happens to be one whose taste I usually admire. And the first name LadyScarlett kinda sticks in the mind.
So - a few weeks down the road - there I was minding my own business. In fact I was wandering through a shop that sells top of the line skins and shapes, at the very beginning of a mission that I really didn’t feel like doing. But that’s another story for another day. *smile*
As I wandered around, my eyes glazing over from all of the images of avatars that I would never look anything like, I walked past a lovely being whose name tag read LadyScarlett Farstrider. I tried to put on the brakes but ended up in one of those things where you just keep moving and you fly out the through the wall and into the next sim a few thousand meters. When I had finally popped back into “reality” I checked out her profile and sure enough it was the very singer I had been pointed toward.
So we spoke - then we spoke another couple of times and I found her to be just the sweetest and nicest person. I promised to get out to see her sing. I guess I was at first a little surprised when I learned that she sang to track, but it was mostly a pleasant surprise. I not only LOVE her voice, but I learned that not all tracks make a singer sound like third-on-the-list at the Friday amateur karaoke scene.
I popped out to see her perform a couple of times and then we spoke for a while in my office as I tried to get to know her personally. Here’s how it went:
Traci Nubalo: So tell me, Lady, were you performing before Second Life?
LadyScarlett Farstrider: Only occasionally - at karaoke bars with friends.
TN: Where are you from?
LF: Tennessee
TN: Yes, I remember your lovely southern accent. I’ve been through Tennessee and it’s a very pretty state. What were your musical choices growing up?
LF: At first, oldies, like the Beach Boys, Jerry Lee Lewis because that's what my dad listened to. Then country because that's what my mom listened to.
TN: And later on?
LF: Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Def Leppard...
TN: How fun! So you were a rocker chick as a teen?
LF: Yeah, pretty much. Rock and country.
TN: May I ask your age?
LF: 31
TN: Excellent. I really admire your interaction with your audience. That’s something that usually comes with professional maturity. With such little stage background how did you learn to do that?
LF: Honestly, when I first started, the majority of the people who came to my shows were my friends. So it was easy to get up there and goof off with them, be silly.
As I've done it more - and people I don't know come - it’s pretty easy to just pull them into the circle and treat them like my friends.
TN: Yes. Friendly is the perfect word to describe your stage presence. And your fans seem to react in a friendly way, too. That must feel good.
LF: Very much.
TN: Another thing I like about your show is that you have a rather eclectic song list. Can you describe what material you do - for the new readers?
LF: I do covers of songs that in some way have touched me. Evanescence is one of my faves to do - and Pink. I have fun just throwing random stuff that the audience throws out at me during a show to see if I can. That‘s how I got convinced to sing “I'm Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred.
TN: Excellent
Eclectic perfectly describes Lady’s live work. At one recent show she brought the house to a whisper with a totally gorgeous piano-driven version of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” from the great Bonnie Raitt, then blew them down with her rich, clear vocals on “Zombie” from The Cranberries, a request from the packed house in attendance. Then - without letting the dancers catch their breath - Lady launched into an amazing version of “My Immortal”. Her voice held clear and steady against the nicely-orchestrated version of the hit from Evanescence.
LadyScarlett also does a killer job when she ventures out into a capella territory. On this night she pulled out Hanson’s “Use Me Up” and delivered a gorgeous, breathy version sans tracks, a great device that she also uses very effectively on Honey Honey’s “Thursday Night”.
And is she eclectic? the Lady with the Voice also crooned a superb take on the Patsy Cline chestnut "Walking After Midnight" that was full of soulful sass and twang.
I have to tell you, I was thoroughly enjoying myself! And just then my cover was blown!
The gig was at a fantastic tree house called Fantasmagoria. I had decided to take notes while I watched the performance, so to avoid having to chat with a lot of people I - well, I just sat hidden in the tree itself rather than landing on the dance floor. So I was really surprised when this sweet little voice appeared in my IM window. “Ummm, is everything okay? Would you like to join us?” I almost fell off the branch in surprise! Turns out it was Poison Foxtrot, one of the grid’s best and sweetest club hosts. We chatted briefly; she gushed about how huge a fan of Lady’s she has become; and I thanked her for checking on my wellbeing. It really was a lovely little scene - one very much in keeping with the super-good vibes I saw in all of the Farstrider shows I attended.
Back in my office, LadyScarlett was taking me to school. I recreate this fascinating part of the interview for the reader who - like me - had no clue where things like backing tracks come from.
TN: Lady, how do you select your material?
LF: If it's a song I love, like one I can't get out of my head, I try to find the music for it, then play around with it for a while to see if I can actually do it. Then I force my friend, Nanners Guardian, to listen to it and tell me if its okay or not.
TN: Where does one go to find the backing tracks?
LF: There are several websites where you can purchase them. I also use YouTube and a program called Zune.
TN: I see. Are the tracks key-specific?
LF: Some are, but most aren't.
TN: What do you look for in a track that feels right for you?
LF: I want it to sound as much like the original as possible. Some of them tend to sound very...childlike would be the best way I could describe it. I generally prefer it not to have backing vocals, cause those sometimes are very scary sounding.
TN: I've noticed that the tracks you use tend to be on the leaner side - not overly-produced. Is that to better highlight your amazing voice?
LF: No. The ones that sound overly produced tend to be too loud. I have to turn it up pretty loud on my end as it is, in order for my voice not to drown it out. If I have to crank up something that’s overly produced, it deafens me.
TN: Fascinating. One thing that I really love about your vocal delivery is that you have a great sense of pitch. You sing on key - even when not using vibrato - which is a difficult thing for many singers to do. I've also noticed that you tend to avoid the very fast vocal runs that today's hip hop singers use. Is that a conscious choice on your part?
LF: Yes. I'm southern, so I can't keep up with the fast stuff.
TN: *smile* Well, I think it works very much to your advantage, Lady. How long have you been performing in SL?
LF: Hmmm. A little over a year.
TN: How have you seen your presence here grow in that time?
LF: By small margins. LOL. It's taking me awhile to get comfortable with things. I'm really just now seeing an increase in show attendance and bookings.
TN: Yes. It can take some time. Well, you certainly seem very much in control of your act at this point. You exude a wonderful sense of confidence onstage.
LF: Oh! I'm not! LOL I still get nervous every time.
I guess I just control it better.
This has been a lesson for me. I’m no longer so simplistic in my thinking about virtual performers who choose to sing to track. Watching LadyScarlett Farstrider work her onstage magic has shown me that there is, in fact, an art in using backing tracks. When those tracks are chosen carefully and utilized skillfully the resulting show can be as joyful and fun as any other.
For those who have heard my new friend LadyScarlett Farstrider, nothing need be said; for those of you who are about to become new fans of hers I can't say enough. Get on out and support this rising star!
TN: So, what's next for LadyScarlett?
LF: I'm just going to keep doing this. I really love it. It's a way for me to realize a dream I always had in RL - to sing. And I have such fun with it.
TN: And I can say for a fact that the readers who check out your show will also have a lot of fun. So, in closing, this is your chance to speak directly to your fans.
What would you like to say to them?
LF: I'd love to thank them for all their support. I truly have never felt like much of a "performer". I'm just doing what I love to do. And the fact that people want to come listen and have fun with me is amazing to me. I've made some wonderful friends doing this, and several of them have become my family.
TN: LadyScarlett, thank you so much for chatting with us today.
LF: Thank you. *smile*


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