The 80s vintage pop-rocker known as Starliner knew what he wanted to do at a young age.
Years ago in the small town of Richmond, Texas, a suburb just outside of Houston, a 9-year-old Starliner (born, Dillon Dostál) was gifted a guitar. At the time, his parents had no idea that he was also given the gift of a natural ability to play and perform music.
Throughout Starliner’s career, his parents have been of much support. So much so, that the musician’s father actually runs sound for him and his mother, with a business-oriented brain, serves as a manager.
The journey of parenthood for Starliner himself incited a different way of thinking as well. After having his second child, Starliner decided to leave The Drugstore Gypsies, a southern quartet that the musician played with, to mark the start of a new decade by making a name for himself as a solo artist.
Remembering advice from his father (“Hindsight is 20/20,”) Starliner decided to name his debut solo EP, 20/20. Just last month, Starliner gave fans a sneak peak of his upcoming EP, dropping a single from the project, “Never Satisfied.”
The artist’s first solo track hints that Starliner cut his teeth on the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and AC/DC to name a few. The track has a clear ‘80s rock and roll passion, one that makes listeners feel like moving and shaking. Hard riffs and powerful vocals give “Never Satisfied” a bouncy vibrancy, alluding to the passion that comes from within the musician.
20/20, set to be released this year, is going to be a concept record of Starliner’s. Each track adds to the next, although the tunes can stand alone as single bangers as well. As a solo artist, with the freedom to have the final say in each decision, Starliner aims to create feel-good music. His ultimate goal? To spread joy and positivity.
Here at Music Mecca, we got the chance to chat with Starliner about his musical inspirations, creative process, plans for the future and much more.
So can you talk about how you first got into writing and playing music?
My parents bought me an acoustic guitar when I was about 9 or 10, and I started messing around on it, figuring out a few little things on my own by ear. So I asked them to get me an electric, and they got me one and put me in lessons. I started jamming with some buddies and writing pretty much right away.
Is there a specific moment that solidified your decision to pursue music as a career?
The moment that comes to mind is watching the AC/DC Live at Donington DVD my mom bought me that same year I started playing. I was just in awe of how a few little guys could have a crowd that massive in the palm of their hand. I went through multiple copies of that DVD cause I would literally wear them out from playing it so much. To this day I could still play that whole concert note for note.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Well I grew up on classic rock. Definitely AC/DC, Zeppelin, The Stones and any other 70’s or 80’s rock band you can think of. But lately I’ve been getting more into pop music and actually paying attention to modern music. But I’ve always just liked good songs, no matter what genre it falls into.
What does your creative process look like? How do you begin writing a song?
Well, being a guitar player, it used to always start with a riff. But in the past few years I’ve been focusing more and more on good melodies and hooks. I’m constantly recording melodies on my phone that pop into my head. So now it almost always starts with one of those melodies.
What effect do you hope for your music to have on listeners?
If you can get some kind of positive feeling from it, that’s great. But I honestly hope that you can just crank it up and forget about everything else for a little bit. That’s what music has always been for me.
Previously, you performed with the band The Drugstore Gypsies. How has working as a solo artist differed from working with a band?
Well you get to have the final say on everything, which is nice. But I do still get to take other people’s opinions into consideration. There’s a lot more responsibilities, which I think is a good thing for me.
How did you decide on the name “Starliner”?
I wanted something spacey to reflect the music, but I also wanted something simple that everyone could understand. I’ve always liked space and looking at the stars, so it just popped into my head and I went with it.
How would you describe your music to new fans?
Ideally I would say just listen to it haha! But I would describe it as pop music that’s heavily influenced by rock n roll.
You just released your debut single as a solo artist, “Never Satisfied.” Can you talk a bit about the process behind the creation of that song, and the influence for it?
It came from one of those melodies that I recorded on my phone. For the lyrics I think I was thinking a lot about going out on my own as a solo artist and setting sail, so to speak.
Who else was involved in the track’s production?
As far as performers on the track, it was just my good friend Rey Chapa on drums, and I did everything else. Then my other long-time friend John Wilson did some comping and editing. After that I sent it to the UK where Nigel Butler did some additional production and mixing, and Dick Beetham mastered it, and that was it!
Is it set to be part of a larger project, or to stand alone as a single?
It’ll be on my EP called 20/20 coming out this year. It’s almost like a concept album, in that it has recurring themes and it feels good to listen to it as a whole. But it also feels natural to listen to the songs on their own. I’m excited for you to hear it!
What can fans expect in the next five years from Starliner?
I want to release a lot of music as often as I can. I have a lot to release, and I want to put stuff out as often as possible to keep people’s attention. I’ve always struggled with finding a “sound” because I’ve always written a lot of different sounding songs. But lately I’ve just embraced that and just accepted that I’m going to have different sounding songs. So in the next five years, I think you’ll hear some different styles from me. I’m excited to see what the future holds!