Right before Memorial weekend set sail, we pinned down Blaqstarr for a quick telephone-rendevouz. Blaqstarr, who had just returned home to Los Angeles after a quick NYC stint, played a show to a packed crowd at the Tribeca Grand. Over the phone, he was the epitome of cool. For those 20 or so minutes, we sat listening to the smooth (and real talk – seductive) way he spoke about his life and his music. It was almost enough to make us forget the loud clamor of New York City, which waited to pick back up at the moment we hung up the phone. After chatting about the new album, his hometown, and musical inspiration, etc., Blaqstarr walked us through the podcast he curated for the Arcade. When we asked if he thought himself to be a “romantic,” he responded, “Yes, definitely. I have been told that my spirit is very romantic. Romantic vibrations are pleasantly opening. It’s like, just open a book. Open to page one, see how it feels.” So without further ado, here is Blaqstarr. Page one.
You are originally from Baltimore, tell us a little about your hometown.
My hometown is a wonderful place. An artistic place. I left Baltimore because I wanted to venture out. I’ve been [living in LA] back and forth for about 6 years.
You lived in NYC for a short while, what was your favorite thing about the city?
The diversity that you see in the people walking the streets. It’s beautiful.
How old were you when you first started producing music?
I was 16. I kept myself open. I got that from my parents and the way I was raised. They are definitely free spirits, so from that structure it just kept me open.
Tell us about some of your first collaborations.
I started doing these parties and I had put a hotline number on one of the flyers. One time I checked the voicemail and heard a very tiny voice on the answering machine. She gave herself an intro, she was like “Hey Blaqstarr, this is Rye Rye, and I want you to hear what I dig, so check this. She did a little 16 bar verse, and I was like ‘Wow!’ Then the next week, it was the same thing but a different rap, and then she did it a third week. That’s when I reached out to her. I invited her down to the studio. She dedicated herself to her craft at an early age. She was 14 or 15 I think. I was [around] 20.
What type of music did you listen to growing up?
My mom listened to a lot of different music. You know, when she was getting ready for work she would listen to the likes of Vinx. He is an artist that a lot of people haven’t heard of, but as an artist his music is spiritually from somewhere else. Then you had Sadé, Al Green, Prince, Bob Marely…things like that. These artists definitely set an example for the way I expressed myself.
Tell us about your upcoming album, Here We Are.
This project was actually recorded in a 30 day span. It was inspired by different events in my life. One of the titles on the album is “She is Love,” which was basically a realization that I then articulated into a song. I’m constantly becoming aware, so as I become aware, I express myself and share these realizations.
How is writing your own music a different experience from producing?
It’s coming from a totally different place. It’s really refreshing. When [the music] comes through me, I am one of my biggest fans. I do really enjoy working with other artists. It’s a fun thing to balance energies. It is a beautiful way to express art.
What does the summer have in store for Blaqstarr?
I have a lot in store for the summer, and I’m thinking that the summer will be open to it.
1. Vinx “I Give My All to You”
In general, the whole message of him ‘giving his all.’ You know having no reservations and everything along those lines, it’s beautiful.
2. Sadé “No Ordinary Love”
It just takes you for a spiritual boat ride. Lay back, you know, lay back with whoever you want to lay back with. Just knowing that this is no ordinary love and you are open to it. Beautiful.
3. Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”
So many people can get love wrong, and only think about love in a particular way. Why do fools fall in love?
4. Michael Jackson “Beat It”
I just love the whole energy of that song. I have memorized the melody and the words to the majority of Michael Jackson’s songs.
5. Curtis Mayfield “Superfly”
I choose not to just ‘fly’, but to ’super fly.’
6. James Brown “Get Up”
Lyrics like that, that is how I live my life. From the time I first heard it, I believed; “Get Up, stay on the scene, like a sex machine.” I love it.
7. Al Green “Love and Happiness”
I mean just the title within itself. Llistening to the lyrics and the vibrations of this song, you become uplifted.
8. Bob Marley “No Woman, No Cry”
The title says it all
9. Anita Baker “Sweet Love”
The way she expressed herself [in that song] lead me to believe in sweet love, and open my spirit to receive sweet love from that age I first heard it. I probably first listened to it when I was around 8 or 9.
10. Donny Hathaway “A Song for You”
I remember sending this song to my father a few years ago. Its kind of a song from a son to a dad. This is a song that my son is going to sing to me.