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Starset’s Dustin Bates: “We Believe That Technology Is A Force For Good”

William Scott
William Scott 21 November 2017 at 17.33

We caught up with the band's frontman to chat about the Starset Society, partnerships with Marvel and what the future holds. 



CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THE CONCEPT OF STARSET?

Says Dustin Bates (vocals): “So it starts with the Starset Society, which is the overarching group that is responsible for the creation of Starset. The Starset Society is looking at science and technology, about how it’s affecting the present and the near future in ways both positive and negative. We believe that technology is a force for good but also has unintentional ramifications, and the Starset Society is looking to shed light on those changes that are happening at an exponential rate rate as we progress into the future.

Starset Society uses media to do this and, in addition to a graphic novel, a book and in the future hopefully a television show or movie, the Starset Society created the band Starset and Starset uses the videos to do Sci-Fi veinlets and to look at dystopian futures that could happen at the hands of technology. The records of Starset are soundtracks to these various narratives and the Starset live demonstrations are immersive experiences of all of this.”

WHAT DID YOU DO DIFFERENTLY WITH LATEST ALBUM ‘VESSELS’?

“Sonically, before we even wrote the very first song, I had lots of goals. There were forces outside of me that wanted various things. A lot of fans didn’t know it but they wanted a recurrence of transmissions and the label probably wanted 13 ‘My Demons’, there were a lot of expectations but what I did was I wrote a long note to myself of what sonic goals I wanted.

The first thing was the use of the electronics, I wanted to make it a little bit less organic and a little less industrial, I wanted to make it more bright and polished and deliberate. I wanted to draw from EDM in terms of song structure and the use of lows and builds. I wanted to use the strings in a different way, a little more orchestral on this record, considerably actually with more horns and things. I also wanted to be more broad in terms of song style. I wanted to cross lines between pop and metal and rock. Hopefully it came out that way.”

AND IT EXPANDS WHAT STARSET IS?

“Yes, ‘Vessels’ is much more of a journey and more deliberately a journey in terms of an actual journey through the universe and space. But also introspectively the record is to be taken as a journey through metamorphosis of one’s self.”



WHAT DO YOU THINK HELPED STARSET GET SO MUCH BIGGER IN THE US?

“We were doing good on the radio and whatnot, but on YouTube we have 1.1 billion streams at this point and only 300 million of them are from the US, so the growth is actually global but we haven’t had a chance to really capitalise that or utilise that or put that on display or tour it yet.

I think a certain number of the fans love the narrative and the experience and the immersion and love space and sci-fi, the tech and the nerdiness of it all. But the greater portion of people, I think they just like the music that’s cinematic and the rock and the metal. Maybe the greater portion of people just like the songs for being songs and how they relate to them personally.”

HOW HAS WHAT YOU WANT STARSET TO BE CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?

“The exploration of the tech and science has really grown. I really believe that the public outreach capability and possibilities of this project are vast and at the same time I see this technology changing the world and shaping politics even. I have become even more impassioned and hopefully using this as a platform to open eyes. At the same time, I’ve always loved Rock and really loved Tech & Sci-Fi so that really hasn’t changed”

YOU RECENTLY TEAMED UP WITH MARVEL FOR A GRAPHIC NOVEL. HOW WAS THAT?

“It was amazing, the label helped put me in the room with some people at Marvel. Initially it was a low key look at how maybe I could help curate some playlists or do some things with music with them. They asked about Starset Society’s mission and the narrative and I started nerding out with them and a few meetings later they offered a partnership.”

WHERE DO YOU SEE THAT PARTNERSHIP WITH MARVEL HEADING?

“I would love for the graphic novels to be comics and be serialised. There are numerous veinlets written that are sort of Twilight Zone of sci-fi. We hope that this first instalment is successful for them so that they sign on for me. There is a second full length novel underway right now which will be amazing because it can be tied into the Marvel world. The sky is the limit there and obviously it would be amazing to get into other media with them such as TV or movies. We’ll see what happens.”

THE LIVE SHOWS ARE INCREDIBLY IMMERSIVE. HOW DO THEY COME TOGETHER?

“I build all of this stuff. I used to be an engineer, I was working on a PHD when this stuff started to take off. I love being able to come up with concepts and see them come to life on stage. All of the lighting, the fog and the haze, the video, the automation it’s all done autonomously with an automated system. It’s a lot of fun to watch that all come to life. The stage is becoming this living apparatus. I love it, it’s right up my alley and I can’t wait to add so much more to it.

AND DO YOU HAVE PLANS TO HEAD TO THE UK?

“We will be back in early 2018.”

YOU’VE SPOKEN ABOUT TV PROGRAMMES AND GRAPHIC NOVELS. WHAT’S NEXT?

“There’s a lot more. There’s a new website for the Starset Society that’s going to really linate goals, the real educational Science and Technology outreach goals and the Sci-Fi world of it all. We can’t wait to start building that. Starset is working on some really amazing technology, I’m almost hesitant to even mention it. We’re doing some things with augmented reality and we’re pumped about it. There’s numerous videos underway and the novel. At the same time I’m working on a side project with music when I get home for the next couple of months.”

'Vessels' is out now via Razor & Tie. 

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