The Starfolk is a melody rich chamber pop group that rocks in front man Brian Tighe’s quintessentially ethereal way. Tighe fronted indie-pop darlings The Hang Ups in the 90′s, co-fronts bittersweet girl-boy poppers The Owls, and plays lead guitar with the belovedly hush-toned Jeremy Messersmith. In The Starfolk, Tighe is on guitar and lead vocals; joined by Allison LaBonne (The Owls, Typsy Panthre) on bass, Jacqueline Ultan (Jelloslave, Saltee, Anti-Gravity) on cello, and Stephen Ittner (The Hang Ups, The Owls) on drums. Everyone sings.
Two sneak preview tracks from The Starfolk’s upcoming July 23 2012 debut LP are available now on Korda Kompilation.
Q & A with Brian Tighe of the Starfolk
Q: You are known for your work in Minneapolis bands The Hang Ups and The Owls. Was there new musical territory you wanted to chart with your latest project the Starfolk?
BT: Not necessarily. I have a continual desire to write songs and it feels natural to just keep writing. But new musical territory becomes necessary because I don’t want to keep writing the same songs over and over again.
Q: Fans who have followed your career are no strangers to your long-time collaborators Allison LaBonne and Stephen Ittner. But the Starfolk is your first forum for working with cellist Jacqueline Ultan.
BT: Yes. Jacqueline’s cello is a gorgeous foreign voice entering the mix, forcing us to think about orchestration, arrangement of parts and voices. How should the cello function at any given moment in a song? Sometimes it’s simply a texture and sometimes it sings out as a lead voice carrying a major melodic theme.
Q: The Owls formed when you started helping Allison arrange and record her songs. Has the collaboration changed in the Starfolk?
BT: The Starfolk originated as a chance for Allison and me to collaborate and perform as a duo, the same way that the Owls started. Both bands naturally grew into bigger projects. Now she is contributing lyrics to most of my songs. She has generally a darker sensibility than I do and I like the newness and strangeness it brings. Her own songs also make the band what it is… her unique perspective is a strong voice that lives in her songs. So integrating meaningfully what each band member brings is hopefully a way of charting new territory.
Q: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts?
BT: Yes. But of course the basic songs have to be good. I have been teaching songwriting for a couple years now and it has forced me to look more critically at my writing, especially my lyrics. I want to be able to communicate more directly with the listener, without doing the ‘lowest common denominator’ thing. I don’t want to dumb things down, but I don’t want to be too cryptic either. Really, it’s kind of a headache.