Photo courtesy of: Austin Football Club
Local Texas artist Blakchyl opened the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage at Austin City Limits Music Festival on Saturday of Weekend Two. They performed hits like “Way Up,” “Protected” and closed the set with “Eastside.”
Between navigating the festival for the first time and performing right as the annular solar eclipse was entering its ring of fire, Blakchyl sat down with Cooglife to answer a few questions.
Cooglife: To start off, what was it like performing at ACL?
Blakchyl: ACL was good. I felt like it was also symbolic and special because of the eclipse. So I’m like, “Okay. I’m making my arrival. I’m here for the first time.”
I’ve never been (to ACL) even outside of performing in general. I felt like that was dope for it to be my first time (and) performing. I feel good and relieved.
Cooglife: Oh yeah, I was going to ask you about that. Because you’re from Austin, I was going to see if you had been to ACL before or if you knew what the vibes were going to be like.
Blakchyl: I had no idea. I had only heard or seen pictures and videos throughout the years. This was my first experience, so it was cool.
Cooglife: I read before that you grew up doing a youth hip-hop program, so what are some other influences or past experiences that shape your work today?
Blakchyl: I think just working in a group in general and experiencing different personalities. At the time we were all from different schools too, so we didn’t all know each other.
One of my early memories was us being assigned to call each other personally to get to know each other and kind of do a mental check-in. Then, we come back and express what we learned about that person. I felt like that’s what helped me understand the power of connection and working with people in music. That helped us become even more in sync with each other.
And, being linked to different organizations and non-profits that had different things like Men’s Rowdy For Change, which is a march that men do to end domestic violence. Expect Respect, Safe Place, Take Back The Night and so many others. Meeting all of those people and learning about (things like) red flags or what red flags are in any type of relationship or communication styles.
I just learned a lot at a pivotal time in my life, maybe 14 or 15. I definitely think the nonprofit helped me, even to this day, how to navigate certain things.
Cooglife: How do you think growing up in Texas influenced you as an artist overall?
Blakchyl: I think being in the South is just so different. It’s different from the food, the Southern hospitality, the hot summers, the culture. Even my family, because some of my family is from Louisiana and Kansas. There are some in Cali, so I feel like I kind of got a mesh too. I’m definitely a Texas girl though, for sure.
Cooglife: And has that influenced your music taste in any way? Or how you perform?
Blakchyl: I think so, but I think I also don’t sound like a Texas rapper like that or like a traditional Texas rapper. But, I definitely have some inspiration from there still or some slang in there R&B-wise. I try to make sure I keep that in there too.
Cooglife: Overall, what are some goals you set for yourself and your music?
Blakchyl: Just to get better. Maybe get more comfortable around just writing my truth on paper. Even though I do that and am vulnerable, sometimes it can still be intimidating to just put a little bit of that truth out there. Even if you have fun with it, I just try to keep that in mind too.
It’s definitely to get better and get out of my comfort zone a bit. I feel like I did that a lot on my new album, just in adding new styles, new sounds, a little bit of autotune while still rapping at the same time, but not overdoing it because that’s not my style. I definitely try to mesh both and make sure I still was me.
I say those are the main two goals. Vulnerability and uncomfortability.
Cooglife: Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you wanted to talk about, whether it be about your life or your music career?
Blakchyl: I did just do a tour in France last week.
Cooglife: Did you like France?
Blakchyl: Yeah, it was really fun. We’ll be doing it again in June. I did some social work out there as well. We go into schools and surprise the kids with a performance, but they also are graded to speak in English to ask us questions about why we rap. I just feel like that’s pretty dope to be able to do that work in my music today.
Also, there’s a new album out. Everybody can stream it. I also have a short film called “Better Than I Imagine.” I’m going to release that on DVD and take it back to the early 2000s. So, if you’ve got a DVD player, you’ll be able to see the short film.
Cooglife: When is it coming out?
Blakchyl: Probably in the next week or so, because I probably won’t release it online. But, you can watch my other short films, videos and stuff like that.