Music has always been a part of Daytona Starsky’s life. His parents loved music of all genres when he was growing up and encouraged a love of music in Starsky from a young age. In learning how to play the drums and guitar and emulating the styles of his favorite artists, he realized that music is what he wanted to pursue, giving him the drive and motivation to practice and learn and develop his own unique style. Born in The Netherlands, Starsky moved to New York right before his freshman year of high school to live with his dad and immersed himself in the ways of America and, more specifically, of New York. As the birthplace of Hip Hop, and a musical environment that cultivates the creative flow for many artists, Starsky dove headfirst into learning all he could about Hip Hop and made friends with whom he would freestyle and create tracks. Starsky is a multi-instrumentalist and artist-producer who has released many adventurous singles over the past few years, mostly rooted in hip-hop with genre blending explorations in psychedelic rock, electronica and pop. 2019 saw the release of his debut EP Moon. With regards to his inspiration for the EP, he says “It’s the idea that there is an infinity out there that keeps me thinking and inspired. My music is the result of these mental explorations of the stars and the sky.” Described as the sound of an artist coming into his own and forming his own unique sound from a culmination of influences, Starsky continues to grow sonically with each release. In college, he studied emerging technology and media and enjoyed learning about the endless possibilities that technology provides. In March, he released the single “SUPRALOVE”, which he describes as kind of a love song between humans and artificial intelligence set in the future and was influenced by everyone who is digitally connected. His most recent release, “Gasoline”, is another genre bending pop love song fueled by robust synth programming and attention grabbing guitar riffs, showcasing a strong vocal performance and production. ““Gasoline” is a magical love song detailing a tug-of-war between both sides needing each other. On one side is she, who is looking to find the conceptual ‘heat’ to keep her warm. On the other side, entranced under a spell of love, is Daytona Starsky who in this equation is committed to do anything in his power to reassure her that without her as the fuel, his fire can’t burn and without his fire he can’t provide her with the heat she is looking for. The track describes each side having supernatural-like abilities, almost portraying love as an enchantment.” Aside from music, Starsky also has a love for fashion, specifically sustainable fashion. His mom is a seamstress and boutique fashion designer and his stepdad runs a merchandising and textile printing company, so fashion has long been a part of his life. Viewing fashion as a tangible expression of one’s identity as a person, he hopes to incorporate fashion into his musical identity, following in the footsteps of artists such as David Bowie, Andre 3000 and Daft Punk. Having also worked for a time as a professional chef, Starsky has also started a ‘Space Chef’ series on his Instagram page where he tries to share fun and interesting dishes with his social media audience within the simplicity of short Instagram tutorials. It also fulfills his secret desire for a cooking show. As for his latest release, “Gasoline”, Starsky says “It’s a different direction for Daytona Starsky, one that is perhaps more admissible to the pop world and yet maintains the unexpected elements in the production that I think make it ‘me’. He is currently working on his debut album, which is well into the production stage, and hopes to be back to playing live shows later this year! With new music on the horizon, there is plenty to look forward to from this exciting new artist! You can connect with Daytona Starsky via the following links:
You grew up surrounded by a diverse mix of music and have said you started playing guitar and drums at 6 or 7 years of age. What can you tell me about your childhood and being surrounded by so much music and the impact it had on the artist you have become?
I think that being exposed to a lot of music from early on, quickly taught me that it can act as an escape from reality. It was like I found a portal into another dimension and I would listen to CD’s and Vinyls from my parents collection and just zone out. My folks loved music from all genres and eras and they had extensive knowledge of a lot of it, so whenever I would show interest in something they would stimulate and suggest something else and that kind of led me down these in sonic rabbit holes. I had all these periodic musical obsessions, and to this day still do. I remember the first band that I was completely obsessed with was The Who. My dad had a DVD of an old live performance of theirs and I was absolutely mind-blown seeing the unorthodox ways in which Keith Moon would play the drums and Pete Townshend played the guitar. It was unlike anything I’d seen before and they were such masters at their crafts that they almost created a new way of playing their instruments. With the little skill that I had at the time in playing guitar and drums, I tried emulating their style and obviously failed horribly. In retrospect I think this may have been a turning point in my life in which I realized that music is what I wanted to do and that I had to continuously practice, learn, and absorb music in order for me to develop a unique style for myself.
You were born in The Netherlands but live in Brooklyn. How old were you when you moved to New York? What do you love about living in New York and the music scene there?
