Shortly after this year's South by Southwest, I heard about a kid from Indianapolis who was invited to Austin, Texas, to play. He was a deejay, I heard, and maybe a musician. Intrigued, I found him on Twitter and then invited him to a conversation at Starbucks.
I always like to park outside of the venue where I'm meeting someone for the first time and try to guess which person they are in the crowd. I was spot-on with the artist known as BlottBoyy. He was a cool-looking person. He appeared young and as if he were probably in the popular and artsy group at school. I watched him go in and then gathered my things to join him. What followed was a great conversation between us.
Not only did I find out about this amazing Indy-based artist but I got an interesting perspective into what Indy's arts and culture scene is lacking -- mainly outlets for our under-21 crowd. And, as he astutely put it, they are the next young professionals in this town -- if we can keep them here. They're the next everything. And we're not doing an awesome job at making them feel like there's a place for them. Here I thought we were progressing by leaps and bounds -- and we are, but I realized in the conversation below that there's much work to do if we want to retain our young creatives. Read on to learn more about my talk with the North Central High School senior who goes by BlottBoyy.
Mali Simone-Jeffries: What do you do?
BlottBoyy: I'm an electronic artist. I produce electronic music. It's more ambient music. I'm mostly an instrumental artist.
MSJ: What is an electronic artist?
BB: I deejay at shows. I just mostly play my own music and sometimes mix in other people's music. There is an artist name "Shlohmo" and "Flying Lotus" that make music like mine. They are other instrumental artists. The music doesn't have vocals or words. I also paint.
MSJ: Why electronic art?
BB: I've always loved making music. It's more freeing without words and lyrics. People get to create their own interpretation of the song, instead of someone else telling a story over it. I really want to be an electronic producer. This is all I see myself doing, and this is where I put all my energy. Hopefully a label finds me. One that I can be free and creative with. I've been promoting myself by going to shows and having shows around the country. I went to Pitchfork and South by Southwest. My group, Bored, has been working to get more shows and blogs. Bored is a collective of hip-hop and deejaying and producing. Bored isn't a band, it's a collective of musicians and artists that help and promote each other. I'm waiting to be discovered.
MSJ: What if you're never discovered?
BB: I don't think like that.
MSJ: Tell me about the deejay scene in Indy.
BB: I just figured this out some months ago, but there's actually a big deejay culture here. The scene could be better; there aren't enough all-ages venues.
MSJ: You went to South by Southwest, right? Is that normal for a junior in high school?
BB: Bored has a manager, her name is Jasmine and goes by "Little Introvert." She talked to someone else who talked to someone else and got me a show in Austin on March 13th as part of the official lineup. We played at a bar called Bat Bar. I deejayed for a mixed crowd of hip hop heads and rock and other genres. I played my own music for 30 minutes. It was really awesome, and then my friends went on and did a complete show. I'd love to go back and do a real set, and I'd love to do a show like Coachella. And I know I will. It's just a matter of time.
It's not normal for a junior in high school to go to SXSW, but I just think about me and where I'm going. I only told a few people at school and they were really proud of me. I am trying to find a manager in Chicago though. All the great managers are in Chicago.
MSJ: Tell me more about the arts and culture, music scene in Indy for the under-21 crowd?
BB: The scene sucks for now if you're under 21. There are some shows I can deejay, being under 21 but what sucks is that my peers can't come see me. The crowds are limited at a lot of venues because they don't want us there. I don't think it would be that big of a deal to make a club that was all ages for a night. The nightlife scene is so limited here, from my perspective. When people invite me places I can't go. You have to be lucky to be under 21 and play somewhere or perform. And it's almost impossible to have a show and invite people.
MSJ: What should Indianapolis do about that?
BB: There should be nights for all ages at some of these venues, and let artists play before they turn into over-21 on regular nights. It will definitely increase the audience of people participating in the arts. No one cares about liquor that much. We can be sober and have a great time. The Hoosier Dome has been showing love to artists under 21. A week ago we performed at MSN Festival in Moorestown, IN. It was really big and really cool. There were lots of different kinds of people there. It was outdoors and a lot of people stopped by.
MSJ: What's next for you after High School?
BB: I want to go to an arts college -- maybe the arts institute here or maybe Herron. I'm a producer but I want a good mixture of visual and production arts taught to me. But really, I don't want to stay in Indy. I need to go some place with more opportunity. Maybe Cali or New York; there are more labels there. It's really limited -- you have to push so much harder, at least with what I'm trying to do.
There was something so bold and confident about this artist that I believed everything he said. He knew he would play at Coachella one day. He knew he would be discovered; and knew he'd be an electronic deejay and "make it." I believed him. And now, I believe in him. Follow the young producer on Twitter at @blottboyy. When there is new music, he'll post it there.