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Kinnie Starr


Country of origin:

Canada

Type of music generally:

Indie pop-rock and hip-hop, R&B, and electronica

Status:

Most recent release, "Ghost" (single, 2016)

See also:

Kinnie Starr's site

Wikipedia's entry on Kinnie Starr

Comparisons:

Ani DiFranco, Nellie McKay, Nelly Furtado

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Kinnie's a real in your face, funky, poetess who's been known to team up with Veda Hille and Oh Susanna to tour as The Scrappy Bitches. (Neal)

Comments about live performance:

This first set of comments are from the Scrappy Bitches Tour: Veda Hille, Kinnie Starr, and Oh Susanna.

During a show on The Scrappy Bitch tour, I'd been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Bitch #2, Kinnie Starr (alias K.Starr) after hearing a lot about how powerful a live performer she is, so I was a bit surprised when she came out with her hair in Little House on the Prairies-style braids.
     But this was no Laura Ingalls who took the stage. This was a strong, proud woman with something definite to say and a forceful way of saying it. She did a couple of jaw-dropping spoken word pieces that left us all in a state of shock. Her delivery was mesmerizing, dynamic, and explosive: she spoke in low, rhythmic, insistent tones punctuated by sudden, almost violent expulsions... lovely! And a couple of her other songs seemed more like spoken word pieces set to music than regular songs. Fantastic. Usually I'm not a big fan of canned backing music, but somehow the percussion-heavy, driving beat seemed perfectly appropriate when it was Kinnie Starr who was doing the vocals. She did a couple of amazing funky, groove-laden songs, one of which was an all-out rap, and everything worked tremendously well.
     And she can really rock out on guitar too! She favours a really heavy, hugely distorted sound, and it really complements her songs.
     I'm not sure how Kinnie comes across on CD, but she is a consummate live performer. She's one of those people who feeds ravenously off the energy from the audience, to the point where she ended up spending more time on the floor roving about in the audience than on the stage, forcing the lighting person to scramble to keep up. At one point she also asked him to turn down the spotlight on her and to turn up the house lights, so she could see the whole crowd. Like Veda Hille before her, she was able to really pull in her audience, but in a different way.
     A phenomenal show by all accounts, she somehow managed to exceed the hype. (9/15/97, kamesan@geocities.com)

Kinnie Starr was entertaining, but I don't think I'll feel the need to see her again. She was funny, but came across as quite immature. She was a hit with the (sparse) crowd, though. (10/5/97)
     Last night Veda Hille and Kinnie did a tandem set, switching off after one song each. Kinnie Starr did her usual mix of spoken-word, rap over pre-recorded backing music, and songs on her big green guitar. Veda Hille accompanied her on many of them, either on backing vocals or piano or both.
     It was pretty cool (especially on the songs when Kinnie came out into the audience and did her thing literally in woj's face ;). During Veda Hille's songs, Kinnie would just sit there (in what she called the "executioner's chair") in the background looking at Veda Hille with the most awed fan-girl look on her face. It was really cute. At the end of the set Kinnie commented that it's been great playing with Veda Hille for the past couple weeks, because she's added so much to her songs. She wanted to play on some of Veda Hille's songs too, but "I have no idea what's going on with this thing" (her guitar), and all the time changes and everything just blew her mind so she couldn't do it.
     The two of them were having a great time, and as the set progressed it was like they were each trying to one-up the other. Veda Hille asked at one point (right before she launched into a driving "15 Years") if it was a challenge. ;) The set got more and more intense and fun as it went along. (8/25/98, meth@smoe.org)

the three of them did some really silly bickering as part of the whole scrappy bitch thing, which was a lot of fun. i'd never heard kinnie starr before, and I must say i was quite impressed with her style and performance. she quite makes me think of ani difranco, minus the staccato guitar. (9/25/98, damon)

If someone had told me Kinnie Starr was more or less a rap artist, I might have fled screaming into the night. But that wouldn't have done her justice; after my initial apprehension, I really came to like her. Her songs weren't the kind of toneless and repetitive stuff I perceive most rap music to be. She performed most of her poems and songs walking around among the audience, which gave a very intimate and personal feel to her set. It was also a hoot watching Veda Hille and Susanna doing backing vocals for one of her songs; they were really having fun with it. (9/28/98, stevev@hexadecimal.uoregon.edu)

Kinnie Starr played a short but too-long-for-me set. Maybe last night was an off-night for her (she did say she was rusty after not performing for several months) but her work seemed entirely self-indulgent and immature. While it's clear she has talent, it seemed underdeveloped and sloppily rendered to me. Ah well, this is probably a taste thing. (1/19/98, Neile)

i was pretty curious about what she'd be like. turned out to be pretty good. i'd picked up her album, tidy, so i knew what to expect—a mix of electric guitar song-writer type stuff, spoken word and a wee bit o'rap—but i wasn't sure how well it would map to a one-woman performance. turns out to work well live, especially the spoken word stuff. a sorta hybrid between maggie estep and ani difranco, with all the implications that entails, if that helps people to place kinnie on the musical map. liked her live stuff enough to want to go back to the record, so i guess it worked well enough. (c. 1997, woj@smoe.org)

