Grave Concerns: James, your music takes me to such fascinating places; places of extraordinary lands, streams, castles, and of course, to those dark creatures, which welcome me, and make me feel safe. Have you ever thought about writing short stories or novels based on your music?
I don't enjoy reading or literature, I prefer a musical medium. I would like to work with video to go along with my music, which is one of the projects I'm looking into, to further develop my vision.
Grave Concerns: What is the story behind your song “Ready”?
There isn't a story, it's more of just one idea, one feeling. An expression of passion and desire. There isn't a narrative for it other than the song itself.
Grave Concerns: My favorite holiday is Halloween and like my birthday, I never work on that day. Actually, I take days leading up to Halloween, as well as, the day after it. Of course if I’m writing something for Grave Concerns E-zing, that’s a different story. (; And autumn falls (and that really wasn’t meant to be a pun) as my favorite season. (; Tell us about your favorite holiday and season?
I'm not into holidays, but Halloween would be my favorite, surprise surprise. Not because it's all scary and gothic, but rather because it's the one day of the year society allows people to truly express themselves in appearance without ridicule, at least for the most part.
Grave Concerns: Shroud of mist creeping over the Wisteria. What’s the first visualization that came to you from seeing those words?
I'm not sure. I'm really not a word-oriented person, the words I choose are very simplistic and basic and not so colorful, with my music it's the music itself that gives color rather than the words.
Grave Concerns: The long-stemmed red rose is prominent in your photos, is that a reflection of the passion you have toward life and music, or does the rose signify something else?
It's not meant to signify anything, it's just an image that supports what I'm about and a reflection of my music. It's romantic, beautiful, solitary.
Grave Concerns: How has MySpace helped, or hindered your musical endeavors? And which countries do you feel have embraced your music the most from being a member of MySpace?
With my release "Fortress of Solitude" not that long ago, MySpace really didn't play any significant role. But now it really is the primary place I get exposure, I hear things like "I can't believe I haven't heard of you before", and "your music is actually good unlike the 100 other band requests I get a week". It's a good way to connect with fans but also I realize if I'm truly successful one day there is no way I'll be able to keep up with MySpace messages, I can barely keep up now and I need to be doing other things with my time. My music is most consistently embraced in Europe, but I have a lot of US fans also.
Grave Concerns: What do you feel are the biggest misconceptions about your style of music? Have you’ve been able to sway those who once weren’t to keen on it; or do you just let it roll, and continue to do what you love? And what is it about the Gothic/Electro/New Wave scene that is so appealing to you?
That it's uber goth and that I'm cliché. I'll get someone telling me that every once in a while, and really I think it's absurd what I'm doing is highly original, and I'm just honestly expressing myself. I happen to like dark imagery and gothic style, which is part of my personality, but it's still in an original way, my music is uplifting and idealistic in many ways, which you don't find in much goth/industrial music. I don't try to sway anyone, if you like my music that's great, if you don't, then fine, it's a matter of personal taste. I like Electro and New Wave because even old stuff sounds fresh and modern, because of the electronic essence in the music I find stimulating, distinctive, and refreshing.
Grave Concerns: When do find you’re most creative, in reference to writing lyrics and music?
I suppose when I'm inspired because then I have a need to create something, and then I become creative in the process of trying to put that idea down.
Grave Concerns: How do you differentiate a real good song, from a classic? In other words, what really makes a song stand out and last? And with your music, which song or songs do you feel have met that challenge, have come close to it, or are you currently just enjoying the creative bliss?
Dying Beauty has become a classic, because it's really old to me and people still respond to it strongly, and I'm not sick of it. I think most of my music has a timeless quality, I'm very classical in nature. I don't think in terms of if a song is good or a classic, I just think it's good or it isn't. And to me good means it's true, and a worthy rendering of my feeling and idea.
Grave Concerns: James, how do you define romance? And what has been the most romantic thing you’ve done, or that someone has done for you?
I don't think of romance in terms of reality, more of a dream and ideal, and a way of thinking. Being romantic isn't solely applied to relations, it's more of a style and aesthetic. My music is an expression of my ideals and dreams which express my romantic notions and sentiments, but it doesn't necessarily reflect reality, even though it's true to how I feel, it's still fantasy. I would describe romantic, as being devoted, passionate, virtuous, true, unyielding.
