New band of the day – No 618: Starsmith

With his epic keyboard-scapes, this solo synth scamp is set to make the transition from behind-the-scenes studio whiz to fully-fledged recording artist and star

Hometown: London.

The lineup: Fin Dow-Smith (music, occasional vocals).

The background: Starsmith is a 20-year-old producer and remixer who is about to launch himself as a solo synth act. He has only just graduated from university, where he studied music, but he has already received considerable acclaim for the remixes he's been doing over the last year of Katy Perry, Little Boots, Passion Pit, Paloma Faith, Marina and the Diamonds, Boy Crisis, the Twang and his mentor and fellow south Londoner, Frankmusik. A bit of a DJ, too, he supported the latter at his debut single launch at Dingwalls earlier this year, and now that Frank has finally had a modicum of chart success, the boy Smith can hoik his Korgs and Ataris aboard the FM bandwagon.

But that's unfair because the kid's got talent, not just a knack for picking the right friends. On his remixes he takes even the most organic and unelectronic of songs – Faith's New York, say, or Bombay Bicycle Club's Always Like This – and turns them into epic keyboard-scapes, as though everything he touches is destined to appear on the soundtracks to remakes of Tron and 2001: A Space Odyssey. He uses synths like most graffiti artists write tags on walls; eventually, he sprays so much of the stuff around that his signature ends up being more visible than the original artist's. Surrounded as she is by burbling arpeggios worthy of Vangelis, on the track I Am Not a Robot he makes Marina of Marina and the Diamonds semi-fame sound like La Roux's mad older sister, or Toyah's barmy little niece, warbling along to the Original Bootleg Mix of Candi Staton and the Source's You Got the Love. And on Coin Laundry Lisa Mitchell, who we presumed was just some nice polite acoustic troubadour from Down Under, does an impersonation of Kate Bush. On Mars. He can rescue a sub-par tune as well. When we first heard Keep Your Head Up by new pop trio Girls Can't Catch it didn't make any impression at all, but now it sounds absolutely fabulous. He knows which bits of a song to turn up, and which to drown out with gorgeous synth noise. That's less easy to do than it sounds.

All that remains is for Dow-Smith to make the transition from behind-the-scenes studio whiz to fully-fledged recording artist and star. He recently made his (backing) vocal debut alongside his galpal, the highly touted Ellie Goulding, on his remix of Passion Pit's Sleepyhead. Now he's busy making his own tracks such as Love in Two and On Second Thoughts. The first suggests he's been paying close attention not just to the surface of the songs he's been reworking but also to their structure – there are signs here of someone who knows how to construct a decent pop tune. The second has a skittering drum'n'bass rhythm, although here Smith keeps the synthy lunacy to a minimum and pushes his gently husky vocals to the fore, making it sound like the work of a space-folkie.

The buzz: "The Starsmith remix of I'm Not a Robot by Marina and the Diamonds is spectacular, like rays of synth refracted inside and out of a crystal."

The truth: Too early to see if he'll make the leap from alchemist to artist, but we love his remixes.

Most likely to: Make average pop songs sound amazing.

Least likely to: Remix Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

What to buy: You can hear some of Starsmith's remixes on Spotify. His debut tracks as a solo artist, Love In Two and On Second Thoughts, can be heard here.

File next to: Frankmusik, Dan Black, Tommy Sparks, the Sound of Arrows.


Tomorrow's new band: Ingrid Michaelson.


Paul Lester

The GuardianTramp

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