What is your earliest music memory?
Justin – When I was about five years old, my family lived in Germany. We used to take long family road trips to the bordering countries that were filled with music from some of the major players of the era.
Those trips were a major impetus to my introduction to music, as I was inundated with records by Prince, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross, Salt N Peppa, Nu Shooz, George Michael, et.
Glen – Probably sitting in my dad’s MG with the top down listening to the Moody Blues while driving around when I was 5.
Who influenced your latest release?
Justin – Well, ‘Night Swimming’, is definitely influenced by the feel of classic nostalgia, although the sonics of the record has a bit of a post-modern feel. I wouldn’t really say that it’s influenced by any one individual or group. Our next release, “The Graveyard EP,” is going to be crazy though. I think it’s our best work yet! Very Michael Jackson x Travis Scott x Kraftwerk.
Glen – To be honest, each record we do is more influenced by our own sound we are building than anybody else. The song Graveyard on our upcoming Graveyard EP was definitely influenced by Thriller and Nightcall by Kravinsky, though. That’s for sure.
We see ‘Night Swimming’ was recorded in Toronto, Canada and in Virginia. Who worked on the recording?
Glen – As always, Justin lays down the concept in Virginia, then sends the ideas up to me in Toronto, where I flesh them out and make them into a Starr Blazerz track.
Justin – Yep. It’s been a very cool process thus far. It allows us to each really put our own artistic spin on the records without any outside noise from others, unless we are collaborating with another artist to feature on our record.
You describe the lastest single as ‘more chill’ than previous Starr Blazerz records, what caused the shift in vibe?
Glen – I was away at a cottage in Quebec for a month this summer. Around the 4th of July, we went swimming in the lake that night. I watched the stars and moon from the black silkiness of the lake, and later that week we lit fireworks by the water.
That free, easy feeling influenced Night Swimming’s vibe. The sad ending and bridge are about me wishing I could see my family and friends in the states, but being incapable to because of COVID.
The juxtaposition of joy and mourning in the song is just that…my embracing of my life in Canada, and my fear of the slow death of the world I once knew in the US because of the current president there.
Justin – That’s a great description of the lyrical composition for sure. You can definitely tell that Glen writes from within, and with a lot of focus on personal experience/emotion.
On my end, I was just messing around with some new sounds one day and came across some samples that were in the same key and worked amazingly well together. I guess that really leads into your next question!
We love the samples used in ‘Night Swimming’, what made you start working with samples, and how did you pick which ones to use?
Justin – It was actually very random. I started messing with some new samples that I had downloaded and came across the saxophone that you hear in the beginning first.
It felt really sexy to me and reminded me of the Fat Joe and Remy Ma record, ‘All The Way Up’, which was produced by Cool & Dre. I love those guys, and that familiarity was something I wanted to explore more of. Once I put the drums down, I knew it was going to be a crazy dope song. The string section and the synthesizer additions were the icing on the cake.
*FVMusicBlog Note: The samples are really sexy. Check out our review of ‘Night Swimming’.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Justin – Whenever someone asks me this question, I always get a bit tense, so I don’t forget anyone! But some of my dream collaborations would be The Weekend, The Pet Shop Boys, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Jay Z, Travis Scott, Kanye West, Daft Punk, The Game, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, The Strokes, Majid Jordan, Rick Ross, Demi Lovato, Beyonce, FKA Twigs, Jaden Smith, and Drake.
Glen – I’ve always wanted to do a song with Dan Black, or maybe Ian Brown from the Stone Roses. That would be incredible. Or have Kendrick Lamar, who I shared a track with on Push Thru, on a Starr Blazerz song.
What’s your dream venue to play?
Justin – I’d absolutely love to play Coachella or maybe something super swanky, but edgy, like the MTV Video Music Awards. The Grammys would be awesome but mainly for the status of it all.
Glen – Reopen the Hacienda in Manchester and let us play there!
Other than music, what are you passionate about?
Justin – I’m very passionate about issues involving race relations, history, sports and fitness. I love watching ESPN’s debate shows, like First Take. It’s a huge dream of mine to go on their show one day and debate with Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman! I also love to chat sports with Sarah Spain, Michelle Beadle, and Jamelle Hill.
My favourite sport to watch is tennis, though. I played it at a high level for about ten years.
Glen – The English Premier League, and particularly Liverpool FC. Been a fan since 2010. Also, exercising is a big part of my life.
*FVMusicBlog Note: Well done on winning the Premier League Glen, it’s Tottenham’s turn this year!
What changes would you like to see in the music business?
Justin – I’d love to see A&Rs actually embrace the art, as opposed to looking at numbers so much. There are so many amazing artists out there that would benefit from a forward-thinking A&R that is willing to take a financial and creative risk on an artist and really live and die with them.
Of course, it would involve a lot of risk/reward analysis, but that’s part of creative industries in general. I also wish that more fairness was involved in the contracts that a lot of labels are presenting. I realize that it is hard to put a financial value on intellectual property, especially with music, but it might help a lot if record companies chilled out with looking at artists as financial commodities and took more of a “human” approach.
Glen – I’d love to see major labels take some ownership in developing new talent. If they don’t step up, independent music will continue to dwindle, and fewer and fewer kids will want to be in bands!
How do you feel about how the internet plays a role in the music business today?
Justin – The internet has been a bit of a gift and a curse. It has certainly lead to a crap ton of oversaturation, which I think is why so many industry professionals and labels operate the way that they do.
On the flip side, the internet is the reason why Starr Blazerz is able to exist in the first place! It also enables artists to be able to track their listeners, streams, and their general fan base (as far as location goes).
Glen – I agree!
It’s an amazing tool in audience analytics. With Spotify For Artists, you know where your fans are, and where you should tour. That’s invaluable information.
For the foreseeable future, artists will use that data to go play live in their respective “hot zones” and focus on generating 99% of their revenue playing live versus record sales.
What is your favourite song to play live?
Glen – I’ve played hundreds of live shows, but believe it or not, SB has never played a live show. Even better, Soundcontrol and I have been working together for 7 years and never met in person! But- if we keep building up our audience globally like we are- we fully plan on playing shows in the markets that most want a show.
That’s part of the design of this band – we can play anywhere without the need for a tour van!
Justin – I really can’t wait to perform live with Glen! The more of yourself that an artist can infuse into their craft, the more their fans can relate and vibe with your art. The connection is very special.
Have you started working on your next release?
Glen – Yes, It’s a Halloween themed EP with a song called ‘Survivor’ on it. That song will likely be our biggest hit to date, so look out for it!
Justin – It’s really a banger. The whole project is special, in my opinion. The sonic quality is nuts. It’s in the final stages of mastering and will be released in October!
FV Music Blog September 2020
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