Enter the dark and fearless world of Mykki Blanco

The artist gets drugged up, stabs an octopus and swims through the oceans of Greece in her wildest video to date

When Mykki Blanco emerged on to the scene in 2011, many were quick to box her in as a gay rapper’ or a ‘drag queen’, bypassing more original modes of expression to describe someone who could be many things at once: an NYC riot grrrl, a freaky noise punk, a hip hop queen, a ferocious poet and a performance artist with a blade-sharp wit. Four years later, and it’s clear that Mykki has always been more than media words or music industry labels. She’s a multi-gendered, multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary artist who can bite with a line and push sonic and aesthetic boundaries. 

After signing with !K7 Records earlier this year, launching her own label DogFood Music Group and taking a step away from the limelight, Blanco has returned with this exclusive premiere of her video for “Coke White, Starlight”, a wild, seven-minute slice of cinema that sees her get drugged up in a seedy hotel, stab an (already dead) octopus and swim through the clear-blue seas of Greece.

Director Tristan Patterson told us, “I felt like setting Mykki against the birthplace of western civilization was a potentially interesting juxtaposition. But I was also just really excited and curious about this unique moment in her life as an artist and where she was going to take it. I arrived in Athens with no plan, no agenda. We’d shoot all day and talk all night and somehow through this intense, insane creative process, we made a film together that I think captures this really personal experience we shared in such a crazy, cinematic way.”

We spoke to Mykki Blanco about the concept of the video, and where she plans on going next.

It’s been a while since you’ve released a video. What’s different this time?

Mykki Blanco: This is the start of my official return focusing primarily on Mykki Blanco. What’s different is that I feel more balanced as an artist. In January, I’m teaching a week-long workshop at The School Of Theatre Arts in Amsterdam. I’m finishing my album and continuing to record new music, which is something I’ve consistently never done. I’m working with director Tristan Patterson on a larger feature-length film project. I’ve begun to audition and be considered for acting roles. I’m in talks to perform in an opera.

I’ve begun to succeed in having the career that I want. I can be an entertainer and not care about being validated by the music industry – the days of ‘Mykki Blanco, Gay Rapper’ are over. I am, and always have been, a multidisciplinary artist and I am beginning to live that manifestation.

What most inspires you to be creative?

Mykki Blanco: It’s all I’m good at. I’ve had depressive moments in the four years that I’ve had the ‘Mykki Blanco’ career. There have been dark times, homophobia, but also my own self-doubt, being thrust into the spotlight and not being ready, having a platform but being extremely self-destructive. In the past year, I have really worked on my inner peace. It’s a lifelong thing for anybody, but I have tackled a demon or three so I’m good right now. 

You get drugged towards the beginning of this video. It’s quite uncomfortable to watch.

Mykki Blanco: We wanted to allude to the darker side of ‘gay life’, (with) a stylised portrayal of perhaps what most heterosexual people don’t see. Right now in London and New York there is a bit of an epidemic going on with loads of gays taking drugs and having chemsex sessions. The hedonism is so 80s, but the whole thing is extremely lonely and unhealthy, with most of it happening on gay hook-up apps. I get tired of the ‘World Against the Homosexual’ motif, so I wanted to make reference to how the LGBTQ (community) can also eat itself alive sometimes rather than unifying.

“What’s happening in America with the dismantling of white supremacy is one of the most important things to ever happen in American culture”

What is the political context behind the scenes on the television in the hotel room?

Mykki Blanco: They are political demonstrations against the Greek neo-fascist party Golden Dawn – they suck. Prostitution is legal in Greece, and sex workers are required to get tested for STDs once a month. The tests are free and available in most hospitals. In April 2012, a lot of female sex workers were arrested. All of them were operating illegally, and failed to produce proof they had been recently tested for STDs. Consequently, they were tested and (according to reports) found to be HIV positive. In an unprecedented move of dubious legality, their names, their parent’s names and their photographs were released to the public. It was speculated that the party was behind a police operation officially launched in August 2012 to crack down on illegal immigration, but ended up including transgender sex workers as detainees in internment camps.

Why did you choose to shoot in Greece specifically?

Mykki Blanco: What’s happening in America with the dismantling of white supremacy is one of the most important things to ever happen in American culture – it’s changing the course of history, but it is also exhausting and painful and abusive. You’re a black American and you feel like you’re escaping America and all of its ugliness, only to realise Europe has a refugee crisis teeming with xenophobia. This character wants to escape but has nothing – where can she/he go? Paris? London? Out of the question, too expensive.

This ‘other Mykki’ has to go where she can thrive. It’s akin to a very warped reality in which you’re only escaping yourself but also re-creating yourself in this other society that is financially crumbling (I mean that in a cinematic way, in the way the media portrays Greece). I personally do not feel Greek society is crumbling at all. If anything, it is thriving and it is going to be magical seeing what the new Greece becomes.

What drew you to working with Tristan Patterson as director?

Mykki Blanco: Tristan approached me to make a film together. I looked him up, was really impressed with his body of work and the ideas he had of working with me. I can’t really talk about what this film is going to be, but I will say from what we’ve begun to shoot in San Francisco and Los Angeles and Greece that it is going to be one of the most original films made within the last decade. The video is ‘to be continued’ because Tristan and I are making a movie.

He’s a mad scientist, and I’ve got a tonne of ideas for scenarios people have never seen and so does he. He can take our ideas and bring them to life in a way I cannot, since I’m not a director. 

At one point, you were going to quit music and become a journalist. What inspired you to return to music?

Mykki Blanco: Nepal, where I was to begin my work, suffered a catastrophic earthquake. Then I got my first record deal after four years of being an independent artist, so I took it as a sign. But I will fulfil that passion! I ALWAYS FULFIL MY PASSIONS!

Listen to the Mykki Blanco presents C-ORE album here http://lnk.to/MykkiBlancoC-ORE