"I remember my parents listening to records - they used to put me to sleep to Nick Cave and Toots and the Maytals. And I remember dancing around the bar they used to own to Nina Simone’s My Baby Just Cares For Me." You'd be forgiven for assuming Scarlett Stevens' success as a musician (she plays drums and sings in Australian four-piece indie pop outfit San Cisco) and DJ (behind the decks under the pseudonym Beryl Streep) was predestined; she was born into a world of music, with both her parents working jobs within the industry. "I always thought you had to be extremely lucky to make a career out of your art," says Stevens, admitting "I never thought I’d make a career out of music even though it was always a big part of my life." As Stevens knows well, luck and circumstance can only take you so far - it's one thing to be part of a family with a shared passion and quite another to dedicate your life to the pursuit of creativity, and the relentless cycle of writing, recording, performing and touring that comes with the musical kind. Which is exactly what Stevens has done: "I started playing in bands when I was nine years old, and then touring from about 19."
"I think that women are a constant source of inspiration for me personally. Female artists, activists, musicians, filmmakers, my friends."
A Scorpio hailing from Australia's western coast, Stevens was initially a student of the piano before the film Josie and the Pussycats inspired her to first sit behind a drum kit. "I begged my parents to let me take lessons, and that film is what really started it for me," she recalls. "I guess drumming comes quite naturally to me. I feel pretty at ease behind the drums and that’s when I also feel the most ‘me’, and the most creative and feminine."
As a young woman, Stevens's hope is to inspire other girls to take up an instrument, or start their own bands. "I think it’s so powerful for young girls to see other girls playing in bands. Knowing I’ve encouraged young girls to play music has given me a real sense of empowerment." Her own musical inspirations are "nostalgic, honest, melodic" - think David Bowie, Patti Smith, Sister Sledge, OutKast. "At the moment I’m really loving Kali Uchis, Benny Sings and Clairo ... My favourite female drummers are Cindy Blackman from Lenny Kravitz’s band, not only for her playing ability but also for her incredible dress sense, and Karen Carpenter. I also love Stella Mozgawa from Warpaint. She is mesmerising to watch."
While her energy is always focused on her music, Stevens confesses to being a "bit of a vintage nut - and I love styling and film photography. It’s definitely something I want to explore further in the future." Other dreams include singing more on San Cisco's next album and playing a big stadium tour. "It sounds lame, but the real dream is to have a long career in music, to not be an overnight success, and to keep writing songs that people will know all the words to and sing along to." For now, her joy can be found in "big cities, food, my poodles (Archie and Roma), the beaches in Western Australia ... living for the moment," she says before adding, "the simplest form of joy is pasta." Scarlett Stevens is a woman after our own hearts.
"Sometimes I feel like a bit of an imposter DJing, I’ve pretty much learnt on the job. But it’s still lots of fun playing out party tunes - I think they both [DJing and drumming] give me a rush but in different ways."
"[Don't] compare yourself to others. It’s so important to be kind to yourself and kind to your body."
PHOTOGRAPHY Kitty Callaghan
FASHION Giulia Berretti
TALENT Scarlett Stevens
HAIR & MAKEUP Louisa Copperwaite using Dior Backstage