Reweaving the forgotten tales and codes of the Great Mystery, powerhouse duo Marya Stark and Carmen Crow combine forces as Scarlet Crow to bring their unique musical medicine to the stage and community. Their performance can be felt as etchings from the ashes of the new moon’s fire-ceremony. These two medicine bards delve into the wounding and healing of the magical feminine, interspersed with storytelling, prayer, and future dreaming. Two voices blend angelically, carrying enchanting songs of mystic folklore and urban avalon-inspired prose.
Marya Stark is a vocalist, composer, performer, and multi-instrumentalist. She is a discoverer of archetypes, a storyteller, and muse of creation. An Arizona native, Marya first found her voice in the high desert, studying early on at the Arizona School For The Arts, before earning a scholarship to Chapman Music Conservatory. While originally following the trail of classical vocal training, Marya’s love and curiosity for myth, shadows and healing led her to enter studies in Music Therapy. This training catalyzed Marya into a period of prolific songwriting, as she dedicated herself to narrating the journey of her own coming of age through the lense of sound and light.
A New York native and Northern California transplant, Carmen Crow (aka Mama Crow) is a self-taught guitarist and soulful songstress evokes listeners on a deep, soul level. Her sound is a mix of rhythmic, funky finger picking and string slapping, guttural blues belts and quick lyrical flow with insidious phrasing. Peruvian/Spanish/Irish/Puerto Rican/Native American hybrid- born Carmen Marie Gutierrez, later to take on the name and medicine of the Crow. With a genre ranging in a fusion of jazz, R&B, Hip Hop, Neo-soul, Folk-experimental. Vocally, she is like a love-child of Feist/Lauryn Hill/Nai Palm of Hiatus Kaiyote.
Keyframe caught up with Marya and Carmen to discuss their new album “Remembrance,” women empowerment, mythic influences, the role of divine feminine in their work, and their upcoming projects.
KEYFRAME: What was your inspiration for the album and the meaning of the name of album?
MARYA STARK: ‘Remembrance’ was inspired by our initial tour, which we called the Scarlet Crow Remembrance tour, back before ‘Scarlet Crow’ was formally a band. We were inspired by the teachings of our circle of sisters, and the conversations we were in about remembering ourselves, our past lives, remembering ourselves from the future. Some of the songs go into other timelines, and calling back parts of ourselves that may have fractured, either personally, or in the collective. I also believe that as we are coming into this new timeline of globalization, there is an invitation to remember so much- about our connection to the earth, to each other, to our lineage, to the wild.
CARMEN CROW: When Marya and I first decided to do a creatively merged tour, this word “Remembrance” kept coming to me. For some reason, it kept echoing in my ear in relation to this collaboration with Marya. The meaning of this has revealed itself over the last two years in both a subtle and grandiose way. We have delved deep into the powers of the feminine as individuals and even more so as a team. As we embarked on this journey together, we began to notice that we have been writing our own songs as solo artists with the call “to remember” in them. To remember who we are; to remember our power as human beings; to remember that we are love and that we are not alone.
How do the different songs in the album connect? What is their underlying thread that weaves them together?
MS: I feel that what weaves them together is the feeling of ceremony and storytelling. We shared these songs in an immersive environment, and designed a workshop to lead our circles through different parts of the history of the feminine, and invoke a cycle and journey. Themes of healing trans-generational trauma, reclaiming our power, connecting to the mythic, awakening the feminine.
CC: The songs on the album stem from the first tour within the Scarlet Crow cauldron. We both wanted to interweave our songwriting and sing harmonies and share verses of these songs. We each chose 6 songs each that we felt were aligned with the themes we were exploring as a council. When we brought our songs together, we realized that a deeper story was being told even beyond what we were envisioning and we experienced this first hand with the audiences and participants. It was extremely powerful for us to witness.
Can you please dive deeper regarding the meaning of “In My Womb”?
MS: “In My Womb” was a song written specifically for Scarlet Crow. It is a song about the cycle of creation that women go through each month, where we hold so much, the dreams of the future, our connection to our tribe, our relations. We hold these things in our wombs- when we let them go each month, there is a small ego death, a surrender, to make space for even more dreams. I believe that the mystery of the feminine cycle has such a stigma to it, and part of the work of the women that Scarlet Crow mentors with is to revive the potency and honoring of these cycles of time. I feel that our culture could really benefit from getting more in tune with a cyclical journey, making space for the oracular magic of the feminine, especially when she is in tune with what codes and messages she receives from attuning to what she carries. Seeds, dreams, keys of the future. We are holding the life of our future ancestors. This song is about honoring that.
In “Run Little Lady” there is a lyric: the judge says “think fast before someone thinks for you.” Can you please expand on that?
