Starley entered the scene in 2016 with her hugely successful debut single ‘Call on Me’ which hit over 1 billion streams and reached the top ten in over 30 countries. Since then she has been touring with the likes of Clean Bandit and Katy Perry, as well as working on her debut album set to be released in early 2019.
Starley’s newly released single ‘Signs’ stays true to her typically electronic sound. Her song writing remains frank, personal and relatable as she explores a situation in which you realise someone you’re into doesn’t feel the same way, but they string you along anyway.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Starley and get to know her a little better. We discussed opening up in her lyrics, her experiences on tour with Katy Perry and what we should expect from her upcoming album…
Your latest single Signs has just come out! What’s the reception been like for it so far?
I think it’s been good, a lot of people are hitting me up saying they love it so we’ll see. I’m glad that it’s out finally!
Can you talk us through what that song means to you?
It’s basically about being in some type of situationship with somebody where you don’t really know where you stand. The other person sort of drags you along until they decide they don’t want you anymore. They’ll call you when you’re partying, and you’re drunk together, and it’ll seem like it’s more than it really is. I think we’ve all been in that situation before. I certainly was, so I thought I’d write a song about it.
How would you describe your own music?
My music is very introspective, it’s very much about my life and my experiences. I’m not one of those writers who can just pull a concept out of thin air and write a song about it. A lot of the time I think my best songs come from having some really sad moments, and it usually turns into something good when I write a song about it. I love telling a story and being able to twist it and make people feel something positive out of it.
You’ve reached over 1 billion streams, so you know a lot of people are going to be listening when you release new music. What’s that feeling like for you sharing your music, especially when it’s so personal?
I think a lot of the time I just have to be myself and it is a bit nerve wracking, especially when I put out songs like Love is Love. I got nervous about that song because it’s super personal; it’s about my family, my life and my sexuality. But, the amount of people that have reached out to me to say that they can relate to it has made it worthwhile. So you just have to be brave and do it.
So is it important to you to be able to use your music to talk about important issues given the platform you have?
Well… I never really intended to be out there and fly the flag for people with depression or anxiety or the LGBTQ community. But, I’m somebody that wears everything that I am on my sleeve. I can’t really ever hide things about myself from anybody. So I guess it just happened.
You were at a point when writing ‘Call on Me’ that you said you were close to giving up and quitting music, what was that time like and how did things change?
I wasn’t really trying to be an artist, I wanted to be a songwriter. I wanted to give up on music because I wasn’t really having any type of success. I had so many near misses and I was working so hard. I felt maybe this isn’t really meant for me. I went back home to Australia and moved back in with my parents, which was really depressing. I started looking up personal training courses because I had got really into fitness at the time, that’s what helped with my depression. So I was in my bedroom in my parents’ house and had a keyboard at my desk and started playing the four chords that basically started the song for ‘Call on Me’, and then I wrote the whole song. I thought there’s nobody else that can tell the story the same way as I can, because it’s my story, so I gave it a shot and that’s when everything changed.
How important do you think all those years of working away without the success you were hoping for were to prepare you for what’s happened in the past couple of years?
I think that was the most important thing for me. I think I had to go through all of that to write my first single. I had to be at my lowest point. I didn’t really know what I was writing, I was talking to God and to myself, and it just turned into this really beautiful thing.
We’ve heard you’re working on an upcoming album set to be released at the beginning of next year… Can you tell us what we should expect from that?
I’d say a bunch more introspective things; relationships, stories and truthful music about me I guess. There’s also an acoustic song on there which will be really cool because a lot of the time people have heard me on electronic songs.
You’ve said before song writing is like therapy for you, what was the song writing process like for your upcoming album?
It’s been interesting because I’ve been collaborating a lot more than I ever have. You basically have to walk into a room and pour your heart out to a bunch of different people that you don’t know. I’ve got more confident in my song writing as well. The process has also been a little bit gruelling at times, it’s different when you’re on a world-wide scale. I come from a very small indie label and so a lot of it has to come from me, so it has been a lot of hard work.
And how about the recording process?
I tried a larger fancy studio at one point and I was in there for a while. Then I decided I was going to work with my engineer at the studio at his house. That was more my speed and made a lot more sense for my energy. I’ve basically finished recording now but I’ve been very involved in the whole process from mixing to vocal production. I’m super involved so it takes time but it’s all good.
You’ve just come back from touring with Katy Perry, do you have any crazy tour experiences to share with us?
Nothing too crazy… She’s wild on stage, but she’s pretty tame outside of that. One day, like a boss, she hired out an entire cinema because she wanted all of us working on her tour to see the Whitney Houston documentary. It was a great time. Touring with her was a crazy experience and it was amazing because it was back in my home country, Australia. It was also a really good way for me to connect with people and for them to put the dots together about who the artist is behind that song because a lot of people don’t really know who I am yet.
Have you got any plans to do your own headline tour once your album is released?
Yeah definitely. I want to start with small tours and build that way. I wanted to tour from the beginning, but we didn’t realise how big Call On Me was going to be so I spent a whole year just touring that. And last year I toured with Clean Bandit. So this coming album I want to be able to do my own tour and just start connecting with my fans.
And finally, which do you prefer: song writing or performing, and why?
I think I like them both pretty equally. I do feel most at home in the studio though because I’ve been doing that my whole life and touring is still a relatively new thing for me. But performing is a new love that I’ve found. Just seeing people’s faces and reactions to my music is so cool.