Interview: Phebe Starr
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I loved music since as early as I could remember and particularly songwriting always interested me. However, I grew up in the middle of nowhere in Australia. As a kid, we didn't have the internet, and there were no shops around for miles, so we grew our own food, and my clothes were all hand-me-downs from the local charity stores. It was just my family and me on a farm with some animals, so I didn’t have many opportunities to play and learn. I taught myself by ear on an old Casio keyboard and a nylon guitar. So, this really started it all. If I didn’t do music, I always thought I would be a bespoke clothing tailor. I love altering and making clothes by hand which is also another skill I learnt growing up on the farm.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I have a curious mind so I’m always learning and on a new adventure of something. At the moment, I’ve been restoring and modifying vintage lamps and selling them. I have also designed a few lamps and sold them just to friends or on marketplace. I started the lamp thing because I was struggling to pay rent without any shows and it made music so hard to feel excited about. I’ve always loved lighting and now I’ve learnt so much and would like to keep learning more. I have recently learnt how to code my own lights, so it will be cool to see the effects on this long term and the impact it has on my music and art. I want to incorporate this into my show more and more. I recently got a light structure for my live show: (I've attached an image) I read brain pickings most days as I'm fascinated by philosophy and books. I love old and vintage things -- they often have the best stories to tell -- from clothing to film, architecture, furniture and lighting; I'm currently obsessed with art deco lamps. I guess I love beautiful, creative things that let romance come to life.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Phebe Starr is my real name. My family name is Starr and Phebe was given to me by my mother who was listening a lot to Phoebe Snow at the time. I like that I was named after a musician.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Remi Wolf, Sufjan Stevens, Dolly Parton, Magical Cloudz, Christine and the Queens, Bee Gees, The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Les Baxter and a bunch of other artists from around the world I haven’t heard of so I could discover new music in real time.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
I would just give myself a giant hug and play some music to myself from the future.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
“Alone With You” was my first release so I think that will always be the most exciting thing that’s ever happened. Being birthed as an artist is really cool
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
My music is deeply personal; it has helped me figure out how to feel ok with being alive in an insane world. When I write, I'm transported to another realm, a place without limitations where sorrow blooms into something magical, where my vulnerability forges a new path, a new strength. My soft power.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I think music is becoming too driven by my logic and words whereas my experience and love for music has always been driven by the subconscious experience where words or messages are deeper than what's happening here.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
My album Heavy Metal Flower Petal comes out March 9th and I’ve just started playing shows again so getting that happening is my first project. I am coming to the US March and April for shows including SXSW. It’s a thrilling idea about traveling and getting out there to meet fans and people listening to my music. I’m extremely excited about traveling again. I’m releasing some videos and some visuals I’ve made, too. Stay tuned!