Published in Windspeaker newpaper | January 2013 | Circulation: 145,000
Juno-winning musician and producer Alida Kinnie Starr is set to release her new album in mid-January, following an intensive Indiegogo fundraising campaign to independently fund ‘Kiss It’.
The 42-year-old’s work has been described by the Globe and Mail as “raw feral talent,” and she confesses to having some rather unusual feral talents herself.
“I have special bird powers,” she reveals in an exclusive interview with Windspeaker. Starr is serious about her mystical connection to winged creatures; her ex-husband used to call her ‘Snow Beige’ because of what happens whenever she plays guitar and sings outdoors.
“All the birds would come around,” she explained. “And as all the choruses would build up, they would start tweeping really hard.
“Wherever we were – whether it was B.C. or Ontario or Winnipeg – we’d go for walks, and I’d start to play. We’d just watch the birds start to come around. I hardly notice it, because I’ve always had it. I don’t really understand it… I just thought everybody had that experience.”
When Starr bursts spontaneously into song mid-conversation, her powerful presence certainly grabs attention.
If her past work–starting with her 1996 Juno-nominated release, ‘Tidy’–is renowned for its catchy choruses, pulsing sensuality, and earnest, searching lyrics, her upcoming album ‘Kiss It’ is perhaps the strongest and most mature example of her gifts.
The album weaves minimalist electronic beats with Starr’s distinctive softly-spoken rapping and layered, addictive melodies. What sets the title track apart is the subject matter; the song could charitably be described as sensuality sex ed advice. (Advice that pays off, she insists: “Now that you took your time, like a philosopher / I’m outta my mind and you’re in me like a river,” she sings. “We rise like a landslide, roots collide / Old-growth cedar welling up in our eyes.”)
Her vulnerable approach to song writing provides listeners an intimacy that is at once playful and, occasionally, uncomfortably, close–but rarely self-indulgent. If Starr is anything, it’s earnest.
“Overly earnest, I would argue sometimes!” she laughs. “Records just detail where you’re at in your life – trying to articulate it the best you can.
“The new record is all hip-hop, but it’s new-wavy dance hip-hop. I would say that I am more gentle; I think that’s a product of getting older. I mean, I’d hope that everybody gets more gentle as we age. Hopefully by the time I’m ‘old’ old, I’ll be really warm!”
‘Kiss It’ is full of songs about identity, confidence and dignity, values Starr says she hopes to role-model herself, and offer loved ones in her life and fans alike.
“The album we’re about to put out is mostly for my niece,” Starr said. “She’s 10.
“Having dignity is a political choice, especially as a woman. We’re in a time when everybody’s supposed to look like a stripper, especially in the business I’m in, pop culture and club culture.”
At an recent Indigenous media arts festival in Vancouver, Starr showed off as much energy and warm stage presence as she did at shows a decade ago. Remaining authentic and present for her listeners is key, she said.