STARFUCKER | the Hollywood sign looks different now with Slayyyter
Nestled somewhere aesthetically between the diadems of cool-girl and glamour queen, I enjoyed the deliciousness of anticipating who would greet me on the other side of the phone dialling into the Slayyyter interview.
Her growing mastery is evident in her latest works, brimming with impassioned odes to Hollywood, released in an algorithm coerced era, where mass sanitization threatens to dull the edge of creativity. It echoes again scrolling through the comments on her Youtube and social platforms, where true community adoration crowns her as the “queen” of her people.
Hailing from St Louis, Missouri, the songstress walks between unabridged authenticity and deep, intentional exploration of the human experience. Her sudden and growing artistic recognition bled against her devil-may-care attitude, has so become the backdrop for her latest album STARFUCKER.
When delving into the wellspring of inspiration that fuels the theatricality and glamour of her alter ego, Slayyyter leaves no room for doubt—she’s here to shatter any preconceived notions about who she should be. Yet, beneath the layers of her provocateur persona lies a newfound maturity, driven by an unwavering commitment to crafting genuinely good art. Her transformative journey, from self-proclaimed bar rat to cultural iconoclast, stands as a testament to her relentless pursuit of artistic intuition and unadulterated fun. With the fervor of a torchbearer, she illuminates the shadows of Hollywood, seeking to resurrect the gilded age that birthed so many of her own artistic influences.
Her aspirations? Nothing short of becoming the vanguard of an authentic pop renaissance, fueled by a potent blend of self-forgiveness and an unwavering commitment to go the distance.
I wanted to check how I pronounce your artist name.
Yeah, yeah, it’s just Slater. I feel like the Y is silent.
Okay, amazing, amazing. I also apologize in advance for the fact that my Australian drawl will kind of just make it sound different anyway. So first thing’s first, STARFUCKER the album… If your Mine era was a sort of coquette vibe, this really feels like a femme fatale fantastica.
These are definitely the kind of songs you want to be arriving to the club to. A jungle of bodies and colors and lights.
That’s what I always hope to have my music sound like, for sure.
How did you land on this sound? Was it something that you were always really specific about, or is it something that you’ve cultivated over time?
I started listening to a lot of ’80s post-punk, darkwave kind of music and a lot of different pop songs. I feel like the sound started shaping around movies I was watching, which were a lot of ’80s erotica and thrillers. I love the soundtracks, the suspense, and the music, and I just kind of started shaping everything around that. I love the movie Basic Instinct, and I love a good femme fatale, evil woman story. I was kind of wondering what songs would be in these movies and what would complement characters like Sharon Stone, and it all kind of came together.
For me, you really carry this kind of sensual empress energy. I wondered if that was something that you have always felt really connected to? How has your expression of that grown or changed?
I feel like with music, I’ve always wanted to just take it there and be super sex-positive with my lyrics. With all my outputs, I always want to embody something that’s really liberated and free. I feel like my music is a good mirroring of that. It’s definitely more dramatized than how I am in real life.
When you’re constructing such an iconic character, are there times where you feel distant from that character that you’ve created?
I feel like sometimes the persona is good to put on and take off. I feel on days when maybe I’m not feeling very confident, I can kind of get more into the headspace where I do my makeup all dolled up and I put on an outfit and I’m, like, Miss Bella Donna. I feel like I’m the character. And it kind of helps when you’re having a bit of an off day, having a glamorous persona to turn to when you just want to feel better about yourself.
Over time you’ve probably had to curate the people that you’re working with very specifically to feel safe in that. What sort of people do you enjoy working with the most when you’re producing and bringing your visions to life?
I really love working with friends. If I’m gonna make music with someone or tour with someone or work with someone – in any capacity – we have to be close on a personal level. Just because I feel like making music is such an intimate thing, and this lifestyle of touring is many hours of being exhausted and being in close quarters with people. I feel I’m never alone. I’m such an alone time person, but I never have moments to be alone, so I need to be friends with people and enjoy their company to get to the musical breakthroughs or to have a good show.
It sounds kind of silly, but I feel one of my biggest requirements for when I get close to people or work with people is: do we have the same sense of humor? Can we get along in the studio? Can I try really weird things on the mic and not feel embarrassed in front of you? Can I just go for it and get weird and throw out all my ideas and not feel shy about it? I feel like it’s really important, and I’ve been really lucky.
I feel like this album I’ve produced with all really good friends of mine and especially my producer, Nico Pop. I feel like me and him have become really close. He just gets me, and he’s done so many songs on this album, and I feel like we just work together so well. He loves the same music that I do. So it just makes it really easy to kind of connect in the studio and kind of get to break through periods of making good songs.
