Jasmine Phull talks to Dallas’ first lady of house music ahead of her Bitch Presents... show.
As the third biggest city in Texas, Dallas’ economy is primarily based on banking, commerce and telecommunications. It’s music scene, at the best of times, revels in country rock, where plectrums pluck strings and sticks beat drums, and no one knows this better than Gina Star.
From Texas, to LA, to the UK, and most recently back to LA, Gina Star moved where the music lives. Yet as a born and bred Texan, Gina Star can thank her parents’ varied musical tastes for directing her toward her most unorthodox path. Unorthodox for a Texan, anyway. In 2009, Miss Star set up shop in the UK and while playing the A&R role, met the team behind Toolroom Records. It was from here that founder Mark Knight and co. welcomed the lady Star to a label whose roots, though unlike hers, were deeply engrained within her.
In 2009 you moved from the US to the UK to further your career. Why do you think the UK is the place to be?
The UK has a great dance music culture that has a lot of history. There are lots of amazing studios that specialise in dance music, and the UK’s proximity to Europe makes it perfect for travel. I actually moved back to LA about three weeks ago, but will still be visiting frequently to work in the studio.
Has the UK shaped your musical output?
The UK has given me lots of opportunities to grow as an artist. There are so many talented people there, and it’s so fun to collaborate with them.
How did your Toolroom Records collaboration come about?
I was doing A&R for a label in LA, so I got to know all the guys at Toolroom (Records) over the course of a few conferences and visits to Maidstone. They wanted me to consult on a few business issues, so I took the opportunity to move over to England and sink my teeth into the scene there. Shortly thereafter, I produced “This Is Hollywood” which ended up in the top 10 on Beatport, so things kind of took off.
Was there someone from your youth that was instrumental in the beginning of your musical journey?
Well my parents were really into music, and there was always music playing in my house. They were always talking about the artists and history of songs that came on the radio and they were very eclectic so I learned about all different genres. Without this mentality being instilled in me from a young age I don’t know if I would have gotten into dance music, seeing that there was such a small following for it in Texas.
- Date: Saturday 24th September 2011
- Event: Bitch Presents Toolroom Records Gina Star and Guests at Venus
- Venue: Venus
How important do you think the live gig is? Do you think listeners can gain a totally different perspective or view when simply listening to you via their speakers?
I think the live gig is crucial in making a connection with listeners. I mean, I know that when I go to see a DJ or band, the experience can totally change my perspective about their music – for better or worse.
Who are you currently listening to?
Nero, Grum, Two Door Cinema Club, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Little Dragon, Fedde Le Grand and Calvin Harris.
One thing that hasn’t changed in music since your youth?
I’m still just as passionate about music as I was when I was little. It totally consumes and takes precedent over everything I do. I love discovering new artists and new sounds, yet I still listen to lots of the same stuff that my parents were listening to back in the 80’s.
How important is the visual aesthetic, on-stage, for Gina Star?
Well I’m currently developing new visuals, but it’s really all about the music for now. Over time the live show will continue to grow and I will make more and more investments in it.
Is one gender more or less represented than the other or is the music world genderless?
I see it as genderless but many people do not. In the DJ world, there are way more guys than girls, just take a glance at the top 100 DJs.
The most influential city in terms of your musical output?
It’s a toss up between London and LA. In LA there is a very hippy approach to music creation and all ideas are welcome no matter how strange. In London, there is a better understanding of electronic music and more people to collaborate with.
Recent release ‘I Want it Now’ sampled a Queen track. How did this come about and how hard was it to get the green light from Queen’s people?
Well I have always been a huge Queen fan, which I can thank my dad for, and I was at this festival last fall and they had this brilliant Queen cover band called Mercury playing there. As I was rocking out in the front of the crowd, the song “I Want It All’ came on and I suddenly had this thought that it would make a great anthemic style house record. I figured that someone had probably already done it but to my surprise no one had… so away I went to the studio. I originally made the record as a bootleg for WMC, and when it got such a huge response from the DJs, we went down the avenues to clear it (not thinking it would ever actually happen). When EMI came back and said that Queen Music really liked it and wanted to see it come out, we were ecstatic.
Essential item for any plane trip?
I have a little kit that contains: eye mask, ear plugs, headphones, sleeping tablets, and a neck pillow.
What’s coming up for Gina Star?
I have been in the studio a lot lately and have just finished a few projects. I’ve done a remix for Tiesto and Mark Knight, and another one for Chris Willis. I’ve also got a few original projects almost completed. Then there’s the ongoing tour. In the coming months I’ll be visiting Egypt, China, England, and Canada.
Interview: Jasmine Phull
Catch Gina Star at Venus, Manchester this Saturday for Bitch Presents. Tickets are available below.
Tickets are no longer available for this event