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Starley

Apr 16/2017
WORDS Leslie Ken Chu PHOTOGRAPHY Alex Evans MAKEUP & HAIR Sam Lee

Starley’s path to platinum status has been filled with starts and stops. After years spent trying to launch her career in her hometown of Sydney, Australia, and later in London and the United States, the popstar hopeful grew depressed. Her anxieties heightened. She was ready to quit. But before she decided to shift her focus onto her next passion – fitness – she made one final attempt at music.

Telling herself that God works in mysterious ways but to remain faithful in his process, Starley penned the personal salve, “Call on Me”. The song caught the attention of Australia’s Central Station Records. Since then, everything changed for Starley. Central Station’s subsidiary, Tinted Records, released “Call on Me” as her debut single last July. Epic Records re-released the track later in October. To date, the song has peaked at number 70 on the Billboard Hot 100, and its remixed version by Aussie producer Ryan Riback has garnered over 338 million Spotify streams.

Starley is currently touring North America for the first time supporting British electronic group Clean Bandit. Georgie got some time with the budding singer to talk about her mainstream ascent, dealing with mental health, and the importance of fitness in her life.

Georgie—I find it interesting that you would have pursued fitness if music hadn’t worked out. For many people, fitness comes with its own set of anxieties. Do you ever get anxious about health or appearance the same way you do with performing? Do you believe that taking care of your body is essential for taking care of your mind?

Starley—I think a lot of performers and artists in general, we naturally have a tendency to be insecure. But I do realize that I’m on the same playing field with everyone else, and everybody feels the same way. Everybody feels anxious sometimes. Do I believe that taking care of my body is essential for my mind? I definitely do. I think that it goes hand in hand. Good eating and working out on a regular basis are super important to keeping fit and also to keeping my mind in a healthy space.

G—Did keeping fit help you push through your depression about your career not working out the way you’d hoped?

S—When I was living in London, the weather’s quite terrible. It’s usually overcast all the time. It did get me down because a lot of the time, I missed my family, the sun would never be shining, and I was quite lonely in London. And then my music wasn’t really working out for me…. During that time, I didn’t listen to any music.… I really hated music at that point. I was depressed. I didn’t want it to be in my face so much, so I worked out to sort of get away from the music scene. [Working out] definitely was a way for me to push through and try to do something positive for myself instead of wallowing away in my sorrows.

G—Fitness is very ritualized with practices and regimens you have to stick with every day. Do you have any mantras or rituals that help you push through anxieties related to performing, touring, or your career in general?

S—Before I have anything super important, I always pray. I think praying is really good. It’s really soothing. It helps me feel connected spiritually, and that keeps me grounded.… And then right before I go on stage, I do a whole bunch of push-ups, and I’ve been getting my band in on that as well. We do sit-ups and push-ups before we jump on stage, and I think that’s a good way to kick out the nerves and just get ready to go.

G—You’ve been making the media rounds with interviews and performances on radio and television. How have you been coping with this new whirlwind of activity?

S—At first, it was really overwhelming ‘cause I’m not used to this amount of attention, and I’m a pretty quiet, private person normally. But I come from a really big family. There’s five kids in my family, and I’m used to talking and having a laugh. It’s kind of just a little bit of adjustment that I’ve had to make with my daily routine, and it is quite intense, but I’ve slowly been getting used to it, so it’s all good. I’m really happy that people want to see me and that they’re so excited about the song that I get to go and do those interviews and let people know a bit more about me. It’s really cool to have those opportunities, so I’m grateful.

G—Have you been to Canada or the United States before? Where else has this tour taken you that you haven’t been before?

S—So far, I’ve basically just done the rounds in Australia and the United States and Canada. I’ve only been to Toronto in Canada. We did some really good rounds there. We went to a lot of radio stations. We did some TV as well. In the United States, I did The Today Show, Good Morning America, and lots of radio. It’s been great. I currently live in the United States. I’m looking forward to getting out to Europe because there’s a lot of fans out there. We’ve gone gold in a lot of those places – like France, Sweden, and Germany – so I’m looking forward to getting out there and seeing those people and the fans and actually singing to them.

G—Has anything on this tour surprised you? Fan reactions, certain cities you’ve visited?

S—To date, the most exciting thing I’ve had happen is when we were doing The Today Show, and we had a competition where some fans could hashtag the show and get in to watch me sing “Call on Me” live. It was really beautiful just to see how excited they were, and it was really the first time that I had fans in front of me like that, who were really just there for me. And that was really special.

G—You like to throw yourself into scary situations as a form of personal development. What’s the most rewarding risk you’ve taken?

S—Moving [to London] when I had no real connections there, and no family, and not much money, but just moving there because I had a dream was the biggest risk I’ve ever taken in my life. I was there for a long time. It wasn’t like I was just there for six months…. [G]oing through everything that I went through over there is really what makes me who I am today. I couldn’t be more grateful for having those ups and downs over there.… [R]isk-taking is part of the nectar of life. Really, I think it’s super important to take risks when you believe in something.

 

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