Zachery Allan Starkey has released “Fear City” with Bernard Sumner of New Order. An immersive dark techno journey into the contemporary urban nightmare of New York City’s dark after hours underworld, “Fear City” combines Starkey’s evocative songwriting and synthesizer playing with Sumner’s innovative production and instrumental work. The resulting collaboration pushes both Starkey and Sumner into new territory. “That’s my nightmare, that’s my dream, barely living…thriving in the chaos in between,” Starkey sings, documenting life in New York City during the current COVID-19 pandemic and economic collapse. Sumner matches Starkey’s lyrics and melodies with some of the darkest electronic instrumentation work of his career, recalling his time in Joy Division. “Fear City” is a song firmly rooted in the present.
“Fear City” is the second collaboration between Starkey and Sumner, following the recent release of their anthemic club track “Force”, which garnered glowing reviews from music publications across the globe. Starkey’s “Force” and “Fear City” also mark the first brand new studio recordings from Sumner since the release of New Order’s 2015 LP, Music Complete. Starkey opened for New Order during the Music Complete tour.
“I wrote ‘Fear City’ about Brooklyn’s late night after hours scene, and people who deal with dead end jobs, low pay, and a sense of hopelessness by heavily indulging in vice. I have spent considerable time in this world, I have been one of these people, and ‘Fear City’ is about being trapped in this cycle, a reality for many. ‘Fear City’ is about how COVID-19 has crippled New York’s economy and morale. It is the key song on the album, because it brings together the themes of New York nightlife with current international economic/political fears, and the Coronavirus pandemic.
I think Bernard’s work on ‘Fear City’ is fantastic. Bernard really nailed the vibe of my song with his production and synth work, he took my original instrumentation and melodies, and he made them even darker and more intense with his own playing. I then revised my parts of the song to creatively match what Bernard had done. I think we inspired each other to get more experimental. I’d been trying to nail the right tone for the lyrics, and when I heard how Bernard evolved the track musically, it put me in the right spot emotionally. I sat down and revised the lyrics and vocal parts in one go, then upped the effort on my synth parts. Bernard and I found a very cool musical synchronicity on ‘Fear City’, I think we made something special.”
On working with Zachery Allan Starkey, Bernard Sumner says:
“Like me, Zachery originates from a post industrial landscape of urban decay and forgotten people, which once thrived and brought great wealth to both our nations. In my case in Manchester, England, the favour has not been forgotten, and it is now a thriving City again. In Zachery’s case, the industrial heartland of America still sleeps, waiting for the men who reaped the profits to remember the people they left behind.
Zachery’s passion for creating music led him to buy a one way train ticket to New York City, leaving behind the working class existence he grew up in Columbus, Ohio. He arrived in NYC with no job or connections. Ten years later, he’s ensconced and well known in the music and club scene in Brooklyn, which plays a large part in his life. Zachery independently releases his own records, and is dedicated to songwriting and club music in his own way.
I feel a kinship with Zachery. He’s at the start of his journey. I wish him luck, he deserves it. His music is his lifeline.”