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Starover Blue: New Found Sound

In Music
Blue Evolution: Starover Blue, formerly Cartoon Bar Fight, have a new sound and new album on the way.

Blue Evolution: Starover Blue, formerly Cartoon Bar Fight, have a new sound and new album on the way.

After playing together for eight years, switching majors, and changing their band’s name in order to prevent their YouTube clips from showing up next to Donald Duck cartoons, the founding members of the San Jose-based band, Starover Blue, are finally starting to feel like they are making headway.

Kendall Sallay and Dirk Milotz founded what would ultimately become Starover Blue in 2007. Both were in the music department at San Jose State University at the time—Sallay was studying opera, Milotz was pursuing a degree in composition. They bonded over Arcade Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel and other bands at the dividing line of “alternative” and “indie.”

Back then they called themselves Cartoon Bar Fight, and they played a bouncy brand of indie-folk—not unlike many of their contemporaries. “I don’t know how it happens,” Sallay says, reflecting on the style of music that she, Milotz, and the rest of her band hit upon in the late aughts. “That sort of became the sound of that time.”

But that was then.

Eventually, both Sallay and Milotz would leave the music department. She went into gender studies and he went into engineering and computer science. Both had similar reasons for giving up on music as a major, Sallay says. “It was making the music too mathematical. When you analyze pieces of music in the same way that you would look at a math problem, you inevitably strip the music away.”

It would seem, however, that neither Sallay nor Milotz were able to shake their interest in the technical side of composition. Their forthcoming LP, Spacegeist, finds the band with a new name—taken from a character in a Nabokov novel—and a new sound. Where the group once favored folky instrumentation, acoustic arrangements and 4/4 time signatures, they are now incorporating synthesizers, looking to the Romantic composer Frederic Chopin for guidance on chord progressions and incorporating tricky rhythms.

Now that they have this new spacey sound and a little bit of buzz in the local blogosphere, they are making plans to push their band forward in a city with an appropriately progressive music scene—San Jose.

“We will not be moving to San Francisco,” Sallay says. “I just think it would be really impractical. A lot of musicians are having to move out of the city already.”

Plus, Sallay adds, she’s excited about “being a band coming from an area that’s trying so hard to make something happen.”

“We’re really interested to see how these new clubs opening up in San Jose impact the scene here,” she says. “We want to be a part of that.”

Starover Blue open for The Velvet Teen at Cafe Stritch on Aug. 20. More info.

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