"What I write about in a song doesn't have to be a right now thing, it could be... some kind of feeling I had in-between."
Photos by the author
Over the last two years, Bianca Scarlato gave no impression she was a singer. As one of Toronto's more-recognized young creatives, the 21-year-old media student has built an impressive following on Instagram for her regular work as a fashion and music photographer—her feed is a mix of shots for both major brands, and international and local artists. Her collaborators range anywhere from Adidas to Sean Leon. Today, Scarlato, simply going by Bianca, is premiering her debut track "Missed Calls" on Noisey. This past weekend, she sat down with us to chat about her transition from photography to music, her reason for switching, and her journey getting here. You can listen to her track and read the interview below:
Noisey: You've shot artists for a living for almost two years now—are you thinking about how you're now going to be received on the other end?
Bianca: I've been wanting to do this for a while, but I just didn't know how, and I wasn't sure really how to cross that threshold. I tried reaching out [to some producers] online, but it didn't really work out.
This song is actually the first song I ever wrote. The producer had a project for school, and he needed to make an EP, and he was like, "Yo, I know you sing, wanna write some songs?" And I said, "Sure, let's do this." I did three songs—that was probably about a year and a half ago. I remember when I recorded 'Missed Calls,' he was like, "You gotta put music out."
But you had prior musical experience, right?
Yeah, all throughout high school, and even before that, I was involved in theatre and I took singing lessons. I wanted to be on broadway and all this shit. In high school, I was actually in acapella choir. It was serious. We used to compete everywhere. We sang backup for Marianas Trench. All this random shit. It was super cool at the time. I was hype about it. We were on Breakfast Television—probably a video of me out there somewhere, I don't know.
OK, but, who's missing the calls? You, or…
[laughs] I'm missing the calls, because I'm busy.
So this is about the relationship you're in?
Yeah. I mean, I take photos [for a living] so when I say I'm going to work, and I'm really going to take photos, it doesn't really sound like work. And I like going out—being from [Woodbridge], it was an easy way for me to meet people and connect. But that's not the norm.
A lot of artists who write about love and romance are usually single or broken up, but that's not the case. You're writing from the perspective of being in a relationship. What's that like?
Huh, that's a tough question. Every relationship is different—there's a lot of phases of feelings that people go through. What I write about in a song doesn't have to be a right now thing, it could have been from the past, or in a past relationship, or just some kind of feeling I had in between.
Who do you want to be as 'Bianca' the singer, rather than Bianca the photographer?
I'm working on that still, but I've always wanted to fuse an old vibe with a new look. I love old soul music, and old blues music, but I also like the culture and look of today. I really wanted to incorporate the two. At the time I began writing, I was heavily-inspired by Bryson Tiller, because Trapsoul had just come out and I loved the way he was mixing soul music, mixing trap music. I knew that existed before, but the way he kind of defined it really drew me to his work.
But are you done being a photographer? I see you at this point of being a multidisciplined artist, but I also don't' know many artists that have been successful at that in the modern day.
No, definitely not, I'm still mad passionate about shooting. But still, recently I'm finding myself a lot more in front of the camera than I do behind it. I've kinda realized that if I put as much effort into my music as I do my photography, I can do something great. I just didn't feel like I was at the right place to do it before. It feels good for me to put this out. Like, really good.
Jake Kivanc is a Toronto writer and photographer working on something special. Follow him on Twitter.