Absolutely. It’s so funny hearing you speak from an artist’s perspective, that you actually specifically are seeking to cultivate close friendships in your creative world. Sometimes I speak to artists in the way that that’s something that they really struggle with, particularly in Hollywood – finding people that they can be collaborative with and also have genuine friendships with.
Yeah, definitely. I mean me and my touring DJ (he’s also one of my producers, Owen Jackson), we always laugh about it. But if you’re gonna be on the team, you gotta be a good hang is what we say. And it’s so true.
I don’t know, music doesn’t have to be so intimidating and formulaic and frigid. I feel like it’s supposed to be really fun and joyous, and creating an album is supposed to be a really fun experience. I feel like these studio sessions I’ve done for this project I’ll never forget them for the rest of my life. I would just walk into the studio with my friends. You’d spend weeks and weeks just like laughing belly laughing. And some days we won’t get a lot of work done because we’d just be laughing and joking around all day, and then we’d have a crazy lyric idea that would come from a joke. It was so organic, and we all just bounced off of each other. I feel like life is too short, to be in this system and to be in this industry and have it all feel like so much work. You know what I mean? I love to work with close friends. I love to be friends with the people I work with. I feel like it makes it so much more exciting and joyous.
That’s such a privilege and a pleasure for me to hear that you love what you do in such an immense way.
Yeah, thank you.
Do you feel like you’ve gotten to that point where you’ve had your first “I feel like I’ve made it” moment when it comes to music?
I feel like I’ve had that moment a couple of times. Just with different things I’ve gone to and shows I’ve done. But I feel overall, there’s always a bit of a vibe where I feel like I still haven’t, made it made it. That’s still something that I try to work towards every day, really hard to get to the next point; not to be too comfortable with where I am now. I always want to push myself to get to the next thing. So it’s a lot of those “pinch me” moments. It could be something so superficial like meeting a celebrity I’ve idolized since I was little.
But at the end of the day, I really think the good “pinch me” moments to base my value as an artist on are when people respond to images I’ve created or songs. My proudest moment as an artist was my album cover reveal and how I put so much thought and care into creating that one image that ended up being something that people are like: wow, this is a sick album cover. Even people that don’t like me being like: I hate her, but this album cover is a serve.
Everything else feels like a bonus. Making good art and having a good project and a good output is all I could ever hope for. What’s gonna be there when I die one day is all the things I’ve created. So that’s what I would hope that people respond to.
A lot of the themes in the album climb through that world of fame and the highs and lows of that. Do you ever feel intimidated knowing that you’re being perceived by so many people?
I don’t know, I’ve been put in such a weird position because a couple of years ago I was just living in the suburbs. I was a college dropout. I feel like I never expected any of this stuff to happen to me. So when it does happen and when I go to parties and I see crazy famous people I’m like: Whoa, that’s so crazy. Sometimes there’s a bit of this weird-loser-girl-in-high-school/intimidated feeling where I feel – I don’t even know – almost like I don’t belong in a way.
But at the end of the day, I feel like there’s so much value put on celebrities which, at the end of the day, they’re just people; they have bad habits. You’ll meet someone, and they have bad breath, and it’s like, everyone has flaws. I know that sounds like a stupid one to bring up, and that’s not about anyone in particular. But sometimes you meet someone on a tired day, and they’re cranky as fuck or they don’t want to be at this party, and you’re so excited to meet them.
When you really pull the curtain back, everybody wants the same love and attention and adoration. I feel like people get into entertainment because there’s maybe some kind of lack of attention in childhood where you are seeking that kind of tinkerbell/clap for me or I’m gonna die vibe. I feel like I definitely have a little bit of that.
Do you have a grounding practice or something that you come back to when you are feeling a bit blown out?
Going home to Saint Louis, Missouri, humbles me real fast. Spending time with my family and going to my hometown and going to the bar with my friends. I come from a very trash bar culture of Saint Louis. I loved going to the bars and drinking with my friends, getting pissed. That was so my early beginnings before music. I would just go and drink and have fun. Even though I have my LA life now and I get my stupid $20 smoothie and I Uber around everywhere and go to these events and go on tour, I can go back home and I feel like nothing’s really changed.
Solid roots and an anchor point are such beautiful things to have.
Yeah, people from my hometown will be like wow, good for you with the whole music thing. But no one really cares, which is kind of refreshing. People don’t seek clout in the way that they do in entertainment. They don’t know the names of people in fashion and photographers; they don’t care.
I feel like a little kid or something on Thanksgiving. My family’s like: how’s your little music thing going? And I’m always like… it’s cool… I get all shy about it.
Coming from such a different world to the one that you’re in, were you ever afraid of what people were going to think about you?
