Hailing from the suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri, BLACKSTARKIDS is a three-piece band of 21-year-old artists who approach music-making and life with a distinct positivity. Their newest album ”Puppies Forever” dropped last month and is an eclectic mix of sounds and styles, with elements of hip-hop, indie rock, pop and more.
On Monday, November 1, I caught their opening set at 9:30 Club for fellow young artist and headliner beabadoobee — and they didn’t disappoint. I recently got the chance to ask the group’s three members — The Babe Gabe, TyFaizon and Deiondre – more about their roots. Read on to learn about some of their creative inspirations, musical motivations and where they’re going.
District Fray: Can you tell me about yourselves?
The Babe Gabe: We’re the BLACKSTARKIDS. We’re all best friends –
Deiondre: who are 21!
The Babe Gabe: — who make music together.
Deiondre: We listen to a lot of the same music together. We like having fun. It’s pretty simple.
How has getting back into live concerts been?
The Babe Gabe: It’s been amazing to finally play albums live for people and get a reaction right in front of your face. I think this is the best time to be doing concerts because everybody’s been at home for so long. So they just go crazy.
Deiondre: Yeah, it’s super rewarding.
Given you were all working on independent music projects before forming BLACKSTARKIDS, how did the shift to working as a team affect your process?
Ty: It made it easier. That shift felt natural because we already made music together, just not as a band. It was a perfect fit. We all complement each other in different ways. Bringing it all together just made everything easy. The biggest change was having people who take it as seriously as you. When you’re young and making music, there’s a lot of kids who are doing it at different levels. Some people don’t take it very seriously. Forming the band made everything go so much smoother.
Deiondre: Yeah, before we were in a group we were individually trying to take music seriously. But meeting each other was the first time we found people who really wanted to do something with music. We do have some friends who take music just as seriously as us – but we’re the first group where it works this effortlessly.
Is it important for your band to go beyond the basics of simple music-making, and to create an experience for listeners and/or audience members?
Ty: Yeah, it’s very important. The music is important, the world that the music exists in is also important. We want to create that through our videos, the live show, the merchandise we sell. We’re definitely trying to expand further every time we drop [an album].
You’re all vibrant, both in regards to your energy and what you wear. Do you have any creative icons that you draw inspiration from in terms of style, performance or presentation?
Ty: In terms of style, for me it’s probably Kanye and Pharrell. Those are the big two I look at. Dev Hynes is also a pretty big inspiration for me style wise, fashion wise and musically – just in terms of everything. Kanye, Pharrell, Dev Hynes, Frank Ocean: Those are the big four as far as aesthetic, style and everything like that.
The Babe Gabe: For me I’d have to say Kelis and Britney Spears, just because I’ve always wanted to dress like those 2000 pop icons I grew up watching.
Deiondre: Style, music wise and personality wise, I think the number one person for me would be Prince. He just wore whatever he wanted to. And he’s an insane performer. All the instruments and his dancing. And Michael Jackson. Those two are pretty cool. But I’d say Prince.
Your music is all about positivity and being kind to yourself. What are some words or lyrics that motivate you?
Deiondre: Don’t overthink stuff. For real. Overthinking just kind of kills inspiration in whatever you have joy in. It’s so easy to be overly critical. And have fun, whenever you have a chance to. There’s always something negative, there’s always a reason to be down, but just have fun and be kind to yourself and it’ll all be okay. Matty from the 1975 has a lyric like, “If you can’t survive, just try.” It’s from a song called “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes).” That song has always stuck with me.
Ty: For lyrics — all of “Kay Kay” by Chief Keef. The entire thing.
The Babe Gabe: “Stronger” by Kanye West. Every lyric inspires me.
What’s up next for BLACKSTARKIDS?
The Babe Gabe: We’d like to start a fashion line and get some really cool designs for people soon. Maybe we could have a store in our hometown, that’d be amazing. We’d love to start working with movies or TV shows – that’d be really cool. We’ll probably start making another album again soon. Just making music together.
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