Four-piece London rock band Starling has a grand orchestral sound that is about to be unleashed with debut single “Dream Again” out in July. Their self-produced album will follow with catchy guitar-driven rock riffs, tender acoustic vibes and an anthemic feel. We spoke to front man Daniel James and keyboard player Vanessa James about the band’s history and their influences.
First up, tell us bit about yourselves – what were you all doing before you started making music?
Vanessa: learning how to make the music! Studying it to get learn the language of music, learning our instrument to get the music in us out, mastering our studio and software tools to capture it, and making a few friends along the way. Honestly, I don’t think either of us have done anything else. We’ve got no other skills! Except Sol. He can do everything because he’s Sol. Craig makes a great breakfast too.
What was the first style or genre of music you really got into? Was their a particular song or artist who inspired you?
Dan: Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton for me, I listened to these guys religiously for years until I heard Nirvana.
Vanessa: Big film music themes for me, like Magnificent 7 or Lawrence of Arabia, it gave me a good kick into writing strong melodies and themes and in ‘going ‘big’.
Tell us when you realised you wanted to get involved in making music and playing tunes to people?
Dan: I was 5 and knew that’s who I was and I never ‘got into it’ I just always did it.
Vanessa: the performance side of thing is just a necessity for me, it’s what you have to do to deliver the music you write, but writing’s what gets me going the most.
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice that day, what would it be?
Dan: Buy houses in London and only put your time into your passions and strengths.
Vanessa: You can do more than you think if you just stop believing that certain skills belong to others. We can all grow in something new if we commit to that painful learning curve full of self-doubt grenades and lies. I find girls do this especially “I’m no good at sampling or recording in a studio.” Have you even tried? Don’t believe you can’t till you’ve put the labouring in.
How do you set about writing tunes? Is there a common starting point for all your work?
Dan: I take inspiration from anything and so a book or painting can give me an idea as much as playing around with sounds on my guitar.
Vanessa: For me it’s usually in the music more than the lyric. A little groove, a tone, a melody, there’s so much out there to feed your next creation if you’ve got open ears. Collaboration is wonderful for that because you basically become mirrors reflecting all kinds of wonderful sparks.
What are your top three “must haves” while you’re on tour?
Dan: A bouncy ball for Vanessa, whiskey for Craig and me, and a long lead to put on Sol.
What have you been listening to this year so far?
Royal Blood, Marmozets, Ben Howard, Blur, Black Keys, Edward Elgar, ELO.
Do you have any pre-set rituals?
Dan: We like to get in a huddle, touch heads and have a little moment of gratitude.
What was the most significant moment of 2014 for you and why?
Dan: I guess driving down the Pacific Coast Highway in LA, this is a beautiful road along the coast, Oh and making a record that I’m really proud of.
If you could collaborate with any living artist, who would it be?
Dan: Paul McCartney, he is music royalty, unbelievably talented and would have lots of amazing stories.
How is the rest of 2015 shaping up for you? Where can we see you play?
Dan: We are finalising the details of our tour schedule for the autumn so new dates soon!
For the latest news, visit the Starling official site.