Embark on an exclusive journey into the heart of the music industry with Starita, a dynamic artist, songwriter, and producer whose versatility knows no bounds. Renowned for collaborations with icons like A Tribe Called Quest and alliances with musical powerhouses Los Amigos Invisibles and Michael Franti and Spearhead, Starita has become a name synonymous with innovation.
At the forefront of this sonic realm is his much-anticipated second album, Remember. The debut single, Holding Pattern, released under Be Still Records, a division of Starita Music, offers an exclusive glimpse into this musical venture. A hypnotic afro house experience, Holding Pattern is a late-night club track that delves into the intricacies of conditioned thought patterns, offering a liberating experience as the shackles of convention are shattered.
In this exclusive interview, explore Starita’s creative process, inspirations behind groundbreaking collaborations, and the transformative impact of his work in music. He candidly discusses creative challenges, collaborative experiences, insights on navigating the music market, and provides a guided tour of his current studio setup. Join us at the crossroads of artistry, innovation, and spiritual resonance with a musician pushing musical boundaries, and gain insights into his anticipation of industry changes over the next five years.
“Just create what you feel and whatever happens is perfect.”
What rituals or activities do you engage in to enter your creative zone?
Being that I channel most of my music I always clear my mind so that it has very little influence on the music. That way it can flow through me rather than from me. I usually just grab whatever instrument is near me and begin to play. Whatever comes through I just embrace it and the song begins to create itself.
What are the most challenging aspects of your creative process, and how do you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges is mixing my own music and sometimes even completing the production to its fullest potential. I’ve been a mix engineer and producer for over 25 years but when it comes to my own songs, it’s sometimes necessary to hand them off to one of my many trusted producer/engineer colleagues to take them further. Collaboration is one of the most valuable ways of working I’ve found. Letting go of your own music is crucial because in reality we don’t own it anyway. Art is just an expression of my true nature….open awareness.
Can you share your experience collaborating with other artists, especially in a genre-blending context like yours?
As I mentioned, collaboration is a key component to much of my work. When working with another artist giving them absolute creative freedom to do what they do best is what fuels the fire of collaboration. Many times my collaborators may ask if there is a creative direction or some sort of idea of what I want. My answer is always ‘just create what you feel and whatever happens is perfect.’ I always say genres are an illusion because they are just mind-made categories so we can organize music or communicate about it. There’s nothing wrong with categorizing music but that doesn’t mean that it’s the truth. When we realize this then there are no longer any rules or restrictions around creating art.
What tools or strategies do you use to manage your gigs and side projects effectively?
In regards to side projects, challenging myself and getting out of my usual way of doing things is what keeps me going. It’s a paradox really….how can I NOT do the same thing over and over to keep things moving.
Could you describe your most recent gig, including what you played and how it felt?
I just played a set in my hometown of Jackson, MS that was very liberating. It was so great to bring back all of the music and skills I’ve gained after having been gone for 25 years. I pulled out many classic house records going from Chicago to Detroit to New York blending many styles of house as well as afro house. It was quite a ride!
How do you approach marketing and social media to connect with your fans effectively?
I own a label services business that specializes in branding, marketing, and taking music to market. It’s crucial these days to have a clear brand that represents you with integrity at its core. You need to know your audience, your message and how to convey that to your fans in the clearest way possible. It’s actually a difficult process for many artists because you have to ask yourself the hard questions like ‘who am I?’ What do I stand for? What do I have to say? Also, how does that look visually? Am I aligned in messaging, visually and sonically? It becomes more of a spiritual process than anything.
Can you walk us through your current studio setup and how it contributes to your creative process?
I have quite alot of gear actually…it’s a problem hahaha. I have a piano that stays mic’d up all the time with a Royer SF-12 stereo ribbon that goes into Burl B1-D preamps. That way I can sit down to begin channeling and recording with minimal effort. I also have a slew of analog synths that are all running into a 24 channel mixer so I can move between instruments seamlessly. I use many effects pedals and a tape echo along with various tape machines to start tape loops while effecting each element. The entire point of my setup is to be able to move quickly between instruments so channeling is not interrupted by technology. Everything can just flow.
What recording equipment and plugins do you find essential in your studio, and why?
My Royer SF-12 mic is crucial because it’s just a beautiful mic. I can use it on nearly everything. My Echofix tape echo is also a key element because who doesn’t love tape echo?! Another one of my favorites is the Soma Labs Lyra-8…it adds such a beautiful texture to all of my productions.
Do you have a dream piece of gear on your wish-list?
I want my Juno 106 back that I sold years ago!
What changes do you anticipate in the music industry over the next 5 years, and what developments would you like to see?
If I had my wish, music would no longer be validated by streams, likes, followers and virality but by the quality of the art itself. There is so much great music that never gets heard because the market is flooded.
Photos by Tam Starita