Musicscan: First one: Can you perhaps tell us something about the intention and the
spirit of Starset when the band came to be in the beginning. Has the
intention / the spirit / your mission changed until today?
Starset: STARSET was formed with the intention of promoting the Message and philosophy of The Starset Society. We have remained steadfast with this goal since the beginning.
Musicscan: People who got introduced to your band often were impressed by your
“aesthetic” approach to music. What do you think about statements like these
and what is your approach towards music and being Starset?
Starset: The visual elements of STARSET were very important from the onset because STARSET is more than just a band. Our movement is multifaceted, incorporating video, audio, websites, graphic novels, novels, and live demonstrations to spread the Message of TheStarset Society. The cinematic sound of the record also helps us go further in this direction.
Musicscan: Being around as a band with an own identity and vision, does it bother you
when you meet kids who ignore you or have a different understanding of what
your progressive, challenging and catchy music and your style means to you?
Starset: Art is subjective. Though we are proud of the record and its own blend of styles and ideas, some people may not appreciate it. In fact some people might hate it. In turn, they might like music that we think is overly simplistic or dumb. This is fine. One way you can know you are doing something special is if it is divisive—where some people love it and others hate it. I don’t want to be the band that everyone thinks is just ‘ok’. I also don’t mind if people take their own meaning from it. I want them to. That is another cool element of the subjectivity of art.
Musicscan: Looking on progressive / forward thinking music in general you can find lots
of sub-scenes and styles, the interests of musicians and listeners is
changing all the time: Are there bands you feel connected with that might
have a similar agenda to what you have with Starset?
Starset: As far as progressive bands go, I think my favorites are Celldweller, Sigur Ros, and Karnivool. I don’t think these bands are particularly aligned with STARSET’s agenda, but they are certainly awesome musically.
Musicscan: How do you feel about your place within the music scene as well as in
between tradition and gaining new ground to bring forth what the heroes you
grew up with did before Starset were around?
Starset: We have been a live band for less than a year. The amount we have grown in that time has been unbelievable. We are striving to continuously improve our live show as we come up in the music scene. I would love to have the opportunity to reinvest in the band and make our live show truly amazing.
Musicscan: It seems that your sound is continually changing, while other bands are
stagnant. But what makes Transmissions stand out from your artistic point of
Starset: I tend to call the sound of Transmissions ‘cinematic rock’. I wanted it to be the soundtrack to the overarching movement of TheStarset Society. That was the inspiration. Also, I wanted it to be cool and fresh. Like you, I feel that rock as a whole has become quite stagnant. When I set out to do this record, I had a goal of trying to be a part of the group that is trying to shake things up. In many circles, rock itself is considered underground. I wanted to be a part of the group trying to make rock cool again. Not sure if I’ve pulled that off, but I tried.
Musicscan: Transmissions is a partly challenging – but also catchy – and self-confident
record. It is intensive and stands somehow outside competition due to the
fact you are not following trends. What is your view on the album?
Starset: Thank you. That was essentially the goal—to create something unique with depth, while also being very assessable. I wanted to bring the mainstream to us. Again, I don’t know if I accomplished it, but I tried. And I will push even harder on the next one. Though, with more ears listening, I plan to challenge people more. This is the opposite of what most modern rock bands seem to do, and it is dumb.
Musicscan: When you were writing the songs for your record - did you have certain
issues you specifically wanted to address? How did you go about writing the
songs in general?
Starset: I used the story of Thomas Bell for inspiration. I also used the Message of The Starset Society for inspiration. The marriage of these two grand themes allowed for a larger than life sound and themes while also having a big human element. As for the actual writing process, I typically start with musical themes and ideas. Once I have a general idea, I usually scat melodies over the song. Once I have a melody I like, I write the lyrics to it.
Musicscan: And what about the relationship between music and the lyrics? As
Transmissions is a concept work from what I read lyrics are important, too.
How did you handle the concept? Have you had a concrete idea and realized it
to the end or did it come up / develop spontaneously?
Starset: Rob Graves (the producer) and I tried to develop the music so that it was cinematic, epic, dynamic, and matched the large lyrical themes that centered around the idea of rising up and overcoming. Lyrics are incredibly important to me. I tried to tow the line between addressing the themes of STARSET, while also making the record assessable to people. I didn’t want to go too far to where people felt alienated. I wanted to try to inspire people not creep them out like Rush (Disclaimer: I personally like Rush).
Musicscan: This may seem like a strange question, but are the members of Starset into
reading philosophy? A lot of your work seems to combine conscious thoughts
and different aspects of life, so I thought perhaps you were into studying
Starset: I write the lyrics, so you might be more directly asking me this. But yes, I am into it. And also science, technology, politics, and economics. And ALL of these things are a big part of the Message that we are spreading. The novelized account of the Message will make this all much clearer. It will be released next year.
Musicscan: Musically and lyrically Starset seems like a band fueled by raw emotion
which is at the same time tempered by a “reflected” vibe. What are the
motives behind writing in this style? And do you still have to deal with
limitations when it comes to the songwriting or are you in a position to
realize all the ideas you have?
Starset: I think you have just inadvertently described me as a person quite accurately. I can be very passionate and emotive. But more often, I am reserved, reflective, calculated, and thoughtful. It is a sort of dichotomy that isn’t always advantageous—ask my ex-girlfriend! But in terms of this record, I think it has made for a decent mixture. As for limitations, I absolutely still have them. I wish I didn’t, but I imagine I always will. And if I somehow get better at songwriting, I will probably just try to write something that pushes me even further.
Musicscan: Do you sometimes feel the urge to write a gentle pop song but then dismiss
this idea again, because you think it does not fit the Starset aesthetic?
Starset: Possibly. For this record, I had a pretty concrete idea of where the sound needed to be in order to accomplish what I wanted. This may have subconsciously painted my stylistic decisions when writing. I can tell you that the next record is going to be even more dynamic, and whereas the music may get more complex and heavy at times, it will also get more soft or pop at times, in order to accomplish the appropriate dynamic. Some people may have issues dealing with this, but putting music into boxes is dumb. I don’t want to fit into a box.
Musicscan: If you compare the visions you have had of Transmissions and compare it to
your impressions listening to the songs now – what´s the difference, is
Starset: I will always find places where I didn’t hit the mark. I wanted something complex, futuristic, catchy, relatable, cinematic, symphonic, electronic, familiar, and hard rocking. If I had to pick something I could have developed further, it would probably be the electronics, but I am still quite happy with the record.