ByStarlight are the sound of right now. With wobbly, cut-time pre choruses and synths shot from lasers found in the depths of outer space, the west coast pop act has landed and announced their intentions to explode onto the contemporary scene.
With an album release fast approaching the first single off it, “Here’s To The Times” is a piece of modern pop produced by Josh Ramsay (Marianas Trench) and Dave “Rave” Ogilvie that achingly recalls teenage laments of love that could have been.
The song’s sliced up vocals and swelling, sidechained synth line help catapult a perfectly written song into a place where this moment in time will be remembered forever. Truly, ByStarlight are made for those that live in the present but can’t help but learn from stories past.
I was recently given the opportunity to interview Nigel John Crowe and Rachel Ashmore of the group ByStarlight, this upcoming pop band is most definitely one to watch with each member oozing enormous musical talent. By Callander Girl
VanMusic: I’m here at Mushroom studios with Rachel and Nigel from ByStarlight. Can you describe to us the ByStarlight sound?
Rachel: We are actually at Hipposonic studios (laughing)
VM: That’s right I guess it’s no longer called Mushroom anymore, my bad.
Rachel: I work here that’s why I keep saying it’s Hippo! (laughs) But By Starlight Nigel started about 3 years ago. I have only been working on it for 3 months now.
Nigel: Rachel is a late addition but a very much appreciated one. As far as describing our sound.. I think with By Starlight we are trying to put the dirty and the bad ass back in Pop.
Rachel: Definitely and we are a more heavily electronic band as opposed to a lot of other “rock pop” bands that are around Vancouver. We still try and find a human element within our music which usually comes through in the vocals, lyrics and harmonies. Everything else is so to the grid and so electronic . We do 3 part harmonies, our bass player Saul sings now (laughing) ..
Nigel: He sang a little bit before and sometimes would live but he has never recorded any before.
Rachel: We put him through a little vocal boot camp, Nigel knows a lot of good warm ups and I know a lot of technical exercises. Saul did really good and when we played him his vocals that we recorded he couldn’t believe that was him.
VM: Way to go Saul! Can you give our readers a brief history on your band. You have a release coming out, is this your first?
Nigel: This will be our first label release (604 Records), we did an EP a couple years back that I produced, engineered and recorded the entire thing in my basement in the course of a week. I did not sleep much (laughing), there was a lot of Red Bull involved.
VM: I bet.
Nigel: I had been playing with a bunch of rock bands for years and then I decided that I wanted to do something a little more challenging and professional. People think it’s easy to make a “pop” song but it’s the most challenging genre to write. I find it the most interesting as it’s always changing and it makes you think very carefully. You have to make everything outstanding.
Rachel: It’s always changing but it stays the same as well in a lot of ways as well.
Nigel: True. So I called up the best musicians that I knew and I started to put together a professional band.
VM: Why the name By Starlight?
Rachel: Do you want to know the real answer or the ridiculous made up answer?
VM: I think the real answer. Let’s go with the real one.
Nigel: As with most musicians I am a very avid athlete..
Nigel: And I was going for my usual midnight jog one night, this was after about 6 protein shakes so I was just jacked by that point. And I just looked up at the sky..it was a clear night. I was looking at the stars and I was thinking about aliens as I so often do. I thought to myself when aliens come here, like the ancient sailors, they are going to guide their way here By Starlight.
Nigel: Thank you.
VM: If you were to do a cover of any song what would it be, by who and why?
Nigel: That’s tricky.
Rachel: There are so many songs..what would we want to do Nigel?
Nigel: I know! Backstreets Back by the Backstreet Boys.
Rachel: It can’t be that cause it’s got their name in it..
Nigel: Ya your right
Rachel: BUT I would probably want to do a Backstreet Boys cover..
Nigel: Ya, that would be sick! How about Tell Me Why?
Rachel: It’s called I Want It That Way. But NO..we would have to do one from their first album..like Get Down.. “Get Down, get down. And move it all around”. I grew up with my walls covered in BackStreet Boys posters.
VM: You were more BackStreet Boys than ‘N Sync?
Nigel: I was totally 100% BackStreet Boys
Rachel: Big time! When ‘N Sync first came out I hated them, not because I thought that they sucked but because they were direct competition for the BackStreet Boys. But they did grow on me and their music started getting played a lot more and it was amazing. Justin Timberlake is unbelievable. I love him.
VM: But there was a bit of resistance there at first with N’Sync.
Rachel: Only because I was so faithful to the Backstreet Boys. I went to every concert (laughs)
VM: Who was your favourite?
VM: The blonde one?
Rachel: Yes, he is my future ex-husband (laughs) and it just so happens that we are now under the same Label (604) as Nick Carter.
Nigel: That’s right. I forgot about that.
