Blakchyl always loved music, poking through albums from her mom’s CD collection at a young age in East Austin. It wasn’t until she joined The Cipher, a now-closed nonprofit in East Austin, that she learned how to make it herself.
Now, Blakchyl is a prolific local hip-hop artist on the heels of an international tour. We sat down with the local musician at ACL Fest to learn more about her passions.
Editor’s note: this interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.
What was your introduction to Austin’s music scene?
I was a part of a nonprofit [called The Cipher] based around young artists coming together to express themselves, to speak. And we were also introduced to a lot of other nonprofits.
Even though hip-hop was the center of the nonprofit, I was able to learn so much and connect with community. I would say that that was my foundation into rap.
I used to make beats as well before I really got into the poetry. That’s what made me see that I can have a message and I can make an impact on my community.
What kind of music were you listening to as a kid?
I’d say Lauryn Hill. A lot of West Coast music, a lot of R&B as well. Destiny’s Child, Escape.
My mom also had a big CD book that had a wide range of music. It had P!nk, Britney Spears, Paul Wall to Stevie Wonder, just like all these different types of music I feel like I came up on. I still take a lot of those moments and times with me. … Thanks to my mom, just having that crazy CD collection growing up. It naturally just put me on to having an ear for it, I guess.
What has your experience in the Austin music scene been like?
It was a little scary because I was in a group for about 10-11 years, even though I was doing solo stuff here and there. Knowing that, “Okay, I’m really gonna struggle I guess.”
[I was] trying to balance being queer and working with men still … it’s been a challenge, as well as just being a woman. I feel like it has its ups and downs.
How does collaboration play a role with your process?
Being collaborative has been one of my favorite attributes to culture and music. I feel like a lot of people out there that I’m a fan of have been part of different things in their career, so I just study that.
Where do you like to go in Austin?
My go to spots are Community Vegan, Vegan Nom, Nom Burger. Casa de Luz every now and again, I like Bouldin Creek. … And then of course I like home cooked meals.
For people who may not have heard your music before, what do you think they should know about it?
They should know that it’s always gonna be raw, stepping out of my comfort zone. Hopefully there’s a message that they can take away.
Is there anything exciting on the horizon for you?
I have a show with Latasha Lee at the end of the month. Then, I’m going to be doing another French-Germany tour in June of next year, so I’m looking forward to that.