INTERVIEW: Garrison Starr

Hi Garrison, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hey there! I’ve been busy, but I’ve been good! Feeling inspired, loving making music and collaborating all the time now. Still living in Los Angeles, and that never gets old for me. I love it here.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Put Your Weapon Down”?

Yes. I co-wrote this song with my friend Stuart Crichton a little over a year ago. I had initially written it about my relationship and feeling like we were constantly fighting each other. We are both super stubborn, so it’s a process for us to learn to calm down and come to the table with open hearts sometimes! I realized that somebody was gonna have to put the proverbial weapon down in order for us to come together to move forward as a team.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I guess I got into that a little bit in the previous question, but no – it wasn’t one specific event. It was a consistent time period of unrest and discontent. But when the Orlando shooting happened last year, around this time, actually, the song took on an even deeper and profound meaning for me.

The single comes off your new album What If There Is No Destination – what’s the story behind the title?

I’ve been struggling all my life with my fundamentalist Christian upbringing; the constraint of this black and white belief system and how much I feel it’s stifled me in my own spiritual life in terms of finding my own identity within it. The title really came from me finding the courage to ask some hard questions and to take the risk of looking behind the curtain, so to speak, to see what else might be possible. It’s a scary concept to imagine that heaven might not exist in the way we’re told it does. I mean who’s been there that we know? hahahahaha sorry but you know? What if we are where we’re going? What if the thing we are striving for has been here all along, and we are wasting our lives reaching for something else? It turns out the questions lead to more questions! And I actually love that about life.

How was the recording and writing process?

The recording process was interesting. There were some aspects about it that really frustrated me because I was recording, playing, producing and mixing- in some ways I definitely threw myself into the fire- but I love the performances I got, and I think the vibe of it is raw and cool. I had fun overall making it. I think this was something I needed to do for myself.

The writing process was incredible. I had been writing songs for about three years thinking I was writing for other people. Even on songs where I was the artist on the demo, I was definitely thinking they would be somebody else’s songs. That being said, when out of the blue, my good friend Joe Purdy asked me to come on tour with him, I wanted to have something new to offer people on the road. It was time! I’ve been so fortunate over the last several years of digging in to the songwriting process and collaborating so much more with other artists that I had some really special songs that might not be recorded. I wanted them to see the light of day! I challenged myself to take a few months and write some on my own as well, and those are the ones I picked. All of them are about owning and letting go of baggage so there’s room for new stuff. That’s what they mean to me, anyway.

Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else than when you are working on your own original material?

It depends on the situation really. I always work to stay present and authentic as an artist in the room, but sometimes in a collaboration you write for specific purposes, whether that’s for a county or pop single or a sync placement or an album track. I find after collaborating so much that it’s harder to get alone and write. The immediate feedback you get from people in the room is pretty awesome. But I also find that when I do get alone to work, I’m better from all I’ve learned from other people.

What aspect of trust and yourself did you get to explore on this record?

Actually, I learned to trust myself again in the making of this record. It was fun and scary to explore navigating and making decisions during the recording process on my own. I learned so much about engineering, producing and mixing just throwing myself into it, but I’ve also been lucky to have learned from a lot of very talented people that gave me an advantage to start with. My favorite part about playing music is playing music. I don’t like to think about it too much – that can be challenging for me. I think there’s a fine line to walk in refining. I think there is value in tweaking things, but I also think too much of it can sterilize the music and take the joy out of it. At least, it does for me.

Any plans to hit the road?

No immediate plans to hit the road, other than a couple of shows this month in Nashville and Atlanta, but I imagine I’ll be out there again soon.

What else is happening next in Garrison Starr’s world?

I produced and co-wrote a record with Margaret Cho that was nominated for a Grammy this year! That was pretty cool. She and I sat in the audience together at the main telecast – it was fun to see the process.

I’m playing a couple shows in Nashville and Atlanta coming up this month, around the time of the EP release, so I’m looking forward to that. Performing isn’t at the forefront for me as much as it used to be, so when I get the opportunity to do it, I get inspired. I’m kind of excited about everything in my life right now – I’m in the happiest place I can remember being in. I’m learning a ton and working on a bunch of different music projects – I’m grateful as hell. I appreciate y’all taking the time to chat! Be well!

Watch Put Your Weapon Down here

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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