Rachel: But we have never met though.
VM: Maybe one day..
Nigel: AJ was the cool one, he was the bad ass.
VM: Who was AJ? The Tattooed one?
Rachel: Yes, but I used to be into pretty blonde boys and then as I got older my tastes completely changed and now I like the tall dark and handsome (laughs)
Nigel: I think By Starlight is to Pop what AJ is to the BackStreet Boys.
Rachel: (laughs) What is that supposed to mean?
Nigel: He is the bad ass one!
Rachel: So does that mean that we are all going to rehab?
Nigel: Yes. And we are all going to grow little pencil goatees as well.
Rachel: (Laughs) Well you already have the toque on so you are already half way there.
VM: When did you individually know that you wanted to pursue music? Do you remember how old you were? When your passion started?
Nigel: There is a video of me when I’m 3 years old at a barbecue running around singing at the top of my lungs the Transformers theme song. Apparently I have been singing since I was born.
VM: So it started early with you.
Nigel: It was always the case in school and in University where I wasn’t able to sit down and write an essay because song ideas would be coming to me the entire time. I would have to put the essay down and pick up a guitar. At some point I was like, “screw it, why don’t I try doing this instead? Work and play music and see where it gets me. If I don’t do it by the time I’m too old to be a pop star then I will go back to school.
VM: What about you Rach?
Rachel: I have always liked to be the center of attention (laughs). I have a twin sister and we are similar in a lot of ways but we are also very much opposites. I was always the outgoing and outspoken one and she was always the quiet one. I loved singing because I thought it was fun and I had a few favourite singers. I would sit in my room and sing along and pretend to be them. The whole hairbrush in the mirror thing, I totally did that! I always dreamed about being Mariah Carey (laughs) .. that is who I wanted to be when I grew up and I still kinda do..(laughs). I actually never thought that I was good enough or that it was a possibility for that to happen for me until probably a few years ago.
VM: The future of By Starlight. What’s coming up? I know you are releasing an album or you planning on touring to support this release?
Nigel: We are releasing the first single soon, along with a video as well. I want to get on the road and support it for sure.
Rachel: We are actually releasing an EP.
VM: Releasing a single and a video..that’s exciting.
Rachel: The video should be fun
Nigel: I’ve always wanted to do a video
Rachel: I’ve never been to a video shoot, its going to be weird. I’m probably going to be that stupid, awkward person in awe of everything. What am I doing here?!
VM: No you won’t!
Nigel: I will just make inappropriate jokes in between takes and just offend everyone
Rachel: We will just annoy everyone with our sarcasm and perverted jokes (laughs)
VM: The next questions are Rave’s (Dave Ogilvie) and Kevvy’s (Mental, Fake Shark Real Zombie), they gave me 3 to ask you. First one..
What is Carly like? (Carly Rae Jepsen)
(We all laugh)
Nigel: Carly is a sweet person..a normal person that likes to play board games (laughs)
Rachel: She is honestly just a normal girl who likes to have cocktail parties and entertain, she will cook and have cheese and fruit and wine..
Nigel: She is inviting..
Rachel: We actually play Settlers of Catan (laughs) it’s a board game that is very nerdy..but it’s a lot of fun. But Carly is lovely.
VM: 2nd question, since you are on 604 records have you ever had dinner with Chad? (Kroeger/Nickelback)
Nigel: Nope, never met him.
Rachel: We are actually wondering when we will get to meet him…when is he taking us to Gotham (Gotham Steakhouse) for dinner because I heard that he likes to eat there. (laughs)
Nigel: I think he’s brilliant I really want to meet him one day, hopefully that is soon.
Rachel: I heard that he has a really sweet place in Mexico
Nigel: I heard that he has a helicopter
Rachel: I hear that he has a 40 foot Tyrannosaurus Rex
Nigel: I hear that he has actually mastered flight..without the use of flapping his arms..he just stands there and rises off the ground
VM: 3rd and final question from Rave and Kevvy…What’s your super power? So I’m thinking if you were able to have a super power which one would it be? OR if you do indeed have one what is it?
Nigel: I know what it would be…the power to make anything happen. I’ve known this one since I was a kid, if I had one wish from a genie. I would just want the power to make anything happen. I would be like, chair levitate..
Rachel: Beer appear in my hand..but that is kind of cheating though..
Nigel: I know it is ..it’s brilliant.
Check out ByStarlight Next…
FIVESIXTY Live Presents: Crystal Kid, ByStarlight and Pardon My Striptease
Crystal Kid, ByStarlight & Pardon My Striptease at FIVESIXTY Live
Saturday September 1st 7:30pm-10:30pm
Tickets online at TicketZone: http://tinyurl.com/8g22c8p
Tickets also at Zulu, Red Cat and Beatstreet.