By John Clay, Rock At Night Columnist–London
‘There’s no amount of words that can express what the body can explain, and if you reach the under layers of your feelings or words, your subconscious comes in a form of gesture, body movements.’ – Sofia Martins Gray (Vocalist/lyricist of Starsha Lee)
INTERVIEW WITH SOFIA MARTINS-GRAY of STARSHA LEE
You have a particular look to the polaroids that you take and the same aesthetic has seemingly bled into your music videos. What fuels this look and how long did it take to perfect it?
Sofia: I love the polaroid’s light, it’s very raw and it demands attention. My relationship with polaroids is very intimate, they are as personal as diary entries. I think what unifies the videos and the polaroids is the raw, cutting, contrast and the willingness to perform to a camera.
For the sake of newer less informed fans, when did you discover an intimate relationship with Polaroids and how has that intimacy developed over time?
Sofia: My dad had photographic gear around the house, so I was familiar with it. He had a Polaroid 600 that I use now. There was this particular moment that made it clear why I was attracted to polaroids. When I was a child I used to go to cemeteries very often with my family. On one of those occasions I was with my mother and I saw her crying desperately by her mother’s grave. There was this odd aesthetical moment when seeing her cry in the bright light like that, there was this paradox that I as a child understood without words, two distinct feelings together, the happiness of the day with her extreme sorrow. That’s the polaroid light to me.
Is there any compulsion to write about your process in photography, later in life perhaps? Do tell us in as much detail as you can as to how the music of Starsha Lee has benefited from your Polaroid work.
Sofia: I started to create images on camera because I wanted to perform. It was not very obvious to me in the beginning, but during the process of doing it, I’ve realised that it was an inner calling. It was stronger than anything else, I just couldn’t escape it. Nietzsche said somewhere that I don’t recall now: “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star”. This is true, never mind if it was Nietzsche or not, it’s true and that’s what matters. When photography started to mean something to me I was living in a very old house and I’d lost the roof during winter; I had no job, nothing. I needed a job quickly, my roof had a plastic sheet covering the hole for weeks, it was miserable. Slowly, I’ve begun to realise that the coincidence of those damaged walls and life was aesthetically plausible, to the point I wanted to portray myself with them on camera. I wanted a testimony, and soon I started to want movement, so the poses were more of a performance. Without this experience Starsha Lee as a band probably wouldn’t be so obvious to me as a major need. I don’t think I want to write about the process, but rather about the feelings during these years. I have a few short stories that I’m working on slowly.
Performance is like stretching to me. There’s no amount of words that can express what the body can explain, and if you reach the under layers of your feelings or words, your subconscious comes in a form of gesture, body movements. I guess that’s why I look a bit clumsy onstage with Starsha Lee, it’s all about bringing to the surface what is silent. Clumsiness is fluidity!
I’m sure we’ll investigate a lot of what you’ve offered here in a future interview. For now, thank you for giving us something to think about as we listen to your New single.
‘Resting in Murder’ is out now (via Bandcamp and other sharing platforms).
Follow Starsha Lee On:
- A candid interview with River of UK band Idle Fire - August 7, 2022
- Rock At Night Interview: UK band IDLE FIRE on politics and identity - August 1, 2022
- Starsha Lee: A Conversation on Images and Childhood - July 19, 2022