Turning into a Gradient: Interview with Starya

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Emerging on the horizon, LA artist Starya captivates listeners with her unique soundscapes and unwavering authenticity. Immerse yourself in her music and embark on a journey that seamlessly blends the beauty of nature with futuristic electronic pop soundscapes. Her latest release, “Gradient,” serves as a testament to her boundless creativity and individuality, offering a captivating opportunity to experience the energy her music exudes.

The most powerful thing in our galaxy – the sun – can change everything about how the world looks to us, so how awesome is it that the same thing can happen when someone special enters or leaves your life? I wanted to write a song about that parallel, and of course, need it to be accompanied by the third most powerful thing – BASS!”
Starya 

Starya’s life has been marked by a fascinating dichotomy. She grew up in the remote woods, far from the hustle and bustle of modern civilization, without access to basic amenities like electricity and plumbing. However, her journey eventually led her to the vibrant cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, where she discovered new opportunities and experiences.

Through this journey, Starya has developed a unique perspective that blends the natural and digital worlds. Her music is like a cosmic dance between these two realms, creating a sound that is both captivating and otherworldly. It’s as if she has found a way to fuse the raw, untamed beauty of nature with the sleek, futuristic sounds of electronic music.

Starya’s artistry is a testament to the power of embracing diversity and finding harmony in seemingly disparate elements. Her music invites listeners to explore new frontiers and experience the world in a whole new way.

We are thrilled to present an exclusive interview with Starya, where we dive into her inspiring career and discuss her stunning latest work. Join us as we uncover the story behind Starya’s captivating journey.

How did you know that making EDM was what you wanted to do?

I’ve always loved making music and I know, on some level, that ultimately it’s what I want my life to be about. I started by playing guitar and various other instruments, going to see bands while growing up in San Francisco. It wasn’t until I moved to LA, discovered the electro/bloghouse scene, and went to warehouse parties and events like HARD Haunted Mansion – that I really fell in love with electronic music. After that, it was a no-brainer. I still love bands and all kinds of non-EDM music, but there is something about the unlimited possibilities of producing electronic music – the ability to create an entire tapestry of sounds with just you and your laptop and to express EVERY possible level of energy – that I knew I absolutely had to learn how to make this kind of music.

What are some significant influences that have made Starya who she is today?

I spent half of my childhood growing up in the woods, pretty far away from any civilization – and the other half living in the middle of San Francisco. The juxtaposition between being surrounded by trees,  to being immersed in technology and the urban sprawl, is a pretty clear analogy to the way my music is heavily dependent on technology, yet very much inspired by nature. Also, having so many formative experiences at shows, concerts and live events has really ingrained the importance of the live experience. I love to stream and to use the internet to find ways to connect and share my music, but there is nothing that compares to that in-person experience and it will always be incredibly important to me and my musical journey.

Are there any unconventional sources of inspiration that are not related to music?

The forest, trees, a nice meadow, water, SPACE, magic hour, fantasy books, LA, my dog, my creative and wonderful amazing friends!

I have to say that I loved “Gradient” from the beginning to the end. How did the idea take shape for you?

Thank you! I started that song while I was on my grandmother’s farm in rural Pennsylvania. She lives on a very beautiful, idyllic farm with the most gorgeous sunsets. It is a perfect place to create because there are no distractions, and you are completely surrounded by these endless rolling hills in the middle of nowhere. While I was out there, contemplating the way the sun comes and goes so dramatically, I had a recurring thought: it really is incredible how the Sun can completely change how our entire world looks – color, warmth, everything is affected by it. On the production side – the drop was made as a certain challenge to myself. I usually mash a bunch of different, random sounds together, sampling pieces from many different elements – but for this one, I really wanted to create something cohesive with one instrument (Xfer Records’ Serum) that I then spent time automating and modulating until I got the movement I wanted. So far it contains my favorite drop I’ve ever made.

Do you follow a specific process for the creation of all of your songs? How would you describe it?

I think I am still trying to discover this in the hopes that I can become more consistent – but so far I feel like I have to reinvent the process every time I sit down. I guess it’s more the finishing that I have trouble with – it’s easy to start a song whether it’s with a lyrical idea or a drum pattern or a chord progression, tying it all together and saying it’s done is a whole other thing. I will say, however, that one integral part of my process is the fact that 90% of the time, I am streaming it on Twitch. I love to create a “Box” to exist in, where the only option is to be immersed in the work. Streaming allows me to create confines for myself, ensuring that I don’t get too distracted by all the other endless options of things that could cause me to not work. When people are watching, I can’t go play video games, check my email, or stare at TikTok.

Listening to your song was a multi-sensorial experience, so I have to ask: If “Gradient” was a landscape, what would it be like?

It would probably be a beautiful Pennsylvanian farmland with bright green fields, a technicolor sky, and thousands of sparkling stars that come out at night.

What is the most memorable reaction you’ve ever witnessed from a listener while hearing your music? How did it make you feel and how has it influenced your creative process?

When I was at Burning Man in 2022, I performed in an art car called The Metaphoenix. A group of friends was passing by during my set and they stopped and danced to my whole set, then afterward they came up to me and made sure to get all the info about where else I would be playing that week – and I actually continued to run into them throughout the week at my different sets. It was such a lovely organic experience, and interactions like that really helped me feel confident in what I am doing – which sometimes I struggle with.

How would you describe the relationship between technology and nature in your music?

I would say that they are both overwhelmingly present. I rely on both in that my biggest inspiration is nature, but I greatly rely on technology to express that inspiration through production.

What elements do you feel define your music and personal style, and what kind of impact do you hope to make through your work?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately in the context of the question “Why?”. I recently watched the Simon Senek TED talk from 2009 and he talks about how you must be able to define your “Why” before you explain your “How” or “What”. For me, the music and performance are the “What” and working every day at it is the “How” – but the “Why” I’ve only just started putting into words. So far I have come up with three very important elements to my “Why” –

  1. Connection – making people feel like they belong, finding common ground, and generally finding ways to connect and to make others feel connected, feeling like a community. 2. Authenticity – being your true self, feeling accepted for being your true self, embodying your most authentic self, and inspiring and empowering others to do the same. 3. Gratitude – sometimes it’s hard to keep the other two in mind, things can get tough and I sometimes feel frustrated or hopeless – gratitude can help keep me on track so that I can approach life with the positive mindset that will allow me to stay on track, keep making/finishing music, and embodying 1 & 2.

What artists do you want to work with in future projects?

I could go on for a very long time about all the artists I would love to collab with, but here are a few: I always mention Reggie Watts because I absolutely love everything he does. Skrillex I would love to collab with one day, as I truly believe he is THE best producer. I have been really excited about a producer from the UK named “Oppidan” – probably my favorite new producer out there. And my favorite band ever is Muse – I’m not sure what it would look like but I know I would be THRILLED to be involved in anything they are a part of.

 

Photos by – Maria Jose Govea

 

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