Starling Glow Interview

phonepromoMusic has always been a part of Liz Hill’s life, but she was never exactly sure how it was going to pan out. Now, using the moniker Starling Glow, she’s poised to leave a mark on the pop world. By fusing together musical inspirations such as Jimi Hendrix, Death Cab for Cutie, and Bonnie Raitt, with the pop and dance influences of today’s radio hits, she’s created a unique sound all her own. With a recently released self-titled EP and a full-length album on the way, Starling Glow is shining bright.
Cliché: You grew up in a musical family, but did you ever see yourself doing anything other than music?
Starling Glow: I think that it was an unspoken thing that we did, but my parents were pragmatic. They own a small business, and they never wanted to deceive me about music being a difficult career, so they told me that I had to get a four-year degree. They didn’t want me to go into music being delusional about it. I got a degree, but the whole time I was in school and trying to be a good student, I was still doing my rock band. I’d be in class and then hopped around playing shows. I knew that I always wanted to be a musician, but I didn’t quite know how it was going to pan out until it more or less did.
So what did you study while in school?
I was a Spanish major.  I started studying it in middle school and really enjoyed learning the language.  I practiced it all the time and was one of the first kids in my high school’s history to get a 5 on the AP Spanish exam.  When I went into college, I already had extra credit coming in because of that, so I figured I would just keep it going.  I was able to graduate early.  
How’d you come up with your moniker, Starling Glow?
My producer’s wife gets full credit for that. I was bashing my head against the wall trying to come up with a band name. Having been doing bands since I was 13 or 14, it’s always the worst trying to find a name. It’s like branding yourself, and of course, there are plenty of band names that, when you dissect them, are pretty unconventional.  You think of huge bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Smashing Pumpkins — definitely not names that I would have chosen, but the names stuck and have become iconic. My producer’s wife thought of “starling,” which is a songbird, so it was fitting. We were wrestling between just “Starling” or adding something else. As unromantic as it sounds, finding a band name that hasn’t been claimed by social media is actually really difficult. We played around with a few words and thought Starling Glow was fitting and had a cool ring to it. So, it was the brainchild of my producer’s wife, Becca.
You recently released the “Caution Tape” music video. How did the concept come together and what does the song mean to you
It was the director’s idea. The way I interpret the song’s idea is that it is a love song in an unconventional sense. It’s about a person who sees through whatever walls that you try to put up. The director, Jon Danovic, kind of saw that we put up our own walls, so he had this cool concept of the girl who dances, the boy who fences, and the girl who draws, and then basically how we limit ourselves until we can take off the caution tape and break free. I thought that was so beautiful. I mean, what girl hasn’t struggled with body image and self-worth? For my own self, it was really relatable. The one girl that doesn’t grow up and is too afraid to grow up is that one that is limiting herself with vanity and being worried about what she’s wearing. I love that statement, because the things I have struggled with in the past have been self-conscious; I worried about what others think when they looked at me. I related really hard to his decision to not let her grow up. It’s almost a cautionary tale. You are what holds you back, and you are the only one that can take off your caution tape and grow up.
Where do you draw inspiration for your music?
Pretty much stuff that happens in my personal life. If I’m really worked up about something, it’s going to come out as lyrics. I grew up as an emo kid, and my tendency is to go dark. Being a pop artist, I have to watch how dark I go. There’s a little bit of self-editing, but everything comes from a feeling or an experience.
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There are so many sounds on just your EP. Do you owe that to the wide range of musical inspirations you’ve cited before?
Absolutely. Through high school and college, I definitely wanted to be more pop punk and indie. I didn’t envision myself landing in pop. Oddly enough, I was in an a cappella group in college that was more or less identical to Pitch Perfect. I was that weird, dark-haired, alt kid that got more or less wrangled into this group and ended up competing in the ICCAs. Actually, that movie is pretty accurate. We had sing offs and it was ridiculous. [laughs] In a cappella, you have to strip down pop songs and learn them part by part, committing them to memory by the bass line and the chords. You are really stripping down the anatomy of the song, and that experience gave me an appreciation for mainstream pop music. It’s funny, because I didn’t think much of it at the time. I used to do some demo singing for different pop writers, and I realized that the indie kid in me can try to pretend that I’m too cool for it, but there’s something really beautiful about a well-written melody and lyric. Pop music is the stuff that gets stuck in your head and has a broad reach. I grew to love it. There are a lot of influences from my past that I’m carrying into my pop music, and I hope that makes it a little bit different. We tried to put our best foot forward with that EP. As we are writing the full album, I’m noticing more of the quirky side of me, and my past influences are starting to show. I’m so proud of the EP, but I’m so excited about getting the album out.
Do you know when that will be?
I don’t exactly. The team and I are working really hard to have it wrapped by fall.  Ha, I fully admit that I’m a perfectionist and no matter how many songs we have, I always feel the need to write just one more song
These days, what are you listening to?
I always have the Spotify Indie-pop playlist playing. That’s the playlist I have downloaded on my phone. And I ride horses, so whenever I go to the barn and there’s no reception, that’s the playlist I have going on. I love Florence and the Machine. I think she’s brilliant. But I go back and forth from Fall Out Boy, Churches, Broods, and then indie-mellow stuff like City and Colour. And then I’ll throw on FM and hear what’s popular now.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
I am such a fan of Hozier — his voice is just insane. I have always wanted to collaborate with Coldplay. You know who else would be really fun? Fall Out Boy.  I’ve been a fan of them since high school.
What’s next for you?
Just doing a ton of writing. A lot of people don’t realize that if an album has 12 songs, the artist probably recorded 20 to 30 songs to try out and narrow down. The album has been so long in the making, but that’s priority one. We’ve been doing dance campaigns since the first single we released, and it actually charted on the Billboard dance club charts, so that was nuts. We will be doing a dance campaign for “Caution Tape,” so I’m excited to see how that goes.
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