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The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

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Tuesday Tunes: Russell Star-Lack

Senior Russell Star-Lack sat down with The Paly Voice to discuss his passion for music. Not only is Star-Lack a devoted listener, he also a skilled guitar player and singer. Photo by Nika Woodfill.

In this week’s edition of Tuesday Tunes, The Paly Voice sat down with accomplished guitarist and RAJ band member senior Russell Star-Lack to ask how music has impacted his life.

According to Star-Lack, who primarily plays guitar and sings, music helps him relieve the stress that comes with being a student.

“I listen to it [music] constantly, I play it constantly, I write it constantly,” Star-Lack said. “It is the best way for me to deal with stress. If I have an issue, I might write a song about it or find one I can relate to, and it will help me deal with stuff.”

Star-Lack grew up around music and fell in love with it at an early age.

“My dad played guitar, and I thought that was really cool,” Star-Lack said. “When I was six, I was in the car with my mom and [Eric Clapton’s] ‘Layla’ came on the radio and I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is awesome. I want to do that.’ And that’s  really what got me started playing music.”

Star-Lack loves to find his inspiration from classic blues and rock legends.

“My favorites are Eric Clapton and all the great guitar guys — Hendrix, the Allman brothers and Jimmy Page with Led Zeppelin,” Star-Lack said. “For blues, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, BB King, Albert King, Freddie King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Gary Clark Jr. All these guys are great and not appreciated enough.”

Star-Lack in particular loves blues for the raw emotion in its lyricism.

“Blues is really where it’s at for me,” Star-Lack said. “There’s just something about the emotion in blues. It’s oftentimes not as technically as advanced, but there’s just this raw feeling in the lyrics that really show what was going on in the singer’s mind at the time.”

In his free time, Star-Lack likes to perform with his band RAJ, which are the initials of the other band members, including seniors Arjun Vasudevan and Jeremy Samos.

“I don’t take a lot of risks in my life, and I think that performing is how I get that feeling,” Star-Lack said. “It’s addictive. I feel like I can express myself a lot better when I’m performing in front of my friends, people who know or don’t know me, than if I’m just talking. I’m very introverted, and it’s kind of fun to be the exact opposite, to play guitar behind your head and sing really loud and just be crazy and have fun.”

According to Star-Lack, it’s important for people to expand their horizons and discover the world that music has to offer.

“I encourage people to at least try, or listen to different kinds of music,” Star-Lack said. “I consider myself a listener of music even more than I am a player of it. So even just listening to stuff you don’t normally listen to and challenging yourself can really help broaden perspectives and maybe even help learn more about the world.”

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Nika Woodfill, Author

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