Kinnie did a great set of spoken word / hip-hop / dirty guitar grunge. She apologized for the 60Hz saturation, but it didn't seem out of place. I had never seen her before, but she definitely found at least one new fan that night. The subject matter of many of her songs seemed to fit right into the environment. Veda and Susanna backed her up on several songs with piano and vocals. During her set she gave the mic to a local poet and performance artist Sister Spit (did I hear that right?) who spent 10 minutes sharing a poem and a story with the audience. It was very enjoyable, and fit into Kinnie's set perfectly. (10/98, drewh@bitwise.com

Kinnie Starr's show this past Saturday was thumbs up all around. The last time I saw her was on the scrappy bitches tour in '97 at the Iron Horse. I remember being glued to her, and her stepping off the stage and going unplugged for her last song. That won me over. This time, she started off with the spoken word piece "Buttons" off of Tidy, and then did a few songs with tracks off a CD, then pulled out her guitar for most of the rest of her too-short set. She has a way with lyrics and cadence that mesmerizes, and the joy that she emanates while performing is infectious. (5/3/05, paul2k@aol.com)

Recommended first album:

Sun Again or Anything

Recordings:

  • Tidy (1996)
  • Tune-Up (2000)
  • Sun Again (2003)
  • Anything (2006)
  • A Different Day (2010)
  • Kiss It (2013)
  • From Far Away (2014)
  • "Ghost" (single, 2016)

Tidy

Release info:

1996—Violet Inch/Mercury Records—314 534 508-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Kinnie Starr—geetar, throat, synth bass, keys, piano

Guest artists:

Matte Henderson—geetar, synth bass
Dean Sharp—drums
Jeffrey Vanderwoerd—piano
Neil Eustache—dictaphone prowess
Jacob Cino—bass, penny whistle, bella lecca, progromming, "played, borrowed and programmed"
Sam Cino Evil—drums, throat
Adam Carol IV—bass
Stone Groove—throat

Comments:

supposedly a review called it a hiphop version of ani difranco with a little PJ Harvey thrown in. in theory this sounds good, in practise i was left cold. i have the album, and really can't get through it, but perhaps i need to let it grow on me? like mold?
     in listening to the album, i can hear slight strains of PJ Harvey, only so much in the vocal qualities (think PJ Harvey in her Dryer/Demonstration demos, or the 4 track demos release). I haven't really given it much listen to. a definite DIY feel about the CD though. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

Every few days, I switch out the CDs in my CD Wallet in the car because I do a lot of driving around L.A. for my job, and I need to constantly change what I'm listening to. Earlier this week, one of the CDs I selected was Kinnie Starr's Tidy. I hadn't listened to it in a few years and instantly got hooked on the grooves again. (paul2k@aol.com)

I listened to Kinnie Starr a few times since yesterday. I am starting to like her. Her music at times does sound like PJ Harvey and other times does sound like the funky side of Ani Difranco or even the poem side of Ani. I played it for my boyfriend on our way to work and part way back. He thought it was PJ Harvey. When I put it on going home he wanted to kill me. He hated it. I think because of a song sung mostly in Spanish. It drove him nuts. So I can't play that album around him anymore.
     I also want to add that one song reminds me of Tricky. (ariana@kbp.com) I have Kinnie's Tidy and haven't felt drawn to give it more than the occasional listen. It's a strange mixture of spoken word, angry rock, noise, and performance art. (Neile)

i find her work on tidy really fascinating. (Songbird22@aol.com)


Sun Again

Release info:

2003

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Kinnie Starr—vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass, programming

Guest artists:

Rob Chursinoff—keyboards, bass, programming
John Raham—guitar, keyboards, bass, programming
Chris Carlson—guitar, keyboards, bass

Produced by:

Kinnie Starr, John Raham

Comments:

More hip-hop/r&b than Anything. A really good album, and you can hear where Anything grows out of this one. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Anything

Release info:

2006—Violet Inch

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Kinnie Starr

Guest artists:

Mike Borkosky—guitars
Jason Burnstick—slide guitar
Chris Carlson—bass instrument
Cris Derksen—cello
JP Carter—trumpet
Tegan Quin (Tegan and Sara)—background vocals

Produced by:

Kinnie Starr, John Raham

Comments:

continuing where sun again left off... no one is quite like Kinnie and after first listen I can tell I will adore this one too :) (gordodo@optonline.net)

Kinnie goes sugar pop on one song, which is pretty amusing (and actually quite good). Her classic attitude shines on the others, and her melodies seem stronger than ever. If the rest of the album measures up to these early tracks it might just end up being her most successful yet. (carnivore@bigfoot.com)

My introduction to Kinnie Starr, and it's a great one. Really fun album. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Further info:

Kinnie Starr played Reggie in the film Down and Out with the Dolls. She also performed in the Cirque du Soleil production Zumanity. Her songs can be found on the compilations Green Revolution: A Good Planet Is Hard to Find, Grrrls with Guitars: Compilation Vol. 1, and Love Rocks, and on the soundtracks for the television show The L-Word and the films Thirteen and Down and Out with the Dolls.

She released the book How I Learned to Run: Poetry, Illustrations and Photographs in 2008.


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2017-06-04 21:23:00.
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