A conversation with Stjarna - Founder of Technobass.net

Round number 7 of my series of conversations with electro producers, DJs, label owners and scene makers. This time I head back from my virtual tour of Europe and jump over to the east coast of the USA to chat with Starrie Williamson, aka Stjarna,  the force behind the excellent electro portal Technobass.net. She's done tons for the electro community, and I was amped to sit down with her and chat all things electro. Let's go......

First things first, tell us a little about yourself

My name is Starrie Williamson. Musically I go by the monikers "Selekta Stjarna", as a DJ, and just "Stjarna", for my production. I currently live in Charlottesville, Virginia in the United States.

When I hit my early teens in the late eighties, my interest in underground music exploded, and I started hitting the record shops in NYC and became interested in clubbing culture. There was an underage club night which played Synth Pop, Industrial, Dark Wave, House, and early Techno tracks near where I lived in Delaware called XLR8, so my friends and I would go every weekend to dance and hang out.

When I was old enough, my parents let me start going to clubs in New York City such as the Limelight.

Ah, so you had a chance to experience that legendary 90s era east coast rave culture. Tell me a little more about that...

When I was 20 years old I went off to art school in Philadelphia, and at that time the rave scene was exploding on the East coast. Philly was nurturing it's own growing tightly knit scene at the time, and I was going out about 3 times a week locally. Of course, I would hit up warehouse events in NYC with my friends frequently.

At the height of New York's Rave scene, it's main influences were coming from Detroit, Germany and the UK. It was very multi-cultural and all inclusive. It truly felt like a global culture, universal even. The community strived for integrity, and even though ultimately it's failure to achieve that led to it's demise, it had a very profound influence on my views of music and community, and it effects everything I do to this day. Those experiences will probably affect the vision for which I strive to achieve with music for the rest of my life.

I understand you're the driving force behind the technobass.net electro community,  along with some assistance from Morphogenetic. Can you tell the readers a bit of background with the site....why you created it, what was your original vision, has that vision changed since you began the site?

About a year before I met Morphogenetic and joined Fundamental Bass Intelligence, I found out that the domain name was available, so I bought it. As a professional web developer, I saw it as an opportunity to build a website about something I was passionate about. It was a project that was to become my creative outlet. Originally I envisioned the site as a place where artists could promote their music, but at the time I was limited technologically as to what I could do. I started out small, contacted a few artists, and asked them if I could feature their mix on my site, and create an artist profile for them. I considered the idea of creating a forum for the site, but decided against it as there was already an abundance of them on other electro focused websites.

I wanted to avoid the drama that seemed to go along with moderating those types of communities, so I waited. I actually pulled all of the content down for over a year until I could get the new site launched, which now I believe was a mistake. At the time I was tortured that I had not been able to create the type of site that I wanted, so I took the "all or nothing" approach. It was a a pleasurable experience for me to finally find the right technology, launch the website and watch musicians I had so much respect for start signing up as members.

Do you envision the site as more of a community for scene producers, DJs, label heads and radio folks to gather and collaborate, or is it also geared for fans of the music?

I have had a different vision for the site over the years. Eventually Santino and I found the perfect technology that we wanted to use, so we put it together. We really focused on creating more of a community for artists as a whole: a place for producers, DJs, record label owners, visual artists, dancers, etc, to come together to network, collaborate and promote. I think the site also serves as a place where fans can come, check things out and listen to music. I think it is a friendly place that has been relatively free from drama, which I think is cool.

No doubt. I find the flare-ups on some of the forums to be fairly drama heavy ;) I have to ask, who did your bangin' graffiti logo? And do you plan on selling t-shirts? I'd rock that logo 100%!

The logo was actually done by Santino's cousin, his name is Gary Gerhardt. I am indeed planning on selling t-shirts. I really should get on that and make it happen.

Going off the logo tangent, why did you decide to call the site techno bass?

When I first got into what a lot of people call "new electro" in the mid-nineties, it was through artists on the Direct Beat and 430 West labels, so naturally, that's what I called it, too. Around the year 2000 I read an interview with Aux 88 on a website, where they were talking about the background of this style and how it was a fusion of Miami bass + Detroit Techno. It made sense to me, and I guess I just never stopped using the term. It fits, and it's unique. Electro is a broad style of music that encompasses a wide range of sub-genres.

The term for me, brings to mind exclusively the sounds of detroit electro, but obviously as a member of the technobass community, I see that the full gamut of electro styles, cities and labels are represented there.

Over the years, the style has evolved to encompass many unique flavors which have come from global cultural interpretations, but it all goes back to the "origin of the sound" - Detroit. The music coming from this city has had a powerful influence throughout the world and this site is for me, proof of this influence and how it has come full circle. It's a way for the global - and universal community, to connect to Detroit, and create an integration through love for the music.. My hope is that the creativity of the global community will continue to flourish, and Detroit artists will continue to play a major influence to the world. It is a special place, and I consider myself lucky to have been able to visit there and make friends with some wonderful, humble people. I suggest that everyone make a pilgrimage there at least once in their lives.

That's an interesting point, and I wholeheartedly agree - there's this feeling of "pure" about Detroit electronic music, and while scenes come and go, Detroit seems to never waver in their approach and full energy force when it comes to techno music. It's something really special.  Speaking of music, what's your approach in the studio for creating grooves?

