By Jake Garrett
What is a sensible life? Settling down with a partner, getting a stable job, eating healthy food? Or is it taking a lead role in a daring, light-hearted movie set in post-Katrina New Orleans, going on tour with a film star and co-founding the immediately successful LA ladies choir? For Becky Stark, lead singer of Lavender Diamond, that was her attempt at a sensible life. “I was trying really hard to have a sensible life, I tried really, really hard but it came to a point where I had to sing”.
After a very successful delve into acting and joining indie-folk band The Decemberists for a year, Becky has returned to her LA based Indi-pop band Lavender diamond, whose first release was back in 2004. Their latest album, Incorruptible Heart, was released on the 25th of September and produces a sound that finally gives gratitude to Becky’s spectacular voice.
Becky Stark from Lavender Diamond
Incorruptible Heart is undoubtedly the produce of passion and knowledge for music. During Becky’s attempt at a sensible life she started writing with fellow band members, classical composer Steve Gregoropolous and guitarist Jeff Rosenberg. A few pen strokes later and her musical passion was rekindled. “The whole record was so amazing … I got together with Steve and Jeff and started writing. We wrote Everybody’s Heart’s Breaking Now [and] I don’t recall and I was like, we have to do this right now … it became a physical need”.
Becky met up with OK GO’s Damian Kulash with an idea, an idea she could not quite explain but he knew someone who could help. “I had an idea in my head and I saw it in his eyes how I wanted it to be … He introduced me to Dave Fridmann, he had an idea how to break through the sound, to open up the sound. I didn’t quite know what he meant but I trusted him”.
So began the passionate submission into creating Incorruptible Heart, an idea that was freed by Dave Fridmann, a man who has worked with such bands as The Flaming Lips, MGMT and most recently Tame Impala. “Working with Dave was a beautiful experience for all of us, for everyone involved, it was beautiful”. You can really hear this in the atmosphere of the album, a meaningful sound that everyone can appreciate. That missing piece of the puzzle was a deep electronic sound that creates the layers of the album, something you can really hear in both MGMT and The Flaming Lips. “He added the layers I needed, he added an intensity, made the sound more complex”.
Incorruptible Heart ricochets between dark and dreamlike. The album really does have a large spectrum of feeling. Coasting from the gentle surrealism of Oh my Beautiful World to the uplifting, playful sound of There’s A Perfect Love For Me. One of the best qualities of the album is how it can bring a tear to your eye, but a few songs later put a smile on your face. The beautiful Everybody’s Heart’s Breaking Now will put you in a state of blissful sorrow while the soft, hip-hop like beat of I Don’t Recall will bring warmth and a smile. “The album has a sonic atmosphere … it’s more drastic, it’s wild”.
The electronic or “sonic atmosphere” that is created, makes the vibe of the album into something very close to Becky’s heart, as the vibe has a somewhat cosmic feeling. “Being in his studio (Dave Fridmann) was like being in a spaceship”. When you listen to this album, imagine drifting through space and then this album becomes a fantasy, Becky’s fantasy, moulded into music. “My Whole life I’ve had this fantasy of me falling through space like an outer space ballet”.
However, to capture that fantasy put into the music and then transforming both into visual imagery would be close to be impossible, no?
No, because thanks to director Maximilla Lukacs that imagery was made into reality. “We started making a film we never finished about going on a inter-planet journey to save Earth which we didn’t finish”. Years later in a random coincidence, Becky got asked to be a dancer on a flying rig, only for a few minutes but from those few minutes the idea for the video arose. “I thought Oh my God, I had a flash, that’s my fantasy, that’s my fantasy … my friend came up to me and was like you were born to do that … I ran into Maximilla three days later and it had been like a year since I last saw him and I said about this secret talent for a real ballet and we both knew we had to make this video … It was crazy how it got made, a crazy miracle”. So after a huge amount of luck it seemed the video was meant to be; filmed in a prism, performed by Becky, an image of a fantasy perfectly representing a song was created.
What was obvious about talking to Becky is that she has a huge appreciation for everyone she has come across while making this album. Becky has people she wants to thank, people who she shows gratitude for. From producer Damian Kulash to Maximilla Lukacs and photographer Amanda Charchian whose pictures you can see on the Lavender Diamond website. That is why I think this album has such an impact, on the website the album is described as “A record made for everyone” and there is not a better explanation I think for why Becky has made it.
As for Becky, well it was a pleasure speaking with someone who has such a passion for everything she does. Amanda Charchian, in a caption under a photo she has taken of Becky says “She has a really angelic voice and exists on Earth to spread love. A really high vibrational person”. As Charchian is only one of the people Becky was eager to thank, I think it’s only right to end with this comment to represent the impression that Stark seems to make on people.