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Ken Wallis Chats With Suzy Starlite and Simon Campbell Of The Starlite Campbell Band


Photo Credit: Paul Husband.



The Starlite Campbell Band is a rockin’ English blues band that now calls Portugal home. The husband-and-wife team of Simon and Suzy proves that two musicians can be passionate about music as well as each other. With Suzy’s rich voice and Simon’s searing guitar licks, the two came together to keep the Brit blues alive. Not only can they crank out great music, but their lyrics feature powerful storytelling. Combined with a lineup of superb musicians, The Starlite Campbell Band combines ear-catching music with fun. You can’t meet two nicer people who are loaded with talent.


Ken Wallis interviewed Suzy Starlite and Simon Campbell for the radio show BluesSource Canada, which can be heard here on our podcast page. The following is an edited transcript of that interview.



Ken Wallis

The Starlite Campbell Band has a brand-new album out. It is LIVE 2 and we are thrilled to have Susie Starlite and Simon Campbell join us, two for the price of one! Thanks for coming on the show guys.


Suzy Starlite

Thank you for inviting us.


Simon Campbell

Yeah, it's great to see you.


Ken Wallis

Well number one, how did you two guys get together?


Suzy Starlite

In a short story, we accidentally fell in love. We had individual lives; we were both independent people. We met and had mutual respect for each other, and then somewhere in the music we fell in love. We both knew that we'd met each other's soul mates and it's a once in a lifetime moment. It was later in life, and it was beautiful and also hard a thing. We've had the last 10 years of adventure and love and loss and joy and pain. And know what? We are alive and we're learning. We are human and we're conscious and we love everybody.


Ken Wallis

You remind me very much of another one of my favourite bands from Dublin, the Mary Stokes band, with Mary Stokes and Brian Palm. They’re a couple and they make music together just like you guys do. So, from what I've read, you guys are based in both Manchester and Portugal. How does that work?


Simon Campbell

We are originally from Manchester because well, I'm from Manchester and Suzy moved up there. She was working up there for a long time and our hearts are still really in Manchester, but our minds and our souls are in Portugal. We decided to move here following Brexit, when the UK left the European Union, Suzy and I decided to stay in Europe, and we were allowed to do so but we had to choose a country where we were going to be a resident. So, Portugal was a no-brainer really because it's not as expensive as some of the rest of Europe and the people are absolutely amazing.

Suzy Starlite

They welcome artists.


Simon Campbell

Yeah, it welcomes artists, the weather's fantastic and we live within 35 minutes of the international airport in Lisbon. So, to get anywhere it's really easy.


Suzy Starlite

And also, there's a depth of tradition and history with Portugal that goes back centuries, which I think that culturally we could relate to. The Portuguese teach something about their culture in terms of many hundreds of years and we can come into this scenario going, hey we'll learn your language and we're humble and in the sense of what do you do, and what do you value, and what is it that you think about, and what is it that you care about. And so, this is our last 10 years. We've actually been on a complete quest for truth throughout the world, whether it's America, Canada or Europe.


Ken Wallis

Well here in Canada we are being told time and time again if you're going to go on a vacation, go to Portugal.


Suzy Starlite

No way, really?


Ken Wallis

Yes, it's quite a popular spot from what I'm hearing. So back to the music, it's a live recording. Where was this recorded?


Simon Campbell

Well, it was a series of tours, two or three years ago. The problem with the live recording is that you've got to find a venue which has the facilities to do individual tracks so you can record each individual microphone. In the UK it's quite limited. We were very fortunate that we had some great engineers and people, so we recorded them in Oldham which is in the north of England near Manchester, and Bury which again is near Manchester. So those two venues were the ones that we used to record the record.


Ken Wallis

And do you approach a live performance that is going to be recorded any differently than just a normal live gig?


Simon Campbell

I think you forget about it because `if you start thinking about any mistakes...


Suzy Starlite

What is a mistake? [LAUGH]


Simon Campbell

Yeah, what is a mistake anyway. I don't believe in that. I think you just sort of get on with it and when we're on stage, as soon as we get on that stage or in front of people, I think we forget everything except for the music and the people that we're entertaining.


Suzy Starlite

And we're getting this love circle. We all get together in this place and then we take off and who knows what's going to happen. That's what we love about the live gigs. We commune.


Ken Wallis

The two of you do a lot of writing together how does that work? Does one of you do lyrics, one of you do music? Or do you cooperate on everything?


Suzy Starlite

Well let's just start with saying I write all the best lyrics [EVERYONE LAUGHS]


There's always a healthy competition with us and we're always like every day of our lives, we're always like noting things, we're listening to things. When a word or a phrase hits us, it’s because we're storytellers and what our job is to bring us together in the life that we have now. Not before. There's hope for tomorrow but it's now and this is our job. So, this is what we do and we have a competition.


Simon Campbell

The thing is that we write individually, lyrics and music, and also, we write together so it just depends what happens. Like yesterday. I came up with a new song and I did the whole thing. I did the lyrics and the melody, but Suzy also does the same thing. All of a sudden one day she’ll come up with that but when it comes down to the final thing, we collaborate, and I'm not even putting this in the same league as Lennon-McCartney, but that is sort of what they did. Paul would come up with something, present to John Lennon and John Lennon would critique it and adjust it. And then the other way around and that's all we do. So, it's either individually or together.


