DJ Q&A: Star Eyes a.k.a. Vivian Host talks 'haunted house music', fashion, NYC

Categories: DJ Q&A

As former editor of the popular future-culture glossy XLR8R, few DJs know their stuff like Star Eyes, a.k.a. Vivian Host, now of NYC's Trouble & Bass party fame. Listening to her talk about music is as refreshing as reading her columns from back in the day. Come to think of it, she kind of reminds us of the Diablo Cody of dance parties, if that makes any sense. Anyhow, the silver-tongued siren is dropping in on flyover country tomorrow for Burlesque of North America's super-secret shindig (see flyer after the jump), and we wanted to catch up with her about what she's been up to since leaving the magazine and starting her full-time career as a party rocker.

Gimme Noise: You say you play 'haunted house' music. What kind of songs embody this style? Tell us more about your set!
Star Eyes: I came up with the term "haunted house" to describe the music I'm writing--it's a sort of mix of house and heavy bass music with dark themes, minor key synths, and creepy overtones, but its also got something tongue-in-cheek or funny about it. I guess that also applies to the music I play when I DJ. Some inspirations: soundtracks to old Mac and Nintendo games about dark castles, skeleton dances, Muppets, Guyanese voodoo gatherings of moon-gazers and jumbies, tropical thunderstorms, and weird weed trips at old hardcore and jungle raves. I would like to play the Halloween party at Scooby-Doo's mansion. If you want a more "sensible" explanation, I'm playing a lot of heavy-bass and bleepy house, dubstep and grime, UK funky, and other wobbly bits, and I sometimes sing over the top.
GN: When you left XLR8R, did you have a specific plan to move to NY and DJ?
What spawned this life-change and do you miss California?

SE: I moved to NYC a little over five years ago but I still worked at XLR8R up until July of this year. I left XLR8R because I was getting really busy with DJing and as part of Trouble & Bass. I was getting exhausted trying to do so many things at once so I had to make a choice, and music was calling me. I left San Francisco in 2004 because I was feeling antsy. I had a good opportunity to move to New York--I could do my editorial work from there and I had a lot of friends there. At the time, I was involved in Syrup Girls (with DJ Siren) and we were playing a lot in New York so I thought, why not move? Leaving San Francisco was a bit like breaking up with a boyfriend that you're still in love with, but it was the right decision. It took me a long time, but now I love New York and my Trouble & Bass crew and all my friends here and all the great music. I still miss California, all the wild afterparties, foggy SF air, the tacos, and the Sunset boat parties. 

GN: You've got cute style. How would you describe it and where do you get

your clothes?

SE: Thank you for saying so! I suppose it's a mix of goth (lots of black, coats with high collars, capes, high boots) and ex-raver (not  baggy pants, but I still like costume-y things like animal hats, skeleton gloves, and wild hoodies). Sometimes there's some 80s punk and/or dancehall elements thrown in--often it can be really referential. I guess it all makes sense to me together--urban armor + bad girl clothes with a sarcastic sense of humor. There are so many things I would like to wear, but we walk a lot in New York and on tour and I always have to stand up all night and dance, so things generally have to be comfortable. I'm sponsored by Mishka streetwear --if I'm wearing a hoodie or a crazy New Era hat chances are it's one of theirs--but other than that I get clothes anywhere. My favorite stores are Topshop in London, Pixie Market and Patricia Field in NYC, flea markets and Forever21!

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GN: You can only listen to one song for an entire month. Which do you choose?

SE: X-Mal Deutschland "Qual" 

GN: How did your collaboration with DNB superhero John B. come about on that durrrrty track from his In Transit album, "Take Me Home"?

John B and I have been friends for years, ever since we played the world's worst rave together in Atlanta when we were 19 years old. He had been wanting to do a tune with some dirty rapping on it and asked me if I thought I could do it, since I have kind of an L.A. Valley Girl accent. When I was in London in 2003, I was at his house, we drank a few Pimm's Cups, and I wrote and recorded the lyrics to "Take Me Home" in about two hours. I was really happy and surprised at how many people ended up playing it, and afterwards all the drum & bass fan dudes thought I was a dirty varmint, which was funny. 


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