The Chennai-based singer was recruited by the San Francisco-based composer, who also has guitarist Robin Applewood on the track from ‘The Wake Up Call’
American artists Robin Applewood, Starita and Chennai-based Pratika Gopinath (from left) collaborate on “Changing.” Photos: Tam Starita, Nikita Borges
After a few years of establishing herself as the soulful voice in Pune alternative act Easy Wanderlings, vocalist Pratika Gopinath takes a step into solo material with a transnational collaboration called “Changing,” for San Francisco-based electronic/ambient/new age producer Michael Starita. The calming song, part of Starita’s upcoming album The Wake Up Call, also features fellow San Francisco guitarist and artist Robin Applewood.
For Gopinath, “Changing” comes as a breakthrough in terms of finally putting out solo material. She admits that there’s often too much pressure in the music industry and a struggle to be expressive, but she didn’t want to let go of this opportunity.
Starita — who has previously worked with hip-hop artist Childish Gambino as well as Indo-American producer-drummer and singer Madame Gandhi — says he chanced upon Gopinath’s work via Rolling Stone India. “I was blown away by the purity, soulfulness, ease, and spirit of her voice. Nothing about the collaboration and making of this track was planned. This container allowed us to effortlessly unleash the uniqueness and qualities that are within each of us as distinctive artists… to create music that is pure, interesting, and honest,” Starita says.
Given complete freedom to add her vocals and lyrics to the track, there’s a deep introspection that takes place on “Changing,” which Starita terms as the most accessible song on his upcoming record. Gopinath adds, “The process was completely remote and only through email and messages. Till date, we have not spoken in person or on the phone, but even so, surprisingly we were able to create something beautiful together.”
With this release to her name, the singer is writing more songs that she’s much more satisfied with, plus collaborations. “If all goes well, hopefully next year there will be a few more releases […] As for Easy Wanderlings, there are a lot of songs in the works, we’re hoping to release a single soon,” she says.
US-BASED GENRE-BLENDING MUSIC ARTIST, STARITA REACHES ACROSS BORDERS ON A VIRTUAL COLLABORATION WITH INDIAN INDIE ARTIST PRATIKA GOPINATH OF EASY WANDERLINGS AND MUSIC RENAISSANCE MAN, ROBIN APPLEWOOD; RELEASING THE FIRST SINGLE ENTITLED “CHANGING” OF NEW AGE ALBUM ON NOVEMBER 18TH, 2020 …
Photography/Cover Art Direction Credit: Tam Starita
‘One of electronic music’s rising stars just so happens to be a Southern boy at heart. Mississippian Starita has wowed international crowds with his innate knack for blending acoustic instruments into an electronic song, which he argues is indicative of his roots.’– PopMatters
“Changing” is the first single release from Starita’s new avant-garde, ambient, new age album, “The Wake Up Call”; a body of work that expresses his journey of introspection across the various stages of the human experience (from openness and curiosity in childhood to pain, closure, resistance, and darkness in adulthood), leading to awareness, acceptance, and awakening on the search for peace and freedom. Due to the reflective nature of the message, “Changing” is the most open and approachable song on the album. While this neo-classical and ambient soundscape direction differs from his previous releases, Starita’s signature sound blending resonates clearly on this track and album, as he masterfully combines acoustic and electronic elements using analog synths and sound design. This is also a well-matched global virtual collaboration between US and India artists; featuring the soulful and jazzy vocals of Pratika Gopinath, lead vocalist of the group, Easy Wanderlings of Chennai, South India, guitarist and musical renaissance man, Robin Applewood, of the San Francisco Bay Area, US, and genre-blending artist, Starita, also residing in the San Francisco Bay Area, US.
“The basic premise agreed upon by all of the collaborators for this track and album was to allow the song and its elements to flow together naturally with no force from the mind; letting the heart lead. As a result the song, in a sense, wrote itself,” says Starita. “It started with Robin Applewood who channeled the guitar part masterfully; played on an old classical guitar that was left to him by a close deceased friend. Since it has the original strings that came with the guitar, there was an inherited energy, meaning, and vibe to the sound, even though most would say that the strings are dead or need to be changed.” Starita expanded. “I wanted the guitar piece to create a pillowy bed of clouds with layers of arpeggios that could be expanded upon,” Applewood added. “From this, I built electronic elements around the guitar piece, leading to the theme of the song. As this all evolved from a natural flow state, I invited Pratika Gopinath to collaborate as the vocalist after hearing her performance with Easy Wanderlings through Rolling Stone India. I was blown away by the purity, soulfulness, ease, and spirit of her voice. Nothing about the collaboration and making of this track was planned. This container allowed us to effortlessly unleash the uniqueness and qualities that are within each of us as distinctive artists… to create music that is pure, interesting, and honest.” Starita concluded.
“After listening to the opening track on this album, I want the listener to close their eyes and sink into the song. Instead of thinking about their opinions of it, I want them to feel the song, take note of where the song takes them, and be in the moment. Music is powerful in that it offers us the opportunity to feel instead of think, yet we often don’t allow ourselves to do so. As this track is called ‘Changing,’ and is about the journey of new beginnings, it’s the perfect opportunity to try something NEW.” says Gopinath.
Starita’s “Changing” is available across all digital service providers on Wednesday, November 18, 2020.
Starita, is a Mississippi born, 2-time GRAMMY®/Latin Grammy recognized multi-talented producer, songwriter, and artist whose work spans a multitude of genres. His work and unexpected collaborations with Childish Gambino, A Tribe Called Quest, Madame Gandhi, Rebelution, Los Amigos Invisibles, Michael Franti and Spearhead, and many others, offer a unique genre blending style incorporating electronic elements blended with live instrumentation that stems from his deep roots in electronic, ambient, classical, and new age music. Fans are often pleasantly surprised by the unexpected outcome; an out-of-the box production resulting in a lush yet complex soundscape.
Singer-songwriter, Julian Roy, known for his modern R&B/Neo-Soul sound, joins GRAMMY® /Latin Grammy recognized producer-artist Starita, marked for his unique genre-blending production style, to deliver a distinctive Lo-Fi Pop/Alternative/Electronic introspective collaboration. From vocals to production, Roy and Starita worked to create a free floating lush soundscape, intertwining melodies with counter melodies that played well off each other. “While the lyrics are left intentionally vague, there is a touch of sadness to this song. We wanted to mimic that emotional roller coaster through sound; capturing a personal journey of ups and downs, when there’s nowhere else to go, our only choice is inward,” says Starita.
“The song is about choosing where to place our love and more specifically relying on ourselves for that love. I’ve noticed in my own life I’ve been dependent on other people for love, instead of searching inward. I have done that introspective work. But until I stepped away from some really loving situations did I look in the mirror and realized I needed to dig deeper into myself, and ‘SAVE ME,’ says Julian Roy.
Unlike Starita’s prior collaborations showcasing harder, more explosive vocals, Starita put the spotlight on Julian Roy’s laid back vocals to draw the listener in. From production to delivery, this track carries the dynamic soundscape that fans have come to expect from Starita. Even though this is an electronic track, there’s a lot of focus on songwriting. This track, while huge in soundscape, is counterbalanced by Julian Roy’s mellow vocals and anchored with Hip Hop beats, Reggae bridge, and Dub elements.
Recognized for Starita’s diverse collaborations with lead vocal powerhouses, this is the sixth track released as an artist following “Rules” featuring Jarobi of A Tribe Called Quest and vocalist Trent Park, “Lights On” showcasing American singer/songwriter, Trevor Hall, ‘The One’ in collaboration with R&B singer/songwriter Trent Park, “HUMAN” with the explosive vocalist/MC RyanNicole, and “Too Strong,’ headlining bi-lingual singer-rapper-songwriter of LatinX group BANG DATA and Zion I Crew, which premiered via Billboard, Yahoo! Music, Magnetic Magazine, Pop Matters, and HipHopDX, respectively.
