Artist You Should Know: Phebe Starr

Australian-born/LA-based songstress Phebe Starr has been grabbing the attention from the likes of Paste, Nylon, Neon Gold and more with her powerful, emotive vocals. Read on to get the 411 on Phebe’s new single “Lavender Scars” that just premiered on Stereogum, tour, AUDIENCE Network special, and more.

You just premiered your new single “Lavender Scars” on Stereogum, and they said, “A mark of great artists is the ability to translate devastating moments into resonating beauty, and Starr certainly achieves this in penning this song for a close friend grieving.” Tell us the inspiration behind the track.
The song was written in response to my friend’s father’s illness (Alzheimer’s) and death. I was working alone in the studio when I received her text that her father had passed away. I didn’t know what to say. Life hadn’t really prepared me to handle the harsh reality of loss in my own life or in anyone I was close to. I knew the polite response was always to say something along the lines of ‘I’m so sorry,’ or even more cliché ‘Everything happens for a reason,’ but I felt these words were inadequate compared with the enormity of the situation.

The fact is there have been and there will be many times in life that I can not make sense of sorrow and the grief that this world seems to be riddled with. As Queen Elizabeth said so perfectly ‘Grief is price we pay for love’.  So for everything I felt sitting there in that moment, I wrote this song ‘Lavender Scars’ to honor the importance of freedom in the midst of grief and suffering.

Congrats for hitting 1 million plays on Spotify with “Feel My Love!” How did you feel when you found out you hit that milestone?
I wish it was a million dollars lol but it’s nice to know people are listening and connecting with the songs 😉

Who are your biggest musical inspirations?
I have many for different reasons. I’m a big fan of the classics Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Bjork + Sufjan Stevens. I admire females who have recently paved their own way. I’m in love with Aurora music. I think she is an incredible new talent.

We loved seeing you at SXSW this year, what was your experience like?
Coming from Australia I’ve heard of the famous SXSW for years now and I feel people feared me into being extremely ready for the experience. It was busy, fun, exciting and an amazing way to start playing shows in the USA. I would do it all again.

What would you say is the biggest challenge for emerging artists in today’s ever evolving music world?
The biggest challenge I see is how much songwriters/artists get paid for their music. Its an interesting time in the economy of music and it does make me sad when I hear stories of older musicians in Sydney Australia telling me how their lives and income have changed dramatically because of the digital age. I’ve never known differently and i’m happy to be surviving but it makes me question how this affects music long term and also the value consumers place on music as a skill.

You have a few shows coming up in the LA, NYC, and Chicago – what are your live shows like? What’s your most memorable show experience so far?
I am currently playing with two amazing musicians/songwriters. Who also play in two amazing bands JUDE and VENCE. They make it really fun because they have a similar experimental easygoing approach to our live show like I do. We are always trying to find creative way to make our live show better. We play with drums and keys and cram a lot of different sounds into each of their riggs.

You’ve received attention from the likes of Paste, Stereogum, NYLON, and Daytrotter — this is pretty impressive– at what point in artist’s career would you say they have reached success? Do you feel that success is an ever-evolving cycle?
For me, success is that moment someone writes me a message or comes up to me at a show and says that one of my songs spoke to them. I want people to have experiences that bring joy and hope to their lives. I slave away most of my time trying to make something beautiful for people so when someone feels that emotion I feel a strong sense of achievement.

Triple J is massive in Australia! It’s known for placing emphasis on supporting local and indie musicians, which is of great value for emerging artists.  What would you say is the equivalent of Triple J in the U.S.?
Australian and American music scenes are so different. Although we have Triple J we really don’t have anything else for Indie musicians whereas American radio is so big, if you miss out on one station there are 20 others who might like your music.

Why is the coffee so BOMB in Australia — we can’t get enough of those esky’s and Any final thoughts?
Coffee is the best in Australia! Somewhere along the line it became an art for us and the normal Australian became an educated coffee critic. I can’t give you a subjective reason why that is, it just is. And Eskys are the BOMB. Just yesterday two fishermen were stuck at sea because their boat sunk and the Esky saved their lives. Final thoughts….Sharks will eat you and yes Kangaroos are scary but Drop Bears are the WORST.

P.S. WATCH Trailer: “Phebe Starr: Live From Austin” via AUDIENCE Network Airing Friday, July 29th at 8pm ET/PT on DirectTV Ch 239

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