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Interview with Jade Starling

Interview with Jade Starling
© Gretchen Johnson Photography

Jade Starling, the lead singer-song writer of the platinum selling group Pretty Poison, is releasing her first solo album “Captive” June 10th on Universal ITunes. Best known for the ground breaking late 80’s single “Catch Me I’m Falling”, which reached number 1 on Billboard’s Dance Charts,entered at number 8 on its’ Pop Charts, and also peaked high at 13 on the R&B charts, remains refreshingly relevant today. Receiving widespread exposure then, their platinum card is still ranking frequent flyer miles. Throughout the years it has been in numerous films, compilations, and, most recently, featured in “Breaking Bad” and MTV’s “Ridiculousness”.

Starling remains half of a dynamic duo that includes musical cohort Whey Cooler, a long time song writing partner, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. A man who wears many hats, Cooler also produces up and coming artists, runs a studio, and owns the label Chemikal Entertainment Group. They have stayed in the game witnessing many tribulations and trends, truly deserving “an award for perseverance”.“The fact that we have been collaborating all these years speaks volumes about the longevity of the partnership. I could not do this without him. I sometimes think our different tastes in music have made the collaboration stronger.” As core members of the band Pretty Poison, whose influence on modern music continues to prove evident, “Captive” has the potential to be just as far reaching.

Free from corporate captivity, there is a new way of making music in the global frontier. “Captive” is trailing a torch for creative independence and entrepreneurship in EDM (Electronic Dance Music). Being connected globallyallows artists to collaborate freely, comfortably, and instantly. Jade Starling discusses the unconventional way of making music on her latest album and its’ relevance in present EDM: “It started off with a few tracks already in place. It was going one way and then we had the goodfortune to connect with some incredible world renowned DJs. One of our booking agents, StevenFord, introduced us to Bimbo Jones. Whey and I wrote a song called “Dance Revolution” and Bimbo Jones remixed it. “From there Lee Dagger, who is one half of the duo Bimbo Jones, asked if we wanted to activelycollaborate on some songs and sent some tracks in which one song led to a dozen. We were writing songs daily and the creative juices were flowing. As fellow collaborators getting outside influences opened up a whole new side which was an emotional over lap.”

“Whhey Cooler produced, co wrote and did some remixing on this album. We coproduced all the vocal arrangements. Some of it was done using modern technology like Skype and we just ran with it.”Jade Starling has always remained a song writer, a distinction from many pop stars groomed and tailor made solely for financial profit. Nothing can fully develop without solid material to work with and Lee Dagger, whose has done official remixes for the likes of Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Pink, Avicii (Tim Berg), The Killers and a long list of other notable major recording artists, equally shined on the album by playing an integral role in the production of “Captive”. The list of collaborative talent continued as the same booking agent also steered Jade and Whey in the direction of DJ Laszlo, a young rising gay Hungarian DJ out of Denver who moved to Vegas where he has a current residency. DJ Laszlo has officially remixed for Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Kelly Clarkson, Jewel and other “heavy hitting pop records”. In deciding to collaborate on four songs with him “any of them could go straight to radio”, says Jade.

“Everything in The World” was a collaboration with French DJ Franck Dona (Universal France) whom Jade was connected to by her good friend, Chris Schwarz, CEO of the well recognized and publicized Ruffhouse Records (The Fugees, Cypress Hill, Kriss Kross, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, and Leela James) “I want it all. I want it now. I want everything in the world” proclaims the lyrics of “Everything in The World”, which opens up “Captive” and “sums it up”: Making music on an international scale via technology has changed the recording landscape by providing innovation and endless creative possibilities, both present on “Captive”. “This is one of the great things about the process and it’s been in the making for two years. We’ve connected with Franck Dona and Lee Dagger in the last few years at the Winter Music Conference in Miami and its’ always a pleasure. Franck lives in Vegas but goes between there, France, and LA. I saw him a few weeks ago at the WMC along with Lee Dagger (UK) who did two dates with us debuting our upcoming new single, “Thinkin About You” to overwhelming response.” “We’ve never met Laszlo physically in person yet we felt so connected to him. It’s almost like having babies together. Making music is like creating a child. It’s an entity. With this new album it’s finally at the birth cannel ready to be born and shared with the world. Let’s hope for twins-double platinum.”Aside from being a bona fide platinum recording artist, Jade has also modeled seasonally in New York for such fashion powerhouses as DKNY and Calvin Klein. Both the music and fashion industry are cut throat environments yet she is a tough Jersey girl fully equipped at surviving and thriving in these worlds by carrying herself well and adapting to various looks. with ease , such as being complimented for working a Herve Leger dress or wearing something as basic as Guess. “I could be a Guess girl”, states Jade. “I do a lot of Michael Korrs shoes and boots because he always gets it right. His footwear is comfortable and divafied without killing” Reflecting back on her time as a model she says “it was great in a pinch. You can make good money but it’s extremely competitive. You are really pounding the pavement as very few models get work. A modeling career for men can be longer than women because, unless you were a super model in that era, female models generally are very young. Sometimes guys get more attractive as they get older. They get more rugged and chiseled”. With her porcelain skin, well defined physique, and youthful glow she may just be shattering society’s notions as a role model for beauty and health but it is not entirely without effort.“I put in a lot of work. I work out constantly. I dance. I’m very, very active. A great skin care regimen, plenty of water, sleep, clean eating and living is all imperative.” While her first single from “Captive” may be called “Insomniak”, she adds “it doesn’t matter where you get the eight hours of sleep just as long as you get it. In regards to nutrition, people who yo-yo diet show in their face. Everything you put into your body is going to make you look healthy or create havoc.”Looking more radiant than ever, Jade is at the top of her game. However competition also runs high in the gay scene where she has received iconic status. Being around queer culture, she has been coveted a “queen amongst queens by so many beautiful drag queens. When they do the read on you, it gets around. Your either fierce and got it going on or not”. Jade Starling certainly does have it going on at the moment. “Insomniak, with its’ visually alluring music video, it is a big club hit in the Billboard community and her fans are anxious for more. “My LGBT following has been loyal to me my whole career and it just does not go away. I always feel I wantto give back to my brothers and sisters as much as I can”.

