Interview: Kinnie Starr
AS PREVIOUSLY SEEN ON ANCHOR SHOP-October 8, 2014
Your latest album, From Far Away, was just released via Aporia Records and features a wide variety of genres from rap and folk to pop and beyond. It’s also incredibly socially conscious. On the new record you’ve really managed to blend all of those different things into one very concise sound. How did you go about doing that and what was that process like for you?
Well, I’ve been mixing genres since as long as I can remember. It’s kind of how I got my start. I’ve worked in a lot of different backgrounds like folk, metal, pop, and stuff like that. This is my 7th album, so I’ve always been doing this, and it’s what I’m familiar with. I’m always pushing it a bit more, and I’ll experiment, but the multiple genres have always been my stamp.
You’ve been making music for nearly twenty years now and over the past two decades have become known as something of a provocateur, rapper, singer, a poet, speaker, songwriter, producer and beat maker, so definitely a woman of many talents. Do you identify with any one particular facet of the artistic experience more so than others?
I don’t really think about it. I prefer to focus on it all as a whole. I just try to make music that is interesting and authentic. I don’t really identify with one thing. I just like to try to create work that is meaningful, or at least, I hope it’s meaningful! [laughs]
You’re getting the chance to tour with David Suzuki soon working a lot with first nations, local governments, legal experts, etc. to raise awareness about local and regional issues. Obviously this is a huge concern for you. What made you want to get so involved in these issues, and how do you integrate them into your music?
If you really listen to the concept of my music, you’ll hear me talking about race, identity, family issues, health, and all of those things are important to me which is why they come out in my music. As far as the David Suzuki tour, their reps contacted my agent requesting me, so I responded as quickly as possible to say yes and got on as many shows as I could. My tour is partly booked so I’ll be performing at the Ottawa and Victoria shows. It’s going to be great to be surrounded by so many like-minded people including my friends and family and the whole community.
It’s a great form of promotion in terms of bringing awareness to our planet. This all goes with my music because I’m about raising awareness and showing the broader issues. We see a lot of celebrities promote them, but these should be concerns for us as a human beings. It’s funny cause I have interviewers ask me ‘why are you concerned about the planet?’ and my response is always ‘how can you not be concerned about the planet?’
Not only have you been involved in music, but you’ve also done movies and even Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas. How have those experiences helped you to become more well rounded as a performer?
Everything you do makes you well rounded. You can’t separate yourself from your work. If I stayed home all day taking selfies, I would suck as a perfomrer. But when i’m out and engaged in the world, it benefits me as a human being. If you just stick to one thing, then you become that one thing, but if you do many things, you become many things as a person. There’s no separation between the experiences we take in and who we are as a human being. You can’t not be well rounded in whatever it is you do.
With your new album and upcoming tour now on the horizon, what do you do to ensure that your performances and new music remain as fresh as possible, not only for your older fans but also new ones?
I just try to be focused on stage, and try to do the work and be a disciplined and authentic performer and human being. I don’t believe in trying to make music just to gain fans, I think those things either happen or they don’t. I know that there are decisions that need to be made that can make popularity beneficial, but I’m just about being authentic so I try really hard not to think about that stuff. I want to make the work, make it real, authentic and have my expression in it. I don’t believe in chasing the media and popularity because that’s not how I was raised. I wasn’t raised to manifest popularity. Even as a kid, my parents always encouraged me to be myself. I don’t think you can really gather fans, they kind of have to come to you, and I think that’s why I’m an underground artist because I don’t really know how to generate popularity or likes. You can buy all of that stuff, but I’d rather make the work and perform from the centre of my body and think of those things instead.