I am still figuring that one out. Actually I feel like I have been making great strides in my approach to making music in the past year. I use Reason, Cubase, a Korg MS2000, Microkorg, UM-5E, various VST's; and now recently, I have been getting into building my own patches via the Max/MSP programming language, which interacts with Cubase and my midi controllers. Next I really want to check out Max 4 Live and see what I can do with it, as I have been hearing really great things about it.

When we first started chatting, you mentioned a joint project with Morphogenetic, Metatron. Can you tell me a little more about it?

Metatron is a project that Santino and I conceived of quickly after we met several years ago. There are a few tracks we have been intermittently working on throughout the years. It's a project that is both dear to us, and seems to be something we are both working towards. I have always imagined it as a live performance project with visuals synchronized with the music. The technology I am learning right now (Max/MSP/Jitter) is what I need to realize this goal. The term "Metatron" comes from the term "Metatron's Cube",ˇ which is a geometric object in sacred geometry. I believe it also refers to a higher principle in the universe from which all music comes.

Are you working on any solo material?

Yes, my solo material is my main focus at the moment. I am working on my first album, which features ancient Egyptian themes, with a focus on their esoteric and metaphysical knowledge.

Whats your background with electro - how did you get involved?

In 1984, while I was on a trip to NYC to see my Uncle with my grandparents, my older cousin had a walkman with a "Newcleus - Jam On It" cassette. His walkman had plugs for two sets of headphones, and he and I rewinded it over and over again until we could memorize the words and sing along :); it was the perfect soundtrack to the New York City landscape. That was my first introduction to Electro. As I mentioned earlier, in the late 80s I got into Synth Pop, Industrial, Acid House, some early Techno like 808 State, and of course, Kraftwerk.

In 1996 I was in a record store in New York City called "Strange?". Andrew, the owner of Satamile Records, used to work there, and Colin Strange, the owner, was there that day. I remember I was shopping for some new releases, and Colin put on a cd compilation called "Origins of a Sound"; which had a bunch of Detroit Techno Bass artists on it like Aux 88, Drexciya, Mike Banks, and the Martian.

Before the first track was even half way through - it was "Phase 2" by Audiotech (a Juan Atkins project), I asked Colin: "What is this? I want it!" I think he was kind of amused that he had only played a couple of minutes of it and I had instantly said I wanted to buy it. In a heartbeat, I'd found my new favorite style of techno - it was raw, funky, dark, and I became obsessed with collecting whatever I could of the style on vinyl, as I was sure that Techno Bass was the next "big sound"ˇ that was going to take over the electronic music scene. I was kind of right, but not in the scope that I had originally envisioned.

I can definitely feel that. I had a similiar experience in Austin, Texas at a shop called Alien Records. I found a white label with some hand written titles on it. I think it was a bootleg of some unreleased Detroit material... it was fluid, funky and something about that Detroit sound.... eventually I found out it was some short-print run of unreleased cuts by Eddie Flashin Fowlkes. Good times..... moving on, everytime I do one of these conversations with series, I ask each interviewee if they have any new or upcoming electro artists or labels they'd like to shout out. Who are yours?

Currently I am really into the material on Umwelt's New Flesh label, specifically Deemphasis, Umwelt and Spectrums Data Forces. I also really like the new Blastromen album that just came out on Dominance Electricity. Soundcloud is also a great resource and I listen to a lot of unreleased and unsigned tracks on there. We also just signed a new artist to Fundamental Bass Intelligence "MicroControlUnit", and I am very excited about his upcoming release. I am also very impressed with the new Aux 88 presents Black Tokyo CD, it is different than anything I have ever heard before. Aux 88's sound just keeps getting more and more refined.

Definitely feel you on those artists. Where can bassheads find you on the web?


Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. To wrap up, whats next
for you as an artist, and whats next for technobass.net?

My pleasure! For the foreseeable future I am taking graduate level classes at the University of Virginia in the Music Composition and Computer Technologies program.There are a lot of smart and talented people there from which I am learning a lot. Right now I am up to my ears learning the Max/MSP/Jitter programming language, and eventually Max 4 Live. I've got a lot of ideas about how to use these tools to do really dope multimedia live performances, which has been my passion and mission from the beginning of my journey into the music world many years ago. I am getting closer in my journey, I am almost there!

As far as technobass,  future plans involve creating a mobile version of the site, as well as integrating more audio clips into the record reviews and articles. As the site grows, I see a need to improve the usability so people can find what they are looking for easily. There are also plans in motion to create a record label - we already have all the tracks together for the first release, and I'm very excited about the artists we have on it! It's a single of Morphogenetic's "Techno Bass Is Back" with hot, hot remixes by Detroit legend DJ Di'Jital, Sbles3plex and DJ Xed.

I also have plans to integrate a store to sell t-shirts and possibly releases - but that's probably not going to come until at least the end of next year. We are focusing on the FBI website right now and FBI's upcoming releases, launching the Techno Bass label, and fixing some bugs on the site for now - in addition to our mutual music projects. I don't see a need to rush into anything just yet. I am watching and waiting to see where things go. I am just happy to see people continuing to contribute and use the site!

If you haven't already, be sure to check out and explore Technobass.net and sign up for a profile - it's a great electro community!

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