Stars detail the making of their new studio and album

October 9, 2014

Stars’ trademark synth-infused dance rock sounds as fresh now as it did back in 2001, when they quickly distinguished themselves as more than another Broken Social Scene-affiliated band and became one of the most distinct pop acts of the decade. On their latest album, No One Is Lost, they conjure the same energetic and infectious sound and apply it to a whole host of new life experiences. From death, to birth, to partying all night, Stars have it covered.

The band debuted several songs from No One Is Lost for a crammed couple hundred people at the legendary Breakglass Studios at this year’s Pop Montreal festival. Before they got started, we pulled aside cofounder Chris Seligman to talk about what we can expect on the new record.

AUX: What’s happening on No One Is Lost? What’s new?

Chris Seligman, keyboardist: I’d say the main thing is we built the studio ourselves, and that’s kind of cool. We call it [Mount] Zoomer, because Wolf Parade were in there, and we took it over from them, and we share it with Wintersleep. It used to be where we rehearsed and then we turned it into a studio. It took two months of work, but to come out of that with a space you can call your own… I think it allowed us to be creative in different ways. We owned our space, and we put a lot of energy into our space, and we got a lot of energy back out of it.

That’s a real luxury for a band, being able to design a studio.

We have amassed a lot of gear over the years, so we had a lot of stuff. Our new guitar player too, he has kind of cultivated a new period for us. We can play all together off the floor much more than we used to. In years past, we had ideas of that but we relied more on overdubs. But yeah, we have lots of gear, and building the studio let us use it the right way. Obviously we don’t have a ton of money so you have to make good economic decisions, so we also borrow a lot of gear. The idea is once you start, the next time around you can buy more gear, and you just kind of amass the studio over the next five or 10 years, and you keep the money you’ve invested in yourself.

Did you add any little comfort things, like beer holders in the chairs?

[Laughs] It’s still a little bit of a dump, really. It’s basically an apartment at Bernard and St. Laurent. There’s a kitchen literally where the control deck is. We built a desk, it looks out into the room, and people have their spaces.

One thing that you have done so well across your career is use pop music as a vessel for expressing much deeper, and often much darker themes and emotions. Is that a deliberate contrast?

To tell you the truth, for me, stuff just kind of happens. I don’t think we’re that conscious of it. I mean we have aesthetics and we have taste, and it’s important to do something that means something to us. Especially now that we’ve progressed into our lives, there’s lots of shades and colours in our lives, and we’ve all gone thorugh different things. Going through a death or a birth, it’s hard not to have kind of intense feelings about life. We’re all kind of sensitive, and we’re just trying to make sense out of the chaos of life. That’s what most artists are trying to do, I think. We believe in art, and we believe in that being kind of a strong, valiant cause to live your life for. Whatever that is, it’s important for us to honour that.

In the music video for the album’s first single, “From The Night,” you documented a night out on the town in Montreal. Was it exactly what it looked like—a night on the town? Or was there a giant film crew following you around?

It’s actually just one guy filming, Darren Curtis. He just went out with one camera, so it was super low key. You do so many videos, and sometimes you do super big budget ones. Sometimes you’re in the video, sometimes you’re not. I think sometimes it’s kind of hard to capture exactly what you’re trying to do in videos, so we just tried to simplify it and show another side of us. Because we do hang out quite a bit.

With him following you, was there a lot of telling people to ignore the camera and act natural?

That’s the thing about videos, you have to try and act natural. Some people are really good at being natural in front of a camera.

Watch the video for “From The Night” below and try naming all the Montreal bars visited.

No One Is Lost is out October 14.


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