Starling who first gained recognition as the flaming red headed chanteuse in the band Pretty Poison describes how differently business operated when she first exploded on the scene: “The music industry has completely changed. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, when we werewith Virgin Records, the record companies did put up millions of dollars but they expected a lot too. If you did not live up to their expectations they would just cut their losses and ended up dropping you. You were only as big as your last hit record.” “In our case, “Catch Me I’m Falling” was so big and perhaps even overshadowed the actual group. During that time, it was not uncommon for songs to be more popular than the groups that actually did them. We had recognition throughout the years on MTV and VH1. Being number 47 on the top 80’s songs of the decade is not a bad thing. Once a hit, always a threat: It stood the test of time. It’s classic”.

A true formula for star quality is the ability to appeal to a wide and diverse population. “Catch Me I’m Falling”, the band’s certified platinum record, transcended boundaries and barriers. Pretty Poison where on several important shows but it must be noted that, along with a select few prestigious names, the band joined a limited rank of white artists to appear on Soul Train. The band also tapped into the booming Hispanic market and in doing so predated the Latin pop explosion by a decade. “Catch Me I’m Falling” was also impressively recorded in Spanish along with the album’s second single, the equally exquisite “Nighttime”, yet another number 1 dance floor sensation. Although never confined to musical trappings or one to remain one dimensional, Jade Starling still remains an immensely respected and celebrated figure among freestyle circles where her music was adopted. Increased popularity has kept them a part of that world and June 27th marks the opening of the Freestyle Explosion Tour, which she is set to perform amongst several other performers praised in the genre. The music of Pretty Poison captured a generation. The musical climate it happened in may be a bygone era but Jade’s commitment to “great songs, incredible beats, and a stellar production” has not changed. These same qualities are present on “Captive”, also destined for timelessness leaving heraudience captivated in the process.“For so many years I felt “captive” of my own ambitions, this record finally deserves to be out there. A lot of heart and soul, an incredible amount of hard work went into this album. It did not just materialize on its’ on. It’s beena spiritual transformation that has not allowed me to stop until things get to where they need to be. This is my life’s work and my passion. I just want to share it with people and bring joy. I’ve always believed my music can uplift people’s spirit. It’s interesting for people that follow my history but newbies that will be listening to “Captive” will appreciate what came before”, she says. The term EDM is now a recognized musical category but Pretty Poison had been instrumental in pioneering it long before a name was given. Jade Starling and Whey Cooler have enough business acumen to capitalize fully on the various platforms modern times have to offer.

