Camp Bisco XI Artist Spotlight: Starkey
Starkey is the king of Philly-bred ‘street bass,’ a movement in music heavily rooted in hip hop with bass and grime influence that is reminiscent of artists that got their start in the UK scene (inspired by Starkey, aka PJ Geissinger’s, time in England early on in his career). His live shows are high energy, cohesive experiences that will make you sweat and marvel at the amount of music he moves through (literally) on stage. The dude is a don on the decks, seriously intelligent and shares his production knowledge on his record label, Seclusiasis’ blog. He has put out releases on a number of the hottest, most forward-thinking labels in the game including British indie, Ninja Tune, who he’ll be joining Friday night in the label tent at Camp Bisco.
His recent four-track EP, Nucleus, is a fresh as usual, finely put together collection of equally hard-hitting tracks and one beautiful more peaceful piece demonstrating Starkey’s versatility as a producer.
Sensible Reason caught up with Starkey to find out a little more about his set and what to expect in his second Camp Bisco performance after having played Camp Bisco 8.
Your debut on Ninja Tune was the Open the Pod Bay Doors EP in 2011, when and how did you first get involved with Ninja Tune? What’s happening with the showcase?
Ninja Tune approached me through email and said they were interested in my music, I sent some over and put together that EP [Open the Pod Bay Doors], which was based on the stuff I was doing at the time so we built a release around it. After that Amon Tobin reached out to me to do a free giveaway, I met Emika when she played in London but otherwise generally Ninja Tune is a pretty separated label, the artists are all over the globe so I think it’s really just a tent to showcase the label with us all playing individual sets.
What should we expect from your set at Camp Bisco this year?
It’s gonna be completely rowdy – I only have an hour – so it’s gonna be pretty intense. I’m almost done with my new album so I have a lot of new material to play and the reaction to it has been really good so it should be fun. There’s a girl from Philly who asked if she can dance during my set at Camp so I said ‘sure’ – I’m happy to have people on stage with me; when I played in San Francisco last month there was a girl swinging from a rope doing acrobatics and stuff it was crazy – I think the more people on stage the better.
How much planning goes into your live sets?
I don’t really do that much planning, but I kind of play the songs I want to play regardless. You can’t produce a track that morning and play it at night – you spend so much time planning your set and breaking your tracks down into different parts and then you are stuck to this predefined set. In Montreal at the show I played last week I was super comfortable, the decks were great and it was going so well that I got on the mic and was like “if anyone has any requests” – which I never do, and it was fun ‘cause people had some solid requests.
So you played a Camp Bisco 8 day set in the DJ tent, right? How did you like it? You had a pretty good turn out from what I remember?
It was fun, it was really muddy, that’s what I remember about Camp Bisco the most: all the mud. I had to wash my jeans and sneakers in the hotel before heading off to play Glade Festival in the UK the next day – one sweaty, muddy place to another sweaty, muddy place [laughs] I didn’t want to walk through the airport covered in mud. I remember being driven around in a golf cart there’s just mud spraying everywhere. I played around the same time as Martyn, I had a lot of friends there too which was cool.
I was only there for a day though, I don’t really immerse myself in festivals, I’m usually leaving the next morning so I just stay up all night seeing music and then sleep on the plane the next day.
I’ve seen your short films and the music videos you’ve put out, they’re beautiful – what’s your stance on the explosion of projection mapping and live visual performances to accompany musical ones?
I definitely want to do something – but it has to be something really cool, it’s gotta be something more than just standing in front of a laptop with cool looking stuff in the background. For me right now DJing is the most fun thing that you can do [in response to Deadmau5’s comment that most DJs are just up on stage pressing a button] I can honestly say my sets are nothing like that: there are mistakes that happen, there’s that element of mystery when you’re playing somewhere new – you never know what you to expect from the decks at a club – I’m really playing records and looping things on the fly and using turntables so showing up and playing somewhere is a bit of a challenge which I like.
But as far as the visual stuff it would be tough for me because it would require some preparing of your set in order to do it to make it really good. There’s this guy in Philly that does the Seculiasis parties that does really great visuals with pieces of film and really cool text which is awesome but I’m still figuring out how I would want to go about it.
Are you going to have any time to check out the festival? If so, what/who are you psyched to see?
I’m going stick around in the Ninja Tune tent, maybe see Amon Tobin and some headliners later in the night?
I know you’re playing at Gnarnia in N.C. and some Philly shows – that Kung Fu Necktie joint, where else can people find you playing this summer?
I’m actually going back to Europe to play in Scotland, Fabric in London and going to be working on records and producing with some people while I’m there. I’ll also be in Phoenix, Vegas and LA, Boston and Baltimore, all the dates will be released soon.
He joins Hot Sugar, Blockhead and FaltyDL in the Label Tent on Friday at 9PM, do not miss what is bound to be one of the craziest shows from one of the most talented artists at Camp Bisco this year.