STARCADIAN - 'Dance or Die' | An Interview
As a Master of soundscapes and fluent in the communication of waveforms, it's fair to say that Starcadian in traversing the synth galaxies to bring us the best tracks possible has succeeded in fusing elements of the retro to inject a certain sense of nostalgia, all the while combining it with a majestic futuristic ethos of the highest fidelity that commands you move or else!
Few match him in terms of performance and back story which come together to create something altogether explosive. A VFX Supervisor by day and a Musician by night together with his co-director Rob O'Neill this masked wonder has created some of the most legendary short movies to accompany his tracks and shows no sign of slowing down with another Album & Movie in the works!
Recently, he collaborated with Korg on a 2-minute sci-fi commercial short for the Arp Odyssey.
This self confessed "Idiot Savant" has a legion of fans worldwide so it was a thrill that Forged got a chance to chat to him about all things past, present and Starcadian future.
Take a look....
Firstly, thank you so much for sharing your time with Forged in Neon today.
Loving what you’ve done to date. Your last release ‘Shadow Catcher’ whilst ultimately conceptual was such a dream to listen to, how do you think it was received by your fans?
The response has been phenomenal so far, which is a relief! I definitely was expecting some double takes on the style, since it’s such a different direction, but hopefully the work speaks for itself and brings out the same emotion as my usual music. Also, my goodness was it a relief not having to sing and autocorrect myself into another dimension!
Tell us how the concept for ‘Shadow Catcher’ come about?
I was contacted by the amazing Ian Urbina, who brought all these high-seas atrocities to my attention. I immediately started traveling in my head and tried to build a narrative that would tie together all the things I wanted to say or people to feel and it was extremely natural from that point on. From snippets to mixing, the songs led me where they wanted to go.
How would you describe your sound to those who’ve yet to be introduced to you? How does it differ to the likes of the “ear movies” of Starcadian past?
I always have and always will approach songs as movies, so all the usual rules of soundtrack work are present in my songs in one way or another (leitmotifs, 3-part arcs, character themes). I guess If you haven’t heard of me, you like movies and music, but you don’t quite know how to squish them together in one digestible medium, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!
You had done a brilliant track for Dr. Disrespect called ‘Ramps! Walls! Shields! and are on record suggesting you received quite a lot of hate mail by some of his frenzied fans after releasing it. Did it leave a bit of a sour taste with respect to producing music for others? How did the collaboration with the 2- time come about?
Not at all! The team was incredibly gracious and supportive and the comments weren’t even that bad, there was a lot of love sent to the song. I think it was just my first real experience with super passionate fans and I found the behaviour extremely fascinating, if anything else.
This new reality we’ve been in for a while, where fans can directly give feedback to the artist is kind of a double edged sword and has blurred the lines of art ownership. As someone who always tries to write songs about something, I thought it was a trip and made me really think about the mental space of not me, but someone like Rian Johnson or Kanye West, you know? Definitely gave me things to write about!
I believe you’re a VFX guy by day and no doubt this has a prolific impact on the unparalleled visual creativity that envelopes project Starcadian. I’m sure VFX and Music have their pros and cons, which do you ultimately prefer?
Oh hands down music, by far, VFX is just a tool, it doesn’t have a voice, music is nothing but. All I wanted to be as a kid was a Director, but didn’t have the resources, all I had was the vinyl collection and instruments my brother got me, so I guess it’s been my life purpose to make both worlds work for me for the least amount of money possible!
What do you think is the most distinctive aspect of the music you create?
I would like to think the chord progressions, hooks and how much emotion I can get out of minor and major chords. Backup answer is my insane twerking skills on display in my music videos.
Who have been your musical inspirations growing up? I’d imagine this may have changed somewhat over time?
It was almost exclusively classical and orchestral soundtrack music, which was then infiltrated by Faith No More, Soundgarden, Queen and the usual suspects in the teenage years. I definitely think in my teen years Soundgarden did the most to challenge my ideas of time signatures and chords, I still think Kim Thayil is one of the most ingenious guitar players ever.
You’ve been making music since 2010. Possibly putting you on the spot here but what would you say is the one stand-out track in your entire discography that you’re most proud of? Why?
It’s not out yet, but will be very soon :) I’m kind of an idiot savant when it comes to having a sound, because for the first album I literally just assembled all the songs I’d written and didn’t even consider if they’d stick together. That ended up being my “thing”, having orchestral, spacy, disco funk vibes, so there’s too many different genres I indulge to really have one representative track.
I cannot interview you and not chat about THAT short film for ‘Freak Night’ what a triumph that was. Animatronics akin to Jim Henson’s creature shop bathed in smoke and lasers. Impressive…how did you come up with such a concept? What was it like filming it? Lots of hard work I’d imagine……
All credit goes to my co-director Rob O’Neill for organizing the crew and locations, it was a truly amazing experience and I’m still recuperating from it! Initially we wanted to have monsters that looked more like muppets, but Rob pushed for a more realistic look, so Russell FX nailed every single design we asked for. Doing a lot of it practically has forever ruined me as an independent musician, all I want to do now is rip off Joe Dante and rent out warehouses!
If there was one aspect of the Music Industry you’d change, what would it be? Why?
What’s a music industry? Is that the grift that you pay into to get into awards consideration or the gatekeepers that want a toll for you to show up in a late night show no one watches?
There’s no such thing as a music industry, there’s only a vast pit of middlemen trying to suck the life force out of naive artists that think they can have a life doing this for a living. The whole thing is so cynically run that even top 10 artists like Tekashi and Cardi B will tell you, on the record, that their songs are trash but that’s what the suburban kids want. Something is rotten in the state of Billboard and frankly we’re all to blame.
All in all a very silly place and I’m happy being where I am, not answering to anybody but my heart.
What do you believe is the most cherished memory of your career to date?
Planning music videos with Rob O’Neill, we legitimately just click, nerd out and have so much fun every single time.
Credit: @roboneill on Twitter - Freak Night - Russell FX
What’s a day off for Starcadian like? Or is there such a thing….
I have no idea what that means.
Can you tell us a little about any current or future projects in the pipeline?
As I’m writing this, I’m about to lay down the last vocal track for the upcoming Midnight Signals II. Which will not be named Midnight Signals II, but a rose by any other name. I don’t want to hype it up too much, but I cannot stress how proud I am of this. It’s this weird wonderful culmination of all my sounds and I’ve spent years making sure it’s as flawless and emotional as possible. It is hands down light years ahead of what’s come before and I have not been able to contain my excitement about sharing it finally this year!
What the one guilty pleasure you cannot live without?
Well I recently quit juuling, cut down on drinking too, so I don’t really know how many vices I have left. Maybe video games? If you get me in front of an open world RPG, I need medical assistance. The pandemic was pretty good to me, I blazed through Subnautica, Valhalla, Cyberpunk, you name it.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
A message to your fans?
Wear a mask, just like everybody.
Please consider supporting STARCADIAN via the following links: