I do dream pop and deliveries.
story by Josh Zanger
You’re in Southern California, riding shotgun with a 32-year-old truck driver. During idle chats he tells you he has a wife and two kids. He sounds like a normal guy. He chuckles in an infectious way that makes you feel as if you’ve known him for a while even though this is your first time speaking. But what you don’t know about him is the other life that he lives, and the thoughts that sometimes occupy his mind while he delivers packages in this very truck.
The truck driver, 32-year-old Jason Martin, jokingly states his resume as “songwriter slash courier.” He further plugs into the joke saying, “I do dream pop and deliveries.” What Martin never comes out saying so definitively is “I am Starflyer 59,” although this has been his alterego of over 10 years.
That too is the point of Martin’s new album Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice; different roles converging onto the personality of one man. Sometimes, Martin says, this clash of characters is a confusing one but if Starflyer 59’s music is any indication, it seems as if he has everything together after a beautiful exertion towards clarity.
“[The album’s message] is saying how you make your living,” said Martin. “There’s this weird line between my talking voice, which is my day job, and my singing voice. Which one am I doing? It’s this constant confusion of trying to do both.”
With the way that the band has always been run, there is the possibility to compose ideas that are entirely individual-focused. Since Starflyer 59 began in 1992, Martin has always written the music himself and toured with a group of temporary musicians. He doesn’t write alone out of an ego trip but because that is the only way he ever knew. At 14, he mimicked the amateur songwriting attempts of an older brother who would often allow Jason to play along on keyboards.
Other inspiration for Starflyer 59’s sound comes from another place in Martin’s early growing stages – his favorite bands. Influence of Echo & the Bunnymen, the Smiths, and the Cure are all somewhat evident while listening to each of this prolific writer’s nine full length releases on Tooth & Nail Records. Most recently, as performed throughout Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice, there is a very 1980s defined sound texture – synth, drum pads, orchestral strings, deep snare sound, reverbed/echo guitar. Critics call it “dream pop,” others just harbor back to a term that was reserved for ’80s groups of similar sound characteristics: “shoegaze.”
“I mean, I don’t even know what that even is, the whole ‘shoegazer’ thing,” said Martin. “I don’t think most people understand that that word was a derogatory term that was used once in a magazine in ’91 for Slowdive or something. I don’t know how that word became a style of music. I mean, I don’t care. If someone wants to call it something and they like the record, that’s cool too.”
Instead, Martin takes a more reflective approach to classifying his albums in terms of the attitude of their sound. “On this last record we wanted something really lush, and kinda slightly haunted house-sounding at certain parts,” he specified on the album’s emotional approach. This is what sometimes runs through his mind while he makes his daily deliveries: “Does this song sound right? Does it need fixing? Should this part go into this other song instead?”
His thoughts are always brought back to the central occupational task at hand, as Jason and his brother own the trucking company he drives for (it used to be their father’s before he retired). And it is still common that Martin focuses on one role without fully disengaging from the other. On some occasions, even his talking voice and singing voice can start to sound pretty similar.
Starflyer 59 :: Schubas :: June 27.