BLK ODYSSY on Austin, Ambition and their new album BLK Vintage
By Aaron “Fresh” Knight
I’ve heard a lot said about the Austin music scene, from it being a stepping stone city for artists to it the way it creates the best live performers. That last one holds true for the New Jersey native, now Austin-based soul crooner, Sam Houston, the frontman for BLK ODYSSY. BLK ODYSSY have honed their skills on the stage, and become one of the best performing bands in Central Texas, finding their voice in full force on their forthcoming album, BLK Vintage.
How does it feel to be finally releasing this album?
I feel amazing. I spent nearly two years just finding ways to articulate the stories told on this album. Everything on here was at some point pinned up inside of me. So with all the raw emotion and vulnerability on this record, it’s actually like getting a weight off my shoulders. We took the pain, triumph, and adversity and consolidated it into something for people to have a new viewpoint of life for a Black American man.
What was the inspiration behind making the record?
The many stories that couldn’t be told. It’s an internal perspective of our reality. Not just from a social justice standpoint, but from various vantage points: a proud black person, a human who faces addiction, depression, and anxiety. It shows the perspective of reckless youth, the vibrant culture in hoods all over America. It’s inspired by those stories.
How has living in Austin has shaped your music?
Originally, it pushed me away from what I feel to be my true purpose in music, because it seemed that only one sort of genre had worked here. My goal was to just have a career that worked, even if it wasn’t what I truly loved. Once COVID hit, I had the time to reimagine myself and my priorities. Since we’ve shifted the sound, the results on a national and international level have been amazing.
Austin provided amazing things as far as developing a live show, developing a fan base, and meeting other people. I realized the reason hip hop/ R&B has never worked out of Austin had nothing to do with me. I often rebuke the stigma as a “ local artist “ because it comes with certain ideas that you need to fit in. I’m very confident that Blk Vintage will be one of the strongest albums to come out of Austin. I’m grateful for the support you guys show me at the Breaks, I’m grateful for all the love we get in Austin, but my goal is to have you interviewing a Grammy nominee next time we sit down, and the only way to do that is by speaking it into existence and continuing to work hard.
With COVID19 still being very relevant, what can we expect from BLK ODYSSY? And what’s going on with the food truck?
Our album is coming in August, we’ll be doing a string of release shows in Austin, LA & New York. I expect some film content as well as more music soon after the album. The food truck is its own monster, but we have big ideas for the Soul House, creating a true Black footprint in Austin which will not only provide a view into Black Harlem culture, but also use our influence in music to develop a hub where new music can be discovered by influencers, fans & executives, all in a really cool environment.
NPR LIVE SESSIONS/KUTX – KUTX August 2021 Artist of the Month BLK ODYSSY
Musicians: Sam Houston, Vocals; Matt Weatherly, Bass; Alejandro Rios, Guitar; Matt Muheling, Guitar; Adam Jackson, Drums
Cameras: Rashad White, Audio Engineer: Rich Baur, Filmed at 512 Studios