Lady Starlight: You don't have to sell your soul to do this
When you think of Lady Gaga, chances are immediate associations are a long way off from hardcore metal. But that's just what fans will be getting tonight at Xcel Energy Center with the pop queen's opening act, Lady Starlight -- a metal DJ and performance artist.
Any studious Little Monster will be able to tell you that Lady Gaga and Lady Starlight first had their start together back in 2007, when the two started performing together as Lady Gaga and the Starlight Revue, where Starlight would spin metal records between Gaga's tunes. It was an unlikely pairing that worked surprisingly well -- and then, of course, when Gaga became an internationally famous pop star, she took her long-time bestie on tour with her.
This is Lady Starlight's second tour with Gaga, first on her Monster's Ball tour and now on her Born This Way Ball tour. She joined the tour in New Zealand, and has been with Gaga since. Gimme Noise caught up with the artist on the joys of DJing, figuring out her live act, and life from the inside of the glitterball.
Gimme Noise: How has the tour been going so far?
Lady Starlight: Really fantastic. Just a dream come true. I started in New Zealand, and went to Europe and South America, and now the States. Now we're home... I can finally go Walgreens.
Tell me about your work as a DJ. Your specialty is metal and old school punk. You two originally started working together as Lady Gaga and the Starlight Revue, a dance-meets-metal party where your music was largely genre-bending. I have to admit, I don't hear about many metal DJs, especially female metal DJs. How do you view your role?
Well, the cool thing is that when you're doing something that no one else is doing, you're automatically the best. [Laughs] So it's a nice way to view my talents... It's a very unique thing that I do. I've collected all types of music, and one of my major passions in the past has been the '60s mod culture, and sort of my ethos as a DJ comes from that ethos, where you're not getting on the deck if you don't have original material. Not just original LPs, but original singles, too, because that means you put a lot of things into it... [DJing] becomes your lifestyle. I search the globe for original vinyl because I think it makes a difference. I think you hear the difference it makes, for the crowd. Just playing from a laptop, that doesn't do anything for me. I think you have to have a lot of integrity.
Have you discovered any great record stores along the way? Any exciting discoveries you'd like to share?
The best place is in Scotland, in Glasgow. Record stores are intriguing because they're usually organized in a similar way, but this guy somehow has the same brain as me. [Laughs] It's completely awesome to see this strange way of filing things. The way that he categorized the genres was very different than what most people do, but it's the way I do.
Tell me about that. How do you go about organizing your records?
Not very well. [Laughs] Not well, is the main quality of my organization process. At home, I used to just categorize things in terms of historical significance... My history of what I had been through at a certain point. But when I'm DJing, it's in terms of what I'm experiencing at that moment and what works best. I link band members together--bands that have shared members, I tend to link those together, which only nerds like myself would get it. They'd hear it and they'd be all... [makes nerdy laughter].
I'm curious about your opening performance for Lady Gaga tomorrow night. It's not exactly a metal crowd. What can the audience expect?
What I'm doing is... it's all connected. My DJing is sort of separate... On the Monster Ball tour, it was sort of separate. Playing Slasher, like, give them experiences that they wouldn't get otherwise, and I sort of get these looks of confusion. [Laughs] I've always been sort of antagonistic. So, on this tour I'm actually obviously sharing my DJing and my passion for metal and rock, but on stage, I'm doing more like experimental music and noise and performance art and costume changes and kind of going inside my brain and doing all the tings I'm going to do and saying, "I'm just going to go for it."
What I'm trying to doesn't really work just yet, because I don't really have the budget for it... Basically, it's a window into my brain, to what happens when I listen to music that I love. So it's these visions that I have, and I'm trying to put them to life... It's mostly dance based but it involves these visions that come to me and I'm trying to get them out as accurately as possible, through costumes and theater. I understand that performance art is so broad that it almost means nothing, so for me, it's special attention to the environment, costume, and movement.
Arguably, Lady Gaga is the most surprising pop icon today. She's definitely got the shock factor. You have the really unique position of being on the inside of the world of Lady GaGa. You've seen her from the very beginning--her whole transformation. If you had to explain it to someone who had never heard of her, what would you say?
Well, I would say that the ultimate goal was always to make a difference in popular culture, and by creating a visual thing that has a lot of impact, she's able to change the culture, and that's always been the goal -- just to make people more open-minded and just to be as creative as possible. I think that's why she's so popular, because there was no substance to anything that was going on, and she kind of has this punk-rock attitude to everything.
Do you have any stories from the tour or from your early days that you'd like to share? Any favorite memories?
The greatest thing is that everything has changed but nothing has changed. Like, we still do the same things we used to do, the creative brainstorms -- it's like exactly the same thing, except she's really famous and has a lot of money now. [Laughs] So everything's changed and nothing's changed, so that's wonderful. She's made sure that everything is the same. She's got me out on the road, supporting me, promoting me, and it's inspiring to know that you don't have to sell your soul to do this.
What are your plans for the afterparty at the Amsterdam Bar and Hall?
I'm performing with the Dirty Pearls, they're out here and hanging out with us, so it's like bringing our entire New York scene that me and GaGa came from. It's just this really cool vibe, and it's just showing people this is how it started. It's great for the fans.
Lady Starlight is opening for Lady GaGa tonight at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. She is scheduled to perform at 7 p.m. For ticket information, click here. She will also play at the official After Party at Amsterdam Bar & Hall, which begins at 10:30 pm. More info here.