Starbenders are back with their third full-length “Take Back the Night” via Sumerian Records.
A magical album where Starbenders exorcises their demons (and the COVID-related events). To discover more about their brand-new LP, we talked with the singer Kimi Shelter.
Starbenders’s new album and the pandemic
Hi Kimi (from Starbenders), thank you for having us. And welcome to the Femme Metal Webzine. How are you?
I’m doing good. Right now, we are on tour. I am in Albany, New York.
Starbenders‘s“Take Back the Night” was released on August 11, 2023, via Sumerian Records. In a recent interview, you mentioned that this album will show Starbenders‘s different sides. What are you referring to?
It’s probably the most cohesive work that we had. We have recorded everything in a short time frame. Back to back. In our other Starbenders‘s full-lengths, the recordings were through a couple of years, and I had written some of the songs a long time ago before we got around to recording them.
Instead of these, we hot off the press, which has contributed to a different kind of energy and power. In a way, going through the pandemic and everything like that and having recorded our material out of our usual context, was just striking. And that’s what we did with our time. This record has more nails if you will [laughs].
You just said that “Take Back the Night” has just more nails to it and that it came alive during the pandemic. In what manner have all these events impacted the band? And how has all this been reflected in Starbenders‘s “Take Back the Night”?
I think that contributed to a powerlessness that, at the time, we all felt. As artists, the powerlessness manifested in the restlessness of the music. And some of the darkest palettes of emotions we felt, such as anger and frustration.
Pent-up sexuality, missing being part of the world. To have the opportunity to reflect on things. You know, we weren’t capable of the process because events happened so quickly. And then, when everything shuts down, you must find the ability to stop, dissect, and unpackage things differently.
I might say that’s quite a personal way to unpack this. And about it, there is a sentence featured in the press release that has particularly impressed me. Indeed, you stated that “the band made a conscious decision to practice radical acceptance by sticking together no matter what.” So, in the end, which is the trigger that helped to unpack all these emotions?
Mainly, the fact that facilitated Starbenders to unpack everything is us as artists. It’s something built into our repertoire, which allows us to practice alchemy in our music. You know, you can write both a song that’s challenging, traumatic, and hard to talk about, but even one that gives you the space to process it and get through it on the other side.
In general, writing music is almost like writing a passive meditation, which is radical acceptance. Instead of shunning them away, it is simply leaning into emotions. And you push through it. It’s almost like exposure therapy because you have to think about it and say it over and over, and you’re confronted with it while you sing it. If someone asks about it, you will be able to process this load of emotions.
So, the fact that it allowed us to go there is just built into what we do. It was one of the most convenient things about being a musician during the pandemic because we already know how to put our pain into a creative format. And we already had an outlet. Despite the impossibility of touring, we were fortunate enough to lean into each other’s pillar, which was already in place.
The band’s single”We’re Not Okay” and the shooting
You know, I’ve listened to Starbenders‘s “We’re Not Okay” several times, and I love the lyrics. I also discovered that you co-wrote the song with one of your mentors, James Hall. In what manner did he help you unpack the feelings related to this song? How did he help you openly compose it in the way you wanted?
You know, James has been in my life for a long time. So, pretty much, since the inception of Starbenders, he is the person I call when I get stuck or when I require an extra push. He’s incredible to be around.
He’s good at breaking things down to a foundational level and the most rock-‘n’-roll motherfucker that I have ever met. For example, when you are early in your career, you have so many doubts that you hold yourself back. Having someone like James in my life, helped me a lot in simplifying everything and getting back to the core.
One of the first advice he gave me was to metaphorically swing the cat [laughing and imitating a cat]. I’m so grateful for him as a human and for coming into my life.
I also love the video from “We’re Not OK,” which features a moral tale. Would you mind going through it? And what about the video shooting?
One of my favorite things about shooting videos is collaborating with artists in their rights. When the director of our video, Gilbert Trejo, listened to the song, he was immediately brought back to a neighborhood in Hollywood. He was waking up, cranking his eyes open, and not feeling alright.
He was able to apply that personal experience to the video. I love to work with other artists because I don’t like to be responsible for the whole creative side. I like to pass it on to other artists and allow them to run the ball, depending on where it leads. What you see is simply Gilbert‘s treatment for our of Starbenders‘s songs. And we were excited to shoot the video in LA because we hadn’t done it before.
Despite being on the road in the US, when will Starbenders meet with the European fans?[Laughs] Hopefully, really soon. We have toured the UK in October. Indeed, we had such a great time there, and we love the Netherlands.
Well, Kimi, thank you for your time. Be free to greet your fans and our readers as you please.
Thank you so much. We love you guys, and we will be back again. Promise.