By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Becky Stark's last name seems ironically misplaced. The charismatic frontwoman of Los Angeles-based orchestral folk-pop outfit Lavender Diamond is the kind of entity who emanates rainbows whether she's singing, speaking, dancing or just being. If her aura could be harnessed, it alone could light the Sunset Strip. In a time of great strife and conflict across the world, Stark is a neo-flower-child missionary, hoping to infuse the masses with a message of peace through her music. Her vehicle for change is Lavender Diamond, a collaboration with guitarist Jeff Rosenberg (who has since left the band), pianist Steve Gregoropoulos, and drummer and illustrator Ron Rege Jr. Their latest LP, Imagine Our Love, echoes a time when entire movements were fueled by music. The record's dynamic 14 tracks feel like a garden of fresh, vibrant life, the seeds of which were planted in far-flung cultural moments such as 1965's Newport Folk Festival and fertilized by the Carpenters' gentle harmonies, Joni Mitchell's golden lilt and Harry Nilsson's epic pop arrangements. Stark's operatic vocals are like a lake nestled high in the mountains—deep and still untainted by pollution. She sings of love and longing with a beautiful, melancholic joy amidst sweeping orchestral swells. In a pessimistic age filled with cynics and critics, her sentiment that positive global change is possible through music could be construed as hokey hippie idealism. The thing is, however, when you listen, it almost seems possible.
You've said that through the power of your music, you feel that you can alter the world in a positive way.
Well, I really feel that this time on earth is such an exciting time of transformation. Me and my friends, we've been thinking a lot about it—there are so many people talking about the change that is coming, how the earth is transforming so dramatically, the climate is changing rapidly—what seems to me to really be the main problem is that a lot of people think that what they do as an individual doesn't really matter. I think that healing that one misperception is, like, a huge key, a cornerstone. Because it's the difference between thinking that the world is flat and thinking that it's round. What I hope to do by playing music with Lavender Diamond is help strengthen people's energy. Because how we feel and how our energy is flowing and growing, all those things are changeable and powerful. If you had the ability to travel through time, what era would you go to?
Oh my goodness. Wow. My first instinct is to say right here! Right now! I really do feel that this is the most exciting time. But my desire would be to live someplace where I could drink clean water out of the ground, clean water from a river, and bathe in hot springs and eat from the land. I totally have a fantasy about getting married in Seattle because the last time I was in Seattle, the wild blackberries were blossoming like crazy! And I love blackberries so much. I was having a fantasy that when I get married, I would just go to a field of wild blackberries in Seattle and just have everyone eat blackberries as our wedding reception. I've never had an experience like that before—just taking a walk and eating as many blackberries as I could possibly fit in my tummy. What are your thoughts on string theory?
Well, I'm glad you brought that up. Because, naturally, string theory and the most recent scientific models of our reality state an understanding of our experience that is proof of consciousness and the way that things change and transform by way of energy. To me, it's a model that makes such beautiful sense. I think it's a model that really does serve to express the knowledge of how much power people have. It teaches us that solid matter is a myth and the world is made of energy and the world is made of vibrations. The world is made of sound, or music, and so in the model where a world [is] made of energy, everything is changeable. The world is like a symphony together. I suppose it's just a matter of communicating these ideas for everyone to understand. Is that what you aim to do through Lavender Diamond?
Yes! Because I think that it's really interesting that we have these wide-open channels of communication. I feel that, as a musician, it only makes sense to me that we should think about what it is that we're communicating. I feel like, for me, the experience of singing with Lavender Diamond and playing this music is always an opportunity to share love with people. And to have a transformative experience. Because, you know—we were talking about string theory—the world is made of energy, the world is made of sound, the world is made of music, you know? So, it's so simple. When you hear a song, it can make you feel better; it can make you dance! It can make you feel uplifted, you know; that's the simple principle that we need to reclaim, the fact that we all have so much power to influence each other. The energy of a song can transform the way that you feel, and the energy of other people can transform the way that you feel. Smiling at somebody—even the smallest thing that you do, it makes a huge difference. This is not wishful thinking! It's like science.