CC: This song is a story about what it means to be a “child” with strong intuition in a world where dishonesty and deceit are the norm. The “child” in the song is witnessing her “mother” make bad choices. She wants for her “mother” to do the right thing. The “judge” represents an archetype of God/Goddess consciousness or a larger voice of moral ethics and the child is put in a position to deal with the judge as a representation of the generations inheriting this world’s tragedies from our parents, and their parents, and so on. The “child” represents innocence and pure wisdom. A child will always tell the truth until they are taught not to. The line you are referring to, “Think fast before someone thinks for you,” represents this ethical voice or conscience that is teaching the child to trust oneself. To develop one’s own mind, to listen to our intuition and to grasp that this is a matter of our survival.
Please tell us more about WOMYNZ VOICE.
CC: Womynz Voice is a movement that holds events and fundraisers to raise money and awareness for local and global organizations that directly help and aid women and children. These events showcase an all-female line-up of visual artists, musicians, dancers, filmmakers, writers, poets, journalists, community leaders and public speakers that share their story and their passions with their own unique voice. The intention of these events are to strengthen the female creative community and build networks of support in a unified and diverse way. We held 4 events in 2012 and have since created an online forum and website to continue community building via the web. You can check out our website, start an account and profile page of your own within the website and begin sharing your art/passion/voice at www.womynzvoice.com.
Can you offer us more details on Voice Of The Womb Song Course?
MS: Sure thing. Inspired deeply by the work with Scarlet Crow, I participated in a storytelling immersion called the Yoniverse Monologues. After five months of curating a real life story from my own journey as a woman, and telling that story for hundreds of people, I was so inspired by the power of woman tapping into their stories, and how amazing and transformational it was to see the women pop. I wrote a bunch of songs, inspired by my own journey and the women I traveled with, and wanted to teach them to my sisters and do specific ceremonial crafting around it. What it turned into was leading a series of courses where we learned the songs, developed our voices, dropped deep into our womb stories, and then wrote new songs. For me, permissioning and guiding other women in finding the songs of their womb feels like a huge important key in connecting the womb to the heart, and re-aligning the voice of the feminine; giving the voice of the feminine a pathway to express. I also believe that the more songs we write to heal and empower our journeys, the stronger our energy becomes.
In the fall, I will be leading a 4-month course for women to develop their voice, go deep into womb work, songwriting, and developing creative gifts. You can learn more at: http://www.marya-stark.com/voice/#work-with-me
What do you mean about “urban avalon-inspired prose” in your bio?
MS: To me, this means that we are coming from the modern times, but can feel the heartbeat of the ancient Avalon codes of the mythic magic. There has been a theme for me and Mama Crow of retrieving collective memories from this particular timeline, feels very present in our connection, and in the songs that overlap with this energy. Call me a romantic, but I love to think that maybe we served together and learned at one point these now forgotten arts of these mystery schools. Even if only as a dream to inspire the music. That’s what I feel our music evokes- with a splash of current spoken word trends and inspirations of modernity.
CC: Well put Ms. Stark 😉 I echo that.
How did you guys come together?
MS: We have known each other for about 8 years, and have been collaborating as friends, learning each other’s songs, playing shows together. At the end of 2014, Carmen suggested we do a co-headlining acoustic tour. I had always kinda had the glimpse of a possible future where we might play more deeply together, and combine our names somehow. I thought it was gonna be like Camagusta (Carmen, Marya, Gutierrez, Stark) but Scarlet Crow came through as the tour, combining our two archetypal mythic journeys of Scarlet Moon and Mama Crow. At first it was just the name of the tour, but as we journeyed and deepened, the muse of the project invited us to go with it and put a stamp on it as a collaboration. It was all very organic and emergent. Following the intuitive magic arising.
CC: The first time I met Marya was on stage in 2009. We were at Raw Spirit Festival in Santa Barbara as we were both booked as solo singer-songwriters. There was a large freestyle jam happening on stage and I was rapping on the mic. I felt this strong energy behind me and I turn to see a strikingly beautiful woman with rainbow braids and fierce eyes. She nodded to me and I nodded back and passed her the mic. She grabbed it and completely crushed it with her musical fire. I was blown away and knew that she was a powerful one walking this planet. We exchanged info at that time and I began to listen to her music on the old-fashioned MySpace, where I was introduced to some of her poetry and songs. From there on out, we started a lifelong friendship and have shared many stages as sisters singing harmonies for each other and others. We would teach each other our harmonies at festivals, behind the scenes and this led to us singing more and more together. Scarlet Crow is a result of us going deeper into a committed musical collaboration and has been guiding us into the level of creative work you witness now.
Any shout outs you want to offer?
