Brooklyn’s Starlight Girls’ story is a lot like their sound – surreal, and full of 21st-century contradictions. Their story begins in 2011, when singer Christina Bernard, an Ohio ex-megachurch chorister turned rocker, meets Shaw Walters, a guitar savant and budding tech wizard from San Francisco, and they form a band. They find their bandmates: two Long Island music theatre junkies on keys and backups, a tattooed art freak from Seattle-via-Hawaii on bass, and a UMich jazz fiend on drums (Sara Mundy, Isabel Alvarez, Tysen Arveson, and Josh Davis respectively). They all meet via craigslist.
Their first foray into the public eye is an April Fool’s joke gone right—they record an impression of Joanna Newsom covering one of their songs, and a bunch of blogs take the bait. One thing leads to another, and soon they’re a bonafide Brooklyn buzz band. They release an EP and tour the country a few times. They open for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. They attend Lou Reed’s last big party. They play Europe’s biggest musical festival. The collab with Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart on their noise-drenched sophomore EP, 7×3, which they follow up with their first LP, Fantasm. Their enigmatic sound gets them on stages with names from all over the musical map, including Kate Nash, St. Lucia, Tilly and the Wall, Nick Waterhouse, Total Slacker, Crystal Fighters, and Lucius.
In nine years, Starlight Girls have evolved into an elegant enigma, straining what’s possible for a project that wasn’t planned too carefully to begin with. The band’s started to venture outside of Brooklyn for inspiration. Lead singer Christina Bernard has forayed into directing; her narrative music video for the band’s “Get Right” (shot on a commune in rural North Carolina) is a surreal spoof on 90’s karaoke videos. She’s also directed a self-penned short film in California, set to be released this year. Meanwhile, guitarist Shaw Walters has become a rising star in the tech world and has crisscrossed the globe creating holographic augmented reality projects for performers, including a recent piece with Marina Abramović (hilariously, their mixed-reality collaboration “The Life” has become a lightning rod for alt-right conspiracy theories). The rest of the band soldiers on in New York, performing music and navigating the apocalypse.
In a burst of grit, the band has created their new EP Entitled. Produced by Christina Bernard, the album was recorded in upstate New York’s Marcata Studios by Kevin McMahon (Titus Andronicus, Widowspeak), mixed at Freshly Baked Studios in Brooklyn by Alexander Almgren (Skylar Spence, Born Cages, Vanessa Carlton) and mastered by Chris Gehringer (Lady Gaga, Drake, Rhianna) at New Jersey’s Sterling Sound. And the band’s hyper-kinetic stage show features videographer Jonathan Phelps (Muckraker Productions). Entitled is a darkly upbeat come-on to the future. The band’s future (and everyone else’s) seems uncertain, and fittingly, Entitled feels like one more sexy freak-out from the edge.