INTERVIEW: Velvet Starlings Play Balcony for Mental Health Foundation

Velvet Starlings front-man, Christian Gisborne, catches-up with GigSlutz on performing at Balcony Festival this weekend, in aid of Mental Health Foundation.

You play Balcony Festival this weekend, in aid of Mental Health Foundation? What made you want to get involved?
Here in California we’ve performed at many benefits to raise awareness for mental health – and during lockdown it seems like this is an issue that is more prevalent than ever. 

Why the Velvet Starlings? Where did the inspiration come from? 
Velvet Starlings is a lyrical reference to “Tired Starlings” in the song “White Room” by Cream. That song perfectly captures everything I could ever want to try to be. The melodies, the lyrics, the production, the execution of it all. 

We had a listen to the uplifting new track, ‘Karmic Lemonade,’ what’s it all about?
It’s about a relationship’s ability to go from sweet to sour. It’s like an ice-cold sip of lemonade when things are good. My approach to thinking about karma is somewhat mathematical. I like to think 50% of the time things will be bad and 50% of the time things will be good and in the end everything balances out. 

You Released your debut EP Love Everyone, Love Everything last year, what are the themes running through the EP?
Love Everything, Love Everyone has a bit of a dual meaning. On the one hand there is the 60s “love everything” approach that is very positive and which I am all for! But the other end of it is a look at how people (including me) seem to conduct themselves in their daily lives through social media – constantly liking, posting, and trying to prove themselves to everyone else. Being in high school, you see just how much your “social media presence” controls everything. Even in music, you could be the best band ever but without huge numbers no-one cares. That’s why the “Catch me outside how bout dat” girl is rapper now. She is a meme, has millions of followers, hence a multi-million dollar record deal. While some of the coolest bands ever are struggling to keep afloat in a world run by corrupt and all too powerful corporations. 

Tell us about your song-writing process, inspirations/influences?
Ahhhh! So many! First The Beatles of course. John Lennon, hands down, is my favourite artist of all time. Then The Who, The Doors, The Zombies. Of today though I’d have to say Ty Segall, all things Jack White, Sleater-Kinney, Cage the Elephant, Supergrass, and Temples are some of my favourites. 

You’ve been described as an absolute powerhouse for your live performance by Billy Sloan at BBC Scotland, what should we expect?
Well you never know! I’m doing the one man band act- due to social distancing – so as good as that can realistically sound.

What do you think are the essential ingredients to any production?
Well definitely gotta have big guitars, weirdest keyboard sounds possible sprinkled throughout, and vocal takes that are good – but not too good. 

How have you survived lockdown? What do you think has been essential to your mental health?
Jamming out – pissing off neighbours. Discovering new music. Watching wayyyyyy too much Community, South Park and Workaholics. 

How has life for Velvet Starlings changed due to Covid-19? Well a ton of cancelled shows and no shows in the near future, so that sucks…  but I’ve had a lot of time on my hands to write, fix-up old songs and track demos. Just getting ready for everything to get back to normal! 

What are you looking forward to most post-lockdown?

Playing live! Going to tons of shows! I had tickets to Supergrass in LA and they got cancelled right before coronavirus 

What else do you have coming-up next?
Karmic Lemonade, song and music video is out July 24th! We had an awesome video director and actor who went all out to create some crazy footage for a unique interpretation. We’ve already finished our 3rd record – just gotta record it. Should be out by 2021, we’ll def be touring it in the UK 

Who else do you recommend from this weekend’s Balcony Festival?
I am looking forward to catching sets from I Am Her & Idealistics – I’ve been checking out their stuff.

Velvet Starlings play Balcony Festival, this Saturday @ 6-9pm tune-in here