Stark's Leeja Stark Has Symptoms of Insanity

STARK is an electronic/industrial rock band based in Pittsburgh, PA. The band was formed by songwriter Leeja Stark for a dark dancey sound. Leeja has had many songwriting collaborations but STARK is really about unleashing the dark side of her songwriting. Lyrics about love and hate, supernatural beings, sex, and violence hold their own within the synth driven beats. Leeja herself discusses the band's upcoming EP and other plans that they have in-store.

1. Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Stark, and how long the band has been together.

Leeja: I'm Leeja. lead singer for STARK. I started the band about 8 months ago, it began as an electronic project. I liked it but I didn't think it was a hit, the lyrics were too dark for the music, so I began writing with a new guitar player, Bret Stark, and it was instant chemistry. The songs evolved and more came easily. It was a perfect blend of pop hooks, heavy guitar riffs, and dark lyrics with substance. It was time to hit the streets for a live band. Man was that tough, 7 1/2 months and 12 players later I found the right fit. Guitar: Ryan Martin, Bass: Mitch Meverden, Drums: Thor Lesnock. They bring brute force but technical knowledge, and make the songs feel the way I hear them in my head.

2. Where is the band based out of and what is your music scene like there?Are there any local bands you could recommend?

Leeja: STARK is based out of Pittsburgh. We have really begun to partner with symphonic metal band Second Empire locally. They play an amazing live show, write awesome tunes, and seem to share the same fan base. You can hear their songs at

3. Why did you want to go and call yourselves Stark?

Leeja: How did we get the name STARK......I needed a name, I had gone through every "cool" name I could come up with, finally I gave up and called a friend he said "Hey Stark". Boom there it was, right in front of me the whole time.

4. How would you describe your style? Which bands influenced your music?

Leeja: We call ourselves an alternative metal band. I was influenced vocally by Gwen Stefani, Stevie Nicks, even a little by Emily Haines from Metric. Musically I tend to compare us to new In This Moment, Kidney Thieves, The Birthday Massacre. The music really is influenced by the lyrics. It has to sell them whether dark, sad, beautiful...bring them to life.

5. What lyrical theme do you guys use in your music? What message do you want to send?

Leeja: Lyrically we are all over the board. Songs about the supernatural, about love, hate, the good and bad life has to offer. Lately the stuff has been dark. It happens when sparked by a bad relationship I guess. All I hope with each song is that something gets stuck in your head, and makes you listen closer the next time, then you realize the meaning, and you love it.

6. Do you write your own songs? Can you discuss the songwriting process in detail?

Leeja: As far as the songwriting process, it always begins with either a melody, or a guitar hook. Something that sets the tone and we build from there. I usually refine the lyrics 3-4 times before the final version is discovered. Funny, that's been happening with guitar parts too lately. Everything has to feel right, then it's done. Sometimes it's one day, other times, 3 months.

7. Can you tell me about the Kickstarter Campaign you have in-store?

Leeja: Kickstarter! Our kickstarter campaign which will be launching following the release of our EP is for a video series. I would like to introduce characters and begin the plot of the story using the first song on the EP. Then with the second song the next video will pick up the story where it left off. All in all there will be 5 music videos that have the same characters and a story that evolves with the music. This particular story is about 2 demon clans that are at odds and the human girl who falls in love and gets caught in a life much more complicated than she ever expected.

8. How would you describe the overall sound of the new EP?

Leeja: The EP is dark electronic metal, whatever that is. The songs all have catchy choruses and tell a story.

9. Did the band have any definitive goals they were shooting for before the recording process began for this EP?

Leeja: The cool thing about the band and the whole writing process is that my writing partner is also the producer, so rather than write a song, play it, practice, then record later, we start with a recording. We write and record simultaneously, so the song evolves that way, then we have to learn to play it!

10. Are you using any new instrumentation you've never used in the recording process before?

Leeja: We are using a lot of synth sounds in the recordings. It's always tricky since we don't have a keyboard player yet, to find the right sound. But, it really adds to the songs and has helped us develop our sound.

11. When did you start writing for this EP?

Leeja: The first song written that is on the EP was Afterglow. It was also the first really dark and revealing song I have written. I was in a bad place for a long time, I just never put it into my music for fear of remembering. But once I wrote Afterglow I had to get it all out, which you will hear in pretty much every song on House of Eyes.

12. Did you feel any pressure whatsoever about writing and recording for this release?

Leeja: For me music is something that can't be forced. Luckily I am always writing and 3 songs in I knew what needed to come next. The feel of the next song, even the story that needed completed. Recording is a different animal. There is NEVER enough time in the day/week for recording. I love it, but often just want to finish to move to the next song. It is definitely more tedious and time consuming than writing!

13. How was the vibe in the studio for everybody?

Leeja: Again, with our producer, I'm pretty much at home. And that's where we record, and everyone is comfortable. I've recorded in "studios" before and I honestly hate the "pay by hour", "on the clock", thing (though necessary for them to make money). I've found working with our producer in a house little by little results in an amazing product!

14. Who produced "House of Eyes" and what was it like working with them?

Leeja: Bret Stark (guitar player for Second Empire) produced the songs, I worked with him every step of the way. He is so easy and fun to work with and his ideas are endless. I couldn't ask for a better situation.

15. "House of Eyes" is this a concept release and does the title have a concept or story behind it?

Leeja: The EP is not a "concept" album though the title (House of Eyes)  represents the story that will be told by the video series. The demons are either black eyed or yellow eyed but to the normal person they look human. Black eyed demons are the soldiers (commoners), yellow eyed demons are the leaders. However one can wipe out the other if they have a powerful queen to lead them.

16. Who did the cover art for "House of Eyes" and how much input did you have on it?

Leeja: I did the cover art :) It will be available soon! I also did the cover for our single Symptoms of Insanity. I feel we will always have a say in the artwork. Who else would?

17. Can you go into one or two tracks on the new EP? If so, can you give us the track title and brief description of how the track sounds and how it came about?

Leeja: The first song on the EP is Supernatural. It is about exactly that. The supernatural, and allowing humans into the world of the supernatural. It also displays the battle the demons are in with an exorcism spell being cast during the midsection. In order for a demon to be released from the body and sent back to hell it must be exorcised. Another of my favorite songs on the EP is Impossible Things. It is a very delicate song about decisions and allowing the powers at hand to guide you. It also is a song of regret and despair. The emotion behind it is very real, and I hope that it helps people through their own struggles.

18. What other plans do you have for the future as a band?

Leeja: The future has just begun for STARK! Right now we are building our army. Internet radio stations have been very supportive! Specifically you should check out the Women of Metal show Thursday and Saturday night, and Tuesday nights The "Radio for the Scene" Show on  They both play STARK a lot and are really helping us spread our music globally!

19. Where can we listen to your band and where can we buy your stuff?

Leeja: You can hear our music at You can also friend us at Our single Symptoms of Insanity is available for sale on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby etc.

20. Anything else you'd like to add or care to say?

Leeja: Just Thank you! Thank you for being interested in our band and for the support.

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