Grave Concerns: If you had the chance to travel back to the past, where would you go, and what would you want to leave as a reminder of time spent, as well as, something to take back with you?
If I could travel in time I would use the time differential to get rich in some way, like the stock market. Might sound petty but it would give me the freedom to pursue my music endeavors more greatly, I'm really on a shoestring budget, there's so very little money in it I don't think people really understand, it's not very viable to make even a modest living off of, despite how great my talent and ability may be.
Grave Concerns: What do think makes your music stand out among other artists in your field?
I think it's more heartfelt and frank, and also recently I find more musicality in my works than what I'm hearing with other artists. I still have great respect for many artists who I look up to and admire, even though I think highly of my abilities I don't think I'm God, I still have a great deal of humility.
Grave Concerns: I can’t tell you enough how passionate I am when it comes to the enchantment and the misunderstood connection of things dark---I see you’re an admirer of that side of life, too---the world in which vampires are apart of---what draws you to them?
I'm not drawn to vampires rather they are drawn to me. As in people put the vampire image onto me. I'm just being myself with my sense of style. Also I find my demeanor somehow people perceive me as being vampirish. I had dinner once with a group of friends, and someone I hadn't met before asked if I was a vampire, and I wasn't even wearing all black or anything gothy. True story. Anyways, I never set out to want to be like a vampire or be associated with that in anyway, but I can identify with aspects of it, similarly in ways I can identify with vulcans. I like fiction, and fictional races are ways to explore different human personality types to the extreme, and I'm on the end of the bell curve in many regards.
Grave Concerns: Besides the obvious necessities of life, what are six things that you can’t be without?
There isn't anything I can't be without, I'm a very strong person and can cope with whatever life faces me with. I enjoy some creature comforts, but I consider them luxuries not necessities.
Grave Concerns: What’s next that your fans can anticipate hearing about?
My remix CD project "Moonstruck", which is "Music of the Night" remixed by different artists. What I have for the remixes is turning out really great, and I'm working on a few original tracks for the CD as well.
Grave Concerns: I love the intricate looks of Labyrinths, and the mysteriousness of what lies within them. If you were to create one, how would it look?
Grave Concerns: As a musician, how does the music in movies affect you? And if you were asked to compose a song for a soundtrack, which genera would that be in? Now let me take that question even further---actually backward; if you were to go back to the past, with your current music in hand, and were asked that same question, would any of your songs stand out as a good fit? If so, which song and movie would it have been?
My music has always been very dramatic and filmic. Long before I put words to music I created instrumental works on piano and synth, which I still do. I've played with doing some music for film but indie film projects can be put together very precariously and end up falling apart or not really going anywhere. "Ready" and "Realize" are being used in an independent film "The Sanguinarian" which is going to Sundance this fall. The genre I would call music I've written that is most appropriate for film is ambient, and I have a lot of ambient works, such as "Snowfall" on my latest CD, I usually put a little something ambient on my CD's.
Grave Concerns: “Romantic Dreamer”, I can so visualize that---what then, has been your most memorable, romantic dream?
I'm not a romantic dreamer as in sleeping dreams, rather daydreaming, and in real life, what I dream about, and what is in my thoughts.
Grave Concerns: You’ve been asked to create a new word defining your style of music. What is that word?
If you mean "Romantic Synthpop", that's what I've used to describe my music. It's the most descriptive, because my music is pop in format, using synthetic instruments very much, and Romantic in style. I would also say "Dark Romantic", but not "Goth", it's far to cliché and with that label people assume so many things that are totally wrong, I'm in my own world.
Grave Concerns: Other than musical influences (yours by the way, are exceptional) what other mediums do you find creative energy from?
None really, I really don't care for art at all, nor literature, which isn't very stylish to say but it's the honest truth. I find all other medium lacking compared to music when it comes to heart and emotional content and power, everything else pales in comparison. I do enjoy film, and more ongoing long arc TV series. There are many well-crafted, brilliant and stimulating shows out there now.
Grave Concerns: James my new dark friend, I’m so under your spell---thank you so much for creating such beauty, in its many incarnations. We here at Grave Concerns wish you a lifetime of romantic inspiration and creativity in darkness and in light. Please keep in touch! Cheers!For more information on James D. Stark check him out at http://myspace.com/jamesdstark and http://jamesdstark.com/
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