Starkey is back with his debut EP for Ninja Tune, Open The Pod Bay Doors. It’s been a busy year for Philadelphia’s PJ Geissinger that’s involved constant producing, remixing, touring and a stint as one of MistaJam’s Daily Dose of Dubstep residents.
MistaJam.com catches up with him about his new EP.
What’s the release about?
That’s a tough question. But just like all my releases, it’s basically a snap shot of where my heads at at this current time. The title track’s title is obviously taken from 2001 A Space Odyssey, and lyrically the record is about a person dying, while losing air, thinking about their loved one. It kind of plays off that particular scene in 2001 but goes on to say ok, well what would happen? You’d run out of oxygen in your little spacecraft so what are you going to say in your head during those last few breaths.
How long did the EP take?
I’ve been working on these tracks basically since I finished Space Traitor Vol. 2, and the only track that I wrote with this particular EP in mind was Open the Pod Bay Doors pt. 2, which I thought would be a nice way to end the release and kind of tie the title track back in at the end. However, Blood Roses, is a track that I’ve been kind of re-visiting and refining since late last year.
When Ninja Tune approached me about doing a release, we listened to a bunch of tracks I was working on at the time and just figured out what would make the most concise release, but still show my different production flavors. I’ve been lucky in that we always seem to figure out a way to make such diverse releases feel coherent.
What made you want to hook up with Ninja Tune for the EP?
Well Ninja Tune is a label that I’ve respected for a really long time. I’ve been a huge fan of Cinematic Orchestra, just to name one act, for instance. And they’ve always been one of those labels that you can really rely on for a solid release schedule and pushing the envelope. I was told they were interested in doing something with me, so we started talking, met up in London and this EP was the result. It’s definitely really exciting to be a part of their roster. They’ve even signed a few of my friends recently and people I’ve released on my own label Seclusiasis, including Raffertie and Slugabed.
Where did you draw influences for the EP from?
This release is the first one that I really started playing around with real drum sounds in the forefront, as well as guitars. I bought a guitar back in January and have been messing around with it a lot. I grew up playing bass, but really wanted to explore using the guitar in some compositions. Pod Bay Doors was probably one of the first songs I worked on with it. Then both Rayguns and Pod Bay Doors rely on “acoustic” drums for sections of the track. I’ve been thinking more about some of the music I used to write when I was in bands and some of the people that influenced me like Mogwai, Rachel’s and Gospeed You Black Emperor and how I can incorporate that sound into what I’m doing. Then at the same time, mixing it with grime, dubstep and the other electronic music that I enjoy.
How would you say your music has developed since your last release?
Like any release I do, I don’t sit down and say, ‘right, I need to make a track for the dancefloor today.’ Or, ‘I’m gonna sing a lyric on this track.’ I just do whatever comes naturally to me on the day. When I picked up my mic and sang a hook on Club Games from Ear Drums and Black Holes, it’s because I felt like doing it and thought it was the right thing to do for the track.
That’s how you grow as a producer and how you create music that isn’t just about re-creating a specific place and time. I always try to create something that can be enjoyed on repeat listens and will work in many different settings – the club, the car, headphones, wherever.
There’s a grime sound throughout this EP – how much is grime a part of your music?
It’s a huge part of what I do. It’s the music that really changed how I think about sounds and music in general. That period when grime was popping off was such an amazing time in production. The sounds were so fresh and unique. I tend to compose more than a basic riddim though, and most music that people tag as grime is pretty straight forward and more about writing beats.
But there’s a string of producers right now that I kind of think have a similar take on the sound as me, people like Swindle for instance, who’s taking the essence of grime and really developing it into his unique sound. I’m not taking anything away from a basic 8bar track though. Just when I’m in the studio the classical music background and years of music theory, piano, bass and all that just kind of creeps in and takes over. Funny enough, I recently finished up a couple of tracks that are in that classic 8bar style and just about immediacy and the beat.
They’re kind of fun and turned out pretty cool. They’ve been going over well in the clubs too. But I pretty much let them play for a minute max and mix out – that’s my style.
What’s next for the rest of the year?
I’m really focusing on doing production for other artists right now as well as writing new Starkey tracks. I’ve also done some remixes, some of which will be dropping this year.
I’ve got one for J-Sweet which is dropping on my label Slit Jockey, as well as one for DS1. There’s also ones for Beatrice Eli, Betty Black, Jinder and a few others that will most likely be 2012. One thing that I’m really happy with that’s supposed to be dropping late November is a track I produced for Karizma, an artist from Nottingham, called Bad Boy. It’s one of my favourites right now. I’m always writing, always in the studio with artists and keeping things busy. It’s something I just have to do.
Starkey’s debut EP for Ninja Tune, Open The Pod Bay Doors, is out now on 12″ vinyl and download.
Words by Sam Moir | Follow Sam on Twitter