Producer, artist and songwriter, Starita has collaborated with many icons in the scene including A Tribe Called Quest, Childish Gambino, Los Amigos Invisibles, Michael Franti & Spearhead and more, whilst reaching #1 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart, GRAMMY for Best New Age, and nominated for Best Latin Urban/ Alternative and Song Of The Year in the Latin Grammy Awards. His new remix of Seán Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band’s eclectic ‘Dark Night’, originally released on his Be Still Records imprint in 2021 from the album ‘Mystery’ welcomes a heartfelt and meaningful addition to his growing repertoire.
The original track was made in memory of Seán Johnson’s brother Jeremy, offering up a heartfelt affair surrounding the unexpected turns of grief. We caught up with Starita and Seán Johnson to discuss his ‘New Dawn Remix’, the production process and heart-wrenching story behind it as well as upcoming releases and more.
Hey Starita and Seán, thanks for joining us here at DMC World Magazine. Let’s start by talking about how you are and where are you based right now?
Starita: I am currently based in San Francisco and have been for 25 years now already! There was no better place in America to spend your 20s than San Francisco, I can say that. I’m originally from Jackson, Mississippi and at 20 years old migrated to the west coast after landing a production job at a studio that had a house music label. I was lucky enough to spend my days making tracks for various artists on the label which was a dream come true. Oddly enough, I’m finding myself working more in the south again. Specifically in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the birthplace of southern soul music, with a number of soul and pop artists. The retro soul sound never really dies and tends to saturate or influence a great deal of modern music.
Seán: It’s a fascinating time to be alive, and I’m feeling all the feels. Through the joys and challenges, I’m grateful for the medicine of music and spiritual practice, which I have the blessing of being immersed in through my roles as a chant-inspired musician and yoga teacher.
I’m a proud native of New Orleans, born and raised, and based here. I spent my twenties living in many different places including a school in Olympia, WA and Oakland, CA. One of my favourite places to travel to is Ireland, where I go each year, to tap into my ancestral roots. One of the highlights of my life right now, in addition to making music with my band, is being a father to my 4-year-old son Finn, who lights up my heart every day.
Starita, you’ve recently released your ‘New Dawn’ remix of Seán Johnson and The Wild Lotus Band’s single ‘Dark Night’ which was originally released on your label Be Still Records. How did this renewed version come into place?
When I first heard Dark Night it was clear that it was about a deep experience. Seán told me the story about it and we actually went through some rounds of how to make the original song stronger to match the story of his brother passing away in a drowning incident. Needless to say, this was a very special song. Not only a song but a way to grieve the loss of a loved one.
After the album release, we began discussing different artists to select for remixes and I wanted to take on Dark Night specifically because of the deep connection this had to the loss Sean had. It felt somewhat like I was meant to do it given my close relationship with Seán. Honestly, I was a bit nervous because I knew it had to do the song and Jeremy justice. I saw it as a gift to Seán and his family that would hopefully bring some light into the grieving process.
Seán, the single was made in memory of the passing of your brother Jeremy and it’s a heartfelt affair and the release fuelled a strong friendship between yourself and Starita. Can you tell us a little bit about the connection between you two and what the ‘New Dawn’ remix means to you?
Starita and I bonded as soon as we met about 7 years ago. Something about both being from the south – with a shared love for music, spirituality, yoga, and meditation. I’ve always loved people that are both passionate about spirituality and also down to earth, humble, and with a great sense of humour, and we clicked in that way. During the pandemic, Starita reached out and asked me to collaborate on a song he had written called “The Search,” and since then have explored other creative ways to collaborate musically.
I love his sound. It’s big, atmospheric, spacious soundscapes. There’s a dreaminess along with a cityscape quality to his songs that often has a touch of melancholy and longing. The way he blends ambient, electronic layers, acoustic instrumentation, and evocative vocals is really consciousness-altering. When I started talking to Starita loosely about a potential remix project – he immediately said that he’d love to remix “Dark Night.” I was really touched that he felt inspired to re-imagine this song — especially because he knew how personal it was to me and my family. In a sense, it felt like a brave and serious commitment to take on. On a personal level, I trusted him to really take it to heart, and on a music/production level, I was excited to see how he would give the song another life through the soundscapes he’s so skilled at creating.
His “New Dawn Remix” version of Dark Night is an incredibly powerful new rendition of the song. When I first listened to it, I got goosebumps all over. I wept and I danced. I love the way that Starita took the momentum and feeling of my vocal track and built a new electronic music arrangement around it to help propel the emotion of the song. I feel in a sense – that through the new arrangement – he answered the prayer that is being called out in the song by bringing in more light, radiance, and life. To transform a lament into a dance tune is incredibly cathartic.
When I told Starita that I cried the first time he heard it, he said he also cried throughout the process, and I was really touched by that. It’s honestly one of the most meaningful and one of my favourite pieces of music I’ve been a part of, and I’m deeply grateful for that. I also know that if Jeremy can hear the song, he is loving it, and dancing to it in the mystery.
Starita, your work has won a GRAMMY award and an artist that has worked with the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, Childish Gambino, Los Amigos Invisibles and more. What have been your personal career highlights and can you tell us what it was like to work with huge artists in the music scene?
Starita: While I’m grateful and it’s nice to have my work win a GRAMMY and gain 2 other nominations, those awards don’t really give any validation to the quality of art. It’s the culture and people that make being an artist and producer so fulfilling. I’d have to say the biggest highlight in my career was working with Phife Dawg on what would become the final A Tribe Called Quest album and his own final album ‘Forever.’ That led to a collaboration on my first single ‘Rules’ with Jarobi White of A Tribe Called Quest and a long, very rewarding relationship with the Tribe family. Another highlight was working with my dear friends Los Amigos Invisibles. It’s always a pleasure to get outside of my comfort zone and working with such a talented group of latin musicians definitely filled that need. It also made very clear that no matter the culture or language, music is universal as cliche as it sounds.
Starita, we are aware you’ve been super busy this year with multiple gigs and performances. What are your most memorable gig highlights from this year and have you managed to get any downtime in-between?
Yes, I think it’s safe to say this has been one of the busiest years of my life and I’ll take it! Spending a total of over a month in Muscle Shoals between Fame Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound had a profound effect on the way I approached production this year. It became much clearer that art and expression do not come from the mind. It’s the artistic spirit or muse that we all have within us that’s guiding the process and you’re either listening to it or not. Art tends to make itself if you are listening to it but begins to become a battleground if you’re not. I learned how to let go and trust much more this past year when it comes to creating and producing.
My wife and I value making time to go into nature and travel so believe it or not, between all of the projects, we managed to make it to Costa Rica and Hawaii for a month along with shorter trips into the Sierra Mountains of California to see the stunning fall colours.
Starita and Seán, the remix of ‘Dark Night’ has incredible production and we’re interested to hear more about the production process behind it. Can you tell us how the remix was made from start to finish and the inspiration for the new version?
Starita: I knew this wasn’t going to be a typical remix given the energy and story behind the song. There was actually quite a bit of self-inflicted pressure because I knew I had to really dig deep and make sure I was creating something that was a true, authentic expression of the original while taking to a new place. So I began to imagine myself in Jeremy’s place, having passed away and entered a new beginning or world; unexplored, completely new and quite possibly a very exciting and positive place.
I began to ask the question ‘What’s next and how would that sound?’ So, you will hear that the song starts very introspective, signifying the moment of leaving this earthly body and beginning to realize you have moved into a new territory for lack of a better term. I didn’t want to take the circuitous path of dwelling in grief but signify the joy and celebration of a rebirth and how exciting it must be to explode into a new world. That being said, I began to explore the sonic elements to express that so the song clearly builds into a massive wall of sound and celebration. This ‘new’ exploration is actually something we have all experienced when we entered this world as a child. The sound of a bird or even the doorbell was new, exciting and filled with wonder. We all deep down yearn to return to that sense of wonder and innocence so maybe the passing of this life is that return we’ve all secretly missed?
Seán: Starita and I had some conversations as he was beginning the process. I could tell how seriously he was taking it, which meant a lot to me. My perception was in the beginning he was experimenting with a couple of different possible directions with the remix when the creative lightning struck, and he knew he was on the right track, and built the whole soundscape that would become “New Dawn Remix” in a flow state. During this stage, he shared that Orbital was one of his muses during the process, and his connection with their music was a big inspiration for the direction that the remix took.
The track is also accompanied by an alluring official music video – can you tell us a little bit about this?
Starita: The video’s creative direction was envisioned by our creative director, Tam Starita, who wanted to capture the visual evolution from darkness to light; mirroring the sonic progression of the song. She had envisioned capturing the initial scene in an intimate space whereby the focus was on Seán blanketed in darkness. With Seán as the only subject lit, the moodiness and drama of the journey — conflict, struggle, reflection, and awareness — is heightened and spotlighted. As the journey crosses over into light, it is bridge with the ‘New Dawn’ Remix and encompasses Starita into the visual story. What was important was to maintain the spaciousness and organic elements of the journey over time. Hence, Tam captured and incorporated timelapses of numerous nature scenes – lunar eclipse, ocean, wind – as integral parts of the video’s evolution. When Starita, Seán, and Tam got together to film the video, all the elements fell into place effortlessly.
What else can we expect from Starita and Seán Johnson next year? Are there any upcoming releases or gigs you’d like to share with us?
Starita: Wow, do we have some great things coming up! I am in the midst of production of my next full length album which includes talks from the archives of J. Krishnamurti that the foundation provided surrounding the subject of death along with several songs featuring Seán on vocals but also the rest of The Wild Lotus Band which I am very excited about. You can expect some of the similar compositional ambient sounds from The Wake Up Call but with a much more IDM focus similar to the New Dawn Remix.
Seán: The band’s schedule is heating up and we’ll be headlining a bunch of festivals throughout the year. After a three year lapse, we’re also excited to revive an 8 day experience in New Orleans we host called The BHAKTImmersion which is all about holding a fun, deep, supportive space for people to open their hearts, embrace their innate creativity, and learn to express themselves through music, poetry, dance, and more. The band has some remix collaborations being released this year, and we’re excited to begin working on some new material with a focus on creating music that is a little quieter and more spacious than a lot of our previous material. I am super excited to be working with Starita again on songs for his upcoming album, one of which I’m approaching in the songwriting as a kind of a sequel to “Dark Night.”
Premiere: Starita, Sean Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band ‘The Search’ (Ben Leinbach Remix)
From his collaborations with members of A Tribe Called Quest to Los Amigos Invisibles and Michael Franti and Spearhead, multi-talented artist and songwriter, Starita, has astounded worldwide audiences with his unique blending of electronic and acoustic instrumentations (drawn from his deep roots in dance, ambient, funk, rock, and techno music).
The lush yet complex signature soundscape showcased within various artist collaborations have consistently produced jaw dropping, original out-of-the-box productions that dare to defy odds, break the ‘rules’ of music genres, raise vibrations, while offering a note of spiritual introspection.
“As a fellow seeker who has found great inspiration, release, catharsis, and healing in music, particularly in singing, I was intrigued and excited by the invitation.
‘The Search – Ben Leinbach Remix’ is the third single release from the ‘The Wake Up Call Remixes’ EP, in collaboration with an impressive lineup of music tastemakers including Greg Papania L0<3* and Otis McDonald, targeted to drop August 24th, 2022. This is also the first-time collaboration between kindred music spirits and fellow seekers – Starita, Ben Leinbach, and Seán Johnson. This collection of work was based on Starita’s first avante-garde, ambient album; expressing the 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 in the search for peace and freedom. “Everything about this album elicits the awakening to our true nature and listening to ‘the Spirit,’” says Starita. The seven song collection showcases an intentionally open longer format that allows listeners time to drop in, access, connect, and flow with whatever emotions and memories that may surface throughout the sound journey.
‘The Search,’ is one chapter in a larger fabric and story being told; addressing the narrative of escapism as a cycle of distraction while paying homage to all of the mistakes made on this quest. “It is honoring the dark as well as the light. As my music is an extension of my spiritual practice, I use it as a tool to explore these various narratives and themes. Most of the songs, in some way, speak to the spiritual path of awakening,” Starita elaborates. The original track features Seán Johnson, vocalist/lyricist/harmonium player of the mantra centric band, Seán Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band, based in New Orleans, LA. A crucial component of Starita’s vision for this song included hearing some ‘intense devotional prostration,’ which led him to connect with Johnson to execute on the vocal delivery of the sacred mantras; particularly, making this song distinctive from others on the album. In sound speak, this is a journey through electronic pulsating beats evolving into a peaceful meditative lush wash of sound.
“As a fellow seeker who has found great inspiration, release, catharsis, and healing in music, particularly in singing, I was intrigued and excited by the invitation. From the moment I first heard the draft of the song, I felt a lot of energy, intensity, longing – an inspiring, rhythmic soundscape that I was hungry to sing on. Starita shared that his process in creating all the music on the album was one of unconditionally trusting of what was coming through in the moment, rather than over-thinking it. That encouraged me to take the same approach,” shared Johnson.
“The Search Official Music Video” Tam Starita -Creative Director / Ingrid Serban – Editor
Fans of the original track are in for a pleasant surprise at first listen to this remixed version by Ben Leinbach. In ‘The Search – Ben Leinbach Remix,’ Leinbach has taken the most intense track on the album – representing a spiritual catharsis, release, epiphany – and masterfully lifted the energy of the original track to create a rendition that is dancy, funky, and celebratory, distinctive from the other songs on the EP. “The blending of introspection with celebration and dance is extremely creative. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard these two elements touched upon in a single song. It’s a true testament to Ben’s craftsmanship as a producer and instrumentalist,” Starita reflects. Ben Leinbach is recognized as an award-winning producer, composer, recording engineer, multi-instrumentalist, and a master of his craft. Leinbach’s work highlights a broad spectrum of the human experience: the beauty and darkness, the love and longing, and the joy and melancholy. Leinbach’s music is instantly recognizable – a blend of pop music elements, tripped-out sounds, paired with world instruments and vocals over an infectious groove. His extensive catalog of productions includes recordings with Deva Premal and Miten, Shiva Rea, Snatam Kaur, and Jai Uttal, including Jai’s Grammy-nominated album ‘Mondo Rama.’
“I’ve been a fan of Seán Johnson’s for years. More recently, I took a deeper dive into Starita’s impressive discography on Spotify. With these two artists at the helm of the original version of ‘The Search,’ I knew that I’d have great raw material to work with for the remix,” Leinbach elaborates.
“As we were distributing candy to the neighborhood last Halloween, I grew bored with the grown-up conversation and ended up dancing on the roof of my friend’s mini van to Daft Punk. The way they blend modern sounds and electronica with a retro 1970s vibe was inspirational. I feel like the music of Daft Punk influenced this remix. In my most recent remixes, I’ve strived to produce and arrange the tracks to sound more like pop music. I tried to create verses and choruses, bridges and breakdowns, and sought to highlight elements in the original tracks that could be featured, repeated, and turned into ‘hooks.’”
“In my productions, I seek to create a blend of the primal and celestial. So, deep, earthy drum grooves coupled with ethereal, floating, psychedelic sounds. I like layering on ‘world’ sounds; meaning percussion and stringed instruments from around the world, to give the productions a universal sound. I love reframing melodies with different chord changes. How many different backdrops can I fit behind the same or similar vocal and instrumental melodies? The original vocal melody works great in this minor key, but can I find chords that would work with the same melody that create a more major key vibe? With this approach, you can create a dynamic arrangement with just a small amount of raw material.”
Leinbach’s process resulted in a World Pop track that incorporates a blend of disco groove elements, a touch of electronica, and a mystical eastern sound. It’s completely transformed the original – experimental, ambient, atmospheric, dark, meditative house beat – into a new song that’s bursting with energy, happy, fun, celebratory, dancy, fancy, yet introspective.
The full production team on ‘The Search – Ben Leinbach Remix’ include – Ben Leinbach, remixer, songwriter, recording engineer, mix engineer; Starita, songwriter, recording engineer; Seán Johnson, songwriter, vocals, recording engineer. Mastered by Michael Romanowski of Coast Mastering. Creative direction by Tam Starita. Released by Be Still Records, a division of Starita Music.
“After listening to this reinterpretation, I hope that listeners feel energized and inspired; shed any baggage that may be weighing them down,” Leinbach imparts. Starita and Johnson adds, “…embark on a journey that allows them to let go of something they no longer need.” “Spirituality is so personal and subjective. Close your eyes and let this song transport you on a journey into the wilderness of your imagination where you can find a meaningful spiritual connection that takes a personal form that speaks to you. Trust whatever arises, because this is the spirit that this music was created with.What makes the song different for a listener who might be used to hearing music with more of a formulaic song structure, is to let go of that expectation and let the song take you for a ride.”
Starita’s ‘The Search feat Sean Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band – Ben Leinbach Remix’ single is available across all digital service providers on Wednesday, August 24, 2022.
Producer, artist and songwriter, Starita has collaborated with many icons in the scene including A Tribe Called Quest, Childish Gambino, Los Amigos Invisibles, Michael Franti & Spearhead and more, whilst reaching #1 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart, GRAMMY for Best...
From his collaborations with members of A Tribe Called Quest to Los Amigos Invisibles and Michael Franti and Spearhead, multi-talented artist and songwriter, Starita, has astounded worldwide audiences with his unique blending of electronic and acoustic...
Pioneering Hip-Hop Producer Starita Is on Sacred Ground PHOTO BY TAM STARITA Watch the new music video for Starita and Otis McDonald’s “The Wake Up Re-Call” featuring Illa J, Zay Bcuz, and NicX. By Jaime Silano May 26, 2022 Sitting behind the glass at Fame Recording...
Sitting behind the glass at Fame Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Starita is honored to be recording in a city he believes is a sacred ground for music. According to legend, the Tennessee River, which flows through Alabama, was referred to as “the singing river” by the Yuchie Tribe because they claimed that the breeze whistling off the water sounded like a woman singing. “That’s the philosophy behind why this is such a musical town: There’s a spirit in this place, something you can’t put words to,” Starita told Noisey while discussing new song, “The Wake Up Re-Call.”
The Mississippi-born multi-talented artist and songwriter’s discography demonstrates his experience and flexibility in crafting songs, with collaborators ranging from Childish Gambino and A Tribe Called Quest to Christian Scott, aTunde Adjuah, Madame Gandhi, and Los Amigos Invisibles. As an artist, a producer, and an engineer, Starita has played many different roles on both sides of the glass on dozens of records.
Tracing “The Wake Up Re-Call” back to its beginnings, Starita said that DJ Rasta Root—the late rapper Phife Dawg’s longtime manager—was instrumental in its creation. “I was working on Tribe Called Quest’s most recent album, We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, and then Phife and I started working on his solo album,” Starita said. Phife Dawg passed away two days after wrapping up work on the album track “Dis Generation” in 2016. “I recorded his last record,” Starita said. “So that turned into a deeper relationship with the Tribe Called Quest family.”
“The Wake Up Re-Call” first took the form of a slow and solitary instrumental from Starita and Trent Park released in 2021, fittingly titled “The Wake Up Call.” The track was transformed by Starita’s friend and collaborator, Otis McDonald, earlier this year. McDonald, a producer and multi-instrumentalist, recharged the record by infusing swing and breaks, making it into a soulful hip-hop instrumental track. The recording then went to Rasta Root, who invited a trio of rappers to the studio to add verses: Zay Bcuz, NicX, and Illa J, the Detroit singer, producer, rapper and younger brother of J Dilla.
“It is unbelievable what Otis did with the record,” Starita said. “I never could have imagined it would evolve into this.”
But Starita added that he doesn’t refer to the new recording as a remix because he said the process “turned into something so collaborative and different.” The verses each contribute specific angles and meaningful prose from the featured rappers, who flowed effortlessly over McDonald’s warm and soulful approach. Illa J sets the tone insightfully with the first verse, Zay Bcuz brings his focus and flexibility to the second verse, and the tight dexterity of NicX elevates the track’s final verse.
The collaboration for “The Wake Up Re-Call” grew from seeds planted over the last decade, which took root in the same recording sessions that immortalized Phife Dawg’s final lyrics. The music video, fittingly, came to life in a packed club in Atlanta at a listening party for Phife Dawg’s posthumous solo album, Forever, released in March. Rasta Root granted permission for the artists to film “The Wake Up Re-Call” music video at the LP’s listening party. It was a fitting tribute to the cycle of hip hop: It doesn’t die; it’s continually reborn.
Today, after decades of collaboration and history across a wide spectrum of sound, Starita said he is focused on maintaining a beginner’s mindset. “If you think you know how something is supposed to be, you can’t explore and drop the mind,” he said. The words he found to describe his philosophy to music were rooted in spirituality. “Curiosity and consciousness power art,” he added. “Art is constantly trying to mimic reality. Being curious begins this entire exploration. The inquisitive nature to question and the nature to make art are linked. You can’t separate art and consciousness, that’s where it comes from.”
The Wake Up Call: New Compositional Ambient Album From Starita Featuring Christian Scott aTunde Adhuah, Sean Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band, Trent Park and Pratika Gopinath Set For July 30th release Via Be Still Records
“Ambient Electronic Artist & Songwriter Offers Cinematic Soundtrack That Taps Into Introspection and Awareness”
‘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
‘The Hip Hop/Tech House hybrid bursts with a sharp uniqueness, simultaneously delivering plenty of heart and soul.’ – Kyle Eustice, HipHopDX
‘…a sure standout…that showcases Starita’s unique and open-minded approach to collaboration…is truly a collaboration between artists who managed to tap into the same musical wavelength and make something special.’ – Glide Magazine
About Starita ‘The Wake Up Call’ // Album:
From his collaborations with members of A Tribe Called Quest to Los Amigos Invisibles and Michael Franti and Spearhead, Mississippi born San Francisco Bay Area multi-talented artist, producer and songwriter, Starita, has astounded worldwide audiences with his unique blending of electronic and acoustic instrumentations (drawn from his deep roots in dance, ambient, funk, rock, and techno music). The lush yet complex signature soundscape showcased within various artist collaborations have consistently produced jaw dropping, original out-of-the-box productions that dare to defy odds, break the ‘rules’ of music genres, raise vibrations, while offering a note of spiritual introspection.
Once again, Starita steps outside the bounds of musical artistry with the release of his first avante-garde, ambient album, ‘The Wake Up Call’ on July 30th, 2021. In some of the most difficult times in our country’s history, this body of work draws together a diverse group of top musical talents across different genres and geographies to create distinctive art through adversity. This body of work expresses the 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 in the search for peace and freedom. “Everything about this album elicits the awakening to our true nature and listening to ‘the Spirit,’” says Starita. The seven song collection showcases an intentionally open longer format that allows listeners time to drop in, access, connect, and flow with whatever emotions and memories that may surface throughout the sound journey.
“In the process of creating this album, it became clear that the collaborators and I were tapping into a stream of consciousness that was directing the flow and creation of the art. The basic premise agreed upon for the album was to allow each song and its elements to flow together naturally with no force from the mind; letting the heart lead. As a result, the songs on the album, in a sense, wrote themselves,” Starita added. “Each song provided an opportunity for us to express some sort of emotion or internal story that needed to be let go of….a catharsis of sorts. The album is actually one long piece of music with each track serving as individual chapters that flow together to tell a story. The story mirrors my own life’s evolution and experiences.’
Rolling Stone India premiered the opening track on the album, ‘Changing,’ featuring a transnational virtual collaboration with Pratika Gopinath, lead vocalist of the group, Easy Wanderlings of Chennai, South India, and Robin Applewood, guitarist and musical renaissance man, San Francisco Bay Area, US. ‘Changing’ eases the listener into the start of the album due to the reflective nature of the message. “The music seeked to capture the essence of openness and curiosity as reflective of a child experiencing the material world for the first time and all the changes that accompany this journey of mental growth. As the child becomes conditioned by the external world, they slowly begin to move away from who they truly are…a spiritual being having a human experience. This is a theme that has always fascinated me as I reflect upon my own personal journey of change and all that comes with it,” Starita shares. 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.
‘Love & Pain’ is second in the line up of tracks featured on this album. Previously premiered by Northern Transmissions, this song spotlights the talented collaboration of the soulful singer/songwriter Trent Park, Los Angeles, CA, and American musician and guitarist Michael Hays, Austin, TX. “This is a downtempo, groove oriented, and vibey tune that catapults off of its placement in the sequence of the album. The message behind the song speaks to the paradoxical pairing of LOVE and PAIN. While love is highly sought after and carries with it all the emotions of bliss and euphoria, in contrast, pain is avoided at all costs but comes along as a package deal. These two strong emotions – finding love and the cessation of pain – drive our human existence,” Starita reflects.
“…‘Love & Pain,’ with it’s lush vocals and smooth beats, transcend you to a better place.” – Northern Transmissions
The development of the album transcends into sadness and complex heavy emotions portrayed by ‘The Dream,’ the third single featuring acclaimed trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and soulful singer/songwriter Trent Park, both from Los Angeles, CA, premiered by Glide Magazine. Starita created a dramatic, neoclassical, compositional ambient, cinematic sound design (a blending of acoustic with electronic elements and instrumentation with analog synths) on this track that holds the expansive range of emotions – from intense devastation to hopeful – artfully. “This song digs down and stirs up deep rooted emotions in the body to be purged and cleansed from the consciousness. The sound design, structure and production was designed to capture that purification. With the explosive journey that we all experience as humans – individually and collectively – this purification outlet is necessary and needed. Using sound art to provide that access point is a tool that I tap into and hope that listeners can benefit from as well. While considered the most emotionally charged song on the album, it is also very relatable. The vocal melody and chord progression quite naturally reflects the visceral quality of the human emotional experience. This very special feature from Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s trumpet solo adds a unique layer of emotional intimacy to the song,” Starita remarks.
“I wanted to use this time, during the pandemic, while the world was ‘resting’ and ‘reflecting,’ to explore musically. Starita’s genre-blending style of music, combining electronic and live instrumentation intrigued me. Listening to Starita’s initial interpretation of ‘The Dream’ piqued my interest and I was drawn to creating a trumpet piece to go with it. As a conceptualist and producer, I share Starita’s vision of ‘letting go, not thinking, and letting it flow.’ With that, I listened intently and created a sound that was very specific for this track. It is so interesting and rewarding to witness what we have created together. It is my mission to unify people via their musical and cultural voices by tearing down the sonic and social constructs that separate them. To me the idea of ‘genre’ is the same. It’s just an extension of that type of self-segregating and kind of linear thinking. Similarly for this collaboration or my work with Stretch Music, my stance is the same, in order to stretch music, you have to be able to stretch yourself,” declares Scott.
‘Habitual Ritual’ is an interlude that follows in the line up. “This song encapsulates the extreme desire to escape and the neurosis that accompanies it. As human beings, many of us can relate to the common path of escapism and avoidance of the present moment whether that be through relationships, substances, career, money and so on… It becomes a habitual ritual and is what society calls ‘addiction.’ It’s usually only called ‘addiction’ when it is not a commonly accepted behavior by society. In reality, everyone is addicted to the mind and ego, which is ironically the very thing we are all trying to escape. I find this paradox and irony to be so interesting,” Starita shares.
“As we start to realize that all of the avenues of escapism are just cycles of distraction providing only temporary relief from the mind, we begin the search for a lasting answer….for peace, freedom and liberation from the mental anguish of being caught in our ego structure. ‘The Search’ is the following song that speaks to this quest but also pays homage to all of the mistakes made while trying to escape. When we are in a cycle of escapism, we tend to unknowingly hurt ourselves and others. To move past this, we must acknowledge and accept it or it just becomes another tool of the ego to torture us. The past, regret, shame and guilt, these are all a part of the spiritual path. As my music is an extension of my spiritual practice, I use it as a tool to explore these various narratives and themes,” Starita says. ‘The Search,’ features Seán Johnson, vocalist/lyricist/harmonium player of the mantra centric band, Seán Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band, based in New Orleans, LA. A crucial component of Starita’s vision for this song included hearing some “intense devotional prostration.” This led to his collaboration and integration of Seán Johnson’s vocal delivery of the sacred mantras, which particularly made this song very different from others on the album. In sound speak, this is a journey through electronic pulsating beats evolving into a peaceful meditative lush wash of sound.
“‘Thoughts’ is a heightened, tense and somewhat complex piece of music which continues the story of the next stage in the spiritual journey, which can at times feel confusing,” Starita continues. “Ironically, a common pitfall of spirituality in and of itself is the search for freedom and liberation, which in turn becomes a neurosis of its own and another tool of the ego. We become addicted to spirituality and all its esoteric practices which is just another form of escapism dressed up as the ‘spiritual seeker.’ We become obsessed looking everywhere for what is right in front of us. In the process, the mind seems to get even stronger until finally we become exhausted with the search. Once we have hit the proverbial bottom of trying to be free (if we are lucky), then comes ‘The Wake Up Call.’”
Rounding out the album is the emotional title track and genesis of the project, ‘The Wake Up Call,’ featuring singer/songwriter Trent Park, Los Angeles, CA, and Robin Applewood, guitarist, San Francisco Bay Area, CA. “This project began in April 2020 (early on in the shutdown),” Starita says. “We never really know why something is happening and many times things can seem like an obstacle when it may be a path to an opportunity. I saw the pandemic and the world events that were culminating as a rare opportunity for humanity to wake up. When in human history has the entire world been forced into retreat with no choice but to go inside themselves with brutal honesty to wake up to the habitual patterns, toxic conditioning, and actions that have brought us to the breaking point we are at today? Even in the freestyle lyrics that Trent Park organically captured, ‘What is man to do?’ captures the sentiment of being forced to be alone during this time and facing all the feelings that come with it. Perhaps in solitude, aside from despair, loneliness, darkness, sadness, helplessness, hopelessness, there is also optimism, brightness, hopefulness, and beauty.”
“After listening to this sound journey, I hope that the listeners felt cleansed, had a moment that they needed, and perhaps let go of some emotional pain,” Park closes.
Starita’s ‘The Wake Up Call’ LP is available across all digital service providers on Friday, July 30, 2021.
Starita has shared a new visualizer for “Love & Pain” Featuring Singer/Songwriter Trent Park and Guitarist Michael Hays. The track will be released Via Be Still Records. The multi-artist is Known for collaborations with Childish Gambino, A Tribe Called Quest, and many others, his music blends electronic elements with live instrumentation that stems from his deep roots in dance, ambient, and classical music. “Love & Pain,” with it’s lush vocals and smooth beats, transcend you to a better place.
“Love & Pain,” features singer/songwriter Trent Park and American musician and guitarist Michael Hays, is the fifth single release from Starita’s new compositional ambient, avant-garde, experimental album, The Wake Up Call, described as “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.” “Everything about this album elicits the awakening to our true nature and listening to ‘the Spirit,’” says Starita.