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Changing the future, one epic song at a time.Note 
Click here to see the principal members in their space themed attire. 
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Related Acts:
  • Downplay (Bates, DeChant)
  • MNQN (Bates)
  • Live My Last (Richards)
  • Lost Symphony (Cronin)

"Take me high and I'll sing
Oh, you make everything okay
We are one and the same
Oh, you take all of the pain away"
— "My Demons"

Starset, stylized as STARSET, is an American Alternative Rock/Metal band founded in 2013 by Dustin Bates.

Originating in Columbus, Ohio, the band came together after Downplay, Dustin's former band, was dropped from their record deal with Epic Records due to a change in the label's president. Realizing that he could combine his passion and educational history of science and engineering with his passion for music, Dustin came together with Ron DeChant (who also started from Downplay) and eventually Brock Richards and Adam Gilbert to formulate what would eventually become Starset.

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Of course, not without having been contacted by The Starset Society with a proposal. Dr. Aston Wise had reached out to Dustin with the realization that a band would be a great method of promoting the group's public outreach campaigns after receiving a message from decades in the future. Needless to say, said proposal was considered and eventually accepted with enthusiasm.

The band has found significant mainstream success within the first year of their conception with their first and most popular single "My Demons"; charting before the band eventually signed a deal with Razor & Tie. This would lead into the release of their debut album Transmissions in 2014. The album's release had garnered great reception from reviewers and fans alike, boasting praise due to their unique production alongside their use of orchestral elements. The release of their second album, Vessels, was just as successful, if not even more so with the single "Monster" being a commercial hit.

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In the time frame of the releases of Transmissions and Vessels, a novel based on the narrative surrounding the band was released under the name of The PROX Transmissions. A year or so later, the band collaborated with Marvel to release a graphic novel adaptation. It was also around this time that the band had signed a deal with Fearless Records.

After the completion of MNQN, Dustin's more electronic-based solo project, 2019 saw the release of the band's third album DIVISIONS and the resulting mixed reception. "MANIFEST", one of the album's singles, had seen divisive criticisms stating that it was "too heavy" or "too poppy". Two years later, in 2021, HORIZONS was released; described as a sister album to DIVISIONS.

The band had increased from four members to seven over the years with the current additions of Siobhán Cronin, Zuzana Engererova, and Cory Juba to fill in the missing pieces of cinematics and electronics to their live performances. Former touring members include Mariko Muranaka Friend, Nneka Lyn, and Jonathan Kampfe.

A few songs, specifically "Unbecoming" and "Monster" from Vessels alongside "INFECTED" from HORIZONS, saw an additional rise in popularity for the band thanks to their usage and collaboration in regards to the mobile game Arknights. In fact, a lot of their popularity is thanks to the gaming and anime communities due to their uses in fan videos, something the band fully supports if their fanart based music video for "TRIALS" is anything to go by.

A second novel related to the narrative behind DIVISIONS and HORIZONS has been announced; originally to be released in 2021 but was eventually delayed until further notice.


Principle Members:

  • Dustin Bates - lead vocals, keyboards, soundboard (2013-)
  • Ron DeChant - bass, keyboards, backing vocals (2013-)
  • Brock Richards - guitars, backing vocals (2013-)
  • Adam Gilbert - drums, percussion (2013-)


Touring Members:

  • Cory Juba - guitar, synth (2021-present)
  • Siobhán CroninNote  – violin, keyboards (2017–present)
  • Zuzana Engererova – cello (2019–present)
  • Mariko Muranaka Friend – violin, cello (2014–2015; 2018–2019)
  • Nneka Lyn – cello (2016)
  • Jonathan Kampfe – cello (2017–2018)


Studio Discography:


Associated Novels

  • 2016 - The PROX Transmissions
  • TBD - A Brief History of the FutureNote 


The TROPES Transmissions:

