Phebe Starr made the journey from Australia to LA. Now she is getting ready to release her latest EP Ice Tea Liberace. The EP features 4 tracks including “Ice Tea Liberace”, “Break the Law”, and the singles:
Starr has toured the US and played at SXSW. She has released 2 prior EP’s. Her lyrics strike a bold tone. FEMMUSIC was honored to talk to her about the new EP and the industry. Ice Tea Liberace is out on August 30. For info visit https://www.facebook.com/phebestarrmusic/
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Ice Tea Liberace?
PS: This EP was actually a very easy process. I used to suffer with so much perfectionism and I was never 100% comfortable with music being my job. Because it’s so personal I found it really hard to take the creative process and give it away to strangers. I read a lot of Maya De Angelou and I think this really influenced me in the way I saw myself and others. A lot of my opinions have come out of understanding my place in the world and the privilege to be heard and in expressing my truth it will help other women feel safe the express theirs. I believe art should be owned by the outcasts, the discouraged and the marginalized. It’s important to make art no matter what value others place on it. It’s important to tell our stories. This new understanding has made me a lot more confident in my opinions and has made releasing a lot more enjoyable.
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about Xavier Dunn. How did you meet? What made you decide you wanted him to produce the EP? What was he like to work with?
PS: I was so discouraged in finding a producer that could help me with my vision. I really, really love sound design and more of a classical approach to building production. My friend Lanks was having tea with me and I was really sad because I felt defeated. He asked me about my vision and I told him and he simply said “You have to meet Xavier”, you two will get along and he seems perfect’. I didn’t believe him until we met and after the first 30 minutes I knew I wanted to record a whole album with him.
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest difference making Ice Tea Liberace vs making Chronicles? Do you approach the studio differently after making 3 EPs?
PS: Ice Tea Liberace was so fun to make. I was finally able to sample and reference a lot of influences on my life. We would always start in the studio by watching Rick and Morty, E.T, Thelma and Louise and country and western films. The whole process was very experimental, relaxed and fun. I also sampled those movies…well copied phrases of my favourite moments. For example in “Break The Law” there is a sample of me yelling ‘get schwifty’.
FEMMUSIC: What is your favorite song on the EP? Tell me how the song developed?
PS: “Ice Tea Liberace” for sure. This song happened using that meditation process. I never felt really comfortable to do that with someone else in the room and Xavier really made me feel safe. We wrote this song together out of a John Wayne film sample and I just improvised the melody and lyrics. When we listened back I was like what do I mean… Ice Tea Liberace… but when it sat with me I knew exactly what I was trying to say and they were the only words that worked. It was pretty cool in the sense it’s made me more confident in how I write and my beliefs in the subconscious.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
PS: It’s like meditation. When I write for myself it’s very spiritual. I’ve done it since I can remember. I pick up and instrument and play it for hours and babble out nonsense. There is usually a moment or a lyric that specifically talks to me and I then for weeks do the same thing until the song is fully complete. It’s an addictive process and nothing feels as good!
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
PS: Dolly Parton “Coat of Many Colours”. I grew up in a country town in Australia. We lived on a farm. I’m the youngest of 4 kids and my mum was a single mum. We didn’t have much money and we had to get our clothes and school uniform from thrift stores and whenever I felt discouraged my mum would put on that song and encourage me by saying that “it’s not what you have that defines you but what you do with it”.
FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?
PS: I’ve constantly been shocked and didn’t want to believe that the industry was still so backyards and sexist on all levels. I’m constantly put into a box of how I should behave, what my skills are and what’s expected of me. My response has always to take that energy and put it into something positive. I surround myself with empowered women and men who are comfortable with themselves and we work on making a positive empowering culture.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
PS: Today it’s Miley Cyrus. I think we could really write a cool country pop song together that would melt peoples’ minds.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
PS: I would like a few people to retire and free money and resources to communities that are being marginalized at the moment. The best music that brings people together, empowers, forgives and lights up this world always comes from those who have suffered and need to be heard.