Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!
Seattle Refined: How long has the band been around/writing together/performing?
Jace: Conceptually we started in 2009. We had our first release 2010. Our process was a bit different because we had catalogs before we got together. So we mixed the catalogs that we had and created new music together. So it is a unique way to balance both.
Tell us about the artistic process and the different stages that work into it...
Felicia: The greatest freedom that an artist can give oneself is to create without boundaries. However here are several methods by which we process our sound...
- Build a song from the producers title
- Take written material that we have not yet placed to music and implement that material into the track
- Rename the title and draw inspiration from that
- Free style over the track and decide what we want to keep or discard
- Decide on a theme we have discussed and pick what track most complements our thoughts.
Where does your inspiration come from? What other musical artists do you take inspiration from?
Jace: Life experiences. The community that I come from, my parents and the influence of their knowledge. My own children and the love I have for the youth that I work with at The Residency. Also the world's joys and world's challenges - especially with artists around the world.
Felicia: Inspiration comes from various places and circumstances. Waking up in the morning is inspirational, having a home to stay in is inspirational, surrounding oneself with inspirational people is helpful. There are too many to name, too many yet unknown, too many who have passed on, and too many unborn.
What kind of genre is your music? What kinds of things do you write about?
Jace: That is a tricky question - I don’t look at things in monolithic terms. There may be a song about revolution and uprising, there may be a song about loving family and the community we come from, there may be a song about life and celebrating it in a festive way. Or, losses that come with living. Or the challenges of the streets, the beauty and the stresses. In the development of Black Stax we take all forms of black culture. It may be in a book, a play, listening to words from the elders or youth, it may be from local artists. But, we take inspiration from artists all around the world international, inspirational, motivational, purposeful, and question the status quo to help build pride, strength, and love from one’s culture. Ultimately creating a legacy.
Felicia: We have called our music vibrational music for close to ten years now. Currently we are in Italy, for the first time, and at least 98% of our audiences don’t speak English. And we do not speak Italian. But they have stayed and given us appreciation for the vibration of what they can feel. We write about whatever triggers us at the time. We range from writing about loosing loved ones to day-dreaming as an adolescent staring up at sparkles covered ceilings. Both in one song.
Do you have one song that means more to you or is extremely special to you?
Jace: That is hard to answer because there are plenty of songs that we have created. We stax all styles of music from I love my life, to "Hop Scotch", to "Unexpected Shots" to "Exit US". And I have seen how these songs have different effects on the person who are listening to them. So I like our project as a whole, from "Talking Buildings" the original album. "High Rhymes Smoking Jackets", "Talking Buildings"Live at the Triple Door, "Movement Music", to our current work of the ILL-US-TRAIT tours.
Felicia: No favorite song. Each one has something to offer according to our state of mind at the time.
What experiences in your life have shaped your music/art?
Jace: Having the parents I had definitely influenced me, the community they surrounded our family with, also having my first born to my last born. Going away to the east coast by myself. Growing up between Seattle and Richmond Cali. Honestly playing sports, because it taught me how to be a part of a team. Everybody has a role to play and I place value in each person and look at what their contribution is whether big or small. It’s like the old adage we use: “Nobody is successful on their own.”
Felicia: As a youth I participated in the Langston Hughes Summer musicals which begin to shape me for my self expression in music and theatre.
If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find? What about upcoming shows?
Tap into our website blackstaxmedia.com. IG is the best way to keep up with us, it's @black_stax. We are on Facebook and available on all streaming platforms, whatever works best for you. No additional shows coming up except for the Welcome Home Experience from our European Tour “Sea The Vision”, we went to Italy and the UK. We shall share that experience with the community when we return back in the states. The Residency, Hip Hop is Green, Mira Kraft PR, and the Vida Agency, our team will help facilitate this event.
What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
Yes, the ILL-US-TRAIT Series. And, how it’s grown from local to national to international. We are releasing two new songs “When it’s All Done” and 'In the Beginning'. Continue Working with The Residency, building with the Vida Agency on the Counter Marketing Campaign around the sweetened beverage tax that is disproportionately affecting black and brown communities. Growing opportunities nationally and internationally with Mira Kraft. Thankful to Stefano at Revolver Concerti for putting the Italian leg of the 'SEA the Vision' tour together, along with Mira Kraft. With hopefully, more work with him in the future. Also, recording a song for Earth Day 2020 produced by Talaya, facilitated by Tamara Power-Drutis.
Lastly, how do you take your coffee? We ask everyone!
Jace: Good. Black coffee, no sugar no cream