In the words of the band itself, Stary "sounds like Neil Diamond except harder and more sad?!?!?" Listeners may or may not hear Mr. Diamond’s influence in their melodic indie-rock songs, but that’s beside the point. Comprised of core members Marisa B. Tejeda and Adam James in 2017, with drummer Seth Props joining later, Stary’s eponymous debut EP definitely deserves a listen. We are excited to share an interview with this new Kansas City band has they prepare more live shows and a full album. Enjoy!
Introduce the band.
The band's pronouns: Marisa B. Tejeda - They/She; Adam James - He/Him; Seth Props - He/Him
How did Stary come together?
Stary is a project Adam and myself created. We started writing music together when we first met in 2017, but it was something we just shared with each other. We moved to Kansas City last summer because I was admitted into the MFA Acting Program at UMKC and could not pass up on the incredible opportunity. The program keeps me quite busy, but in our free time together, Adam and I would write music together. We really liked all the songs we developed together and wanted to record them to share with our friends. The MFA Sound Design program at UMKC is top notch so we got some friends in the program, Sean Obrecht and Wallace McCanless, to record/mix/master our debut self titled ep. Adam and I played all the parts ourselves on the EP as we did not have a drummer yet. After our two days in the studio, we decided we wanted to form a band and start playing our stuff live. We saw on Facebook that some of the local bands we were listening to were playing a show at Mills Records and Parker 2 that day so we decided to go to both to try and meet some folks in the music scene and hopefully find a drummer. At the matinee show at Mills Records we met Kevin Briody (member of the band Mess and runs Mantra tour agency) and Allison Gliesman (frontperson of Mess and Sex Ed). Kevin and Allison gave us helpful tips about the scene here and urged us to go to the Parker 2 show that night. We ended up going to Parker 2, an incredible DIY venue, that night. It was there where we found our drummer, Seth Props, and since then Parker 2 has become our second home. We not only see great shows at Parker 2 all the time but it has become our practice space and second home. Grey Bohlender runs the space and has been an integral part of Stary becoming a full band, as it was him who pointed us towards Seth that night. Since then we’ve been putting lots of shows on the calendar and playing around town a lot!
Talk about your debut EP, Stary. What are you most proud of? What was the hardest part of creating it?
Our debut EP is something that has been in the works for a while. A lot of the songs on this particular EP were written by Adam many years ago but we rewrote together. They weren’t finished products, so it was hard completing them to their full potential because you can’t rush the song writing process, it’s something that organically happens for us. I also didn’t necessarily know how to play the bass until two weeks before recording the EP, I learned as we went and it’s not an instrument I was consistently playing. I am classically trained in most brass instruments so it wasn’t too difficult to pick up a new instrument, but it was a difficult and rewarding time of learning and practicing. Adam wrote and recorded the drum parts in the span of 12 hours because we did not have access to a drum set until we were in the studio, so that was a journey as well. We’re so proud of how it turned out because these are songs we have been attached to for years, so it has been so exciting to share our baby with the world. We’re really proud of all the work and love and care that went into the EP. It is something that we decided to do in late April, and we recorded it in early May so we’re really excited that we made it happen so quickly.
What did you learn from the recording process that you’ll take to future projects?
We learned a lot from the recording process and are excited to get into a studio again. There’s a lot that goes into recording music that we didn’t know about and we’re learning more about our evolving sound each day. We’re hoping to record a full record in 2020 as we have been constantly writing new music. It was really cool to see how much ownership we could have in the studio, and so thankful for Sean and Wallace for guiding us along as we recorded. We’re excited that we’re a full band now with our incredible drummer, Seth Props, so we can have the opportunity to record with him for our next project. We just love being together and the dynamic is really fun to be around. We can’t say where right now but we’re hoping to spend five days out of town next year writing/recording a new record with an incredible team of recording artists. We have a newfound confidence that we’re excited to take into the studio next time!
Describe your songwriting process. Are you a heavy editor of the songs?
Adam and I write songs separately and together. Sometimes separate songs turn into one song, sometimes we write them separately and then give each other ideas on how to enhance the song, and other times we write them completely together and finish them together. We’re best friends and incredibly connected so the content comes out pretty organically. The editing process of the song goes quickly because we speak the same musical language. After that we bring the idea to Seth who is an incredible musician and drummer, and he just listens to the track and our idea of what the drum part may sound like and plays the drum part. We’re constantly writing new stuff because we all work so well together, the hardest part of the process is Adam and I finishing the songs. We let things go organically so we never put pressure to constantly make music or finish a song by a certain date, and I think that helps our process because were focused on the music and not the timeline.
What new music are you currently raving about?
We’re new music junkies! We come from Minneapolis where we would constantly listen to Radio K where we would constantly find new great stuff! We still stream it from here! Here is a very long list of what were obsessed with right now!
- The Minneapolis/Saint Paul based Sass has a new record Chew Toy that is too good! Every song on it is incredible! (we also have a song called chew toy so that’s cool!)
- Palehound’s new record Black Friday is so moving. It makes us cry a lot but it’s definitely our favorite record of the year so far!
- Big Thief's new record U.F.O.F.! So great!
- Sasami’s debut record is so so so great! We just saw her live at the Granada and she puts on an incredibly energizing live show!
- Saint Louis based Shady Bug released a great record in March called Lemon Lime that we can’t stop listening to! So excited to see them at this year’s Manor Fest!
- Very excited for (Sandy) Alex G’s new record coming out soon. The two singles he dropped recently rip!
- The new Blood Orange mix tape! Duh.
- Our friend, Lance Rutelege, has several incredible projects. He fronts one new band in particular called Big Cola and were really excited to see them play live more as they put on a great show!
- Prüde is another local band we can’t stop listening to. They are a hardcore punk band based in KC and their new record Tease on Bandcamp is a banger for sure.
- The new Horse Jumper of Love record smacks too!
Marisa loves graphic novels and has to put BFF by Brandon Montclare on the list! It’s volume one of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, and it's great! Marvel definitely needs to adapt it into a movie soon!
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat. Samin Nosrat is an icon. Her cookbook has been a life changer and you need to pick it up!
Lady Bird is one of our favorite movies. We both sobbed the entire time in the movie theatre when we saw it. It’s a great coming of age story that so many folks can connect to.
Rocket is one of our favorite albums of all time. Alex G did something magical by mixing inspirations from folk, rock, country, and pop. You gotta take a listen to this record!
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a great book that essential for all allies/activists to read. He takes you along his journey and makes discoveries about race and the history of race relations in America, enabling the reader to make their own life changing discoveries.