HIPHOPDX PREMIERE – Explosive bi-lingual MC Deuce Eclipse (Zion I, Bang Data) has joined forces with Grammy Award-winning producer Starita for a new single called “Too Strong.” The track effortlessly brings two cultures together and allows Deuce to flex his bi-lingual prowess.
“I’ve always been a bi-lingual rapper,” Deuce tells HipHopDX. “My music is about non-exclusivity. It’s for everybody. It’s music without borders. It’s a universal worldwide sound in the way that it combines the cultures that I’ve experienced — Nicaraguan, first generation American, Californian, Hip Hop rapper, bi-lingual artist — and the message that comes through me.
“What’s resonant with me right now is going back to my Spanish roots and connecting with other parts of my community beyond Hip Hop — Spanish speakers, immigrants or just others that may not speak English in general. I want my music to be the voice for everyone in terms of what I do musically.”
Deuce adds, “‘Too Strong’ is about strength and positivity, in a way. In another way, it’s putting out there how we live around the system and survive in this country by uniting and coming together; being strong in our beliefs.
“As I look at my environment and the separation of families and what’s going on in the world, I work to balance the negativity that’s placed us and remind myself not to give up on humanity…at the end of the day, we are all good at heart.”
Deuce and Starita’s collaborative relationship stretches back years. In fact, Starita engineered Bang Data’s La Sopa album in 2012. Their chemistry continues with “Too Strong.”
“When the opportunity came up for ‘Too Strong,’ it just felt right to make this a bi-lingual track,” Starita explains. “Deuce’s ability to blend Spanish and English in lyrics is masterful. And considering that I love pushing the boundaries of genre-bending, collaborating with Deuce and making music that resonate across cultures is a natural progression.”
Both artists want fans of the track to feel good after hearing the song. It’s all about creating a mood.
“When fans listen to ‘Too Strong,’ I’d like them to feel that this music is timeless,” Deuce concludes. “I always like to create something that feels good but puts you in the mood. Making music is about the whole, not its parts. It’s not necessarily about the lyrics. It’s everything as one thing. It’s not just the voice.
“The voice is just one instrument. People forget that. I want people to realize that music is a vibration. It gets in where it fits in. There’s so many different vibrations in the world and this is just one of them.”
“Too Strong” serves as Starita’s fifth track as a solo artist, following “Rules” featuring A Tribe Called Quest’s Jarobi and vocalist Trent Park, “Lights On” with singer-songwriter, Trevor Hall, “The One” with R&B singer/songwriter Trent Park and “HUMAN” featuring Oakland-based MC RyanNicole.
Starita Record will be releasing a REMIX EP early 2020 and is looking for remixes. Submit below for consideration!
HipHopDX Premiere – During the UnderCover Presents’ A Tribute To A Tribe Called Quest event in San Francisco earlier this year, Oakland MC/singer RyanNicole nearly stole the show with her effortless rhyming style and powerful on-stage presence.
2x-GRAMMY®/Latin Grammy recognized producer, songwriter and artist Starita — who’s worked with artists such as Childish Gambino and A Tribe Called Quest — knows this. So naturally, he recruited the explosive talent for his new single, “Human.” The Hip Hop/Tech House hybrid bursts with a sharp uniqueness, simultaneously delivering plenty of heart and soul.
“This track is especially relevant in this divisive time with the most divisive rhetoric,” RyanNicole tells HipHopDX. “It’s a reminder that despite the stark differences, we are all the same. The song comes through me and emerges from the beat. “As an activist, black woman and Oaklander, I can identify with this track. Everyone can connect as humans.” The Queen of Everything, as she’s sometimes called, isn’t afraid to take risks and step outside the Hip Hop box.
