"Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, to anyone who is truly invested in rock 'n' roll, resonate and inspire over and over. They're like my desert island companion; my friend who never lets me down. They encompass all that is dangerous and important about rock 'n' roll in America and I guess you could say New York, since I find myself living here.
Growing up in San Francisco, I didn't hear the music of the Velvet Underground first but was quoted their lyrics. "First thing you learn is that you always got to wait" (what an understatment) was said to me on Haight Street by some nameless drug dealer; I was much too punctual. Later I pieced it together. The first Velvet Underground song I ever heard was when I was 14 – my much older boyfriend at the time played me Heroin and the rest is, as they say, history. But my favourite Lou Reed song, hands down, has to be Coney Island Baby – the lyrics and Lou Reed delivery and sense of humour hit me in the best way."
"Lou Reed encompasses all that is dangerous and important about rock 'n' roll in America"
Since his death in October, Lou Reed has been mourned and memorialised in equal measure for his inimitable contribution to music. Among those to have paid tribute to the rock 'n' roll hero is New York based rock duo Starred – AKA Liza Thorn and Matthew Koshak – who recently announced that their upcoming debut album, Fall Into Light, will be dedicated to Reed. "He's part of my DNA for rock 'n' roll," the 27-year-old Thorn enthuses.
Starred formed just under two years ago when Thorn, then living in LA, met Koshak through her ex-boyfriend, Christopher Owens – Koshak was the live engineer for Owens' former band Girls. They opted for the name Starred following a string of bad luck: "I thought it sounded lucky," Thorn explains. Last December, following their move to New York, the band released their debut EP, Prison to Prison to widespread acclaim. The record is whimsically melancholic – a slow-paced and lilting acoustic soundscape, punctuated every now and than by post-punky electronic twinges. Thorn, who sings and plays guitar, describes the band's sound as "the grand tradition of American rock 'n' roll – minimalism and electricity." She lists other musical influences as Rowland S. Howard, Jennifer Herrema, Genesis P-Orridge and Leonard Cohen.
Thorn, strikingly ethereal with bleached blonde hair and alabaster skin, has herself proved a source of inspiration, as a muse for Hedi Slimane. She was a frequent protagonist in his portrait exhibition, California Song, at LA's Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as the rumoured stimulus for his “L.A. Woman” Saint Laurent debut. He also used the Starred song Call From Paris for the relaunch of the Saint Laurent website. "I'm honored to be associated with Hedi at Saint Laurent," Thorn says in mutual admiration. "He presents rock 'n' roll in his designs in a real fucking fun and dangerous way. I'll take one of everything please!"
Watch Liza in New Music Cities, part of Dazed x AllSaints' radical music documentary series.
Text by Daisy Woodward