by Ryan Meehan
Liz Anne Hill took about 15 years and a few busted romances to create the songs that make up her band Starling Glow’s self-titled debut album, a blend of modern pop musical styles that ranges from pop/rock to dance and indie. A multi-instrumentalist, Hill grew up in Orange County surrounded by music—her mom played piano, her dad guitar and older sister piano, pipe organ and drums, while they all sang. “They told me early on, if I don’t pick up an instrument, they would kick me out of the family,” she laughs. “I was handed a bass at 10 years old and told, ‘It’s easy to play and you’re not very coordinated.” Growing up, Liz was a member of a variety of bands when she wasn’t horseback riding, the other passion in her life. “All I’ve known is being in rock groups, because I enjoy that collaborative thing,” she explains. “A lot of the bands that I grew up listening to were on small indie labels and played good music – I was into that. For me, playing in a band is all about building that energy and engaging people.” Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter and musician Billy Mohler—one-time member of L.A. band The Calling, who has also played or worked with Smashing Pumpkins, Macy Gray, Liz Phair, Kelly Clarkson, AWOLNation and skateboard pro Tony Hawk—was hired to produce the record and immediately recognized the fellow Orange County native’s talent. The record is being released through newly formed Indie Label Trailblaze Music Group, where Mohler is General Manger. The album, despite some of its modern EDM touches, is rooted in the rock ‘n’ roll of her youth. “I know my father would’ve killed me if I didn’t have guitars on there,” she admits. “Being able to perform these songs, get them into people’s hands and, hopefully, have them enjoy them for as long as possible would just be more than I could ever wish for.” Liz Hill and Starling Glow are primed and ready to share their music with you, and we are proud to have her as our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: What was the first song that you ever wrote? Do you think that you initially felt more or less pressure to perform that song in front of your family given that they are so involved in music?
LH: If memory serves, I wrote my first song in fourth or fifth grade… I was inspired by one of our vocabulary words in class. I sang it over the phone to my friend Annie, she said it needed work haha. I think out of fear of making me resentful towards music, my folks stayed pretty hands-off when I was growing up – that was their way of being supportive. They never pressured me to practice or write or perform, I think because they wanted me to fall in love with it on my own… And their strategy worked ha.
RM: You said that when the band got started you had almost given up on music…What ended up being the catalyst for refocusing your energy on creating the material that would eventually become “We Are Infinite”?
LH: I can pinpoint the exact moment that shifted my whole perspective. My dear friend Devon was with me when I received news that I had developed vocal nodes from teaching (we were both horseback riding instructors), and that I couldn’t afford the treatment that the doctor prescribed. The only other solution was total vocal rest, no singing, no taking… And I was devastated. Devon held my hand while I cried, and even went so far as to help me invent our own “sign language” so we could communicate. One day, after my voice had some time to heal, she asked me, “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?” That question completely rattled me- I had stopped performing and writing music to try to have a “normal” life. I was working three jobs, stressed out of my mind, and felt like I was going nowhere. I knew in my heart that all I’ve ever wanted was to be a musician, and her question sparked the fire in me to get back up and chase my dream.
RM: What gave you guys the idea to do a remix contest? How does it feel to have your music transformed into EDM tracks by DJs?
LH: Our social media team actually came up with the idea, and I think it was a great one. We had over five hundred submissions and I had a blast listening through all of them. Between all of the different guitars, synth, vocals, bass, percussion, drums, etc. in the original track, there are dozens of layers in Ignite… and it was so cool to hear how each DJ isolated and sampled certain sounds, riffs, harmonies, etc. There were so many creative submissions and our entire team had a really difficult time picking between the final five.
RM: How would you best describe the video shoot for “Ignite”? Is the video making process something that you actually enjoy; or do you find it to be repetitive and tedious with regards to hearing the same song over and over again?
LH: The video shoot for Ignite felt like I was shooting an action movie…and on a small scale, we were! Although we had to do most of the shots multiple times, I never find shooting videos to be tedious. Any time I walk on set, I feel absolutely overcome with gratitude… A few years ago, I would have never imagined myself to be so lucky as to have an entire crew of lighting and camera techs, stunt coordinators, hair and makeup and even a pyrotechnician all working together to help give vision to my music. I definitely had to overcome a few fears shooting the video for Ignite… Heights are not my thing, ha, and I had to do quite a few stunts on the side of and on top of a high rise.
RM: I noticed that on the comments section of your YouTube account, you seem to do an excellent job communicating with your fans…Is that something that you feel obligated to do as an artist? What will happen when the band has gotten so popular that you simply won’t have time to answer every question or address every comment posted on social media?
LH: I do feel compelled to stay very interactive with anyone who takes the time to reach out to me. When I was a teen, the local venue in my hometown where I saw shows was set up so that bands loaded their gear after the show near the main exits. Fans could talk to band members, ask questions, take pictures – there was more or less a parking lot party after every show. That notion of accessibility and relationship between bands/artists and fans always stuck with me.
RM: What do we need to know about the other members of the band? What does each of them bring to the table musically which allows for the five of you to work so well together?
LH: We auditioned in the band members after getting the songs together and I feel so lucky to have each of them on stage with me. Everyone in the band is so humble and incredibly talented, we all are pretty silly… At some point in almost every rehearsal, we start breaking into opera or classic rock or country. It’s been so cool to grow our relationship from bandmates to friends.
RM: Do you ever come up with ideas for songs while you are horseback riding? Why is that particular activity so relaxing for you; and how often do you get to participate in that activity?
LH: Haha you know, I’m so focused on the task at hand, I’ve never come up with a song while I’m riding my horse! That being said, I did come up for the concept for a song while walking around the stable. I’ve been riding since I was five years old and still ride almost every day – both music and horses require a lot of focus, practice, and discipline. When one frustrates me, or I feel like I’ve hit a dead end, I find it so helpful to focus on the other for a few days to hit reset, clear my mind and start fresh. For me, they’re very complimentary aspects of my life.
RM: Which portion of the songwriting process do you tend to to struggle with the most and why? Conversely, which portion of the process do you feel is your specialty and why do you feel that you excel at that particular aspect of the craft?
LH: I don’t necessarily know how to answer that question because I don’t write all of my songs the same way… They more or less “happen” as unorthodox as as that sounds.
RM: What’s up next for Starling Glow in the remainder of 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
LH: We are finishing writing the full length album currently and getting prepared for some touring this summer. I can’t wait to get on the road. 🙂
Official Website: http://www.starlingglow.com/
Starling Glow on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/510755555685976
Starling Glow on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/StarlingGlow/
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