“I accept opportunities like making this track because it allows me to challenge and stretch myself,” she says. “Through my work, I hope to inspire others to explore; believing that Spirit is leading us and to not living in a box. TRY! LIVE! This collaboration is an example of me working with a producer that people wouldn’t normally see me with.
“Having worked with Starita on the last UnderCover project, I personally witnessed his talent, respect for the creative process and openness to doing things differently. I wanted to continue this collaboration as he pushes artists to do things that are out of their comfort zone. And I value these creatively challenging experiences. The list of artists he’s worked with is impressive. I want to be a part of his A-list of collaborators.”
Starita jumped at the opportunity to work with RyanNicole. He’s also a fan of the song’s message. “This song speaks to what it means to be human, to be ok with the range of our existence — the dark with the light, high with low, left and right,” Starita explains. “And more importantly, to realize the oneness of it all.
“If we could, just for a moment, live in awareness, we would realize that we too are all part of this whole and together as one family.”
Starita adds, “I’ve stopped forcing making music and instead let myself be guided by the message of the song and in a way, channel the spirit the song conveys through sound. My process is usually to take a simple rhythm and melody and make it expand, grow, evolve into something massive; a complex soundscape.
“Using classical elements/instruments and incorporating it with electronic music, allows me to take the listener on a musical and emotional journey and tell the story sonically.”
“Human” is the fourth track Starita has released as a solo artist following “Rules” with ATCQ’s Jarobi, “Lights On” with Trevor Hall and “The One” with Trent Park.
Starita Record will be releasing a REMIX EP early 2020 and is looking for remixes. Submit below for consideration!
April 26, 2019 HipHopDX exclusively premiered the UnderCover Presents – Tribute to A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Midnight Marauders’ album. Check it out!
HipHopDX Premiere – A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders turned 25 last November, but the classic album is still celebrated no matter what day it is. Serving as ATCQ’s third studio album and follow-up to 1991’s The Low End Theory, the project bridged the gap between Hip Hop and jazz, much like Guru did with the Jazzmatazz series.
In honor of the Tribe masterpiece, the Bay Area UnderCover Presents collective has sewn together a tribute, the appropriately titled A Tribute To A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders.
Founder Lyz Luke explains to HipHopDX, “If there was ever a time to release a tribute album to A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Midnight Marauders,’ that time would be NOW,” says Lyz Luke. “In order to do this right and fully represent ATCQ, I knew we needed to bring in Starita as music producer, based upon his deep production experience across a multitude of genres in addition to his relationship and work with Phife Dawg and ATCQ.
“Apart from this album being released digitally, this is the first time in the history of UnderCover where we will be releasing a double vinyl to commemorate ATCQ and Phife Dawg.”
The 14-track effort boasts appearances from 13 local bands from a wide range of genres, seven MCs, over 100 artists, nine engineers, five music studios and a vinyl pressing plant. Blackalicious’ Gift Of Gab, Lateef The Truthspeaker and vocalist Gina Madrid are just three of the many whose fingerprints are on the project.
“When Lyz first approached me to work on this project, I instantly knew there were some critical pillars that we needed to uphold in order for this tribute album to resonate,” Starita adds. “Let’s be clear. This work is sacrilegious. This is a tribute album, not a cover album. This is already a perfect album. There’s nothing to re-make.
“To introduce this classic record to new audiences, our goal was to pay homage by pulling together the best of the best artists to make an album of re-interpreted songs representing the full breadth of the imagination that is ATCQ’s music.”
In conjunction with the album’s digital release, the Yerba Buena Center For The Arts in San Francisco will play host to three shows May 16-18 that will incorporate elements from all four pillars of hip-hop: DJing, MCing, graffiti and B-Boying (breakdancing), along with the minimalism and free-form nature of jazz instrumentation.
The city has proclaimed that week “A Tribe Called Quest Week” and will present Phife Dawg’s wife and other family members with “PhifeDay.”