Grey Starr is a superstar.
She grew up with “goth parents” in the East Bay, started playing music at 14 and came out as queer in high school. Now, in her early mid-30s and self-described as “peak Millennial,” Starr is charting an artistic trajectory that is as edifying as it is entertaining.
Its latest manifestation is In Mirrors, a new EP from her band Pretty Frankenstein, now out on Spotify and Bandcamp. A six-song collection of “queer anthems and ’90s angst,” lyric from the title track sums the ethos and message of the EP: “If you’re basic as fuck, then you find this scary.” It’s not an insult but rather an invitation to check your assumptions at the door and open your head and heart to the possibilities of a better world for everyone.
By turns comic and camp, heart-rending, occasionally chiding and ultimately a nuanced, clear-eyed expression of what it means to be a trans artist and person of color in this cultural moment, In Mirrors has all the earmarks of a creative milestone—an achievement that is both now and timeless.
“I’ve just always kind of been an ‘attention whore,’ for lack of a better word,” Starr laughs when describing her evolution as an artist. This includes not only being a musician but stints as an actor and filmmaker, and more recently, a stand-up comedian. When pressed, Starr files the various pursuits under the broad label of “artist.”
“As pretentious as it sounds to call yourself an artist,” she laughs, “but the music is the first thing. That’s the first priority for me.”
The music also underscores another aspect of Starr’s identity. “For me as kind of serendipitous to come out as trans while in a band called Pretty Frankenstein, I’m like, that just makes too much sense to me,” says Starr who, through 2021, identified as non-binary but decided to begin hormone treatment to fully transition last December.
Starr credits her family, friends and her partner for being incredibly supportive throughout her life. Ditto her band, which includes local luminaries Shachar Stern (lead guitar), Edward Altamirano (bass/drums/mixing/mastering) and Thea Munster (Theremin), who loaned their estimable talents to the project.
“I think the thing about this project is it kind of has given me the freedom to do that, to gather all of my influences and really just kind of put them all into this one thing that’s still somewhat cohesive,” says Starr.
“I’ve been in like a million different groups in the Bay over the years,” says Starr, whose artistic experiences are free-ranging – from time spent in a hip-hop act to documentary film work with Fantastic Negrito (and later to opening for him at the Fillmore).
“He taught me so much as far as not really caring about if it’s this genre or that genre, and then also just not caring about certain things like age. ‘Whatever’s going to happen for you is going to happen if you keep doing it,’ is something that he always told me,” she says of the musician’s advice.
To that end, when it comes to songwriting, inspiration has always come easily.
“For me, it’s kind of weird because a lot of the music that I write, I’d say like 99% of it, just happens. It’s very rare that I’m actually sitting at a desk or sitting with an instrument and trying to figure out what the next thing is. It’s usually like, it hits me and then I’m like, oh, okay, there’s the song, and it comes out in like five minutes,” Starr explains. “For some songs, I’ve literally just dreamt the lyrics, and then I’ll wake up and be like, ‘Oh shit, I got to write this down right now!’”
She adds, “It’s kind of a sense of building a world and leaving something behind to inspire people. I think I’d be just most proud of that. Anybody who makes music or makes any kind of art should be proud to be able to put that out there.”
In what Starr calls a musical “post-credits scene” that gently wafts into the end of another track long after the initial song has ended, she croons, “I had so much in mind, but I’ll save it for next time.”
Fans of Pretty Frankenstein can’t wait.
For more, including links and videos for ‘In Mirrors,’ visit prettyfrankenstein.com.