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January 2018

~Blaketheman1000, More Than Music

With songs out like Dean Kissick and Pixies, singer-songwriter/rapper/producer/meme Blaketheman1000 has recently found his footing by capitalizing on NYC’s downtown creative scene. His play-on-words approach to wit makes his music an exciting listen, brewing a sound that people here and there have been blasting all summer. Blake’s modus operandi for creation and performance is as refreshing as his lyrical aptitude. By making music specifically for his friends, he has encouraged a self-aware social network of people yearning to connect over more than a beat. 

Oona: Hey! Can you tell STP who you are and what you do? 

Blaketheman1000: My name is Blake, Blaketheman1000. And I’m a pop musician based in New York City. 

Oona: And you’re from LA? 

Blaketheman1000: Yeah, well we’re kind of all over. I was born in Huntington Beach in Orange County. But my parents have lived in different parts of the greater LA area. 

Oona: What do your parents think of your music? 

Blaketheman1000: I guess for a long time I didn’t know what they thought. And then last time I played in LA, my mom came to the show and she really liked it. In the Dean Kissick video, I was styled by Julian Ribeiro. And there’s one look where I’m wearing a Moncler jacket with a Moncler vest and nothing underneath. And she sent me a photo of her wearing the same vest. She said she was just wearing that already while she watched the video for the first time.

Oona: That’s funny. She’s the blueprint. So when did you move here?

Blaketheman1000: I moved here almost five years ago. I used to live in Bushwick but now I live in Lower East Side. 

Oona: You went to school in Nashville? What did you study? 

Blaketheman1000: Yeah, I went to school for audio engineering, which is what I do for work. I work mostly in corporate events, documentary sound and religious services. It was funny because I was booked for this corporate sound gig the entirety of the release of Dean Kissick. So I was managing sound equipment for a corporate conference and the whole time I was kind of on my phone. You know, responding to messages and following up on press and such. So there was this dichotomy of being at this hotel-chain corporate conference, all while dealing with the Dean Kissick drop. It felt really funny.

Oona: What made you fall in love with music?

Blaketheman1000: My grandpa actually introduced me to music. He was in a band in the 60s called Thee Counts. They were from East LA, where he’s from and then they broke up during the Vietnam War because a lot of the members were drafted. He bought me a guitar when I was in, maybe, seventh grade. And he taught me how to play and I’ve loved it ever since then. And I actually have a song kind of about that. It’s not out yet but I have to say it’s my most highly anticipated unreleased song. They play it on the Wet Brain podcast sometimes. <Blake starts rapping>

Oona: Can you tell me about Dino records? 

Blaketheman1000: So Dino was my dad’s dog and he was a Chihuahua. And my brother and I really liked Dino. So we used the name for my “label,” but I prefer to think of it more as an aesthetic component. I’m really inspired by bootleg culture. And I think one of the interesting things about this time in history, from a media perspective, is that producing digital media has never been as accessible as it is right now. And as a result, I think there is so much bootleg media that exists and they exist in so many forms. One that comes to mind: I love fan-made music videos. I love unofficial remixes. I love when people use acapella to make collabs between their favorite artists. Music that exists outside the legal structures of the pre-internet media sphere. There’s a YouTube account I really like called I guess called toasty digital. They specialize in Kanye edits. If you want to pull up YouTube, I can show you.

Oona: Do you know about Virgil Abloh’s 3% rule?

Blaketheman1000: I don’t. What’s that?

Oona: Basically, he packaged this design strategy where he would take something that everyone already loved, like the Air Force 1s. And because there was a history tied to the design and people already had this built in connection with it, all he had to do was innovate the product by 3%. And that 3% change was enough for it to hold separate value from the product’s original foundation. 

Blaketheman1000: I really like that. it feels in line with the way I like to create because I like to use a lot of references. Generally, my feelings towards creating are not me sitting down and waiting for some magical wave of invention. I’m not going to create a new genre of music or a new strong song structure. For me, I feel most inspired when I just sit down and meditate on it. You know, just sit and listen to the things that I like to listen to and in the theme of what I would want to create. But while I like using references, I’m not so good at recreating things. If I listen to a Travis Scott song and then try to make a Blaketheman1000 song, that sounds like a Travis Scott song, it doesn’t come out sounding too much like a Travis Scott song. But listening to it sets the tone. So yeah, I really resonate with the 3% rule.

Oona: You should look more into it. It’s an interesting concept for any creative person, I think. Because so many people make art in this way, whether they are even aware of it or not. It’s just inescapable. But then there’s that shameful blurry line to walk between inspiration and intellectual property. It was cool to watch Virgil navigate it so confidently, reworking certain designs. 

Blaketheman1000: Yeah, I really liked that. I admittedly, probably don’t have as much knowledge about Virgil. I’d like to, given how many musicians I love that he’s worked with. But I guess, in general, I’m not the most knowledgeable person about fashion. I just enjoy it personally, as part of my expression.

Oona: When did you start producing music?

Blaketheman1000: I was in a few bands in high school. And then I released my first song under Blaketheman1000 my freshman year of college. The first song was called Blake and it’s still on Spotify and stuff. And then I have a song called Blake 2 which is kind of the second installment of Blake. Those first two Blake’s are very definitive in terms of the way I was creating music at the time. And I’ve been thinking of making a Blake3 but I’m placing a high expectation on myself if I do decide to make the third Blake. I might currently have a song that I could just call Blake 3 but I’m still deciding.

Oona: How has your process changed from the making of that first Blake song? 

