Interview by Tayo Omisore
The first thing you notice about StargirlZar is not her locs that stream haphazardly across her neck and down her back; it’s her smile. Wide, white and a little mischievous, when she grins, it is both infectious and a bit intimidating. DC singer/rapper StargirlZar, or Azarri as her friends know her, is a rising star in the DMV neo soul scene with her penchant for vivid storytelling over subdued and nostalgic soundscapes. She recently debuted herself to the music world at large with the release of Dealt Kards and its accompanying short film, produced and directed by 44:21 Productions cofounders Bisagna Suh and Nabil Abdulkadir. In support of the release, StargirlZar sat down with Mixed Mag Editor Tayo Omisore to talk about her musical inspirations as well as what motivates her to write in general. This interview has been edited for clarity.
Tayo Omisore: Walk me through how your love affair with music started?
StarGirlZar: Man that’s a tough one to pin down, but it started pretty early. I was always just making up songs as a kid. I loved listening to the radio in the car as a kid so naturally I memorized a lot of lyrics. As I got older I started playing with my own melodies and never stopped. I am definitely a product of that late 90s, early 2000s hip hop and R&B era that was made to get people hyped and make people want to dance. So a lot of my first favorite songs were always anything that made you wanna get up and move. But also love music that makes you move but hits you with deep lyrics. Music that makes you feel something on the first listen but makes you feel even stronger the more times you play it.
TO: Who are some of your inspirations?
SGZ: I’d say my biggest inspirations would probably be Alicia Keys, Aaliyah, and definitely Tupac. Because of his rhyme schemes, and the way he approached writing in general. I always appreciated the fact that he didn’t lean too heavily on rhyme as a rapper; Tupac just talked around the instrumental and only rhymed when he needed to. But he mostly just stayed on rhythm and was able to connect as a rapper without even leaning heavily on rhyming ability.
TO: I definitely feel that. Pac’s ability to speak metaphorically but melodically is unparalleled. Is that challenge something you think about when you’re creating? What propels you to write?
SGZ: One of the main goals I have in my writing is to make things make sense, even if it does not make logical or ‘narrative’ sense. I want to be so descriptive that it’s almost vague in a way. To dive so far into the details that my listeners get totally lost in the world that I’m building.
TO: Ah that’s so dope! My favorite part of music is how it tends to transcend logic, you can simply write what you feel and through some sort of magic we (the listeners) get meaning from that, even if the specifics don’t always line up with our lives, the feelings are mostly mutual.
SGZ: Ha! Exactly! That’s one of the reasons why I fell in love with poetry and writing in the first place. I wasn’t watching cable or TV growing up so all I had was books, music, and time. Albums like Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill and just spending my formative years listening to artists like Amy Winehouse, Erykah Badu, and Macy Gray had a huge influence on me because, like you said, I felt like what they did was….magic.
TO: I can tell you have a lot of respect for the impact artists can have on people and even the world at large, what impact do you want to have as an artist? Is that something you actively think about?
SGZ: Truthfully, my goal is to change the direction that music is going in. I don’t always like what I see. Lately, artists not wanting to be seen as role models is kind of annoying to me because at the end of the day you are the face of music. For better or worse, you are the place where people get a lot of their information, you are a person that people respect and admire and as a result, your actions carry a certain type of weight. A celebrity should own up to that responsibility.
These days, people don’t take their place as a celebrity as seriously or seriously at all and that’s dangerous. It’s damaging to the youth and damaging to culture. I want to go a different route. I want to make music that’s unforgettable, that’s timeless. Songs that every time you listen to them you hear something that you hadn’t last time and unlocks new emotions inside of you.
TO: I heard you’re a taurus! How much does that play into your songwriting or how you see the world in general?
SGZ: [laughs] It’s funny that you bring that up, growing up I was the only taurus I knew so I haven’t really thought about how it made it see the world. I tend to associate taurus with being very blunt and very stubborn, which I definitely can be at times! But the other, softer, side of it, at least for me, is that I can fall into the trap of being a people pleaser. I want to adapt and stretch myself to make sure everyone else is comfortable, sometimes at the cost of my own peace. I’m working on it though but I guess that bleeds through in my music in the way I’m really determined to tell my story but I also care that people enjoy the songs and respond to them in a positive way.
TO: So Dealt Kards is your debut song as well as your first music video. Talk to me about the meaning of Dealt Kards, what is the song about for you?
SGZ: I see [the music video] as in conversation with the song itself, serving more as soundtrack to a short film than a direct translation of the lyrics. To me, Dealt Kards is a story about miscommunication and trust issues and how leaving those type problems unresolved can really destroy a relationship if one or more parties aren’t mature enough to try to make peace. It reflects what was going on in my life at the time and resulted in me understanding that the only people and reactions I can control are my own. That’s where the title Dealt Kards kinda comes from: it’s a metaphor about taking control of your life, whatever circumstances were dealt to you, and working with what you have to live your best life. It’s not your responsibility to bend to someone else’s idea of you. Just live your own life for yourself.
Stream Dealt Kards here