     The Music 
  • Album Intro Track: All four albums so far have one.
    • Transmissions: "First Light"
    • Vessels: "The Order"
    • DIVISIONS: "A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FUTURE"
    • HORIZONS: "UNVEILING THE ARCHITECTURE"
  • Auto-Tune: Used to great effect for the more alien and robotic sounding vocals. Especially noticeable in their song "Telepathic".
  • Call-Back:
    • The chorus of "OTHER WORLDS THAN THESE" references both "My Demons" and "Monster". Considering the overarching story of DIVISIONS and the ideas of surveillance and control seen within the aforementioned songs, the references are very appropriate.
      "There are monsters in the sky
      There are demons in the sea"
    • Another example can be seen within the second verse of "Antigravity" as it references "Carnivore", an earlier track in the same album.
      "And far below, the carnivores
      Are looking up to where I soar"
  • Caps Lock: Every track in the DIVISIONS and HORIZONS albums are in all caps, including the album title.
  • Careful with That Axe: Dustin takes the axe and swings it with purpose. The latter half of "Everglow" is the most notable example due to the song suddenly going quiet before it immediately goes heavy with an accompanying scream from Bates.
  • Destructive Romance: Various examples.
    • "Monster" is about a relationship gone sour due to the narrator's partner's abuse of their trust.
    • "TELEKINETIC", outside of narrative significance, can be seen as the narrator of the song succumbing to the manipulations of the other party with their control in the matter stripped away.
    • "ANNIHILATED LOVE" is about a relationship crumbling to the ground with the narrator's partner stopping at nothing until their love is pretty much nonexistent.
  • Distress Call: Transmissions is presented as one, the song "Frequency" is about LOSING one and not being sure it was ever there in the first place. "My Demons" is about a man, who turns to someone that he thinks can help him. It's unclear whether they even exist.
  • Epic Rocking: Clocking in at 7:54, "Everglow" is their longest song to date, and it has a comparatively unique progression (see Genre Shift below). Much of the song is dedicated to its lengthy instrumental ending, which serves as an outro for both the song and the album as a whole.
  • Face–Monster Turn: Seems to be one of the themes of "My Demons".
    "I cannot stop this sickness taking over
    It takes control and drags me into nowhere"
  • Genre Mashup: Their music is hard to define. They're essentially an alternative-progressive-symphonic-electronic rock/metal band.
    • Bates often calls their music cinematic rock, which isn't too far off considering the extensive hybrid genre name given above. They could classify as a genre buster due to such.
  • Genre Shift:
    • "Everglow" the last track of Vessels is a rather soft bass driven track at the end of a rather heavy rock album that sounds like it belongs more on an EDM or Trance album until about halfway in where it goes Metal out of seemingly nowhere, letting this song cover from a 4 to an almost 8 on the scale before diving into an almost fantasy movie soundtrack.
    • DIVISIONS's "WAKING UP" is all EDM, without a guitar or drum in sight. Despite the lighter tone however, the lyrics are all about being trapped in a false reality within the mind with no escape.
  • Grief Song: "Let It Die" is remarkably unsubtle about this. The aforementioned grief could be to due to a person someone cares for leaving their life for various reasons, the person is on their death bed, or some other form of significant loss. However, the song also shares the message that letting go is the best course of action in response.
    • In the context of Transmissions, it could be interpreted as the receiver of the distress call trying to reach out to the transmitter but to no avail.
  • "I Am Becoming" Song: Well, unbecoming. Seeing as it takes place between "Bringing it Down", a song regarding the realization that the narrator's partner is much more sinister than he realized, and "Monster", a song regarding the narrator as he becomes the titular monster seemingly as part of his revenge against his abusive partner, "Unbecoming" can be seen as part of that process of the narrator taking in the realization and noting that something is indeed happening to him... For worse.
    "And I swam in the wakes of imposters
    Just to feel what it's like to pretend
    There's no dreams in the lakes, only monsters
    And the monsters are my only friends"
  • Loss of Identity: The narrator in "Carnivore" asks the titular beast to remove everything that makes him, well, him.
  • Metal Scream: Occasionally used for punctuation, notably in "Down With the Fallen", "Frequency", "Everglow", "MANIFEST", "TELEKINETIC", "DEVOLUTION", and "SOMETHING WICKED".