Suzy Starlite

I would say that I do I do spar with Simon quite intensely and it's like there is no suck up in that way. We’re totally honest with each other. I woke up this morning, and I've got this riff or that two bars that from the new song that Simon's written. I just said I woke up and I said your song is echoing around my mind and it soothes my soul and I just said baby we need to do this song and not over produce it. I felt melted and I didn't know what to say, but you see we're on a journey, we're just trying to live each day the best we can like everyone else.


Ken Wallis

And on Live 2, they're all originals except for one song that just blew me away. Peter Gunn and Shaking It All Over. I thought what a fun song. It just reflects what I think I'm seeing in you two. You enjoy being on stage and you enjoy playing music.


Simon Campbell

Well, I think the thing is, Steve Gibson our drummer, he's a fantastic guy, a fantastic driver and in that song, I always speed it up. So, with Peter Gunn, at the beginning I started off quite slow. And of course, drummers hate speeding it up because they think that they've done something wrong or whatever. But I'm pushing him to speed up going into Shaking’ All Over. And Johnny Henderson was playing keyboards on that. He'd never played it before, and we decided to do it as an encore, and it was like we just did it. You can probably gather by the sound of it, we play pretty loud. The guitar is allowed to feedback and it's a lot of energy to the performance.


Ken Wallis

I think it was almost like you threw a gauntlet down and said okay guys keep up with me.


Simon Campbell

[LAUGHTER]

That's right. that's exactly what happened.


Suzy Starlite

Thank you very much, that's exactly how I feel. Whenever I walk out onto the stage with this man, this is what we get. Who knows what's gonna happen.


Ken Wallis

So, what happened for you guys during the pandemic. I assume you were shut down like everyone else for quite a while.


Simon Campbell

It was pretty crazy because we were doing a tour in the U.K. and we came home in January, because by that time we were living in Germany and when we got to Germany everything shut down. It was incredible because we record together. So, our drummer Steve is in the U.K, so we couldn't finish the last studio album which was The Language Of Curiosity. We just couldn't finish it because we couldn't finish the drums and stuff. In Harry Potter, there's these Cornish pixies that just suspended and they're floating around.


Suzy Starlite

We couldn't do any more mischief.


Simon Campbell

But what we did do in that time, we were writing, and I think that The Language Of Curiosity ended up being a more interesting album because it was recorded and written over such a long period of time. So yeah, but it's very difficult. But we survived, we've got some great fans, great supporters.


Suzy Starlite

And we survived the virus.


Ken Wallis

Things are starting to open up here in Canada. We’ve got outdoor festivals going on, bars are opening up. How are things for you guys over there? Is it opening up?


Simon Campbell

Yeah, it is. The Portuguese have a certainly more relaxed way of dealing with things. It's been bad everywhere but yeah, I mean things are opening up and over the last summer there's been an awful lot of festivals. There are festivals here, you can get on a weekend during the summer, and you can go to three or four locally. They're everywhere.


Suzy Starlite

It's in the most amazing place to live. But and I say in all respect, there's something about this place, that, and I think that there's a Canadian link and I'm just not just saying that because you're Canadian, but there's something going on, there's the wisdom of the tradition of the of the culture, not the tradition not the invented tradition, but the lived tradition that is keeping everyone going. And it's the real force, it's the real love. it's the real family. It's the real connection of community that we are so privileged to be in because we've moved to an area where there's no other British people. I mean we are on our own here. We've been welcomed in and hugged and loved and nourished and cherished even though there was no language that we can learn because the schools were closed during covid. `I've got to say that the Portuguese are a most beautiful and sublime and ancient and futuristic race they’re ancient and futuristic all in one soup.


Ken Wallis

Do you guys have any plans on touring North America?


Simon Campbell

We were in Memphis for a week, and we did a lot of research there. We certainly are looking to come over to Canada, somewhere we haven't investigated yet, but we will. Because of course if you're in North America, Canada is the next step, so we would very much like to play there.


Suzy Starlite

Ken, also my parents when they were younger, when we were a young family, wanted to emigrate to Canada.


Ken Wallis

Interesting, we could have been neighbours.


[LAUGHTER]

And also, my younger sister's son had the same dream, there's some kind of pull. I remember when I was a young media student, I interviewed the chap that used to play the Mountie, there was a Mountie series and I remember interviewing this lovely man who'd released an album and we had so much fun. I said to him I could have grown up in Canada if only my parents had moved.


Ken Wallis

So most importantly where can our listeners get a hold of your album?


Simon Campbell

We're all over the Internet, and so if you put Starlite at s-t-a-r-l-i-t-e not like light but ite Campbell you'll find us. We're on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube. We've got a quite a comprehensive website Starlitecampbell.com. We're everywhere, so you come and check the music out and if you like it, please buy it. We’ve got vinyl, we've got downloads, we've got CDs.


Ken Wallis

And I would certainly encourage people not only to buy Live 2, but to buy a few other of your albums because they are all very good. It’s been a pleasure meeting you and a pleasure chatting with you.




Website: starlite-campbell.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/starlite.campbell

Twitter: twitter.com/suzyandsimon

Instagram: www.instagram.com/starlitecampbell