Starseed began their career in South Africa as a four piece rock band in 2000, and many will remember their tight, dynamic shows. After playing extensively on Joburg’s live circuit and at some of SA’s festivals with a fair amount of success, the band decided to take their music overseas and try their luck on the international scene, having felt that they needed a challenge and attracted by the opportunities. Now based in the UK with five members, Starseed is looking stronger than ever: they have just independently released a new album, “Peace Machine”, which has already received positive reviews, with Kerrang Magazine calling it “a stunning collection of 12 humungous rock tracks”. MIO interviewed them just before they kicked off their spring tour of the UK in support of the album.
How have UK audiences received you?
We have had a great response from the UK audience in general. It has taken us some time to bed in but once you get to know the circuit and the culture here you realise there is such a big market for music in general, and even if our music isn’t the most commercial genre, there is still an amazing opportunity for you if you work hard and put yourself out into the right channels.
Do you have more of an ex-pat or UK-based following?
A bit of a mixture really, although we really try to focus on being neutral when it comes to promoting ourselves and not limit ourselves to a South African audience only.
What significant differences have you noticed about the way the music industry operates overseas: record labels/ management, radio as well as live circuits?
The fact that the market is so much bigger means there is an overall higher standard of competition, sound engineering, organization and management. There are very few venues in the UK we’ve come across that don’t have experienced sound engineers and great sound. There is more selection when it comes to national and rock radio stations. There is also more exposure to people in the music industry who are in a position to make a difference if they think you have potential.
Highs and lows as a band?
The highs are just being in this band and writing, recording, playing our music live and having fun with our brothers. The down side is, for now, still having to work and pay the bills and try fit our music in amongst it all and keep it all together along with all the normal stresses of everyday life. Our true dream would be to be able play music full time… I think we’re getting closer every day.
What else do you all do to make a living?
Work in IT, Sell property, make guitars, just to name a few jobs.
How has your approach to song writing and/or performance changed over the years?
If anything has changed, today we write more as a unit and all have input into the songs. We individually have a few ideas and then all get together and polish everything up collectively. Before it was more of a case of someone brings in a song and it either gets a yes or no. Now we take bits of ideas here and there and all put our 2 cents in and come out with a song.
Is there any governing philosophy or perspective on life that shapes your music?
We have a strong spiritual creativity which is inspired by a number of things including love, peace, passion, free will and religion.
How has living and playing overseas changed your perspective on the SA music industry, if at all?
There is a great amount of talent in SA, and after having learned so much and experienced a great amount in the music industry since we’ve been abroad it’s evident that there are in many cases very limited opportunities for artists in SA. It would be nice if there was a greater channel for SA artists to the international market.
How do you negotiate the line between absorbing international influences and still creating music that reflects something of where you are from?
I guess we’re really conscious of what we do and although we lean on our influences we always try to create our own sound, and although you can hear our influences in our music I’d like to think we have our own originality.
What’s in the pipeline in 2010 for Starseed?
In promotion of our album “Peace Machine” we’re embarking on our first full UK tour in the spring, spanning over the first 3 weeks of March, and then we’re hoping to get into some of the UK festivals over the summer.
The album is being released in South Africa on 5 April and the single “Shine” is getting airplay on TuksFM and Midrand Radio (hoping the other stations will follow suite soon) and some good media is coming through which we are very happy about. “Peace Machine” is available on iTunes and other major download platforms.
No doubt we’ll be writing some new material over the year and then who knows…. maybe on to the next album towards the end of the year. But we are focussing on Peace Machine for now.
For more on Starseed, check out: www.myspace.com/starseedrock | www.planetstarseed.com | www.facebook.com/starseedrock | www.twitter.com/starseedrock