  • Non-Appearing Title: "The Future Is Now" never drops the title in lyrics.
  • Obsession Song: They have several songs about extreme devotion such as "Die For You", "Halo", and "Satellite".
  • Once per Episode: Each of the first three albums has had one song with the prefix tele-: "Telescope", "Telepathic", and "TELEKINETIC". This is probably intentional. HORIZONS broke the streak, though came pretty close with "TUNNELVISION".
  • Opening Monologue: Two of the albums so far start with this, both narrated by the lead singer, Dustin Bates.
    • Transmissions begins with "First Light", which introduces the Starset Society and its origin and goals.
      "What if you had the power to affect monumental change? Would you let fear consume or would you overcome?"
    • DIVISIONS starts off with one titled "A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FUTURE", which describes the state of the society within the album's lore.
      "Contemplating the real world leads to seeing the world for what it is: a prison. A cell for the mind, body and soul."
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Vessels as whole is a loose story arc of the search for someone lost to space and time only to become a monster and ultimately realize their goal is further and further away than before.
  • Sanity Slippage Song:
    • "My Demons" is about a man dealing with his inner problems.
    • "TELEKINETIC", in relation to the narrative, is about someone succumbing to the alluring effects of the BMI, leaving them with no free will.
  • Revenge Ballad: "Monster" treads into this territory. With lyrics like "you thought I'd forget but it's always in my head" and "I'll lift you up and then I'll let you go", it is evident that the narrator is willing to resort to this after his partner abused him to this point.
  • Self-Deprecation: The narrator of "Carnivore" thinks he is not good enough.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Turns up in "Carnivore".
    "Who are you to change this world? Silly boy! No one needs to hear your words. Let it go."
  • Space Opera: The music itself is one. All of the albums tell stories over their course, and the band themselves portray themselves as messengers from space.
  • Stop and Go: "Everglow" from Vessels demonstrates this near its end, just before the whiplash transition from ambient sounding instrumentals into the heaviness of metal accompanied by a fitting scream.
  • You Are Not Alone: "Halo" plays this word for word in both verses.
    "When you're backed against the wall
    I could be the one who's always
    There to break your fall
    But you are not alone
    "
  • You Are Worth Hell: They have a lot of songs about this level of dedication such as "Halo" and "Satellite". Their most obvious, "Die For You", uses this trope as an example (though the wording is different):
    "One day the earth will open wide and I'll follow you inside
    'Cause the only Hell I know is without you"
     The Band & Demonstrations 
  • Audience Monologue: Dustin gives one of these to the audience over halfway through "It Has Begun", when the track becomes purely instrumental. The main purpose of this is to explain where the band stands within the narrative alongside being a form of a Heroism Motive Speech. This is also part of the reason why they call their concerts "demonstrations".
    Dustin: For those of you who aren't aware, we belong to a group called the Starset Society that's asking questions about science and technology and how it's affecting our lives now and in the near future; in ways exponential and in ways positive and negative. We are clearly pro-technology but we know that if we don't understand its effects socially, politically, economically, philosophically... We will find ourselves manipulated by a few. And if you think that your side is impervious to this, you will find that you are incorrect.
  • Audience Participation: The band is very supportive this and it's part of the reason why they call concerts "demonstrations".
    • At the various venues they perform at, they often set up posters and symbols related to the narrative of the Starset universe. The symbols are for Augmented Reality purposes in which fans can use the band's phone app to scan and eventually display what the symbol holds. This also ties into Alternate Reality Game.
    • This is very prominent for the DIVISIONS single, "TRIALS". The band has asked the fans to submit both fanart for one video and photos of them with a sign noting their own personal trials for another. Both videos were eventually published and put onto the band's YouTube channel.
    • Audience Participation Song: "Down With the Fallen", "TRIALS", and "DEVOLUTION".
      • This can also apply to any song on a given set due to Dustin's various unprompted cues towards the audience during the performance. However, they are much more minor in comparison due to the fact that they are unprompted and often rely on the audience both knowing the cues and the song lyrics.
