Starling Glow, ‘I hope I never know a life without music’

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Starling Glow is a Los Angeles-based band fronted by the bright-faced and big-voiced Liz Anne Hill. The band released their first single, the Dave Aude-remixed “We Are Infinite,” in early 2014, and the infectious hit immediately received recognition from fans and critics alike and got them nominated by Billboard as one of “Tomorrow’s Hits.” The band replicated the success of their first single with their pop-rock anthem dedicated to the underdogs “Ignite,” which hit airwaves towards the end of last year. Since then, the band has been recording in the studio, performing on stages across Los Angeles, and gearing up to release an EP closely followed by a debut album.

After a whirlwind in 2014, FDRMX had the opportunity to chat with lead singer Liz about everything from the inception of the band, the work that they have put into upcoming releases, and how Starling Glow keep things interesting. We also covered a few other topics including Liz’s writing process and techniques for combating “bangover,” which is how Liz refers to excessive hair whippage while onstage. All important topics for consideration.

I kicked things off by asking how Starling Glow has been responding to the recognition they’ve received thus far.  When I asked what she was most proud of thus far, Liz replied with “to be honest, I have to say the Billboard success is one of Starling Glow’s accomplishments that I’m most proud of. I feel like there are so many new artists and so much new music out there, to get anyone to notice, let alone for Billboard to recognize us as one of ‘Tomorrow’s Hits’ has to be one of the most incredible feelings.”

She further revealed that “when the dance remix of ‘We Are Infinite’ charted on Billboard, I felt like we were on to something, but it was still easy to psych myself out thinking maybe it was just a one-time fluke! For them to recognize us on our second single, ‘Ignite,’ it started to feel real. It still stuns me when I get messages from friends and fans saying that they saw one of our music videos playing in a mall, movie theater, gym, etc. It’s a feeling I hope I never get used to, because it’s just mind blowing!” Check out the band’s second single “Ignite” here.

Liz credits the band’s name to her producer’s wife, claiming “We had all been going back-and-forth for quite some time with the names, and when she suggested Starling (a songbird); it just felt like the perfect fit… But it was still missing something. We toyed around with a few other words, but Starling Glow stuck and just felt right.” After they came up with a name, there were a few more steps for Starling Glow to take before making it big. What was the next important step? Finding a few bandmates.

When asked how she found the right people to fill out the band, she replied with “We held quite a few rounds of auditions. I wish I could say there was some romantic serendipitous moment where we all met, but it took trying out quite a few members until we hit our stride and found a group that gels both on and off stage!” After all the searching, the band has developed some great chemistry, and they clearly know how to have fun while still putting in the hard work to succeed. “We’re all pretty silly, and we can’t really go through an entire rehearsal without doing an ‘alternate version’ of one of our songs, that turns the song into an opera, show tune, rap, country, or classical song.“ Rehearsals have never sounded like so much fun!

Part of what sets Starling Glow apart from their peers are their exceptional songs, all of which feature lyrics written by Liz, who described writing as “such a release for me. When I was young, I had a music teacher who told me that when the feelings are so strong that speaking the words isn’t enough, you have to sing them.” That mentality has led to some very personal songs for Starling Glow, with Liz claiming that “whenever I’m processing something, whether it’s joy, loss, love, heartbreak, or anything in-between, it’s more than likely going to end up in a song.”  That is evident on Starling Glow’s current single “Ignite,” which has been dedicated to any fan that has ever felt like an underdog.

Are there any others songs with such a strong message for listeners? “Absolutely,” Liz exclaimed. “One of the newest songs we’ve written for the album, with the working title “Bang” is a love song per say, but in the most unconventional sense. When writing it, I thought about how so many lyrics describe just how beautiful and wonderful it is to fall madly in love with someone, but very few songs explore the darker side of falling in love- the obsession and even madness of it. Of the songs that we have so far for the album, I’m probably most proud of those lyrics and even a little afraid of just how twisted they are” she admitted with a laugh before adding “but I feel like so many people can relate.  Even if they might not know how to describe that feeling, I personally know so many people who’ve been there, myself included.”

Since Liz traces her passion for music back to her family, explaining that she first learned how to play the bass at the urging of her parents when she was younger. In previous interviews, Liz has joked that she either had to learn an instrument or find another family, because music is that deeply engrained in the family’s life.  Knowing this, I wondered if she ever went to her family for help when she is writing. “Funny enough, everyone in my immediate family are songwriters, and though I would say that they are all by far more practiced musicians than I, writing has always been my strong suit. I’ve been telling stories since before I could write, so when I started playing music, it felt very natural to turn my stories, thoughts and feelings into songs. I feel pretty honored to say that more often than not, my family comes to me for help when they’re stuck on a song!”

With an upcoming EP release, I wanted to know if Starling Glow had any plans in the works for promoting and interacting with their fans. Liz summed plans up nicely with “tour, tour, and tour some more;” before adding “we are getting some incredible exposure with the videos being played in so many public spaces, and for the month of March, Starling Glow is the featured artist on American Airlines. I’m excited beyond words about the attention we are gaining, but I feel so strongly about getting on the road and making personal connections with fans. I think that’s what really builds a relationship with a fan base.”

When asked if there was anywhere that she would love to take the tour she replied with some exotic locations. “You know, I’ve never toured out of North America. I think I’d be happy to go anywhere and everywhere, but since Indian food is my current favorite, let’s say India.” I asked Liz if she has any pre-show rituals, and she let me in on a secret. “Even when I try to contain it, I have and always will be a hair whipper. I stretch my neck before every show to keep from getting a bangover (aka post-headbang sore neck).” After hearing this response, all I can think is that I feel her pain and will be implementing a similar plan for future dance parties!

When Liz isn’t working with Starling Glow, she can probably be found riding the trails with Cairo, her horse. Liz revealed that she misses Cairo the most while she is travelling, explaining their bond simply. “When I’m in town, I see him every day, he is my happy place. I always line my bunk with pictures of him and keep my phone stocked with videos of him for when I’m missing my pony!” Her love of horseback riding can be traced back as far as her love of music, and Liz has even drawn some parallels between the two. “Both require a lot of discipline and hard work. When I grow weary or frustrated with one, it’s helpful to have the other to clear my head.”

One thing that is clear is that Liz knows that music is where she belongs. When I asked the musician if there was anything else that she could see herself doing, she responded with a definitive no. “You know, I think I will always make music. I more or less quit pursuing music for a year before starting Starling Glow, and despite having jobs that I loved, and having a great circle of friends, something was missing. I feel like I’m hardwired to sing, write, and perform. I hope to never know a life without music as my career.”

I wanted to know what we could expect in the future, so I asked if there were any dream collaborations that Liz would love to set up.  She had a few innovative ideas: “I have been dreaming of collaborating with Dallas Greeneof City and Colour forever, but P!nk just beat me to it haha. I was just listening to Muse a few days ago and thought how rad it would be to collaborate with them.” Taking that a step further I asked if she had any star struck moments while making her rounds in the studio. She claims that she doesn’t get too crazy emotional, but did say “I think I would lose it if I met Dolly Parton. I kind of really, really love her.”

Starling Glow has a lot of exciting plans in the works for the future. The band recently shot a music video for their upcoming single “Caution Tape,” and putting in the hours for a strong debut with their upcoming album. As Liz mentioned, the band will be streaming on American Airlines, and there will be a lot more exciting news in the coming months. Keep an eye on all things Starling Glow related at the band’s official website.