Lavender Diamond is another one of the brilliant acts coming out of the Los Angeles music scene right now. With her ethereal lyrics and pixie style she has been enthralling Indie audiences for almost a decade now. She’s coming to San Francisco on Tuesday to play The Chapel and I had a chance to talk to her about a few things ranging from the impetus for the name Lavender Diamond to the proper technique for making a true pot pie.
Matt De Mello – The New York Times’ Zoe Wolf said this (Fashion Section June 3, 2007) about you, “Picture Lucille Ball and Tinkerbell engaged in a duet and you have an apt metaphor for the neo-folk singer Becky Stark, who suggests an impish fairy from a faraway land.” and it does seem to be an apt metaphor for your persona, but I’m curious about how you see your art. Do you consider it a part of you or do you feel like when you’re on stage you’re playing a character that is wholly different from who you are off?
Becky Stark – Hmmm…well I see my life and my art together as one. Although, of course, they are distinct! Like waking and dreaming. But just like waking life is in a way very similar – if not essentially identical – to dreaming, regular life and the craft of character are interwoven. For me, the metaphor of the stage presents an opportunity for a heightened experience of truth. Just the same as when children play. There is something so truthful about the play of meaning that occurs when we are in the creative state of suspension.
MD – You have your hands in a bunch of different pots: Comic Books, variety shows, The Decemberists concept album. What would you like to attempt next?
BS – Hmm…Well I have a few projects I’m working on! One is a new opera that is a fable about a girl and the winter. I’m very excited about it! Just last week I gave the first performance ever of the songs. It was terrifying! Now I will have to keep going and complete it. Also I’m working on a musical project for children! And I’m going to make a country record.
MD – Lavender Diamond…where does that name come from?
BS – Well I got the idea for the name a number of years ago when I had a vision of a play of crystal resonances in an undiscovered crystal cave! Such a beautiful sound! The light & sound dancing all over in sparkling harmonies! I was going to write an opera of this sound called ‘echoing in the diamond caves.’ But then the story started to unfold & have more chapters! I imagined that a man was wandering & heard this beautiful play of sound & followed the sound to the mouth of the cave where he discovered the sparkling sight!
He went inside the cave & reached up & took one of the crystals, the lavender diamond, and broke it off for his own. When he did this he silenced the resonance of the cave! A great silence & breaking was heard & he was very scared & he ran away into the woods! Centuries passed & the lavender diamond became a ring on a medieval lady’s finger. She loved to stand on her balcony & sing & there was a magpie who lived in the tree outside who loved to listen & stare at her ring. Because magpies don’t sing & they love shiny objects. So one day the magpie swooped down & tried to steal the ring off the medieval lady’s finger! But the stone got caught in the bird’s mouth & both the lady & the bird fell from the balcony to their death at the foot of the tree where they were buried. Centuries passed & the soul of the stone was reborn in a songbird who lived in that tree & her name was Lavender Diamond. And oh that’s just the beginning really! But that’s where the name comes from.
MD – Lavender Diamond has been together nearly a decade now, in fact 2013 is the official mark for the decade distinction. Do you like the level of fame that you have now as a band or are you anxious to get bigger and even more renowned?
BS – Hmm… Well I’m very happy with the audience the band has! It would be wonderful for the audience to grow, though. I would love that! I would really love for as many people as possible to hear our music!
MD – The band took a a few years off in that time was the thought that you’d always get back together or was there a distinct possibility that when you took that hiatus you wouldn’t get back together?
BS – Hmm…Well I always had the thought that Lavender Diamond was eternal. But it wasn’t clear to me about whether the band would make another record. But when we started playing together again it fulfilled such a strong need for me & the new music just tumbled out of us in an instant- it was very magical. The dynamic of the band is that way. It’s magical.
MD – There’s a line that was cut out of Pulp Fiction that I really like and basically it says you can only be one type of person and Elvis person or a Beatles person. “My theory is that when it comes to important subjects, there are only two ways a person can answer. Which way they chose, tells you who that person is. For instance, there are only two kinds of people in the world, Beatles people and Elvis people. Now Beatles people can like Elvis and Elvis people can like the Beatles, but nobody likes them both equally. Somewhere you have to make a choice. And that choice, tells you who you are.” So I wonder what type of person are you?
BS – hmm… well I think that is an impossible distinction! I love the Beatles and Elvis. I don’t really think I could say that I love one more than the other. I just can’t!
MD – Hypothetical: The Mayans were right and on December 21st the world is going to end. You have basically three weeks to do things before the end. What could you accomplish in three weeks that would fulfill something within your soul?
BS – Well that is a great question and I don’t know to answer it. I really don’t! Seriously–maybe I would finish my opera. Yes, I think that is what I would do. I’d better get to work!!
MD – Do you subscribe to the notion that a pot pie is encased in a pastry crust or is it ok to have a puff pastry atop to call it a pot pie?
BS – Well I’m not very strict about those kinds of things but it does seem that a pot pie maybe ought not to have a puff pastry crust!
MD – You covered Prince’s “Purple Rain” a couple of years ago, have you ever played it live?
BS – You know I don’t think we’ve ever played it live. But we should! It is an incredibly beautiful song. But so heartbreaking! Maybe that’s why we’ve never played it live.
MD – The Los Angeles music scene is emerging to be as big as it was in the ’70’s and ’80’s and yet there seems to be an inundation of music that has never happened before. Is this because LA is the epicenter of entertainment or is it more to do with the immense talent that is now allowed to be found because of the interwebs?
BS – Well that’s an excellent question. I tend to think that LA is a center for beautiful music because there is a beautiful & loving spirit that pervades the creative community here. There is a real generosity amongst the artists – across generations & genres. I am very thankful to be part of this loving & supportive community & I hope it continues to grow. I think that many people here feel that the world needs as many people as possible to be powerfully & fully expressing their best music & art & that is why there is a lot of great work coming from our city! But I hope that sentiment will take root in every place in the world!