Blaketheman1000: Back then, I was really a guitarist/singer-songwriter. I would play guitar and write over it. And well, I guess I was making rap songs but I wasn’t putting them out at the time. I was also making EDM remixes. I think some of those are still on SoundCloud. But what changed from Blake and Blake 2 and now is that I learned to fuse all my interests and put them all in one song. And I think what has changed since Blake 2 and leading up to a hypothetical Blake 3, is that I was really interested in maximalism. I was basically vomiting all of my influences onto one track. And on a hypothetical Blake three, I would aim to go minimal on the production instrumentation in a way that centers the personality and lyrical identity. Which is something I did with Dean Kissick.

Oona: When you sit down and decide to start a song, how do you go about it?

Blaketheman1000: Honestly, I haven’t written a full song since Dean Kissick. I wrote that in like, 15 minutes. And the way that I write songs changes a bunch. I generally am always kind of writing. You know, as I go about my day I have lyrics in my head and will be writing verses. I have one verse that I’ve been working on all week, that I wrote in my head. I don’t have a beat for it yet. One of my overall thoughts about making music is I like making music and putting on events that my friends will like. And so when I’m making music, I send my music to a lot of friends because I’m very concerned with the overall reaction. Because I really feel like the only people I can cater to effectively are the people that I see every week. So if I cater to them and they like it, the people they know will like it and the people those people know will like it. I’m not so concerned about any single opinion, as much as I am targeting the collective opinion of the people I hang out with. 

Oona: Community building is a big component of city art-culture. How do you find yourself playing into that?

Blaketheman1000: I think that some of my previous answer represents that, but I also feel like a lot of communities are online. I think the role of someone who creates digital media and does in-person events is to create a place where people interested in certain types of digital media can congregate. One thing I often say about shows is that when I’m putting one together or even throwing a party, the true headliner is the social aspect of the event. One example of that is, I like to play venues that have a separate room for the bar and the performances. Because if someone had a long day at work and doesn’t have the attention span for a performance but wants to come and kind of hang out, they can do that. That’s a totally valid reason to come to the event. And I would hope that the person feeling that way would still come. To me, the social experience of coming to one of my events is as much a part of it as my performance. 

Oona: What have you been listening to lately? 

Blaketheman1000: A few months ago I did a remix for the band Test Subjects. And now we’re putting it out in maybe September so I’ve been listening to them a bunch. And I really like Duwap Kaine, who has an album called Faith Like Esther. Other people I really like are 454 and Isabella Lovestory. And P.H.F. (Perfect Hair Forever), their album Purest Hell is great. Those are my picks right now.

Oona: For someone discovering your music from this interview, what song should they start with? 

Blaketheman1000: There’s kind of two that I would recommend, but it depends on what the person likes. If you like something dense with a compelling narrative, listen to Blake 2.  But if you like something catchy and simple, listen to Dean Kissick

Oona: Why do you feel you have been leaning towards putting out rap recently?

Blaketheman1000: I think the defining trait of compelling digital media in the information age is that it communicates the personality of its creator. One of the reasons rap music has been so popular in the internet era is that it’s a genre which emphasizes the personality of its creator. And is a medium whose format lends itself to effectively communicating a lot of ideas in a short amount of time. These qualities of rap music, as a genre, have attracted me towards it and are the reason that I have chosen to use a hybridized version of it as my primary means of expression recently. 

Oona: You’re one of the managers of the band, Frost Children. What do you think you’ve learned from being in that role that you’ve applied to your own career?

Blaketheman1000: I co-manage them with Andrew Baker. I am friends with them and have been working on music with them. Since last year, we have had multiple collaborations out and there are more to come. I guess, as time went on, we have progressively had more opportunities with our music and so being a manager in their project seemed like the most fitting title that has allowed me to be involved creatively. It’s almost like I’m a member of the band, except they aren’t like a rock band that goes on a stage and plays bass and guitar. The band is a group of people who create musical and non-musical experiences that folks on the internet and in real life can participate in.

Oona: Could you expand a bit on those experiences?

Blaketheman1000: I collaborate with them a lot, thinking of ways that tools in the music industry and in technology can be used for them to engage with their community of fans. Kind of thinking about different ways that the experiences can be less of a one way exchange and more of a conversation between everyone involved. We are trying to come up with things to do at shows that are fun and engaging and not just people showing up, getting performed at and leaving when the set is done. 

Oona: What do you like about performing in New York? 

Blaketheman1000: One of the recognizable attributes of a great New York event is that it feels remarkable. They are one of a kind. New Yorkers love to tell other New Yorkers that they attended a strange thing that will never happen again. And this quality of New York is something I consider heavily when I’m booking events.

Oona: I stalked your TikTok and I love your little eating in Manhattan videos. Can you give STP a Blaketheman1000 day-in-the-life? Where are we eating? Where are we going out?

Blaketheman1000: I would get a petit dej at Ming’s Caffe. This means a Hong Kong coffee with light sugar, a nice mango papaya smoothie, and crispy shrimp rolls. And then my favorite lunch is probably at Spicy Village with some pepper chicken. And then for dinner, some Ragù at Lil’ Frankie’s with a Negroni or two. But then after dinner… fuck it. We’re going to Midtown for drinks at The Campbell Apartment. It’s the bar in Grand Central. Yeah, that’s a perfect day of eating. 

Oona: I think The Campbell Apartment was in season one of Gossip Girl, when Nate cheats on Blair with Serena lol. Iconic. Okay last question: What’s next for you?

Blaketheman1000: I have a lot of collaborations coming out with some of my favorite New York artists. And I’ll be playing a lot of parties and engaging with the people and creative scenes in New York that I think are inspiring and fun to be around.

Oona: Awesome, I can’t wait to see it.

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