- Courtesy of David Beltran/Starfoxxx
- Starfoxxx at the Empty Bottle
Local-music stalwart David Beltran wears a lot of hats. He cofounded FeelTrip, a collective and record label that once operated out of a cavernous loft in the South Loop—Beltran and his cohorts threw DIY shows featuring the Orwells, Sepalcure, and Dirty Beaches, and the space also included a studio that Yawn and Twin Peaks used to record sessions. Beltran’s also a talented visual artist, and I’m a fan of his Chicago band calendar and his “Feeltrip Lovers” T-shirt, which I wrote about in the 2013 edition of the Reader‘s Best of Chicago.
Beltran also makes lovely, euphoric electronic-pop tunes under the name Starfoxxx. Next week UK label Donky Pitch—which has released music by the Range, Keyboard Kid, and Lil Texas—will release Beltran’s debut full-length, Baby I’m Off Drugs and I’m Ready to Marry You. We’ve got a stream of one of the tracks, the shuddering “No Text No Call,” and if you like what you hear you can download the full album from Bandcamp starting today. To prepare for the release of the album I hit up Beltran over e-mail and asked him a handful of questions about his creative process, working with Donky Pitch, and sampling cats.
How long have you been working on Baby I’m Off Drugs and I’m Ready to Marry You? Where did you record it?
David Beltran: I had like 20 or so scratch tracks just sitting around that I made in my old studio, FeelTrip. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to finish them because we had to move out of the studio, and our second place got condemned within a few months, so there was a five-month period of not really being able to settle in and work on it. I really had only wanted to do a five-song EP, but once I got settled in my new apartment all the songs started to come together. The actual working time was probably six months, over a year and half of bouncing around.
What connects these songs together thematically, if anything?
Coming of age; love lost, love found; who am I, where am I going? Acid questions, really. Over the past two years I’ve collected the dumbest tattoos, lived the wildest adventures, moved around the city, and bounced around the country, all while developing real deep, intimate connections with my friends at FeelTrip. So this LP was definitely a decompressing from that hectic life.
Why did you decide to release the album through Donky Pitch?
I never have any intention of working with other labels outside of just self-releasing, I have no idea how those things work. But through Twitter they reached out to me, and then over e-mails it made a ton of sense. I talked to James [Hinton, aka the Range] when we did a show at Empty Bottle, and he told me how much it helped him, so I figured, “Hey why not, I’ll work with Donky Pitch.” Sent a few songs, then talks of an EP turned into talks of an LP, and now I got a release!
I noticed you sampled a cat—or cats—meowing on “My Cats Will Die B4 Me.” Whose cats are those? What inspired that song?
I have a ton of recordings of my own cats for some odd reason. “My Cats Will Die B4 Me” is a very literally interpreted song. It’s just the idea of how time affects us all differently. Flies only live a day, rats live like a few years, my cats might get to 15—who knows. But I’ve known them since they were kittens, and only a small part of my life will take place during the entirety of their existence. I basically will look the same to them forever, but I’ll watch them transform from kids to geriatric old cats. Crazy, right? This all assuming we don’t get hit by an asteroid tomorrow or I die of ebola.
And at what point in the past two years did you make “No Text No Call”? How does it fit in with the rest of the album?
Oddly it was the newest track I made. I was googling different Juno-60 [synthesizer] sounds . . . I was trying to figure out how to create my own Juno-60, but I stumbled across a tutorial video on YouTube and just recorded it, chopped it up, and made the scratch track using it. I then added my own keyboards. But the meat of it was someone’s tutorial-slash-demo of the Juno-60 from, like, five years ago, all chopped up. It’s probably the most tense song on the LP.