Drifting through space with a passion for music. An interview with Becky Stark.

 

What is a sensible life? Settling down with a partner, getting a stable job, eating healthy food? Or is it taking a lead role in a daring, light hearted movie set in post Katrina, New Orleans, going on tour with a movie star and Co-founding the immediately successful LA ladies choir? For Becky Stark, lead singer of Lavender Diamond, that was her attempt at a sensible life. “I was trying really hard to have a sensible life, I tried really really hard but it came to a point where I had to sing.”

After a very successful delve into acting and joining indie-Folk band The Decemberists for a year Becky has returned to her LA based Indi-pop band Lavender diamond whose first release was back in 2004. There latest album, Incorruptible Heart was released on the 25th of September and produces a sound that finally gives gratitude to Becky’s spectacular voice.

Incorruptible heart is undoubtedly the produce of passion and knowledge for music. During Becky’s unique attempt at a sensible life she started writing with fellow band members, classical composer Steve Gregoropolous and guitarist Jeff Rosenberg. A few pen strokes later and her musical passion was rekindled. “The Whole record was so amazing … I got together with Steve and Jeff  and started writing, we wrote Everybody’s Heart’s Breaking Now , I don’t recall and I was like, we have to do this right now … it became a physical need.”

Becky met up with OK GO’s Damian Kulash with an idea, an idea she could not quite explain but he knew someone that could help. “I had an idea in my head and I saw it in his eyes how I wanted it to be … He introduced me to Dave Fridmann, he had an idea how to break through the sound, to open up the sound. I didn’t quite know what he meant but I trusted him.”

So began the passionate submission into creating Incorruptible heart, an idea that was freed by Dave Fridmann, a man who has worked with such bands as The Flaming Lips, MGMT and most recently Tame Impala. “Working with Dave was a beautiful experience for all of us, for everyone involved, it was beautiful”. You can really hear this in the atmosphere of the album, a meaningful sound that everyone can appreciate. That missing piece of the puzzle was a deep electronic sound that creates the layers of the album, something you can really hear in both MGMT and The Flaming Lips. “He added the layers I needed, he added an intensity, made the sound is more complex.”

Incorruptible heart ricochets between dark and dreamlike. The album really does have a large spectrum of feeling. Coasting from the gentle surrealism of Oh my Beautiful World to the uplifting, playful of sound of There’s a perfect Love for me. One of the best assets of the album is how it can bring a tear to your eye, but a few songs later put a smile on your face. The beautiful Everybody’s heart is breaking now will put you in a state of blissful sorrow while the soft, hip-hop like beat of I don’t recall will bring warmth and a smile. “The album has a Sonic atmosphere … its more drastic, its wild.”

The electronic or “Sonic atmosphere” that is created, makes the vibe of the album into something very close to Becky’s heart, as the vibe has a somewhat cosmic feeling. “Being in his studio (Dave Fridmann) was like being in a spaceship.” When you listen to this album, imagine drifting through space and then this album becomes a fantasy, Becky’s fantasy, moulded into music. “My Whole life I’ve had this fantasy of me falling through space like an outer space ballet”.

But to capture that fantasy moulded into the music and then transforming both into imagery would be close to be impossible, no?

No, because thanks to director Maximilla Lukacs that imagery was made into reality. “We (Maximilla Lukacs) started making a film we never finished about Going on a inter planet journey to save earth which we didn’t finish”. Years later in a random coincidence, Becky got asked to be a dancer on a flying rig, only for a few minutes but from those few minutes the idea for the video arose. “I thought Oh my God, I had a flash, that’s my fantasy, that’s my fantasy … my friend came up to me and was like you were born to do that … I Ran into Maxmiller three days later and it had been like a year since I last saw him and I said about this secret talent for areal ballet and we both knew we had to make this video … It was Crazy how it got made a crazy miracle.” So after a huge amount of luck it seemed the video was meant to be; filmed in a prism, performed by Becky, an image of a fantasy perfectly representing a song was created.

Everybody’d Heart’s Breaking Now. Music Video.

 

What was obvious about talking to Beaky is that she has a huge appreciation for everyone she has come across while making this album, she has people she wants to thank, people who she shows gratitude for. From producer Damian Kulash to Maximilla Lukacs and Photographer Amanda Charchian whose pictures you can see on the Lavender Diamond website. That is why I think this album has such an impact, on the website the album is described as “A record made for everyone” and there is not a better explanation I think for why Becky would have made it.

 

As for Becky, well it was a pleasure speaking with someone who has such a passion for everything she does. Amander Charchian, in a caption under a photo she has taken of Becky says “She has a really angelic voice and exists on Earth to spread love.  A really high vibrational person”.  Being only one of the people Becky was eager to thank, I only think it’s right to end with this comment to represent the impression she must leave with people.

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“The we’ve got nothing to sing about but we’re gonna sing anyway generation”

I often find myself thinking, what kind of music will my generation be remembered for?  There has been no Punk rock or Rave style underground musical uprising, nor has there been the birth of a fresh new mainstream genre. It is easy for me to point out that nearly all the mainstream music that has come and gone since the new millennium has belonged to a pop-based genre, but I think most generations have had that. However this is not the kind of music that has stood the test of time, good music stands out and is remembered … eventually.

Every generation has had music that reflects the political and cultural situations of their time. We all know the way the free-spirited movement of the 60’s was reflected in such music as that of Jimi Hendrix and The Mamas & the Papas. The UK’s economic situation during the 70’s, shadowed by the threat of nuclear war, saw Punk-Rock burst onto the scene with the Sex pistols and The Clash. Every generation of people since the 1950’s has had music they can relate too.

Then there is my generation, those born in the 90’s, who would have come into musical awareness in the early to mid-2000’s. After looking through my CD collection and thinking back on the music that I have really embraced, I think our generation belongs to the “we’ve got nothing to sing about but we’re gonna sing anyway” generation.  The music that stood out was full of musicians that don’t have any major political or moral standing.  There’s not a lot of musicians that take themselves completely  seriously; Blink 182 and The Rakes to name a few.

Now I’m not saying there has not been any great, memorable music over the past decade or so. Musicians have sang beautifully about personal feelings of love and loss but there has not been a band, a song or a genre of music that captures the feeling of the time in music.

Some of the most successful bands of this millennium, the Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age and the Artic Monkeys have had no major injustices or people’s rights to fight for and represent. Despite all of them making good, popular music I think there lyrics show the situation of our generation.

“And over there there’s broken bones. There’s only music, so that there’s new ringtones”. Artic Monkeys  “We get some rules to follow. That and this These and those, No one knows. We get these pills to swallow, How they stick In your throat”. Queens of the Stone Age.

Yes there have been bands that stand for more, The Flobots – Fight with Tools stood against many things in US politics including the war in Iraq. Serj Tankian through both his band System of a Down and his solo career has become known as somewhat of a political activist. However you do have to go out of your way to find more bands that have put there opinions into music and made it popular.

So for me, through fashion, lyrics and general attitude towards music, bands of my generation have reflected a “who gives a fuck” attitude. A content yet bored generation of people, The Rakes, The Young Knives and The Drums nonchalant Indi music perfectly captures this.