Smashing straight out of Philadelphia, Starkey is a space man on a mission.   His sound is completely unique in which he often takes over your mind and transports you onto another planet.  His use of heavy flowing synths make up a space-step sound that draws you in.  He blew audiences away with building a fully live sampled track in two hours on the Mary Anne Hobbs show early this year and then his LP Ear Drums & Black Holes was released on Planet Mu.

From the outer reaches of the solar system we managed to communicate with Starkey over a cup of tea.

What have you been up to the past two weeks?

“Space Traitor Vol. 1” was released and I’ve been trying to finish up the tunes for Volume 2 which will hopefully drop in April of 2011.  I also played the record release party in Philly, and last night played a show in Miami for the first time.

When did you start making music?

I started writing music when I was a really young kid.  My parents own a Drive-In Movie Theatre, so at night there would be a high school girl from the neighborhood watching me.  We had a piano in the house, and I always enjoyed dabbling on it.  Luckily, a lot of the people watching me were interested in music, so they would try to teach me how to actually read music and just little songs on the piano that we could play together.  I started taking private lessons probably when I was as young as 6-7 years old.   The funny thing is that even at that young age, I always wanted to take what I was learning and come up with my own songs, not play what was on the page.  So I started writing music really early on, and it’s developed as I learned more instruments.  I started on clarinet, then moved to alto saxophone and oboe.  After that I got interested in guitar, but quickly switched to playing the bass, electric and upright. Along the way I played in so many different kinds of groups and bands.  I was really diverse in my musical output.

What sort of stuff were you making early on?

The first “bands” I played in were pretty punk rock… more on the hardcore side of things.  But I also played indie-ish stuff and jazz/classical.  The earliest “Starkey” tracks still sounded a lot like what I’m doing now, but were a bit more downtempo and gestural in their development.  It was like me trying to make Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor tracks electronically, mixed with Tricky and Aphex Twin records.  I think that’s the best way of describing it.

What did you listen to growing up?

Everything except for country music really.  The 3 records that I think had the most impact on me at an early age were “Thriller”, “The White Album”, The Alan Parsons Project, Vangelis’ “China” and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” original cast recording.  Those were the albums that I heard in the car and around the house the most… from my parents.  I think of those as being important to my musical foundation now, but at the time I don’t think I really had a clue how important hearing those records would be for my musical language.  When I look back, there was a Christmas that one of our good family friends gave me a cassette tape that was kind of turning point in my feeling about music.  He made me a tape that had the Beastie Boys “Check Your Head” on one side and Run DMC on the other.  He told me to not play it around my parents because there was some language on it, haha.  But I remember listening to that tape over and over again… and thinking how amazing it was.

What do you think of circuit bending?

I’m all about electronic experimentation, but I’m not actually involved in circuit bending myself.  I teach music production at a college in Philly, and I’ve studied the concert electronic music scene and written music under my given name that fits in that world.  It just hasn’t been a lot of my output lately, because I’ve been so busy with all the “Starkey” music.

What would you be if you weren’t a music producer?

I think I’d enjoy being a physicist.  Possibly something having to do with the universe and space.  I was really good at Physics in high school and it’s always been interesting to me.  I was always a math guy.

Favourite genre of music?

Grime.  It really changed my attitude towards music back in like 2001-2003 when things were really starting to take shape.  That era, like 2003-2006 was such an exciting period in music.  The rawness, the energy, there’s nothing like it.  The music I’ve made has always taken influences from grime, but the writing has always been a bit more song-oriented than beat-oriented… which is how a lot of the early grime was built around.  It was impact music… most of which was built around the idea of mc’s and quick mixes.

What film would Starkey soundtrack?

Definitely a science fiction movie.  Something post-apocalyptic or futuristic ala “Logan’s Run” or “THX1138”.