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.
Garland Jeffreys’ album, 14 Steps to Harlem, grew out of a soulful period of retrospection late in the artist’s life and career. As a veteran songwriter, Jeffreys started writing provocative, ahead-of-its- time, genre-bending songs in the early 1970s, with lyrics focused on everything from relationships to racial diversity to political turmoil. Now in his seventies, the New York musician is looking back on his life with an album that takes on bold topics and includes a title track inspired by his turbulent relationship with his father. Jefferys spoke with Georgie about his latest release, his relationship with Lou Reed and his somewhat unconventional approach to songwriting. Georgie—14 Steps to Harlem is a great album. Garland Jeffreys—Thank you. I’m very proud of the record. I took some chances in recording it but had confidence that it could be something special. You don’t know a record is good or bad until it’s done – then you know. I worked on the album with my co-producer, James Maddock, who’s a great artist in his own right. G—The title track, “14 Steps to Harlem”, stood out to me. I read that it was written with your father in mind. Did the experience of writing about your dad
Since his 2005 breakthrough, Breaking Kayfabe, Cadence Weapon has been an artist to watch. The two-time Polaris Music Prize nominee, writer, producer and rapper is known for his innovative musical style and has made waves worldwide. Following a five year hiatus – which included a move from Montreal to Toronto and a stint as Edmonton’s poet laureate – Cadence Weapon returns with a new self-titled album. Cadence Weapon is armed with furious flows, big collaborations and themes that include dance-party politics and dystopian futures. For his latest effort, the rapper is noticeably more focused and is reintroducing himself in a big way. Georgie caught up with Cadence Weapon to talk about the new album, his musical journey, and the L-word: legacy. G—Your new self-titled album is being called a “reintroduction to Cadence Weapon.” What does that mean? Cadence Weapon—I feel like I’ve matured a lot more and the music really reflects that. There is a reason why this album is self-titled. It feels like a rebirth for me; it feels like my first album in a lot of ways. I feel like the creative process for this album is what I’ve always wanted to do in my career. I was
Using his life experiences growing up in downtown Toronto as a source of inspiration, Langston Francis is on his grind as a young artist discovering himself and the world of music around him. We caught up with Francis on the heels of his debut single release to talk about his foray into music, early influences and his direction as an artist. G—You are still in high school. Do you find it hard to juggle your new music career with school? Langston Francis—It’s challenging. For example, I had two exams in one day, then a show at night and I was feeling under the weather. I have school every day, so it definitely gets hard to juggle things sometimes, but it’s sort of something I just have to take in stride. I’m just so grateful for all the opportunities I have. G—Can you tell us a little about your first single, “FCKD IT UP”? LF—I wrote the song and beat when I was 14. At the time, the song had a certain meaning to me. We ended up finishing the song about 12 months later, after that it took on a whole new meaning. As I grow up and change