BLACKSTARKIDS' music can best be described as forward-facing nostalgia. Born and raised in Raytown (a small suburb at the outskirts of Kansas City), tyfaizon, Deiondre, and TheBabeGabe of BLACKSTARKIDS grew up in the throes of a golden era for rap, bubblegum pop, and indie rock. All cultural phenoms in their own right, traces of these genres can be found spattered throughout BLACKSTARKIDS' work.
Hot on the heels of their SURF mixtape, the Dirty Hit signees are hard at work on their debut studio album, Whatever, Man. I caught up with Ty, Gabe, and Deiondre over email to ask them about comfort food, their lead single "BRITNEY, BITCH," and what it means to be a BLACKSTARKID.
Ones To Watch: How would you describe BLACKSTARKIDS' music in non-genre terms?
Ty: I'd say BLACKSTARKIDS is coming of age music. Nostalgia plays a large factor in what we do too. We try to make what sounds and feels good to us, but we still find ways to attack a lot of issues in the music too.
Gabe: I'd describe BLACKSTARKIDS music as very young and nostalgic. It's always very fun and makes me feel like I'm in a completely different era.
Deiondre: I would say BLACKSTARKIDS music sounds like a day in a life but in a song, a lot of the songs sound nostalgic and bright and sounds like it would be be a soundtrack to our lives. "BRITNEY, BITCH" is so carefree and anthemic.
What was the inspiration for the single (besides the Princess of Pop herself)?
Ty: We were inspired by how bright and confident a lot of the pop music from the 2000s was, so we just thought it'd be fun to do a song where we fully indulged in that.
Gabe: The inspiration for "Britney Bitch" is us living out our wildest dreams. We talk about wanting to be iconic pop stars, winning the lottery, driving in Teslas, and becoming heartthrobs. The song feels so 2000s and I feel we really captured that with our lyrics.
Deiondre: The track was inspired by music that wasn't afraid to be flashy and bold back in the 2000s. I think it's pretty awesome and funny that we did a song like this because we're some pretty nice kids. I would want anybody to feel great about themselves after listening to the song.
What music did you listen to growing up in Raytown?
Ty: I listened to every rap album I could get my hands on as a kid, I have an embarrassing amount of rap knowledge. From new to old, I always wanted to be able to have an opinion and I loved debating adults on rap when I was a kid. My favorite rap was Kanye West, Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Wayne, any Wu-Tang, Outkast, and then I found modern stuff like Cudi and eventually Odd Future and that changed everything. I started listening to rock when I was 10, Nirvana was my first band and I still love them and then I got really into bands like MGMT, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, etc. and went down a rabbit hole. Those are the two main genres I listened to as a young kid but now I like to give everything a try, I'll probably find songs I love by almost every artist.
Gabe: I remember when I got my first iPod nano as kid and being so excited. Before I would just listen to music on the computer or through my Hello Kitty CD player. The first album I remember adding was Graduation by Kanye West. That album holds so many childhood memories in my heart and it's absolutely one of my faves. I grew up listening to Missy Elliot, Madonna, Destiny’s Child, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Nelly Furtado, and so many more legends. The list can literally go on forever.
Deiondre: I was listening to a lot of Indie and rap. A lot of Childish Gambino, Alvvays, Mac Miller, and a lot of our close friends we made music with especially. Having music from our friends that I actually listened to consistently was super cool.
If you could Postmates anything right now, what would it be?
Ty: I can count on two hands how many times I've ever eaten this, but right now a philly cheesesteak sounds really good. My classic meal is buffalo wings and ranch though I eat that way too much, fries on the side and this drink called Green Goodness always helps too.
Gabe: If I could postmates anything right now it would be a slice of pizza from this called Sbarro. There isn't one in Kansas City unfortunately. That's probably in my top five pizza places.
Deiondre: I would definitely be getting some hot wings delivered to me ASAP. They're like my favorite snack food of all time.
What can listeners expect for Whatever, Man? How does it differ from SURF?
Ty: Whatever, Man is happier than SURF, we were a lot happier when we made it. It's brighter, and I think the production and songwriting have only developed. It's a fun album, listening to it is a good time. The intro sounds like a theme song.
Gabe: Whatever, Man is a lot brighter than SURF. I feel like you'll be able to really hear the band forming and us growing as artists. Whatever, Man is really special to us and I'm so excited to share it with the world.
Deiondre: Whatever, Man sounds more bigger and colorful than SURF and it sounds like we're fully living out the life always we dream of. I'm super excited for everyone to hear it.
What is the first thing you're doing once quarantine ends?
Ty: Going to a local show then the next day Matty Healy is gonna open his door and see me. He's not going to expect it but it's going to happen.
Gabe: When quarantine ends, I want to go to a theme park. I didn't get to ride any roller coasters this summer and I really miss the thrill of it.
Deiondre: When quarantine ends, I'm for sure going to a show, it's been too long since I've moshed and I've got tons of energy I wanna release for performances as well.
How do you define what it means to be a BLACKSTARKID?
Ty: Being a BLACKSTARKID is being black and being yourself, BLACKSTARKIDS is not exclusionary to any type of person that looks like us. We were sort of outcasted growing up, but I feel like too many "artsy black kids" grow up and outcast people themselves. That's not the goal for us, we want to make life easier for everyone who looks like us.
Gabe: Being a BLACKSTARKID means you're being your true self and not caring what others think. Growing up and kind of feeling like an outcast but not really giving a damn mindset. We want everyone to feel welcomed when listening to our music and when they get to see us on stage.
Deiondre: Being a BLACKSTARKID means fully accepting yourself for who you really are and never giving up on yourself as well. It can be hard sometimes being yourself whenever you need to, but I hope for people to feel a release through listening to our music and that it will make them feel good.
Who are your Ones To Watch?
Ty: There's so many exciting artists right now. AG Club, Huron John, Hadji Gaviota, and then of course my close friends make great music too like Paris Williams, and Monogram.
Gabe: Paris Williams, AG CLUB, Vida, Huron John, Monogram, Medici, and Hadji Gaviota.
Deiondre: AG CLUB, Huron John, Paris Williams, Hadji Gaviota, Medici, Monogram.