I moved to Brooklyn right before Freshman year of High School to live with my dad. He moved there a few years prior to that, so when I was still living with my mom I would go back and forth to NYC to try and get familiar with the city and the culture. At that age, not only are you trying to develop and understand who you are as a person, but coming from a tiny town, relative to NYC at least, it was just a massive reality shift. I felt like an alien for a while and in order to assimilate I felt like I had to get a grasp of the American and specifically the New York ways. While I was familiar with a lot of Hip Hop music, I was not nearly as well versed in the genre as my peers. This would become my latest musical obsession, as I was in the birthplace of Hip Hop after all. I felt like I had to catch my knowledge of this genre up to my peers so I went and learned everything about it and used my dad’s laptop to learn how to produce beats. Quickly I found a group of friends with whom I would freestyle and create tracks and added all this practice to my database. New York City has given rise to countless incredible artists and that’s not just a coincidence. Whatever you do in New York is never enough, so there’s a sense that you just have to keep going and once you do that you learn to pave your own path to stand out. You really feel it when you walk around. It’s the perfect level of struggle, motivation and competition to make you want to keep creating.
You have said that as soon as you learned how to play music a bit, you started to write your own music, using your music idols as guides. What can you tell me about that process and how do you feel you have developed as an artist over the years?
I believe I was 8 or 9 years old when I first took “music classes”, although they were very unconventional. It was basically a bunch of tweens with no understanding of how to play an instrument, but with some interest in playing put together in a rock band. If you’ve ever seen the movie School of Rock, it was very much like that. There was a lady who would help each individual kid play a little part on their respective instrument and then once we each had it down we’d play together as a band. I was never taught how to read notes or how to play any existing music. It was more like the “how-to’s”, the technical stuff like understanding scales, chord progressions, etc. and then using that to write songs. I did these lessons for a while but then realized that I had enough of an understanding that I could write my own material, so after school I would go home and write songs on the guitar. Anytime I did want to play a Jimi Hendrix piece for example, I would have to do it by ear and listen to it over and over and until I had the full piece down. I think many self-taught guitarists in particular learned through playing existing music, which is a great way of learning techniques, although I think knowing how to play ‘Smoke On The Water’ or ‘Seven Nation Army’ doesn’t mean you can write something yourself. Over time I really learned to use the artists that I was a fan of as inspiration and took my favorite elements of their style as building blocks to build something for myself. Although we all consider ourselves as individuals, I truly think our art comprises all these building blocks and the more of these building blocks you collect, the more you can build.
You studied emerging technology and media in college and enjoyed learning about the endless possibilities that technology provides. With regards to technology and music, you have said that, in your opinion, artists need to ensure that their position is not one of catching up but rather of leading the trend even in the most volatile of times, and that as long as they keep innovating, they won’t become obsolete. What does innovation in music look like to you? In what ways can artists stay ahead of the curve?
Studying Emerging Tech, especially in the world of media and entertainment, made me realize how much cutting edge technology is out there and how little is actually put to use in contemporary music. It might be an extreme oversimplification, but ever since the industrialization of music, it seems like artists have largely divided themselves into traditionalists, conformists, nostalgists and a tiny remainder of actual innovators. The innovators are often the cause of a ripple which turns into a wave on which the conformists thrive. The successful conformists turn into traditionalists and ten/twenty years later a group of nostalgists revive the sound and have some success with it. I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with doing what works or what one is comfortable doing, and many artists and industry players have made tons of money doing exactly that. It’s understandable that new technologies take time to be adopted and especially the far-out tech will only appeal to a niche group of overlapping technophiles and musicians, but I think there are only a small amount of players trying to bring these technologies to a place where they actually can be understood and adopted by a larger audience. The most innovative shift in recent years has been that anyone with a laptop can produce a number one hit using free tools and programs downloaded from the Internet. Recording studios are becoming obsolete because they are too expensive and even though you can argue that the sonic quality might be better, it’s not stopping producers from creating hit records from their bedroom. This is how the Trap sound came to be after all, a major innovation that in many ways that sound still dominates the charts to this day. The Internet, streaming, social media, NFT’s; these are all huge factors in the ever changing landscape of the music industry, but creating records that just appeal to trends is not fun and/or innovative to me. I try and focus on what the next big shift may be and right now it seems unclear, but unless you pan out and try to understand the industry, learn about innovative technologies and try to implement them, you can’t create any sound prediction nor move the needle (no pun intended) whatsoever.
You released your EP Moon in 2019 that paid homage to the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. You have said that your music is the result of the mental exploration of the stars and sky the idea of infinity. In what ways does the idea of infinity keep you thinking and inspired?
