Volume 94, Issue 37

Friday, November 3, 2000


Eminem debate rages on

Kinnie Starr sets her own agenda with new album

London's crazy funk lords

Take a chance on Mamma Mia!

Kinnie Starr sets her own agenda with new album

By Matt Pearson
Gazette Staff

In 1996, Kinnie Starr made a grand entrance into the musical world with the release of her independent debut, Tidy.

Soon after, she was enticed by the major label Mercury, to a lucrative contract and seemed bound for a promising recording career. Yet after completing one album for the label, Starr was lost in a label shuffle when Universal Music consolidated a number of smaller labels. To this day, Starr's second studio album, Mending, has yet to see the light of day.

Eventually, the artist got out of the deal with Mercury and has since regained complete artistic control, a fact that couldn't make her happier. "It's very liberating," she enthuses. "The difference between making a record for a label and making one for yourself is that you get to make the choices. [When] making a record independently, you only have to please yourself."

The end result of Starr's independent labour of love is Tune Up, released this past July to generous critical acclaim. Since that time, the album has done well on charts and on record store shelves nationwide. "Record sales do matter because I can't do this if I don't sell records," explains Starr, who says she is satisfied with her album's success.

Tomorrow night at the Whippet Lounge, Starr will bring a more aggressive approach to her live set, undoubtedly consisting of a mix of old and new songs. The tour, which will cross Canada in a total of three weeks, is also a freeing experience for Starr.

Although she self-produces every project and also designs the album art, she depends on a small army of compatriots to help out with other responsibilities.

"I have a lot of friends who are there for me; whether it's cooking me dinner or playing drums on the record or coming into the studio to bring me cheese cake, there's a lot of people involved in making a record," Starr explains.

While she relishes the artistic side of life, Starr seems thankful the business side is taken care of by a management group. "I oversee everything and make sure we're on track, but I leave most of it in their hands because they're so much better at it," she says.

In addition to her thoughts on the music industry, Starr is equally outspoken about her views on feminism. "I don't believe a woman is able to be seen as a musician before being seen as a woman; that's a feminist viewpoint, but I think it's relevant. Why can't people look at the art or listen to the music? People are more than their gender and race," she argues.

Starr's penchant for feminist thoughts began when she pursued a degree in women's studies and fine arts at Queen's University in Kingston. "It was a good experience because I was able to study feminism, painting, sculpting and film," she says, adding she met some of her early sources of musical inspiration while in Kingston.

Although at one time Starr talked openly about her private life, she has since changed her tune, denying the media access to this privileged information. "I used to talk about my sexuality with the press and I don't anymore," she admits, remarking that personal tidbits about herself were often taken out of context by members of the press.

Critical of the media's role in popular culture, Starr also seems chafed by modern society's emphasis on looks and aesthetics. "The state of music is very odd to me right now because it's all about the cult of personality. I try to be casual, but that becomes a look. No matter what choice you make, it's seen as cultivated."

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Copyright The Gazette 2000