Blake Saint David, just like a lot of 17 year olds, is scared of growing up. You wouldn’t need to meet him in person to find that out. Instead, the Chicago-born-and-raised musician leaves those thoughts for everyone to hear in his music. On song’s like “Presentiment”, he gets across feelings of restlessness, angst and all the other things one might associate with the impending reality of adulthood. But he approaches this topic with an otherworldly sense of wisdom: he knows a lot of kids feel the same way he does, and he doesn’t want them to.
Before the release of his debut project “Temporary”, get to know Blake Saint David in our latest Artist of the Week interview:
Where did you grow up?
Chicago. I’ve been here my entire life. I moved to the suburbs for like 2 years, but I didn’t like it and made my mom bring us back.
How did you decide to start making music?
I bought a mic to do voice acting, because I wanted to be a voice actor and wrote a cartoon when I was 14. Then I was like ‘wait, I don’t have the animation budget. I’m poor.’ So, I just started making music instead.
How did you start producing your own beats?
I started out scoring these movies I made when I was little. Then when my brother used to rap, I was making beats for him and they were really bad–that’s why he never used them (laughs). That’s when I started making beats for myself. I’m all self-taught.
Also, Jackie [of Family Reunion] is gonna start giving me singing lessons ‘cause I wanna get really good at singing.
I noticed you’ve been working a lot with VICTOR! And Family Reunion recently. How did you guys all link up?
I met Victor on the train a long time ago, like last year. He had a Brockhampton shirt on, and I asked if he saw them on tour. I met Jackie on the internet. I was in a group chat, and I saw her music and kept following her until she saw me. Now we’re friends. I’m working on something with her, and I’m also singing backup on one of her songs.
For the song “Don’t Waste My Time”, we were in Victor’s room and Jackie had a concept for a pop song. She started playing guitar and then Victor added the drums.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Childish Gambino–I listened to him since I was 9. I listened to a lot of Kid Cudi. Then there’s this dude named Choker, he’s from Michigan, he’s amazing. Not a lot of people know about him, but he’s great. I wanna know what his thought process is when he makes shit, because he song structure is just really weird and super cool. I just want to understand how he thinks. I try to learn by making music and figure out how he does it. … There’s definitely some Tyler [the Creator] influences, but I only really listened to “Cherry Bomb” and “Flower Boy”. I used to boycott Tyler when I was younger ‘cause he used the F word a lot and I wasn’t with it.
What is your songwriting process like?
I just go in and sing first, then figure out how I can make it sound pleasing. I think technically first, and then I think about emotion and how I can make people feel a certain way. … I write as I’m making the beat, and I know exactly what I want in a song while I make it.
TEMPORARY 2018 pic.twitter.com/o2mcsVBcAy
— Blake! (@BlakeSaintDavid) March 3, 2018
The teaser for your upcoming “Temporary” project got a pretty big reaction on Twitter earlier this year. Were you expecting that at all?
I wasn’t. I thought nobody cared, but I guess people actually do so that’s exciting. It makes me happy.
How do you feel about how your fan base has grown since you started sharing music last year?
It’s exciting. I’m actually happy, because I have no other option. Music is the way that I have to make it. If I dont, I don’t know what I’m gonna do.
Have you always known that?
No, I didn’t. I’m actually extremely smart. I have a full ride for pre-med at UIC (University of Illinois at Chicago), but I didn’t want to go. My test scores were really good and I thought I wanted to do it, but then I started hating school. I don’t know why, but it just happened.
I’m definitely scared out of my mind. I don’t know how I’m gonna do it or if it’s gonna work out, but I’m fine with it. If I don’t try [at music], I’ll fail by default.
Are these emotions what inspired some of the songs on Temporary?
Yeah, for sure. It’s basically me telling myself that everything’s going to be ok because everything is temporary. You don’t have to worry about it–that’s basically what I’m saying on the whole album. When I was like 15, my English teacher said ‘when you grow up, there are gonna be temporary faces and temporary places.’ You’ll be ok once you figure that out.’ That moment changed my life, and I’ve been going off that for the rest of my life.
— Blake! (@BlakeSaintDavid) March 29, 2018
Tying that into the note that you put on Twitter the other day, what brought you to share those feelings?
I was just really sad. That was gonna be me telling everybody I quit, but then I realized everything was ok and I should just thank everybody. I felt like nobody really likes my music or that I am the only person who does, but then I realized that can’t be true.
Would you say making music helps you to deal with those feelings?
For sure. Especially when I write, before I even make beats, I just write my emotions. I’m super explicit and open about it. When I’m not making music, I’m pretty much the same way. I just feel that it’s really effective to communicate your emotions to other people.
Who else is helping you make Temporary?
My friend Ghost Boy Sora, he makes music himself and he’s also on a song that he produced. Also, VICTOR! produced two songs on the album. We’re friends already, and it’s easier to just work with friends. … Aidan Ochre is really cool. He has this song called “Gemini” out, and it’s really good. I sent him some verses, and a few days later he sent me backup vocals, a hook and guitar.
— Blake! (@BlakeSaintDavid) April 3, 2018
Are there going to be anymore visual accompaniments for Temporary?
I have a series coming out with it, it’s like an anthology series. I have it casted and everything, I just have to film and edit it. It’s not music related necessarily, it’s just stuff I’ve been writing because I want to make movies.
I’ve always wanted to make shit about growing up, so I just wrote a bunch of screenplays and chose the best one. I’m gonna make six different videos out of that.
What do you hope people take away when they hear Temporary?
Growing up isn’t a bad thing. That’s what I’m scared of, but people shouldn’t worry as much as they do. That’s why I’m making this album, because I need to find a way to get over growing up. It’s my biggest fear. … Things like financial security, people not helping you because you’re an adult, being alone, it’s terrifying… I’m not a fan. A lot of people feel that way, and I don’t think they should.
For sure. It’s difficult to make something about a feeling while you’re still processing it yourself. Did you always know that’s what you wanted Temporary to be about?
It’s something I realized along the way. All of my songs are about growing up and my fear of death in general, but I knew that [“Temporary”] should be more formatted. I knew since I made the song “Presentiment” that the rest of the album had to be very thematically structured on growing up.
What is it like trying to get your name out in Chicago?
It’s really hard. Nobody really tries to book me for shows, and I don’t really have anyone behind me. I have to host my own shows just so I can perform.
What have your performances been like so far?
First thing I think about is how I’m gonna get people’s attention, and then I figure it out right before I go on stage. I yell and make really weird noises–it works and it’s pretty funny.
You mention Brockhampton a lot and even have a track called “Romil”. How have they inspired you?
Not really music wise, but just the way they do things is really effective so I’m taking notes and shit. They do things in a really weird way that caters to kids, and I think that’s the way I should go. Just focus on people my age.
Do you have a favorite album of theirs?
Umm, I like “Saturation 1” a lot. That’s the best one I think. My favorite song by them is “Dirt” from “All American Trash”.
What are your top 5 albums of all time?
5. “Peak” by Choker
4. “Royalty” by Childish Gambino–it’s a mixtape, but whatever.
3. “Off the Wall” by Michael Jackson
2. “soft & wet” by meltycanon
1. “Man on the Moon” by Kid Cudi
If you could give one piece of advice to yourself at the start of high school, what would that be?
Stay in school. Stop skipping class.