Throughout their evolution, poet, artist, musician Mykki Blanco has continuously blurred genres – pulling rave, trap, grunge and punk influences into a swirling pool of experimental hip hop that celebrated queer and trans experiences. Their new full-length album Stay Close To Music, available today via Transgressive, is unlike anything they have released before. Adventurous and expansive, it shatters any previously held assumptions about Mykki’s artistry, leaving them free to define their sound for themselves. Calling Mykki a “genre-obliterating maverick” NPR’s All Songs Considered included the LP in their “best releases out today” podcast and they label it an “Afro futuristic hip-hop album.” Fader calls the album ”a whole new dimension of the Mykki Blanco sound.”Brooklyn Vegan say the album, “is all over the place in the best way, seamlessly incorporating art pop, rap, soul, innovative electronics, and a variety of other experimental subgenres…it’s Mykki’s most musically ambitious album yet.” Pitchfork listed Stay Close To Music in their “most anticipated albums of Fall 2022 list” and the album was included in “albums of note” roundups this week by both Stereogum and Paste.
Stay Close To Music’s powerful focus track “Carry On” which features Jónsi (Sigur Ros) has been beautifully captured by director Barbara Anastacio in a video which follows the story of an HIV positive African refugee, a queer immigrant seeking asylum in southern Europe.
Blanco explains, “A goal of my entire career when its come to my visuals is to tell the stories and portray scenarios in queer life that are very real but rarely touched on. Is there room to be queer when your a refugee seeking refuge? Are you made to choose between being Black and Being Queer? Are you made to live a double life in this new country, new world, does it matter even to be openly queer when your fighting against White supremacy? It’s a loaded visual and it plays upon these intersectional themes.”
“‘Carry On’ is a song of hope, as much as a song of victory.” Blanco continues, “Black and Gay, I wonder if they’ll ever claim us, HIV, I have HIV can I still be famous, will they wait till I’m dead to give me credit, these thoughts run through my head I try and dead them and just bless God instead, begins ‘Carry On’. Oh Mykki Blanco, the words, the headlines they have used to describe you over the years: Mykki Blanco the tranny rapper, Mykki Blanco the gay rapper, HIV positive rap star Mykki Blanco. When I was a new artist in 2012, the world was a very different place. I faced so much transphobia, homophobia, I literally had to kick and scream to be heard, fought to be legitimized, while my music, the messages in my music videos, the never before seen themes, aesthetics, and juxtapositions were labeled too taboo for the mainstream. Most people who are pioneers rarely get to enjoy the fruits of what they pioneered. I helped create the culture that we currently live in, I don’t need to be modest about the truth, I’ve been told to “stay in my place” for most of my entire 10 year career. This album represents the beginning of the second half of my career.”
On Stay Close To Music, Mykki created their own sonic universe from scratch. To facilitate this, they collaborated with producer and multi-instrumentalist FaltyDL, who allowed them to envision new soundscapes built from lush, live instrumentation. “It just transported me,” they admit. “It enabled me to dream in a way that I had never dreamed with my own songwriting. All of a sudden, I felt like I had this template where I could make that sound my own.”
The songs spun together through numerous jam sessions, with writing taking place in Lisbon, Paris, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. By 2019, Mykki realized that they were working on two different records concurrently. The first became 2021’s lauded mini-album Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep and now Mykki releases the second collection of the sessions via Stay Close To Music. Throughout the album Mykki collaborates with an array of groundbreaking artists such as Michael Stipe, Saul Williams, ANOHNI, Diana Gordon, Devendra Banhart, MNEK, Jónsi and more.
Mykki Blanco is an artist revered for their fearless ability to evolve, placing their creative exploration at the forefront of their career. With Stay Close To Music, Mykki Blanco is leveling up. By stepping into unchartered territory untethered and free, they have fulfilled their ambitions and created a rich, complex and accomplished sound that belongs entirely to them and which only solidifies their status as one of the world’s most innovative musical pioneers.
Mykki Blanco – Live Dates:
Oct 25: Petit Bain – Paris, FR
Oct 26: Atelier 210 – Brussels, BE
Oct 27: Bitterzoet – Amsterdam, NL
Oct 29: Kampnage – Hamburg, DEl
Nov 1: Loppen – Copenhagen, DK
Nov 2: Gretchen – Berlin, DE
Nov 6: Meet Factory – Prague
Nov 7: Heidelberg Karlstobahnhof
Nov 8: Rote Fabrik – Zurich
Nov 9: Queersicht Festival at Bee-Flat – Bern
Nov 12: Mousonturm – Frankfurt
Nov 14: CBE, Cologne, DE
Nov 21: La Nau – Barcelona, ES
Nov 22: La Casa Encendida – Madrid, ES
Nov 23: Music Box – Lisbon, PT
Nov 29: Heaven – London, UK
Dec 02: Trinity – Bristol, UK
Dec 03: Mother @ Lost Lane – Dublin, Ireland
Dec 04: G2 – Glasgow, Scotland
Dec 05: The Cluny – Newcastle, UK
Dec 06: YES – Manchester, UK
More to come…