Interview BLACKSTARKIDS: “We’ve established ourselves as being whatever the fuck we want it to be”

On debut(ish) album ‘Puppies Forever’, the Kansas City trio are creating a sonic soundtrack of their youth.

“You know when a movie comes out and it’s the new Number One movie?” BLACKSTARKIDS’ Deiondre offers, attempting to explain how new album ‘Puppies Forever’ fits into the trio’s impressive discography. “This is our Number One movie!”

Though billed as the debut album from the group - completed by TyFaizon and TheBabeGabe - the genre-blurring three-piece have already got three projects under their belts; last year’s releases ‘Whatever, Man’ and ‘Surf’, and 2019 debut ‘Let’s Play Sports’.

Hailed for their colourful creativity and inspired mixing of pop and hip-hop throughout, the group’s newest offering, ‘Puppies Forever’, finds the childhood pals once again exploring their coming-of-age tales and crafting the perfect soundtrack for growing up.

We caught up with them to find out how it came to be…

Going back to the very beginning, how did BLACKSTARKIDS start?
: We basically met in high school when we were like 15 or 16. We’re from Kansas City, but the area of Kansas City that we’re from in the little outskirt is a place called Raytown.
I started making music with Deiondre and I started making music with Gabe, so I was just making music with them separately. After doing that for a while, I was like “What if the three of us came together and started making music?” So I linked all three of us and we realised that we liked a lot of the same music. Also, we were able to show each other different music because we all listened to different shit. We just had a lot of stuff in common, so it made sense for us to keep making music together.

What was the first song that you made together where it all clicked?
TyFaizon: The first song we ever made period is out and it’s called ‘Gianni Versace’. That’s the first song we ever made together, and that song is fucking horrible! But the first song we ever made that really made me feel like ‘this is next level shit’ was ‘Sounds Like Fun’. That was like, damn, this is what we need to be doing!
: I think, for me, it was when we made ‘Love, Stargirl’.
: I would say the same for ‘Sounds Like Fun’. I have these moments with the song where I’m making the beat for it and it just flows out instantly. We make this thing in such a short amount of time and it feels like it was there all along.
: I remember the next day, I woke up and it was a really sunny day, and I just went out for this walk for an hour listening to that song, and felt like, damn, we’re really catching something with this. Then we made ‘Too Depressed 4 Sex’ a couple of days later.
: We were on a roll!

You guys already have three projects out, and now your official “debut” album is on the way. Do you have people discovering your earlier stuff, not realising you had so much music out already?
: Yeah!
: It’s cool! I really appreciate that, because I do think the growth and the evolution is worth checking out if you like what we’re doing.

How would you say ‘Puppies Forever’ is a step up?
: The songwriting is very open, and I feel like it’s one of our most realist albums. Also the production is amazing, top tier production.
: We were going through a lot of lows during this pandemic, and it was cold as fuck so we couldn’t do much, it was just seasonal depression type shit. A lot of that worked its way into the songwriting, but it contrasts with the production as well. We wanted something that sounded bright but still had more of an impact.

“I kind of look at these albums that we’re doing as a scrapbook. We’re documented by these times in our life forever.”

— TyFaizon

When did you guys first start working on it?
: We came up with the idea of ‘Puppies Forever’ last summer. There was a music video for ‘Whatever, Man’ called ‘Tangerine Love’, and in the video I’m holding up a sign that says “puppies forever”. But we started working on it November 2020 - maybe two weeks after ‘Whatever Man’ came out, we started making new songs.

Where did the name come from?
: You know, I kind of look at these albums that we’re doing as a scrapbook. We’re documented by these times in our life forever, so we’ll always be able to listen back and remember all we’ve gone through in our lives. Because of that, our youth is documented for average, so it really means “youth forever”. But not about staying young forever, because like, I don’t want to stay young forever! But I feel comfortable knowing my youth is out there, it’s in the world, and it always will be no matter what.

How has your sound progressed in this record?
: When we were starting as a band, we mainly listened to Blood Orange and Toro Y Moi, and over time we just keep listening to new artists and artists - specifically, that also blur genres - so listening to that more often just kind of morphs its own sound. It wasn’t really restricted by anything.
: I think when we think about what the legacy of where we want to be is, we look at bands like Beastie Boys or N.E.R.D.; those kind of bands do whatever they want to. We could be 50 years old making albums if we want to because we could be 50 years old and decide we fuck with instrumental jazz. It’s not weird because we’ve established ourselves as being whatever the fuck we want it to be.

What are some of the stories behind the album?
: There’s so much shit that we did together and so much shit that we did apart. I will say, together we drank so much wine! A lot of wine, a lot of sangria, a lot of rosé. There was good times, but also not tight shit that happened. There was relationship shit for me that wasn’t sick. I would say this is probably the most direct writing. I would say ‘Piss Drunk Kids’ is like the most literal version of what was going on.
: That song was made after two weeks of us not seeing each other. We were all just going through that like depression and shit. And, I don’t know, we linked up and shit and we were just talking about what’s going on in our lives and then we just kind of made that song. It just felt natural.

You mentioned before about your musical legacy, what do you hope that that will be?
: That they came through and just fucked shit up and had fun the whole time and went down as the GOATs!

‘Puppies Forever’ is out on 15th October on Dirty Hit.

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