It’s been less than a year since we first featured upcoming singer-songwriter Danny Starr in our introducing interview.
With a new EP, extensive touring and an Unsigned Only nomination under his belt; we chatted to him to take stock of his achievements, see how his life has changed and ask him what is next on his rise to stardom.
First of all, congratulations for being a finalist in the 2017 Unsigned Only Competition! What has changed since we last chatted in October 2016? How mad is it?
How do you think Elixir EP differs from Darling EP? Do you view them as one progressing onto the other, or they rather two separate outputs?
There are definitely parallels between the records as a major theme in both is the pain of young love. However, I feel that Elixir shows a far more mature look at hitting adulthood, as I wrote it around the time I was turning 18. ‘I Danced With You’, one of the tracks from Darling, was written when I was 14, so there’s probably a definite step up in terms of songwriting both lyrically and musically between the two EPs. I’d say Elixir has a bit more oomph and grit, while Darling tells a story of the slightly more innocent light-hearted teen years. I think I can listen back to both records and feel them represent the progression of my adolescence.
What music were you listening to when you recorded Elixir EP, I think the tracks (especially ‘Ease My Mind’ – with those incredible strings) has those fucked up fifties vibes from the Last of the Shadow Puppets’ latest release. Was this an inspiration?
The Last Shadow Puppets fuelled me when I was writing ‘Ease My Mind’. I got hooked on them when they’re new album came out and this idea of a massive orchestral piece surrounding my lyrics became something I had to release. I remember when we were in the studio writing the string part on the track I was getting shivers because I had this spark in my head which was becoming a reality. I just couldn’t wait for people to hear it. In a more general sense, my playlist is always very diverse. Some other artists I would say definitely inspired me at the time I was writing the record would be The Maccabees, The Kooks, Jamie T and a bit of Blaenavon. Those guys were always coming through my earphones.
Songs like ‘Hello 2063’ have fantastic lyrics which are filled with wit and fit the music perfectly. Are you writing more than at this point last year? And do you think you are honing your skill as a songwriter?
I’m definitely writing more at the moment than I ever have before. I took breaks from writing after releasing both Darling and Elixir just to enjoy the afterglow of a release and the new songs. But I’ve got a huge amount of new material I’m very excited about. There are three tracks I’m desperate to get in the studio and lay down, and if I could release them tomorrow I’d do it. My writing is constantly taking different directions, and while I was playing gigs with a full band I was writing big rock ballads that really get people moving, and now I’ve written songs like ‘Hello 2063’ and ‘Runaway’ which are intricate and raw. I definitely feel like there is just some sense of deeper substance to what I’m putting down on paper at the moment than what I’ve written in the past. I hope when people hear the new songs they’ll see the journey I’ve come on as a songwriter over the last couple of years.
Tell us a bit about your recent gig at L’Escargot, the video you put on Facebook sounded incredible, so raw and stripped back – but it was just you and your guitar. How does this compare to being up on stage with your seven-piece band?
That show was amazing. Probably my favourite small venue show to date. L’Escargot is the oldest French restaurant in London and the tiny gig room was up maybe five flights of stairs all in different directions with a glass ceiling above the audience. It was so intimate which was great because I was singing mostly new music. I really wanted to see what the audience thought of the new material and it went down so well. Thank you for your compliments on the video, that was a clip of ‘Runaway’ which is up on my Soundcloud. There is some sort of intensity when I sing that song which just really pulled me and the audience into this moment where they were just silent and listening and it felt incredible. It’s one of my favourite gig moments for sure. In terms of my stage set up, I only started playing with a full band properly after the Elixir release show. Since then I’ve been playing a few full band shows here and there alongside solo shows because they bring a totally different energy that you need sometimes in a bigger space, a festival or a headline show. But I think I’m taking a break from band shows for a little while now and trying to keep things intimate while I’m trialling some new tunes.
Which artists are you really liking at the moment? Do you listen to artists which sound similar to you, or is your musical taste more eclectic?
As I said earlier my playlist is super diverse. To list just a few artists I’m adoring right now, amongst the hundred I probably listen to a week: Alexandra Savior, Charlie Cunningham, Isaac Gracie, Tom Misch, Nick Mulvey and The Night Cafe.
What’s next for Danny Starr? More touring, another EP or debut LP?
I’m bursting with excitement to get my new material out, and there are vague plans flying around about releasing some stripped back versions of old songs alongside some of the new ones… and we might get back into the studio to revamp some of the fan favourites. It’s all up in the air right now but new music is coming very soon one way or another. And of course, I’m gigging all the time and that won’t be stopping any time soon. If you want a sneak peek at the new songs before they are let out into the world, come to a show!
You can catch Danny Starr at The Islington on 20th August, details here.