  • Insistent Terminology: They consistently refer to their concerts as "demonstrations" due to their intent to make their performances immersive.
  • Musicalis Interruptus: It may be a real life example but, various demonstrations, especially the early ones, have often suffered through this due to various issues like the visual display not working, the microphones not working, or accidentally tripping the venue fire alarm due to a lot of fog from the stage setup.
  • Revolving Door Band: Almost completely averted. While several touring members have come and gone, the four original members of the band have been around since 2013.
  • Robot or Spaceman Alter Ego:
    • The principal members of the band, except for Bates, perform wearing illuminated space masks and oxygen tanks.
    • In their kayfabe, they claim that their music takes inspiration from warnings sent from the future, with the background narrative of their album Transmissions being based on both the forewarned future and the life of Thomas Bell (the one who sent the messages that started it all). The albums after Transmissions follow the same route but during different parts of the overall Starset narrative.
    • Alongside the above, it is also explained that the band is part of a larger group known as the Starset Society and have been enlisted by said group in order to help spread the Message.
    • One of the band's members described their albums as essentially being "soundtracks for sci-fi movies".
    • Starting from the DIVISIONS tour, they began donning one of two different costume themes depending on the date of a demonstration. The two themes are of the Rebels (roughed up, wasteland scavengers) and of the New West (industry workers, fake BMIs) with either one being present for the first half of the demonstration. They still switch back to the spacesuits during the second half.
  • Shout-Out: A clip from an interview with Carl Sagen plays during the instrumental part of the bridge in "My Demons"; showing him explaining that if we don't retain our critical thinking in regards to the world around us, then we'll be at greater risk of manipulation; a belief that is shared with both Starset and the Starset Society as a whole.
  • Shown Their Work: Dustin has an extensive background in both science and engineering. He has history of being a former research associate in the Air Force alongside having worked at the International Space University. His educational background include him having a masters degree in electrical engineering (specifically avionics) alongside him being a PhD candidate for that field of study. It makes sense that Bates is well aware of how fast science and technology continue to advance alongside the plethora of pitfalls they present. As such, he aims to use the band and its narrative as a method to inspire others to create change in the real world and become more aware of what technology is capable of.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: Dustin has a deeper, slightly rough talking voice in comparison to his singing voice, which is more higher.
  • You Are Number 6: While it's uncertain whether this is a stylistic choice or something that connects to the narrative, each member of the band is given a member number. In order, they are 3301 (Dustin), 5501 (Ron), 5502 (Brock), 5503 (Adam), 7701 (Siobhan), 7702 (Zuzana), and 7703 (Cory). The fanbase as a whole is given one collective member number: 5001. These numbers can be seen on the band's jackets both for members and VIPs.
    • Interestingly enough, Dustin has his tattooed on the left side of his neck, albeit in the form of symbols.
    • Dustin has mentioned that the numbers do have lore behind them, it's just that nothing has been mentioned about what that lore specifically is.
     The Narrative & Music Videos 
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The settings of both timelines exist within the time frame of the 2030s and 2040s with the initial transmissions that started the story originating from 2047.
  • Alternate Timeline: Such is the result in the narrative timeframe between Vessels and DIVISIONS.
    • Transmissions & Vessels: The corporate takeover of research regarding free energy alongside the emergence of the Everything Machine lead to a significant rise to unemployment, poverty, rioting, and eventually war. Human exploitation is commonplace with those in power easily taking hold of the majority of society with a firm grip. This eventually leads to an exodus to Prox, a planet whose orbit surrounds Bernard's Star and has been undergoing human colonization. This timeline is where the narrative begins and where the initial transmission from Thomas Bell and his AI companion Quasi initiates.
