Fin Dow-Smith is Starsmith. He collaborated with Ellie Goulding on her Number 1 album, Lights, co-writing seven of the tracks and producing the majority of the album. He has since worked on four number 1 albums including Kylie Minogue. He has notched up two remixes for Lady Gaga, as well as remixes for Robyn, Bombay Bicycle Club, Marina & The Diamonds and many more. His new single Lesson One is out now !
Hello Finn, how are you today?
I’m good thanks! Back from a holiday and settling into the studio again.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and you’re background and how it has lead you to make music?
I’ve been studying music and playing instruments since I was about 8 or 9. I went to Uni and studied music, and I met Ellie Goulding when I was in the final year of my degree and that was when I first started writing music. I think the path has been quite natural as I’ve always studied theory and performance, so it’s normal to finally be putting it into practice.
Why did you choose the name « Starsmith »?
There’s no real inspiration behind the name! I wrote a few names that I liked on post it notes and stuck them above my computer. I would gradually take them down one by one as I grew to not like them, and Starsmith was the one that stuck!
What is the theme of “Lesson One” ? What is it about ?
Although I write lyrics in the first person, they’re never about me. They’re from the views of a man that I’ve created, and he doesn’t really seem to be having a very good time. The story behind Lesson One is that said man has been left by his girlfriend for another man, and it’s a plea for her to come back to him. Essentially he’s saying that she’ll learn in time that he was always right for her and that he’ll still be waiting.
When did you first start producing and why?
First started producing whilst I was at Uni, I was worried that I’d have nothing to do when I graduated and wanted to test a few basic things that I’d learnt. I started with remixes and really rough song ideas and then I met Ellie Goulding and got really involved in production and songwriting.
You’ve been collaborating with Kylie Minogue. How did this happen ?
Kylies label were interested in me trying some ideas for Kylies record, as apparently she had been out and heard Ellies song Starry Eyed and wanted to know who the producer was! I then wrote a song with the Nervo Sisters called Put Your Hands Up and Kylie wanted it for her record.
Put Your Hands Up (If You Feel Love)” was just released on single. Were there any other good songs from Aphrodite sessions?
Actually that was the only one that was finished, I wrote another one that I really liked but I didn’t have the time to finish it to the standard that it needed to be. I’m sure I’ll look at it again soon and maybe see if Kylie still wants to do something with it!
When you work with someone like Ellie or Kylie, how do you collaborate with them? Can you describe your studio? What sort of equipment do you use or are you all digital?
When I’m writing with artists its a really chilled way of working, I don’t like to set aims at the beginning of sessions as a lot of people do ie. making sure the track is finished on day one and the vocals all wrapped on day 2. That can just put un-needed stress on the session. The track is finished when it sounds it, no point in rushing it. I mainly work with hardware synths and live instruments, although a lot of my drums are programmed in Logic and other parts such as strings and some soft synths are running in Logic too.
What is your ultimate goal in the music-making industry?
I’d rather be known for having a set of work that was at a consistently good level, rather than making 2 songs that are great and 20 that are not so great. So if it takes me 10 years to achieve 20 well liked songs, I’d rather have that than burn-out in 2 years.
To conclude with,
Where are you answering our interview questions from?
My studio in North London
What is the most played song on your iPod at the moment?
Definitely my new single that I’m finishing off and mixing at the moment. The only reason is because I’m checking the mix so much!
Can you tell me some words in French?
I’d rather not embarrass myself (as I do every time I try to speak when I’m in France)
Your last word for our TEEZ’FM listeners?
Buy my new single, Lesson One, it’s out now! (End shameless plug)
Thanks to Finn and Polly
interview by Thierry Jaussaud