Following the recent release of Only Love, we were blessed with an in-depth chat with LA’s one and only Starla Starshine. We talk everything from songwriting and production, to live performances, the impact of lock-down, and the future of the music industry. Enjoy!
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Hi Starla – great to chat with you! How are things – how have you been managing throughout the past couple of months in lock-down?
I’ve been OK during lock-down. I’m truly on the very fortunate side of lock-down because I work from home and I am the biggest home body. Home is my sanctuary and I’m most definitely happiest when I’m in the comfort of my own four walls.
I hope you have been well. These are such trying times with the pandemic and the injustices going on right now. I am happily and diligently committed to making a difference. Whether that be in my songwriting or my NAACP membership. I am committed to a world of love.
For those who don’t know, how would you describe your sound and your approach as an artist?
I would describe my music as singing poetry. I was raised on folk music and I wanted to put a modern but also timeless spin on that genre. My voice is a combo of forever teen-like and gritty and bluesy when it’s called for. I think I sing like a siren waiting for the love of my life to return but he’s dead. So I yearn and wait forever.
How long have you been making music, and what inspired the writing of Only Love?
I’ve been making music since I was 13. Professionally doing it since 15. Only Love is my Give Peace a Chance for the Millennial generation. It says everything I could possibly need to say in regards to the social issues we all face. The first verse speaks for itself. “I heard of a place where lovers dream. It don’t matter what race. ONLY LOVE and NO HATE.” I would be fine with never writing a song unless I was compelled to. I only write about topics that mean something to me. I don’t care about anything unless it truly means something. So when the song comes I gladly bring it to life.
Are you vocally or musically trained?
I’ve been singing since I was little. Taking lessons on and off most of my life. For me I truly feel that I am a poet. I’m a poet who knows how to throw my voice around and make dreamy sounds with it. I’m trained yes but I would never give myself that much credit. I’m rough around the edges and that’s how I like it.
Do you produce your own tracks, and if so – what’s your go-to DAW, and your favourite way to begin crafting a new piece?
I produce my tracks with my producer. He’s a brilliant musician and he has what I don’t have and I have what he doesn’t have. So it’s a perfect musical relationship. I’m all about the words and the feelings and he’s all about the tech side of it and the music. We both decide how it sounds and what we like best.
My favorite way to write a piece is when the piece literally just comes to me. I don’t try to force a song. I don’t try to force anything. I feel like my songs are gifts. Something wants me to sing them and that’s exactly what I do. I either hear the melody or I write down all of the poetry first. I turn the poetry into lyrics and the song is born.
With the big-beat, energizing aura of your music, who or what would you say were your greatest influences?
My greatest musical influences actually sound nothing like me. I am a die hard folk lover. I love Dylan, CSNY and Joan Baez. My greatest loves artistically are John Lennon, Ray Davies of the Kinks and I really love David Crosby. I’m a huge Byrd’s fan. I made a very conscious choice to write music that doesn’t sound like it’s from the 60s only. I wanted to write something that fits in today’s time. The things I sing about are all inspired by the 60s. That’s where my favorite influences live in my music. As for my disco, dance, trance feel, I love Cher. I think she’s the end all be all of pop.
Is live performance a big part of your plans?
I’ve performed a lot in my life. But I’m actually not huge on it. If I feel like playing a tiny hole in the wall I will and if I feel like doing a huge charity event I will. Everything has to have a real purpose. If it does I’m glad to do it.
If you could perform on stage alongside any other artist or producer, who would you choose, and why?
If I could perform on stage with anyone it would be John Lennon. He is everything I connect with. I was raised on him. I have home videos of me dancing to The Beatles and every time the music stops I walk over to the record player and point to it. When the next song comes on I continue to dance. I couldn’t even walk yet but I felt it. Lennon is raw and eloquent all in one. He wrote music that meant something. He’s my enteral muse.
What have you been working on creatively lately?
I am currently working on a book of short stories and essays. This is a little excerpt from one. It is called 6 Eyed Freak. A catholic school girl ditches class and ends up in the Underworld. Made up of pastels and 6 eyed freaks. The tangerine monster wraps his tongue around her neck creating a noose. She is swallowed whole and makes a bed inside the belly of the beast. She sleeps without nightmares now. For she has looked into the eyes of her darkest fears.
Is there a bigger picture in mind for you when you make music, career-wise, or are you just happy to be involved creatively?
I’m genuinely happy to just wake up and know I’m an artist. I’ve had dreams and goals since I was tiny. At times they have been so overwhelming I’ve almost gone mad. I feel like a whipped show pony.
I don’t want to perform just to perform anymore. I just want to be an artist who sings of love and peace and who is actually indeed a loving and peaceful human. That’s the real goal. To be happy and free. To express myself and to change even one person’s life through a song or short story. I plan to write all of my life and to be an activist till my last day.
What do you hope people take away from your songs?
I hope people who listen to my music know that I mean every single word. I hope that my songs comfort them the way my favorite artists comfort me. I’m finishing my full length record now and it will be out early 2021. It will be called Starlas Disco For The Damned.
Do you think the lasting impact of 2020’s events will change the way the music industry operates in the future, and if so, what positives do you think may come from this?
I’ve seen the music industry change drastically from the time I was 13 to now in my 20s. So I definitely think the events of 2020 will anger and inspire people into doing more and saying more. We don’t need music about getting lit at the club. We need people to make a difference and to be responsible for what the youth listens to.
What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given as an artist?
The best piece of advice I was given to as an artist was to never stop working on my craft. Truly, that’s the best advice I could give anyone. That and always be painfully authentic. Don’t sell out.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Lastly, thank you so much for the beautiful reviews you have done on my record. You are a gift in the world to an artist. I’m thankful for your time and platform.
I encourage everyone to speak up about matters that trouble you. Please look into becoming a member of the NAACP. Please always adopt a pet over buying one from a breeder. If you can, please consider being a foster and change the life of a little pet in need. Right now I am nursing a Mockingbird who my Dad found in a gutter. She was a baby and didn’t even know how to fly. My Dad found her on my birthday. I feel so connected to her already. We are two broken songbirds learning to fly. Stay safe during these tragic times and only spread love and light. Love – Starla.
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