This question is going to bring the inner nerd in me out, so sorry if I interpret this question in a more literal sense. Infinity is a real brain melter and is one of those concepts we’re just not yet evolved enough for to really understand. There is a famous thought experiment in mathematics called ‘the Hilbert Grand Hotel Paradox’, in which it’s proposed that there is a hotel with an infinite number of rooms containing an infinite number of guests. Our human brains have such a hard time grasping the idea of infinity that we assume that at this point the hotel has no vacancies and no more guests can be added. Yet any number of new guests could be accommodated for since there are an infinite number of rooms. Even harder to understand is that if an infinite number of new guests were to come looking for a room, the hotel would still be able to accommodate them all. I think these kinds of questions are so fascinating and recently I tend to find a lot of creativity in exploring the inexplicable, especially on the new material that I’m working on right now. I’m writing about some more cosmic related topics and am trying to answer questions about what the future may hold, so basically science-fiction. It’s been fun trying to translate these thoughts into sequences of words that not only make sense to everyone but can appeal into the contemporary world of music and actually making it sound good.
In March you released the single “SUPRALOVE”, which you’ve described as a love song between humans and artificial intelligence set in the future. What led to your interest in sci-fi/futuristic stuff and what inspired the M.O.Di you created, an AI that remixes the song and creates a completely unique version every time you let it play? Do you plan to create things like that for future releases?
Honesty, I think I’ve probably just seen too many sci-fi movies and am just trying to deal with the fact that reality might be moving towards one of the many doomsday plot scenarios in one way or another. I think of myself as an optimist, but just realized I have a very pessimistic taste in movie plots. Maybe that, however, is why I enjoy learning about new tech stuff. Because there is a lot of hope in the future and if you pay attention, humanity is solving one crazy problem after another. The unprecedented speed at which they were able to develop a COVID-19 vaccine is a great example. I do see A.I. as one of the biggest civilization shifts that is coming sooner rather than later and there was something in me that made me want to understand it at a level where I ended up actually attempting to build my own rudimentary version of an A.I., hence M.O.Di. I learned a lot from that process and it definitely made me think of other programming related projects like it. I’m not sure if any of them are necessarily A.I. related, but I do have another program I have been working that turns your voice into a sequencer and I’m hoping to implement some tech stuff into live shows when those come back around. Eventually I would like to see if there are cool ways in which music can be made more immersive and enhance the listener’s experience using innovative technology.
You have said that you have always had a relationship with fashion, as your mom is a seamstress and boutique fashion designer and your stepdad runs a merchandising and textile printing company. In what ways are you trying to use fashion as a way to enhance your product as an artist? How do you feel that fashion and music influence each other? What can you tell me about your love for sustainable fashion and what kind of strides do you feel that the sustainable fashion industry has made in recent years?
My mom would always style me as a kid whenever I had some kind of performance. She would make me and my band, for example, little jackets or complete outfits before a performance and taught me that your appearance is the visual component that complements the music. It’s not just about what people are receiving through their ears, it’s about the entire sensory experience and I kind of took that as an approach to life. Fashion is just a tangible extension of your identity as a person. She would always use David Bowie as an example and I later found that many of my favorite artists like Andre 3000, Tyler the Creator, Jack White, Daft Punk, would use some sort of fashion statement to amplify their musical identities. More and more I am trying to apply this to myself and my music because I find it such an elegant way to help people understand it. The next challenge is trying to do this and promote the idea of sustainable fashion. Whereas in the past there was a negative stigma attached to thrift stores and second-hand shopping, it is now slowly becoming a hype trend. Vintage jeans and a thrifted shirt is a totally acceptable outfit to walk around with in SoHo nowadays. I think it’s great and I want to promote it and see it grow even more. Technology and the Internet (once again) are the catalysts and are providing ways in which peer-to-peer commerce is becoming easier and faster. Businesses like Depop and ThredUp are cultivating a growing consumer base in the younger generations and that shows that there is a shift away from the cheap mass produced stuff. All you have to do is show that second-hand and sustainable fashion is not just wearing worn clothes, but can actually be super cool and be made fashionable. It’s great that this is happening on social media too and seems to be forcing fast-fashion businesses to take steps toward a more environmentally friendly and ethical business model. If there was more money to be made in the sustainable fashion industry, I think it would help speed the process up even more and I hope to be a part of something that could make that happen.
You’ve talked about how many people were forced into a different approach to life in the past year and that you have tried to use that time to recalibrate and think of the path ahead. What does that path look like for you?
