Starsha Lee: A Conversation on Images and Childhood


Starsha Lee - "Plausible Hate"

By John Clay, Rock At Night London

This is a mini interview where John Clay pinpoints Sofia Martins Gray’s preoccupation with her childhood. The front person of Starsha Lee is characteristically revealing, entertaining and informative. 

‘I live in eternity, time ruins everything.’ – Sofa Martins Gray

Sofia Martins Gray of Starsha Lee

You believe that talking about images can have a reductive effect upon the art in question. When did you discover this and do you find that people are resistant to that logic?

Sofia: When it comes to aesthetic feelings, I struggle with explanations because instead of making me clearer they make me more confused. I think aesthetic feelings should be exposed with aesthetic mediums only.

There’s a disaffection that comes with discourse, with rationalisation.

I still remember when I saw a Munch painting for the first time, I think I was like fourteen. I was scared and I wanted more. When explaining that, words started to fail me slowly. Things started to fade.

You’ve spoken of being a writer. Would you ever consider using your art work as the basis for stories or would that be antithetical to your work in some way?

Sofia: I’m still not sure. I know some of my photographs touch the surface of my short stories, but I’m not sure. But I’m not a writer, if I say that I am it would be offensive to some of my friends who are published poets. I have an immense pleasure in being uncompromised, there’s no expectations and I like that. I live in eternity, time ruins everything.

When you say time ruins everything, what do you mean?

Sofia: We’re dying by the minute, to start with. Living in causality implies many things like rushing to do something or else we lose the opportunity, it implies being a prey to chance, to change, to variables. I can’t stand any of that. And to make everything worse you come with a body that will end one of these days. I know this will sound bizarre, but I remember being eleven or twelve years old and getting jealous of elderly ladies that sit at doorsteps in the sun. I remember telling myself, “can’t wait to be doing only that”. I was already feeling the urgency of life creeping inside me. I changed very little since that age, very little indeed.

Sofia Martins Gray of Starsha Lee

At the risk of being overly personal, you refer to your childhood quite a lot. What have you learned from your academic studies that give you insight to this thematic preoccupation, and have you used such rationalisation to create either songs or photographs?

Sofia: I knew I was a child when I was one. I spent my childhood terrified of growing up, when my body started to change I cried myself to sleep. I’m writing about that actually, it’s called “The Skeleton’s House and the Morning After”. I know I’ll take years to finish it, but it talks about body changes and about the morning I left my father to live with my mother. That day changed my life forever. He was too poor to have me with him, we lived in this huge rented old house with many other medical students. My father could just about afford two bedrooms. When the house owner tried to sell the house, the students created a signed petition to ask her not to do it, because she would set me and my father apart. She ignored it.

My studies made me apt to transfer my emotional concerns into conceptual concerns. I can talk about them better now. I use rationalisation to create universal meaning in artworks.

… And did any specific songs or photos come out of your self enquiry, or would that be too luddite a reading?

Sofia: ‘Killing Heteronomy’ was an ok achievement.

Is it true to say that your ongoing philosophical education widens your creativity? If this is the case, identify which medium you work in that’s  benefited the most from your academia.

Sofia Martins Gray

Sofia: It doesn’t influence my creativity but rather my understanding of it. I think Starsha Lee’s lyrics benefit from my studies. I refrain from many natural tendencies in order to make myself as clear as I can in lyrics.

What is the most radical idea you’ve had lately as a band and will such an experiment be revealed soon?

Sofia: I had no radical ideas, I don’t think…. I have some experiments that I would like to try, but it’s not time for that yet.

Thank you. Very keen to know more about ‘The Skeleton’s House and the Morning After’, but only once it’s finished as books are such delicate endeavours. In closing, is there anything you want to tell your fans that has yet to be said for the enrichment of the Starsha Lee experience?

Sofia: Not really, no. I’m not great at these kinds of things.

If being great involves being open about one’s process without triviality or vacuous embellishment then you have been an absolute wonder. Thank you ever so much for your time.

Sofia: Thank you so much, John!


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