Electric Sloth had the amazing opportunity to interview the one and only David Starfire, and were fortunate enough to learn about his newest album, “Karuna,” and how he incorporates his culture and spirituality into his music. David produces a very unique sound, creating a style of electronic music that intertwines a mixture of different cultures and euphoric melodies. While using using his creativity and natural-born talents, David Starfire is capable of taking you to a whole new level of awareness, giving you an open mind and an extraordinary love for this style of electronic music. Check out below what David Starfire shared with us during our interview with him:

Electric Sloth: So we hear you grew up in a lot of different bands, what influenced your decision to lean your music career towards electronic music? 

David Starfire: I’ve always been into electronic, rock and acoustic music and in most of my bands we had some electronic production as well. I then felt the call to go in a different direction with electronic music and felt limited with rock n roll. Then after some time, I felt that electronic music was too stiff and not human enough, so then I added acoustic instruments, mostly instruments from Asia and the Middle East, so that it had more of an organic feel. I think that there needs to be a balance of the two, and when it’s done right it’s pure magic.

What led you to incorporate techno, psydub, etc. into your music? Did you grow up listening to it? What influence does it have on you? 

I was always a fan of electronic music and over the recent years there have been some exciting new genres like psydub, glitch hop, UK dub etc that are really pushing the boundaries. I like to check out new music and incorporate it with my vibe and world instruments to create something totally different. With the production tools that you have today, you can make new genres just on the basis of the new technology like Glitch hop for example. It’s a really exciting time to make music right now and so many amazing tools at your fingertips. I grew up listening to New Orleans dixieland jazz and classic rock and wasn’t till my late teens that I started listening to electronic music.

What is a day in the studio like for you?

That is a really good question and I haven’t been asked that before. A solid day in the studio is starting around 10am, working on a tune for about 2 hours, take a break for lunch and social media, work on another song for 2 hours till about 2:30pm. Then go for a walk and get the mail for 10-15 min, then work on another song for about 2 hours, have dinner hang out with the family till about 8-9pm, then work on either yet another tune or one of the ones for earlier till about midnight or sometimes till 2am. I like to work on 4-5 songs at a time so I don’t get bored of working on the same song, and no they are not in the same session, all different sessions, completely different songs, tempos and vibes. It takes much longer to make a song, like maybe 3 weeks to a month, but I’m happy to work on it gradually and also play it out to see the reaction on the dance floor just before it’s finished.

We highly respect the dedication of your your newest album, “Karuna,” to the Burmese refugees and noticed that 100% of the funds go towards an education for them. What inspired you to create such a powerful album and dedicate it accordingly? 

I was in Northern Thailand in 2012 and became aware of the Burmese refugee situation and was fascinated with their culture and instruments and I wanted to help them and let the world hear their magnificent music. The Burmese refugee children are unable to go to schools in Thailand so NGO and non profits have to step in and help. There is an amazing non profit that will be receiving the money called the Thai Freedom House and I actually presented a music production workshop with about 18 tweens. I’ve seen the work they do first hand and one of the singers on the album, Gonlao, learned English and Thai from them and he is a real success story. Also, no other electronic artist had ever collaborated with Burmese musicians, so it was a challenge that I decided to take on.

I’ve read that your biggest inspiration to get into producing music was from your aunt and your grandfather. Do you have any advice for others who are making music that you received from your family while growing up?

The biggest advice is to really know your instrument or art and stick to it. Lots of practice, rehearsal and trial and error in the studio with production. You really have to cut your teeth to get to the next level. Some kids come to me after working on music for 6 months and wonder why they are not as big as Skrillex. It might be a long hard road, but never quit and always make music for yourself, not for others and be unique. Too many artists try and take the copycat route and it might get you quick to the top, but an even faster descend.

How would you describe how you feel while making or listening to music?

It depends on the surroundings and what is going on at that moment when listening to music, but I think mostly I’m trying to listen to the production and not so much the song itself. I do appreciate a good solid songwriter, and mainstream radio songs have it down to a science. As far as when I am producing music, I try to get in the zone and focus and lets things flow naturally. I try and not get too caught up in production in the beginning, mostly try and get the song and arrangement first, then work on the production aspect. That way I can meditate while writing and let go and not get too caught up in the production process till later.

Describe how you intertwine culture with electronic music and the meaning behind it.

I try to break down borders with my music and try and expose other cultures to a younger generation. Blending and fusing music with cultures can be challenging and exciting for me and that is what I enjoy. It’s not always a conscious thing, sometimes I just like the sounds or rhythms, other times like with my Karuna album, there was a lot of intention behind it to raise awareness about their culture and political situation.

Your other fairly recent album, “Ascend,” was listed as #7 on the iTunes world music chart. Did this inspire you to continue to try and consistently provide a variety of diverse music?

I make music that I like and if other people like it, then that’s a bonus. I don’t write to please other people, I write what I feel and whatever I’m into at that time. I love world music and making songs that are unique and take fans on a journey. I’m inspired by other cultures and their music. I want to merge their world with the western word and electronic music. It always doesn’t work out and takes some time, but it’s worth it in the long run.

Now that you have traveled around the world to several different places, has each cultural experience influenced a change in your music? Or even within yourself and your perspective of life?

Yes definitely so, as I visit other countries I’m usually influenced by their culture and my perspective on life. I’ve been to some really poor communities, and even though they don’t have much, they are very happy because they have their friends, family and strong community. Then on the other side of the spectrum, I’ve performed at private parties for some very important and affluent people and will see some unhappy people trying to pretend to be happy. Those were some important lessons that I learned. Musically, I love to hear underground music and traditional music from different parts of the world to enrich my musical knowledge. When I was in Egypt, I kept hearing this music called Electro-Shaabi in the streets and it was really interesting and decided to use some of the elements in my music.

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You’ve had the opportunity to experience Burning Man twelve times and have played live performances there as well. We are actually attending this year and would love to have your advice on some things we could do to prepare! Also, will we be seeing you once again at this year’s Burning Man?

Yes I’ve been many times and even though it’s changed quite a bit, it’s still the most amazing festival experience on the planet. I would check out the checklist of what to bring and join a camp or camp with friends that have been a few times. I plan to go every year, then I see what my schedule is about 2 months before and then decide. One thing I can say is that there used to be more sound camps that played more interesting music and now it’s mostly house camps. Basically think of Burning Man as a popular city that is becoming gentrified with the mainstream versus before where it was more counterculture and artists that attended.

We notice you’re a bit of a Star Wars fan too, have you always been a fan? What did you think of the newest movie?

I thought it was ok, but still entertaining. There were a lot of really cheesy scenes and holes. The old Star Wars had scenes that made you chuckle, but not cheese factor 12 comedy like the new Disney one. Some things didn’t make sense, like how Han Solo never fired Chewy’s blaster in 30 years and how much he’s excited about shooting it while a major battle is going on. I’m glad that they have a decent cast and good writing, just some of it didn’t seem completely thought out for how much hype there was.

We are very much into your spirituality and euphoric passages. Is your spirituality something you grew up with? How has it influenced your music? Your life all together?

I definitely consider myself as a spiritual person and I did grow up in a household with organized religion. I have my own beliefs and it’s not connected with any organized religion now, but I feel O.K. that others want to believe in them. I believe that spirit moves through music and that’s why music is such a big part of most religions and spiritual practices. Some of my more chill music is meant for mediation and the high energy music can be used to help attain ecstatic states. I think music and higher states of consciousness go hand and hand and that a spiritual practice brings it all together.