    • DIVISIONS & HORIZONS: The future has shifted into one of a dystopia. A neural lace known as the Brain Machine Interface (BMI) becomes a significant factor in this timeline; originally developed by the United States as a method of advantage in cyber warfare. Its purpose was to gain surveillance over those who obtain the BMI, looking into minds as a way to uncover secrets. However, BMI technology was eventually acquired by a state known as the New East and was utilized against the US, eventually thrusting the former into the position of a global superpower. After a failed attempt to attack the New East, the US and associated allies surrendered themselves and became the New West. New West citizens were given the option to (and were eventually forced to comply to) have their own BMI implants. While it can be summarized as being like a smartphone of the future, it also allowed the common person to experience whatever they want and replay their memories... All the while the government kept tight surveillance and control. Rebellion is on the rise in this future... Alongside various attempts to make this future come quicker by invading the present.
  • Alternate Reality Game: Since the beginning, a lot of the narrative has been revealed in this manner with the use of a phone app, different websites, encrypted codes, and various other methods.
    • The Starset Society, the main prominent group within the narrative, even has a website that remains active to this day. While it has been used for ARG purposes in the past, its current standing has it sharing various articles both exclusive to the site and from other sources related to science and technology; still holding true to the group's purpose and goals.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: The music video for "STRATOSPHERE".
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Nikola Tesla discovered the transmissions long before Stephen Browning did, through a very messy Tesla coil setup. However, it never went anywhere because it wasn't profitable. Not only that, because Tesla received the transmissions, it lead to the rise of the Order of Teslonia, the main opposing group to the Starset Society.
  • Concept Video: A lot of the music videos present from the band often follow the narrative; whether it follows the Prox timeline, the BMI timeline, or complete side stories (like the ones for "Ricochet" and "Bringing it Down (Version 2.0)"). The only music video that the band performs in is the one for "Carnivore" from Transmissions. Even then, they are only shown in small, short portions of the video.
    • Sometimes the band members themselves take part in the videos as the actual characters. As an example, the videos for "Halo" and "Carnivore" include lead singer Dustin as a depicted character; taking on a seemingly major role in the former while performing both as a character and as himself simultaneously in brief parts of the latter.
  • Crapsack World: No matter what timeline, the future is painted in this manner. In one outcome, poverty and oppression are aplenty with war on the rise both on Earth itself and on Prox in the Bernard's Star system. In the other, a totalitarian government is able to control its citizens with the use of the Brain Machine Interface and can easily put a person out of commission by trapping them within their minds if they fall out of line. Fun!
  • Cute Machines: The robot worker protagonist of the music video for "Back to The Earth". Many viewers have noted that the robot looks similar to the titular character from WALL•E. This trope can also be applied to the Echo Unit as seen in the music video for "ECHO".
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Played straight in the music video of "Ricochet". A widower attempting to resurrect his wife hires several prostitutes and kills them to clone his wife in their bodies.
  • Downer Ending: The music video for "TRIALS" has the male lead separated from the female lead and Supplicated after the two are caught using their BMIs to make love to each other.
  • Dramatization: The music video for "My Demons" is stated to be one right as the video starts, depicting the events that lead to the beginning of the Starset story (Thomas sending the transmissions then Stephen Browning and Nikola Tesla receiving them in their respective years).
