Starya is Reviving the Blog House Era
Maria Jose Govea
Meet Starya, an LA-based musician on a mission to transport you to another dimension with her otherworldly sounds and dreamlike textures. With versatility coursing through her veins, she blends her talents as a singer-songwriter, beat-maker, and multi-instrumentalist to create ethereal, vocal-heavy dance music.
Her former stage name Tuff Ghost played an integral part in her development as an artist, allowing her to experiment with hip-hop, house, techno, and dubstep. She also gained experience opening for world-renowned DJs like Skrillex, ZEDD, Diplo, and Dillon Francis. Although the chapter of her Tuff Ghost era has ended, it propelled her to reveal her true, authentic self as Starya.
Ready to unveil her musical flair and expertise to the world, she released her debut single “The Garden” this past June via tastemaking underground label Popgang Records. “The Garden” displays her profound production abilities and knack for blog house-inspired beats.
She captivates listeners with her alluring vocals as she takes them along her sonic journey.
On July 1st, she returned to Popgang Records for her sophomore release titled “Manipulator.” The edgy dance track brims with futuristic sound design, distorted synths, and celestial soundscapes. Her hypnotic voice summons listeners to the dancefloor as her lyrics instruct them, “Step left, step right, lean back, side to side.” Almost reminiscent of Duke Dumont’s famous “Red Light Green Light,” Starya has a keen ability to connect with her audience on a deeper, more intimate level.
Walk us through your musical background. How long have you been producing/DJ’ing? When did you decide you wanted to make it your career?
I have been making music since I was 13 and immediately fell in love with playing music. Music has always been the thing that can make me happy above all else. I think I’ve always known that being a music creator has been the only thing I’ve ever wanted to be, but it wasn’t until I moved to LA and was surrounded by all kinds of successful, creative people that I believed I could make a career of it. It is very inspiring to be surrounded by people following their dreams. And it made me realize that it really takes a lot of hard work.”
What inspired you to rebrand and create the Starya project? Can you describe what sets Starya apart from your former moniker?
I never really loved my old name Tuff Ghost. When I first started using it, it was an afterthought. Also, I was at a different stage in my journey as a producer, less focused on a particular direction and more active as a DJ who played other people’s music versus my own.
With Starya, I wanted something that sounds like a name of a person. I also like that it immediately puts imagery in the brain of whoever I am saying it to, and for me personally, I feel a lot more inspired by it.
Can you describe the origin and inspiration behind both “The Garden” and “Manipulator?”
The Garden” is inspired by my love for heavy bass and fantasy worlds. And “Manipulator” is inspired by that moment when you are at the after-hours warehouse party and simply want the music to move your body. In this case, in a very specific pattern of dance moves.
How are these tracks similar or different from each other?
These two tracks are similar in that I made them around the same time during my “production bootcamp,” that was the pandemic. They also have very simple, repetitive vocals and strong dance floor energy. This was a time when I was really pushing myself to make high-energy music when it really is not what comes naturally. I would say it is just the beginning though.
What gravitates you toward producing blog house-inspired and vocal-driven tracks?
The blog-house era of music— Justice and Ed Banger in particular— are my biggest EDM inspirations. That era really made me fall in love with dance music— the raw energy, the distorted, simple bass-driven arrangements, the moments of beauty— and I LOVE to sing, it is my favorite form of expression, so I guess I just want to see if I can do both.
Maria Jose Govea
What artists influence your sound currently?
Jamie xx inspires me a lot— amazing music, and he does not play by the rules and yet is one of the biggest artists out there. Faithless also, their last album, All Blessed, is probably my favorite of the last five years.
Are there any artists you dream of collaborating with?
So many artists are on my dream collab list Reggie Watts, Steve Darko, Skrillex, [and] Boys Noize, to name a few! Also super into this new artist Dubesque— a producer making some really incredible music right now.
As a multi-faceted instrumentalist and vocalist, can you walk us through your writing process in the studio?
With vocals, I love to start with a good chord progression or a very simple bassline. With the music, I usually start with a basic beat and some of my synths— the Op1, Tr08, Tr09, [or] Minilogue. I try to get a vibe going in whatever way I can, and then when I am most successful, it’s when I am able to get the structure of the song in as soon as possible using Ableton always.
What would you consider to be your greatest strength as an artist?
Probably my love for music. I love music so much that it does not allow me to fail. When people fail, it’s because they decided they failed, so they stop doing it. To me, success is that I am able to continue creating music, so as long as I get to create music, I will feel successful, and that will allow me to get better at it.
Maria Jose Govea
What is the most rewarding part about performing?
Probably the ability to share something I have worked so hard on. Something between seeing people enjoy that thing I made and the actual indescribable feeling I get when I play the music in that space specifically designed for people to enjoy music.
Comparing yourself from the start, what is one piece of advice you’d give your past self?
Simplify. Get the structure of the song in as soon as possible, preferably the first day you are working on something! Also, stream on Twitch! Streaming my production on Twitch was such an incredible way to force me to become way more focused while producing.
What are your long-term aspirations as an artist?
I would love to put together a tour with a really cool production like Skrillex’s Cell, the Space Ship, the Deadmau5 cube, etc. To customize the experience as much as possible for the attendees.