Lady Starlight (b. Colleen Martin, 1975) is an American DJ and performance artist, whose keen focus on authentic communication has made her one of the more original and colourful artists to be active in multiple media. True to her namesake, she has followed her own star by choosing to integrate a number of different influences – performance / body art, progressive rock and metal, and electronic dance music – into a single eclectic, but coherent, personality.
Fans of Lady Gaga will know Lady Starlight as the opening performer for three of GaGa’s world tours, including the acclaimed 2014 ArtRave tour. While many performers would have used this as an opportunity for personal gain alone, Lady Starlight utilised it as a chance to preach the gospel of techno to the unconverted; bringing it to a fresh audience who may not have found it otherwise. Her sets for these tours were carried out with a full hardware setup (rather than the expected laptop / turntable DJ configuration), and served as a kind of “edu-tainment” initiative when taking to the mic and bringing attention to the most fruitful branches of techno’s family tree (a who’s-who including Jeff Mills, Mike Banks, Steve Stoll, Joey Beltram and many others). In a short time Lady Starlight has created a signature sound that hasn’t gone unnoticed: her raw, direct and hard-driving style have in fact caught the ear of Figure label boss Len Faki (on which label she has been a semi-regular since 2018), and she has also been fully integrated into the roster of other forward-thinking labels like Stroboscopic Artefacts and Benny Rodrigues’ Noventa. These releases have become favourites for luminaries in the techno DJ world, including many that inspired her to make techno in the first place.
Lady Starlight’s enthusiasm for bringing essential information to new audiences has taken her on a daring quest to spotlight the qualities of intensity and emotiveness that supposedly “incompatible” music cultures share, in common – a characteristic that places her in the very limited company of genre-bending DJs like Regis or Russell Haswell. See, for example, her full-on engagement with the cultures of heavy metal and progressive rock – her DJ sets of NWOBHM [‘new wave of British heavy metal’] vinyl brought her to the attention of none other than genre standard-bearers Judas Priest, earning her a slot on their Epitaph tour, as well an ‘after-show’ DJ slot on Iron Maiden’s triumphant return to Donington Park via the Download Festival (this also saw her performing alongside Anthrax, Slayer, and Megadeth – three of thrash metal’s notorious “big four” – and Pantera to boot). In 2012, she toured the world with a performance art show set to the music of one of the most acclaimed art rock bands of all time Van der Graaf Generator. One of her admitted career highlights was performing in front of bandleader Peter Hammill at Twickenham Stadium in London.
In spite of the significant accomplishments in these fields, it is her techno endeavours that have recently garnered the most attention, with her activities increasingly documented by online and printed media outlets like DJ Times, FACT, Resident Advisor and Electronic Beats, as well as book-length projects like the Patch & Tweak anthology of modular synthesis. Her relentless commitment has paid off with engagements at electronic music’s most prestigious events: appearances at Boiler Room and regular performances at the legendary Berghain club, along with sets at notable festivals like MUTEK, Unsound, CTM, Fusion, Mayday and Nature One. All of this work has finally come “full circle” when headlining the ADE Awakenings event with the aforementioned icon Jeff Mills: an event that has certified Lady Starlight’s role as a conduit for modern music’s most energising forms.