  • Extraordinary World, Ordinary Problems: While the narrative has devices that can create authentic replicas of anything using the universe's building blocks and neural lace implants that can both alter cognition and act similar to a cell phone, they don't stray from the fact that there's still present issues that are parallel to the real world. An example can be seen in the music video for "SYMBIOTIC", which includes a moment where the Voyeur app user is threatened with eviction by his landlord.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Supplication. Anyone caught offending the laws of the New West/New East will have their BMIs force them into a prison within their own minds, leaving them unable to control their own bodies. This leads to the victim's body becoming limp, standing up straight with their head tilted towards the sky, or aimlessly walking in circles. For those who haven't been Supplicated, their BMIs would display holograms in specific locations; detailing that the hologram's location was where someone had taken the fall. It seems like the only way to escape this is for the person's BMI to run out of battery if they've already been Supplicated (as seen in the music video for "WHERE THE SKIES END") or to have their BMI removed in some way if they haven't.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the music video for "THE BREACH", the female lead switches seats with her child during their escape, resulting in her being Supplicated instead of him.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The BMIs (Brain Machine Interface) within DIVISIONS and HORIZON's lore allow their users to experience whatever they want, whenever they want, resulting in a population that is completely subservient since they can just live in an ideal world in their minds and ignore everything else. Not everyone is happy with this, as the video for "THE BREACH" shows.
  • Mind Rape: Supplication can play into this; indicated by the three visible dots of one's BMI (located on either the left or right temple) turning red. As seen in the music videos for "WHERE THE SKIES END" and "THE BREACH", it ain't pretty.
  • Ominous Message from the Future: The primary theme of the band and the origins of the narrative are focused on this.
  • People Puppets: The music video for "SYMBIOTIC" invokes this as the man making use of the BMI's Voyeur app is able to take control of the body of the celebrity he is seeing through the eyes of due to a glitch, proceeding to cause a bloodbath in the process before he is forced out of the body. Needless to say, the celebrity isn't too thrilled with this development.
  • Robotic Reveal: In the music video of "Ricochet", the protagonist having failed to properly resurrect his wife - his most successful attempt being an Empty Shell - commits suicide on her tombstone. It turns out that he's an android and his "wife" was actually his owner.
  • Series Continuity Error: The music video for "Halo", which depicts a part of Thomas' search for Haley, designates the year as 2044. This contradicts the timeline since Thomas arrives onto Prox in 2046 with him sending the transmissions a year later in 2047. The events of "Halo" would have to be within the 2047 time frame. The same video also contradicts what Haley's last name is; the video says it's Borden while the comic in the booklet for Transmissions says it's Rochester.
  • Techno Dystopia: The timeline of where the Brain Machine Interface takes the helm delves into this much more than the timeline of the Everything Machine. The various music videos for songs from DIVISIONS and HORIZONS depict the various aspects that make up this world.
    • Methods of propaganda in order to lure citizens into the BMI's (and therefore the New East's) control can be seen in the video for "ICARUS", using advertisements that appeal to different aspects of what the people want (wanting to look young, being able to have fun despite working, and sating one's lust are a few examples).
    • What happens to those who challenge the system can be seen in the videos for "MANIFEST" and "WHERE THE SKIES END"; Supplication leaves the individual with no control of their own body, leaving them unresponsive as their consciousness is sent into a mental prison with no escape.
    • The existence of rebels aiming to fight against the New East and the BMI can be seen in the theme of the band's demonstrations alongside the video for "THE BREACH". They are shown to be able to cut off people from a system known as the ARCHITECTURE, allowing those who desire to time to escape before the connection is reestablished.
  • What Were You Thinking?: Thomas asks this in regards to himself when he begins his trek across Prox to find Haley.
    Thomas: Borden, it is looking increasingly unlikely that I will make it back alive, but I must continue. She means too much.
    Thomas: [Literally the next panel.] What am I thinking, Quasi? What are my chances anyway?

This article has been approved for release by the Starset Society.


 
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Halo

Part of what makes Starset stand out is the use of an overall narrative that makes them more of a concept band. Starting with a transmission from the future with a warning of what may become of mankind, the band expands upon what this future entails within their music videos. Halo's music video, showcasing the efforts of a man looking for his lost love within this future, is no exception.

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