I mean, I don’t know. I’ve always so fiercely wanted to be different and felt like I was very different from people. So I never was worried about whether people were gonna think I’m a freak or that my music is too sexual or crazy. I always loved to get a rise out of people.
And I feel the only times that I’ve felt like that is when my mum has been like: your lyrics are so inappropriate. But even then she knows the fantasy and it’s a character, and she’s really proud of it. She doesn’t hold me to it too much. She just kind of rolls her eyes.
When I first started making music and putting things online, I was really putting myself out there, and it can be embarrassing to put things forward and to make music and to be perceived. It’s like that Twitter meme: I do not wish to be perceived…
I just felt like a star and I didn’t care. If people don’t like me or think I’m weird or think my big giant ass Spice Girl platform shoes that I wear to the bars make me a weirdo, then I’ll be that.
I love that. Are there any pieces of yourself and your life that you want to keep really close to you, as you go through this growth period?
I don’t know, I feel like I’m such an open book. I’m always down to talk about everything. I feel like as I’ve gotten older though, I’ve matured in a lot of ways. Where I used to say crazy shit and get in Twitter beefs with people and be all wild. I feel like I hold my cards a little closer to my chest these days than when I was 20.
I enjoy keeping to myself. I feel like I used to try to be out there, everywhere, at every party. And now it’s like, my most precious moments are just having a nice dinner with some close friends. I feel like I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid as much as I used to with this industry.
I have everything I need without needing to be in the scene or going to all the stuff. I just like to keep the people I love really close to me and enjoy moments with them.
Is there anything that you feel like your younger self really had to learn the hard way to get to where you are now?
My Lord. Yes, so much. I feel like things from fashion choices to work ethic to, checking up on my family, calling my mom enough, drinking and my limits with that. I feel like there are so many lessons. Like finances, my God.
I feel like I am a crazy person. Every lesson I’ve learned, I’ve had to really be in the pits to get through to the next point. But I think that that really helps a person become well-rounded and grow and mature. I look back on my past self and I don’t necessarily have a ton of regrets about who I was when I first was an artist. I feel like I’ve always just kind of followed my heart and marched to the beat of my own drum and tried to do my thing and sometimes it was a mess. Sometimes it was a hit. And sometimes you learn that it’s better to leave the party early than to be the last one there. So I feel like I’ve learned a lot of lessons for sure, but it’s all a part of the process of life.
That’s honestly been the theme of my life journey also where it’s like well, you can go the easy way, or, you can go the back route through the forest. Second one sounds way more fun.
Yeah. Right? There’s such a culture of people hating on their younger selves. People almost punish themselves for eternity, for that cringy thing that they said to someone when they were drunk at a party or the money that they didn’t save. But I don’t know. If you fixate on all the bad things, you’re kind of missing the nice moments when you just need to sit there and take a deep breath.
It’s like, how can I grow from this point? How can I move forward knowing what I know now?
I feel like I used to punish myself a lot and be like fuck, I’m so stupid. Why did I do this or why did I do that? And as an adult, I can see these things are what helps me become more considerate or have better taste or dress cooler. All of these little things help season you as a person.
What would you say you feel the most proud of in your journey?
I feel really proud of this era and this project. I feel like I’ve worked so hard and done so many photo shoots. I’ve made fifty or more creative treatments to try to bring these ideas to life, to try to really nail an aesthetic and a cohesive body of work that I’m proud of. That I want to listen to, that I want to hear in the clubs. I feel like I’m so proud of all the work me and my team have put so much blood, sweat, and tears into.
And I never want to take myself too seriously. But I do take my job so seriously these days, maybe where I didn’t before, and I’m really proud of who I’ve become as an artist.
I’m not the same person I was when I was doing my mixtape running around in a Juicy Couture sweat suit sniffing poppers at the club. I’ve really tried to make thoughtful art, and make thoughtful music that is emotional and interesting. So I hope that people take it the same way.
When you look at your own art, is there a clear message or a clear feeling that stares back at you?
I don’t know. I feel existential about everything lately. When I really look at all my albums, the first one to the one now (and the debut Troubled Paradise in between) I feel like it’s just like a progression of me growing up, my tastes changing and different things I’ve been through. And even things that publicly people don’t know the songs are based on.
Certain choices and references are always based on something at the time, which is kind of funky. I always joke about my Wizard of Oz/Trouble in Paradise crossover because I was like, did I do that? But I had watched a Judy Garland movie about her life and I felt so connected to her so specifically. And so I made that choice because that really touched me at the time and I felt really lost and that was a message that I wanted to give out. I feel all my albums are kind of just where I’m at that point in time.
