Interview: Starbender’s Kimi Shelter

Jason Bullinger for Alternative Revolt

There’s a sound coming from Georgia that I’ve never heard before. It’s haunting, it’s throwback, it’s glamorous in the most punk rock way. It’s the voice of Kimi Shelter shrouded with the mesmerizing music of the band known as Starbenders. They say everyone crosses paths for a reason. Sometimes they are meant to stay and sometimes they aren’t. From the sounds of it, Starbenders are not only here to stay but they are going to keep us in a trance. In a world where there is so much chaos and pain,  Kimi and the band have decided to take us away from all of that and take us on an intimate journey through their newest album ‘Love Potions.’ Alt Revolt caught up with Kimi on a cold, snowy night to have a candid chat about their sophomore release.

Alt Revolt: I HAVE to know what your inspiration for your music is because it is unlike anything I have ever heard before!

Shelter: From ‘Heavy Petting’ to our EP ‘Japanese Rooms’ there was a progression there but basically we grew up and grew more confident into what our sound was. We also didn’t have the same drummer as Heavy Petting. We picked up Emily Moon after that so our sound became much more lively with her in the band. We just followed the path that was in front of us and this is where it lead us.

Alt Revolt: Do you guys have any artists you look for for inspiration?

Shelter: Yeah, I’m a little all over the place with the things I listen to. I love artists from Chris Isaak to David Bowie to Blondie, Fleetwood Mac, Rolling Stones and even you know like, Outkast so it’s a little bit of everything all over the map.

Alt Revolt: That’s actually a really cool mix up or artists and definitely makes a lot of sense as to where the inspiration for your sound came from. You are releasing your new album ‘Love Potions’ on Feb, 14th fittingly. Do you have a favorite song off the album?

Shelter: I don’t have a favorite one per se because this sort of became a bit of a concept album and they are all parts of the same story so it’s really hard to pluck one out. I will say, the song “One Of Us” last song on the album is probably one of the most vulnerable pages out of my book. It’s really hard to explain what my life is like to people and that song was just very fluid and flowed out of my hand when I wrote it.  You’re a writer, you understand we are supposed to be able to express ourselves with ease but sometimes, it’s much harder than it seems. So, when you can be just unabridged and let the other side take over where you are coming from it’s a special moment. It’s also to have special moments like that on a record especially this day in age because labels always push for singles and it’s rare to have a full length album in and of itself so, to be able to have a song that’s just a beautiful song is a great gift as well.

Alt Revolt: Writing definitely IS hard, especially writing music because you have to find that line where you are staying true to yourself but also remaining neutral so others can relate. Was it difficult to write a concept album?

Shelter: So, This record took us 13 months, which is funny because we are having our release party on the 13th and the record is coming out on the 14th and there are 14 songs on the record (I’m obsessed with numerology) so all that stuff lines up really nicely. Because of the process, we haven’t ever really been able to sit down and write something from top to bottom because prior to signing with Sumerian we were with an Indie label called Institution Records and we just sort of recorded when the money was there and it was singles and EPs so some of the stuff was not that cohesive. With this record we were able to be really cohesive from top to bottom, we knew all of the songs were going to be on the same record, we knew what we were doing. Sumerian really pushed us and encouraged us to go past our limits. It was a terrifying, frustrating, beautiful, transformative experience to do this record. This one was cool because we didn’t just sit down and say “oh, we’re going to do a concept record”. It was funny because when we sat down to name the record we all thought “Oh shit! This is a concept record!” It was just really cool that it came about in that way.

Alt Revolt: The official music video for London got released some months ago. What was the creative process going into making that video?

Shelter: We work out of this duo out of Athens Georgia called Dominar Films and because they are such geniuses in what they do we like to give them their space to take the creative control as far as the treatments and the storylines and things like that. That was all Ben Roberts coming up with that treatment. He also did “Time Stops” and “Powder” and “Blood”, pretty much every music video we’ve done. They’re just brilliant at everything they do and just very DIY and everything looks like a mini movie. When they presented the treatment to us we were like “Holy Shit that’s so cool!”, because they take things that you wouldn’t directly think of for the song and they take it to this whole other level and I think it’s just so cool to step into his brain.

Alt Revolt: I see you have some upcoming tour dates with Dollskin! I have interviewed those ladies as well, very cool girls they are, love their music as well as the positive example they are trying to set for younger girls in rock music. What advice would you have for the girls who want to grow up to be a musician like you?

Shelter: The biggest piece of advice I could give someone would be, know who you are going in and to never lose sight of that knowledge of oneself because things can start to get a little confusing when you start dealing with constructive criticism and other people’s opinions and things like that. The second part of that is to build a team that you can really trust. Whether that be band members, producers, managers, be selective in your team and trust them and lean on them. That’s probably the best advice because I think a lot of people think people just do it on their own, like it’s just one person carrying the weight of everything on their own. The most successful people I have met have a mastermind if you will, like a group of people that they can trust and bounce ideas off of and that are also able to give them words of encouragement and the constructive criticism that you should be listening to.

Alt Revolt: What’s your biggest dream as a band?

Shelter: We just want to be a huge worldwide rock band and tour the world for the rest of our lives and to keep doing this for the rest of our lives. We don’t really put limits on where we are going, we just know we want to keep going. We want to be the band that brings back rock n’ roll to everyone who didn’t even know it died, because it hasn’t!

Alt Revolt would like to thank Kimi for taking time out to talk to us and wish them luck on their upcoming tour! To check out their newest album ‘Love Potions’ and tour dates coming your way, visit the bands website at https://www.starbenders.com

Interview by Amber Main for Alternative Revolt

Starbenders are:

Kimi Shelter – Vox & Guitar
Aaron Lecesne – Bass
Emily Moon – Drums
Kriss Tokaji – Guitar

Jason Bullinger for Alternative Revolt
Jason Bullinger for Alternative Revolt
Jason Bullinger for Alternative Revolt