“We have all the social media we did not have back then. Music is easy to download. There is Sound Cloud, Instagram, Twitter and tools such as Facebook that allow us to have direct communication and interaction with our fans”. With independence also comes a sense of control. “We can control all aspects of our sound and image, right down to the cover art and the inside photos”. There is an empowering theme that runs throughout “Captive” which is projected not only in the music but the imagery of the album which pierces the psyche. Being an artist, Jade has a unique ability to find “beauty in all its’ splendor” even amongst decay. “I thought if you were held captive, you might not always have a perfect glamour. There is a beauty to it but it’s an alternative beauty. I found more beauty in the edginess “Edgy yet elegantly photographed by Gretchen Johnson at the Eastern State Penitentiary, former home of Al Capone, is where Jade Starling reinvented herself as an “ethereal surrealistic angel”. Despite the commercialization of tours there, being in one of the oldest prisons in the country was an enjoyable creative experience. “It’s like an oxymoron because it is beautifullydilapidated yet I felt right at home where others might have found it spooky”,says Jade, completely self styled and organically transformed into “a steam punk queen” for the photo shoot. A mysterious element is present in her work which extends far beyond playing dress up and the generic commonalities found in many of the currentpop crop that is as much a paradox as the album’s photography. “I do have a dark side for sure. Sometimes when you are in an introspective mood your creativity flows a lot more in that intense state of mind. I found there was both dark and light on this album. There are definitely the love songs that have a more pop feel to them. There is this happy, joyful side but then there is a darker undercurrent emerging. I like the balance it brings. Everything can’t be squeaky clean. I certainly like it to be real. Anything that is meaningful will have an edge to it. I want it to be thought provoking and totake people on an emotional journey.”There is an emotional resonance in Jade’s versatile voice, as well as a passionate inner voice, thathas allowed her to intrinsically connect with her audience.“I’ve always wanted the audience to feel an emotional connection with the songs in the same way I felt when I was writing them. If you don’t feel it, you don’t get it. Everything comes from deeep inside, whither people will get that or not. For me, if it touches people in that way, I’ve done my job right” With a stylistically broad catalog of work, her inspirations are as expansive as her personality. “I love anything that sounds like it is coming from within the soul. I listen to a lot of different music and my tastes are very diverse. As a child, I was influenced early on by Stevie Nicks and several other female vocalists. Currently, other female artists I love are Lana Del Ray, Rhianna, Beyonce, and Haley Williams from Paramour to name but a few” Jade candidly discusses the “very political” nature of the music industry. “Everything you here there is a reason why you are hearing it-because someone is paying for it to get on the radio. It doesn’t just magically get on there. It’s all about money, but I’m going to continue to do what I do regardless of making a dollar or millions of dollars”. She stresses that “the craft is not driven by money, its’ money that drives the craft”. Furthermore, making a dance album “you also have to pay for remixes”. The album’s first successful club single “Insomniak” featured remixes by the likes of Chris Cox, Bisbetic, Alex Preston, Scott Mann, and Dark Intensity. After successful crowd funding exceeded their initial goals with Kickstarter, they are now set to take off onto the next phase of promotion. Indiegogo, their second as well as current crowd funding campaign, will be highly crucial in order to ensure “Captive” receive the level of recognition it justly and properly deserves. “You need money to make a hit record. That could be a drawback on the creativity and sometimes it’s stifling for me because you know that you need a lot of money to break a record and that’s just the way it is”. Yet, Jade firmly insists, “You are not selling out. You are buying in”. Their current Indiegogo campaign can allow the duo to “get the record on the radio, in the clubs, and keep the momentum going by releasing single after single and videos. Although the album will be distributed through Universal, “we are still responsible to pay for promotion which is very expensive. We are also seeking sponsorship for tour support. We have increased interest coming from overseas.” “Although we still perform at the Freestyle Explosion Tours as Pretty Poison, we will be embarking on a Jade Starling Captive Tour that will run 36 cities across the country. Check the website for tour information as it develops. My solo tour is nothing short of a spectacular audio visual experience complete with video backdrops, a DJ, and dancers. Retaining a club feel, this show is not to be missed.”While fan support is greatly valued, Jade is also one to give back and has supported many humanitarian causes such as the T.J Martell Foundation, breast cancer, raising money for AIDS, and remains a gay rights activist. She sees herself as “philanthropic in this degree and takes immense pride in participating in charitable work”. “When you give away your time, your time is money. If you can raise money to help someone else, it all comes back around. It is my desire to do good things in the world and heal people through music. I very rarely ask for anything but when I do you can bet it is meaningful not just for me but for evveryone and everything because it can perpetuate other things to start happening thus allowing me to do even better things in the world.” “I do like to surround myself with good energy, positive people, and minds that think alike who are trying to do great things in the world where everybody benefits- not just me but everyone. It all touches everyone.”Jade has chosen to take on experiences of greater personal integrity, strong ethical standards, and increased social awareness. In doing so, she is building a foundation grounded in love and altruism. “I went to a luncheon the other day where Katie Couric was a guest speaker. Just listening to her talk and being in the same room elevated me to a higherlevel. She had so much positive advice and wisdom, especially coming from a woman at her level of success. It was just very inspiring to hear of everything she has accomplished. I know she is not a musician per say but she has interviewed so many major stars. “ “I appreciated her so much coming to Philly which was sponsored by BEN FM,a local 80’s 90’s and Now Station that continues to play “Catch Me I’m Falling” on regular rotation as if it was a new song-what a blessing. All the media were there and the local people appreciate when I make appearances.There is no place like home”This past year has brought on a string of high profile events for Jade both performing and presenting at the Atlantic City Nightlife Awards and the prestigious International Dance Music Awards- Winter Music Conference in Miami. She also volunteered at the LGBT Expo. National exposure is set to increase further with an interview being scheduled for OK!TV, an entertainment news show similar to Entertainment Tonight , based on the magazine of the same name. “Captive” will be released June 10th on Universal ITunes available everywhere.“Thinkin About U”, the second single release in June coinciding with the album’s release will feature exciting remixes from hugely popular DJ remixers Mike Cruz, Chris Cox, And Marc Stout aka Papercha$erJade Starling is a Billboard artist seven times over and she is destined to enter into uncharted territory with her first solo record. Ahead of her time yet very much of the time, she needs suppor ters of the arts and fans alike tohelp push promotion further. Her Indiegogo campaign is provided below:


Article by: Joe Sioufi & Michael Graves
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