Metaspira is the offspring of Kirsten Starcher.
Originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Starcher was raised on a steady diet of classical music, and was a teen before discovering that rock music was better than she’d been led to believe.
After a diversion to New York to obtain a Master’s degree in computer science, Starcher returned to Canada and joined Vancouver-based electronic rock band ARCTIC, contributing bass, keyboards, backing vocals, and production assistance. She honed her skills over six intensive years of recordings and tours in Canada and Europe, while developing her own atmospheric, introspective musical style.
The songs of “Difficult Animals” document a tumultuous period in Starcher’s life, a rocky beginning to a new relationship alongside the slow fade-out of a longtime friendship. Like changing weather systems that rise, fall and collide, the major influences in her life were thrown into turmoil, beginning a journey of self-exploration that carried her through travels from music festivals in Berlin to an ashram in Tiruvannamalai, India.
Starcher began recording the songs at Orchid Studios, co-producing with Rory Macdonald of Orchid Studios. Their recording process evolved alongside Starcher’s songwriting process, and they found themselves on a rocky three-year roundtrip through the digital realm to analog and back to digital again, encountering surely every possible pitfall and peak along the way – including fire, flood, and death. The result, mastered by Grammy-nominated Greg Mindorff, is at once impeccably crafted and deeply human, with echoes of Massive Attack, Goldfrapp, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, and St. Vincent.
The opening track, “Should,” puts all these elements on full display: fat, prickly beats portend certain doom until a plaintive keyboard hook lets in a welcome breath of air, clearing space for Starcher’s disarmingly pure, high vocals. As the song’s momentum and emotional intensity build, her voice reveals an unexpected power, as aggressive and defiant as it is authentic and vulnerable.
In contrast, “House Lights” is hummable, danceable, and catchy as hell. The song defies its own gravity to set itself spinning effortlessly through a late-night dance-club haze. Starcher’s voice here is elegant, fun, and tuneful, even as she offers a rueful meditation on the ambivalent satisfactions of self-delusion.
Starcher shows yet another side on “Don’t Want Anything,” which flickers with simple, spare sounds, and minimalist language. Her vocals reach their most beautiful and heartbreaking, as she comes to terms with her new reality and discovers unsuspected reservoirs of strength.
Difficult Animals is full of awareness, upheaval, and uncertainty, but never stops reminding us: allowing yourself to be vulnerable may lead to pain and heartbreak, but it’s also the only path to growth, change, and true human connection.
Background photo by Sheryl Sapphire Photography