I feel like I’m so Virgo and I can be so judgmental of my own stuff. But I feel like it’s just proof that I was here on this planet as a human almost, it’s so weird. It’s a biography of all of my experiences and music that I loved and parties I’ve been to and times at the club that I’ve had fun.
Right now do you have songs off the new album that you’ve got on replay that you’re really enjoying listening to?
I love Hollywood. It is one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. I feel like it’s such a cool song with this super 80s, post-punk darkwave goth (almost kind of driving) beat. I’ve been listening to that non-stop. All the lyrics are really tongue-in-cheek and satirical and funny and I feel like it’s very me as an artist with all the quips and references to different things. And then I feel like there’s one really tender kind of moment on the album Tear Me Open that was the first song that I made for this project and I feel like when I’m traveling and I have my headphones in, I always come back to that song because it’s a really sweet slow song. I feel like a lot of people told me to leave that one off the album. But it’s one of my favorites. I love it so much and I feel like it’s a really special song.
I need to go back and listen to that, because I think I was more hanging out in the disco parts of the album.
Yeah. The little club section.
Yes, the club section which I was thoroughly enjoying today. A question that I like to wrap up these conversations with is: what is one hope for the future that you have that hasn’t gone anywhere?
What do you mean by one hope?
Well a lot of people answer in terms of a hope for the world. A lot of people answer it for themselves. I mean, you can answer for both.
I really hope that pop culture could one day feel as exciting as it was when I was in middle school. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if it’s just social media post-pandemic. There seems to be this kind of doom around art and culture and music.
I remember being in middle school when Lady Gaga first debuted. In terms of pop stars or pop artists, things in the media and television and movies, things felt like such big powerful moments of culture and music videos would take hold of the culture in a way which doesn’t happen anymore. And I really hope that as a society we could get back to a point where pop culture is really exciting and really cool and really interesting. Where people aren’t so afraid to say things that might get them in trouble, and aren’t so afraid to have unsavory opinions. Where people aren’t so afraid to do things that are shocking in their music.
I wish people would stop trying to be so palatable. That’s not the music that really inspired me as a kid. Seeing people do crazy things that got everyone talking made me feel so inspired and I feel like everything is just kind of boring. I don’t know. I wonder if other people have the same view. I feel like we all have to because we’re all collectively consuming the same media but it’s just that everything feels like such (I love this term) a non-event. It feels like such a flash in the pan. You know what I mean? Songs will go viral and that’s nice. And then it’s on to the next one. I miss great television and great movies, and great albums, and great music.
Hollywood just used to be a very cool place and I feel like it’s gotten kind of watered down. So yeah, I guess my biggest hope for the future would just be pop culture becoming really cool and interesting and inspiring. I feel like younger people are missing out on really cool things. I feel for Gen Z that they didn’t get to watch the Gaga trajectory in the way that I did.
It’s actually something we’ve been talking about a lot internally, how cancel culture has driven such a fear about creative uniqueness. Which has been important in a lot of respects in the way that things are being called out that need to be in terms of safety and dignity for vulnerable people. But I do think it puts pressure on people to only speak if they’ve got something perfect to say, or only do things a particular way by a particular recipe.
Sometimes I see conversations online and I feel like either really old or out of touch but I just am like, how are you getting this from that? I feel like a good example would be the choice of Troy Sivan’s Rush music video. I thought that was such an incredible music video. I thought it was so stunning, so sick and people found problems with it, saying it wasn’t inclusive enough and it’s just so crazy. I was just like, how can you not digest a piece of art or media for what it is? How can you take someone’s video and try to find problems within it that aren’t even intentional, and aren’t even meant to be on purpose. I feel like culture is in such a weird place, but I also do think, in terms of censorship and cancel culture, that people are getting really sick of it. And there’s kind of been like a turn where I don’t think that people are as in it as maybe they were before and are getting a little ticked off.
And, I think a journey that we’re all on is how to navigate that peacefully. You never know, you might be a torch bearer.
Yeah, I would hope. Hopefully, the algorithm will look upon me favorably and I’ll get into a blessed rhythm. At the end of the day you can make good art, but it is up to the algorithm, which is unfortunate. I really hope that I’m making pop music that excites people. I would hope that my fans or maybe people that have never heard of me would come across my music and be: Whoa, this is sick as fuck, she’s doing something really different. I hope that’s the response I get.
I can honestly say it’s been the biggest pleasure talking to you. And I wish we could talk for longer but alas, apparently we’re 20 minutes over.
I know I could talk to you all day. We’ll get into all the B side topics next time.
I’m so down for that.
Starfucker by Slayyyter is out on all platforms, and her visual teasers are streaming now on Youtube.