The past year was a major ‘coming to terms with reality’ moment for the world. I think we were all exposed to a lot of things that took us out of La La Land and allowed many of us the opportunity to take a step back and look at what is really important in life. At least that’s what came out of it for me. Artists are notoriously self-obsessed people, and you kind of have to be in order to attempt living that life. I’m actively trying to refrain from going down that path myself and instead on the path forward hope to integrate more meaningful undertakings. I am trying to think about how I can grow as an individual and an artist as well as provide some sort of good for the world using my creativity. Even if it’s the tiniest addition, I think keeping a sense of doing good in the back of your mind will make what you do more impactful.
You will be releasing your new single “Gasoline” on May 4th! What can you tell me about the song, as well as the music video you be releasing with it?
I know we just talked about a whole bunch of sci-fi stuff and went pretty nerdy. I also know that that day is national Star Wars day, and May the Fourth be with you forever, but for the sake of “Gasoline” that can all be thrown out of the window. This track has been a long time in the making and is really for people to move and feel good to. It’s a groovy bass and drum driven song and the lyrics are kind of a classic tug-of-war love story between two people who need each other’s love but are reluctant to accept it. It’s a different direction for Daytona Starsky, one that is perhaps more admissible to the pop world and yet maintains the unexpected elements in the production that I think make it ‘me’. The best music videos are the ones where your mind immediately jumps to the video when just the song plays, and I really feel that this video is that for me at this point. I can’t listen to the song without visualizing the video as a backdrop. The director, Roque Nonini, and I put our heads together in order to derive a concept of what Gasoline may look like based on the lyrics, the sonic emotion, and all that. Roque also has a deep love and understanding of music and we have a lot of overlapping interests that helped us make this concoction as potent as possible. Him and everyone else who helped with the project did an amazing job in taking it to a point beyond my expectations and I’m psyched to share it with everyone.
What can you tell me about your love for cooking and years as a professional chef? What kinds of dishes do you enjoy cooking? What inspired you to start doing your ‘Space Chef’ series on Instagram?
I’m a big believer in using one creative task to influence and stimulate another. Some visual artists might find writing to be helpful in enhancing their art, or vice-versa. Although I like to endeavor in a number of creative tasks, I think cooking stands out to me as a major passion outside of music. I think it’s special for the reason that you are literally creating something that you, or someone else, is going to consume to give them energy to live. There is a physiological consequence, aka taste, that is a constraint on cooking that makes it really challenging and exciting. Most people agree on what tastes good and what tastes bad. You may not agree with someone on what is the ‘best’ of something, but we share a general sameness in taste. And per dish, culture, culinary style, this is what creates the boundaries in which you can create. As long as you follow some fundamental principles and understand flavor relationships, you have a freedom in which you can create and explore ingredients. I love to eat and learn about good and interesting food, and think that’s why I wanted to learn how to make it for myself. I somewhat turned a passion into a profession with James Beard Award winning chef, Ilene Rosen, as my mentor. ‘Space Chef’ is really just me trying to share fun and interesting dishes with my social media audience while trying my best to adhere to the simplicity of short Instagram tutorials. I’ve secretly always wanted my own cooking show and I consider it like a knock-off version of my future cooking show. I’ve been pretty busy with other projects but I really enjoy making these videos and you should definitely be seeing some more editions of ‘Space Chef’ coming soon.
What’s next for you?
After “Gasoline” I have a few little snacks in the pipeline but after that is an album, the first Daytona Starsky album. I’m already knee deep in the production stage and I would say right now we have a solid anatomically accurate skeleton in place. Me and Rich Morales, who is executive producing the project, are in the process of adding on the meat and then the final touches. It’s slowly starting to feel like a coherent piece and I think we’re aiming on moving it into mix and mastering later on next month and then having a final version ready this summer. A lot still needs to happen, but it’s going to be some of the best material I’ve ever written. I’ve learned so much over these last years and have been fortunate to get to know many talented people who’ve taught me lessons along the way. I believe I’m putting all these lessons to good use on this project which is temporarily nicknamed ‘Project Q’, only because ‘q’ is the first letter on a qwerty keyboard. I think in a month or so I’ll reveal some more about it and I’ll have settled on what it’ll be titled. Hopefully live shows will be up and running by that point and we can finally all share the music in the same space. That may honestly be what I am most excited for, so I hope that you’ll stay tuned for all of it and to see you at the next show. Thank you Stitched Sound!