[INTERVIEW] Starya Breaks Down Her Vocal Techniques + New Persona Ahead Of Elsewhere 2022
When it comes to rising stars in progressive trance, Starya is quickly making herself a name in the EDM constellation, sharing her vision and sound of interstellar life. After opening for renowned artists such as Skrillex, ZEDD, Diplo and others, she evolved beyond her moniker Tuff Ghost, and transcended into Starya.
The singer-DJ-multi-instrumentalist displays raw talent and blossoming creativity added to her mesmerizing stage presence, Starya is prepared to continue her "off-planet", expansive influence exemplified in hypnotic warehouse tracks compelling audiences. iEDM inquired about Starya's ethereal nature: her evolution to becoming Starya, connection to interstellar life, Twitch community, and more.
Check out iEDM's exclusive interview with Starya below.
iEDM: What inspired the name "Starya" and what do you want it to represent?
Starya: I wanted something that sounded sparkly and out-of-this-world. I think names are super interesting and while it really is all about the music, I wanted a name that felt like it had the potential to shoot off into space!
iEDM: What intrigues you the most about interstellar life? What connections does it have with music, specifically the music you produce?
Starya: I love the notion of the infinite, the mystery, and the beauty that space represents. Anything is possible! My favorite genres of storytelling are fantasy and science fiction. I draw a lot of inspiration from those kinds of stories, other worlds, and other realities.
iEDM: You recently opened for Justice at the LA Coliseum for a special concert hosted by the creator of Minecraft. What was your favorite aesthetic or feature of the venue? What were a few of the highlights from your performance?
Starya: What a dream come true that was! I have a hard time putting into words how grateful I am for that experience. There were so many cool things about that show. The fact that it was in the world’s largest inflatable dome, that the stage was on a 360-degree rotating riser, that it was held up solely by AIR, and that it was at one of LA’s coolest venues ever (The LA Coliseum). As for my performance, I was thrilled to be able to play a set of entirely original music and to explore adding guitar to the show as well.
iEDM: What is your favorite instrument to play and why? What has been the most challenging instrument to learn and how did you overcome its obstacles?
Starya: My favorite instrument to play is my voice! I love singing and feel like it allows me to feel the most expressive and the most in touch with the performance, the music, and the emotions therein. As far as most challenging, I would have to say Ableton. Although it is not an instrument per se, I like to think of it as one and perhaps that is where the biggest challenge is. To take something that is so technical and turn it into an instrument that conveys musical ideas and emotions has been quite a journey. Finding ways to make Ableton fun is definitely the key.
iEDM: If you could pick one artist to perform a B2B with, who would you choose and why?
Starya: DJ Diesel. I mean, how awesome would that be to DJ with Shaq? I feel like that would be so fun. He looks like he has the best time.
iEDM: How did you create the bassline for “Manipulator”? When analyzing a track, how do you know when there are too many or not enough layers?
Starya: I’m pretty sure the first bassline in there was a very drone-like thing that I first recorded on the OP1 by Teenage Engineering. It is one of my favorite synths ever. I like to send midi out of the computer, into the OP1, and play it back into Ableton while messing with the knobs and settings. This allows for a really cool organic feeling when you actually are twisting the knobs in real-time and recording that.
iEDM: You have combined many sounds and production methods to forge your own distinct genre of music. How would you describe your signature sound and what parts of your track “The Garden” exemplify it the most?
Starya: Wow, thank you for saying that! I have a really hard time expressing what my signature sound is, but I like to think that there are elements of “epic” and “heavy” mixed with “fun” and “light-hearted”. I love when music does not take itself too seriously, but I also love when it really KNOCKS. For example, “we are your friends” by Justice and Simian is such a cute concept, but then you hear it and it makes you want to cry tears of euphoric dance floor bliss. That's what I’m going for. So with “The Garden”, I have that super crazy bass, mixed with a cute story about rainbows and treasure.
iEDM: How do you implement your vocals into a track or shape your track around lyrics? What techniques do you use to blend the two elements together?
Starya: It really depends. I love treating my voice like a sample and playing with different ways to chop it up and even use it as solely a texture. Also, I like a good solid chord progression and spotlight on the vocal. When doing this, I try to find the balance between making people want to dance, and making people want to listen to what I am saying. Simplicity is a good technique for that balance.
iEDM: What has been your favorite memory from interacting with your fanbase on Twitch? How does Power Hour impact the rest of your day and help to fuel your motivation?
Starya: I honestly have so many fond memories with my Twitch community. I have made some incredible IRL friends from Twitch. The people on Twitch who were with me over the pandemic throughout my LONG production sessions really helped to keep me focused. They also gave me some feeling of community and friendship when we were so isolated. As for Power Hour, I am someone who basically has to create my own schedule so it really helps to have something regular that anchors me. Power Hour gives me a reason to get fully dressed in the morning and gives me that little boost of dance-fueled dopamine every morning to start my day off right.
iEDM: At what point did you realize that it was time to transition from the moniker Tuff Ghost into Starya? How do the personas differ from each other in terms of your stage image and production style?
Starya: I was watching Bjork put on the most INCREDIBLE show - and thinking to myself - “Tuff Ghost” would never have a show like this, it just doesn’t seem to fit. I can’t see that name on the highest billing of a festival either. And not to say that’s where I am going, but I like to be inspired by the idea that I could one day play the main stage at some of the biggest festivals in the world. I also wanted something that aesthetically inspired me, that evokes lights and sparkles and imagery. I think as far as how they differ - “Starya” is a little bit more focused on where I want to be, and “Tuff Ghost” was kind of go-with-the-flow… but we’ll see!
iEDM: What will be your process when it comes to preparing for your show at Elsewhere? What does your pre-performance ritual and what plans do you have post-performance?
Starya: I usually try to eat about 4 hours in advance, do some vocal exercises, and put on a fun outfit. I try to have my set all ready to go at least a day before so that I am not stressing about the music too much. Generally, I try to find ways to not be stressed or nervous and to be in a great mindset. The mindset allows me to have fun positive energy so that I can share that energy with everybody who will be at the party. Afterward, I’ll definitely be hanging out with some friends and exploring NYC, which is always super fun.
iEDM: What is something unique that you plan on showcasing at your live performance at Elsewhere in Brooklyn? Are there any surprises you can hint at for your fans to expect?
Starya: Let's just say I have some super special treats in store for this show. ;)
Photos Courtesy of Starya
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