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Kinnie Starr
Kinniw Starr is no stranger to labels ad stwreotypes

Starr Power

Kinnie Starr continues to challenge herself as an artist with the release her 5th album A Different Day - and she has a special challenge for all of us.

By Shelley Gummeson

Kinnie Starr is no stranger to labels and mislabels. Some make her feel good and some not so much.   When asked why, when she is such a diverse artist, her Aboriginal heritage takes the forefront of her identity over her European heritage she is quick to bring perspective to the generalization.  “I think it’s because I’m from here.  It’s the land I live on.  If I lived in Ireland I wouldn’t think about my native blood, I would say I’m Irish because I live in Ireland.  Let me state emphatically that it is the press that sensationalizes my native ethnicity, not me.  I’ve been trying to stay away from that question because people sensationalize the hell out of it.  I’m a mixed race Canadian girl who is an entrepreneur, and a self-taught musician.  I have a background in extensive theory in the politics of race and gender.  I mean I’m a smart lady not just a girl with mixed blood.” 

The angry women persona has been slapped on Starr as well, perhaps in part due to being a woman with hip hop roots. When asked if she agrees with that, she is again ready to lay it straight.  “I’m motivated by anger in that I’m aware of the injustices that exist in our culture and some aspects of global culture.  Again the media sensationalizes that whole rebellion thing.  As a whole the press looks for the easiest label and sticks with it, copy and paste right.” 

It�s accurate to describe what I do as raw and feral because I�m not skilled, I�m intuitive. There�s a big difference.

Then there are some labels that are accurate.  Her music has been described as raw and feral, to this she replies, “It is accurate to describe what I do as raw and feral because I’m not skilled, I’m intuitive.  There’s a big difference.  There are a lot of very skilled musicians with not a strong internal pulse.  Those are people who can play scales out their butts; they can craft the technical side of music.  Someone like me lacks that skill, but I make up for it instinctually.”

Kinnie Starr
Kinnie Starr has been down the mainstream lobel road before
and now wants no part of it.

Kinnie Starr is not fast food pop nor is she entirely hip hop. She is a multi-faceted, educated artist who knows and speaks her own mind in rap, in song and on the page. On her own terms, with her own words she has carved out a career to afford her a solid underground following with a very loyal fan base. Starr says she’s just getting started.    “I started late so I’m just getting good now.  I didn’t start playing music until my mid 20’s, whereas most musicians by the time they’re 30, have been playing for 25 years. By the time I was 30 I was playing music for about 5 years. It’s a new thing to me, so, I’m unskilled, untrained and just starting to learn how to do it. 

“I am very appreciative of my underground following,” continues Kinnie. “I mean I’ve never had a big marketing budget, or splashy videos or modelling campaigns, you know those things that make people superstars, so I’m very grateful to anybody who listens to my music and purchases it.”   

So far it’s working out well for Kinnie Starr.  She resisted the advances of the commercial music machine to opt for a career that she could build to suit and be emotionally responsive to.  Releasing her 5th album, A Different Day, produced by Chin Injeti, Starr reveals another layer of herself with a collection of songs based on love in all its manifestations.  She also challenged herself to take a different approach.  “This album is packed with love,” she explains. “Each song was chosen for its content. It had to be about love.  But there is also intensity in the song writing.  What I did with this record is I tried to stay away from hip hop and I tried to pare down lyrics as an editing exercise as an artist.  It’s easy for me to rap, I can rap all day long.  To write cohesive stripped down sentiment is more challenging as a poet and a writer.  So that is the challenge I took upon myself for the record.  I’m really happy with the writing value in those songs. I just tried to get to the core of the sentiments behind the songs and it was really fun.”

Having left the bravado of hip hop on the back burner, is this album a good reflection of the singer/songwriter? “I think so,” says Kinnie.  “My friends and family who know me best say this is the best record I’ve ever made, it’s the closest to my personality, it the most self realized.”

This album is packed with love. Each song was chosen for its content. It had to be about love.

A Different Day is the 5th album for Kinnie Starr as well as the title track.  She says of the title, “I’m just trying to remind myself that each day is new.  I’m a fairly emotional person to be working in the arts and to write the kind of stuff I do.  I can get really wrapped up in the day and feel like sometimes there is no hope.  If I can remember that tomorrow is different I tend to feel a lot better.”

Not only does Starr’s thoughts and interpretation of her world take flight through her music, but also through her words as a poet and as an visual artist.  She has published her first book of poems and drawings entitled How I Learned to Run through House of Parlance Media Inc.  In addition Kinnie recognizes the value of passing along her skills in writing as both a mentor and by teaching song writing and literacy through hip hop as a way to have access to young minds.

Kinnie continues to challenge herself and raise her awareness of her role in the arts. In doing so she challenges those around her with a call to action.  “If I could just leave with a passing request” she says, “to watch between 1 and 3 hours a day less of on line and mass culture media.  That is my recommendation to anyone who will listen.  Make more art - watch less TV.”

Kinnie Starr is preparing to go on tour in support of A Different Day.  You can find out where she will be appearing by going to her MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/kinniestarr.
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