CC: Shout out to Moveintuit Dance Company led by the very talented choreographer and community builder Brynne Flidais. Also, a shout out to Eve Olution, the founder of Evokation Ritual Theatre, who has been supporting this birth of our album for over a year now. Also, to our council of women that have been holding this prayer with us since the beginning: Tessa Shields, Layla Centorinno, Laurel Kitten and to Yemanya who supported us on our first tour. A shout out to ARK (Abram Ramal Katz) who has made music with Crow and inspired her growth as a recording artist.
MS: And of course our collaborators Kalya Scintilla, Barry Phillips, and David Earl who supported the making of this music.
What do you want people to take away from your music?
MS: I’d like people to come away feeling that the old spells of the witch burnings are being broken, that there is a movement around liberating the face of the feminine from systematic oppression, that we are unifying for a wave of greatness, that we are re-patterning our blueprint for epiphanies of the deepest level. I want people to feel that they are held in going through the underworld of their own psyche and the collective darkly dreaming history, and that together we walk each other home. I want people to feel the potency of soul alliance and that we are building a new beauty pathway towards greater coherence, and that we are lifting the rug of the centuries to sweep out all the dust that got forgotten there. I want people to feel like their soul just got saged.
CC: Truly, I have seen the way this music opens up people. They leave our shows renewed and filled with hope and access to deeper, unseen layers of themselves and the collective. The response of the listeners have helped reveal the potency of this music back to us. Although this has been affirmed in our live performances, sharing this album and the recordings of our songs to the world is a brand new thing. It’s quite mysterious what will happen with this music now circulating the world. I would like for people to get something meaningful out of this, in a way that is authentic to them. There is deep prayer encoded in this music and if anything, that is awakens parts of the soul that have forgotten it power. Amidst music that has little to zero meaning that is out there playing on the radio 24/7 in our ears, I would like this music to reach the listener in a more personal and intimate way. That the listener become in tune to what is inside of them and begin to feel more.
How do you feel your music can support or inspire the divine feminine?
MS: Divine Feminine is such a hot topic right now, eh? Our relationship with these words has been a point of inquiry for Carmen and I, and was one of the questions we asked as we were in council with each audience on our initial tour. At the time, both of us were somewhat disenchanted and saturated with the whole ‘Divine Feminine’ culture of the transformational art scene, even though we were both conceptually behind it. Something was missing for us. I personally needed an expanded depth perception that included the ugly aspects of the feminine, and a safe space to mourn the fucked-upness of the imbalance around the feminine energies in my life, not just to elevate the glamorous and beautiful, although I do love dressing up and presenting the soft, supple, radiant and luxurious aspects of the Divine Feminine. I feel deeply nourished by invoking those energies and calling myself into states where they can fully come online within me.
I think, as simply as possible, I find it a valuable cultural conversation to speak of the Feminine as Divine, since in many religious structures women were historically not allowed to rise to the highest ranks of spiritual leadership. Where this is true, for example, a woman’s blood (one of the most natural occurring processes of the feminine) was considered dirty and taboo. Contrastly, in cultures where women were invited to be at the highest levels of spiritual leadership, blood was sacred and revered. Creates some interesting templates on how we revel in feminized bodies, and the gifts of femininity.
As someone who identifies as a woman, I’ve been personally unpacking how the cultural war on our bodies has created some deep-seeded trauma, and how those thought forms have been stored in my body. Many of these songs came through as a purification and personal healing journey of those particular culture codes. My hope is that this music and the intention of the prayers that Carmen and I have been holding for each other, that others will feel liberated in their own being from the ensorcellment of centuries of oppressive cultural weirdness around women. That we as a society can come into a place of full source embodied pleasure within these bodies, get in empowered relationship with the sisterhood, and make space for the full spectrum of the ‘Divine Feminine’ as having immense value.
What upcoming projects is Scarlet Crow working on?
MS: We are both touring with Evokation and Kalya Scintilla this summer. Yaegon supported us massively with this album, taking it on as a project last spring and helped us mix and co-produce it. We are excited to now be a part of their vision and stage show. We have new music videos brewing along with more visual art to relay the messages we are passionate about. Crafting moods and immersive experiences of visual beauty.
CC: We also have more live concerts and interactive workshops planned for 2017 and 2018. We are already putting a list of songs that we will be weaving into our next album and plan to do a songwriters retreat in the summer together. We are excited to give our focus on this new release, first and foremost, and at the same time we are always creating and will likely begin recording our second album in the beginning of 2018.
What future projects or collaborations are you looking forward to?
CC: Also, there is a list of awesome producers who would like to remix the album so we are considering a remix contest or we may just hand pick our favorites. Future collaborations with Evokation Sacred Theatre and Kalya Scintilla for the summer of 2017 will be potent. As solo artists, we will be releasing some new music and visual art so always stay in tune with that through our online presence.
Also, we are planning a huge WOMYNZ VOICE event for 2018 to raise money for Planned Parenthood.
Get the new album “Remembrance” on Bandcamp: https://scarletcrow.bandcamp.com/
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