With a sound that mixes the classic hard blues rock sounds of Cream, Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones with the soul of Bobby Womack and Curtis Mayfield, Kansas City's Black Stacey, AKA Sharaden Staten, describes his music as "electric church." Considering his debut album is called Electric Chariot, it's a safe bet to say that Black Stacey's music rides on the same power source as his musical forebears. We're proud to share an exclusive interview with the man himself about his new album and creative process.
Please introduce yourself.
I play under the name Black Stacey, but my mother still calls me Sharaden. I’m calling Kansas City home nowadays, but the backwoods of central Missouri will always be charging through these veins. For better or worse. Growing up in a town like Sedalia gives you a certain grit. A mental toughness that’s served me well. Not only musically but in life too.
Describe your music for new listeners.
I like to describe the sound as “Electric Church”. Taking traditional R&B, soul, funk, blues, jazz and blending it into this raw eclectic mix. A sort of psychedelic soul sound, influenced by Motown, but most shaped by Hendrix, Gil Scott-Heron, and Curtis Mayfield type acts.
You have spoken about your enjoyment of the creative process. How do you move beyond any creative blocks?
You have to write through the bad times. I’ve learned that 90% of the music I make is terrible and will never see the light of day, but I still need that practice. Consistently. I have to work at my craft or else I’ll find myself in a rut when it comes time to put together an album. Treat it like being an athlete or mathematician. I guarantee you LeBron James is shooting hundreds of shots a day. Shots that his fans will never cheer for, that don't win games, that don't go towards his career point totals, but when it does matter he is consistently in a position to be great. I like to have that mentality as an artist. Yes, sometimes a song will just come to you in 15 minutes, but I don't want to rely on that. It’s too far and few between.
Talk about the music that most inspired the sounds on Electric Chariot.
When I first started the guys on the louder end of the blues spectrum really drove the guitar parts. Bands like Cream, The Stones, and Hendrix. I liked the energy and spontaneity that was captured with those bands. I really wanted the same for this record early on, but I did’t quite have the type of vocal delivery, so I started leaning on a lot of soul music. Gil Scot-Heron, Bobby Womack, Gary Clark Jr. and Curtis Mayfield. A lot of the harmonies, piano, and guitar layers were really inspired by that type of R&B, soul music. There are quite a few sounds that people will recognize and I like that. Moving forward I’d like a little more consistency with the sound, but all in all I'm super proud of Electric Chariot.
What inspires you the most about music in Kansas City?
That the city, at least artistically, is still growing. There aren't a ton of outlets here yet, but guys like you, Chris Haghirian, the different radio stations, and some of the venues really welcome and encourage new bands to work their craft. The pride that the city takes in its locally produced arts and events is fantastic. If you can tap into the culture and get people excited about what you do, you’ll get that unconditional Kansas City love. Sure there is work to be done in the community, but I like the direction we are going. The opportunity to be right here in the middle of it is exciting for me.
Black Stacey's recommendations from the Johnson County Library catalog:
Rosemary's Baby. The end of this movie will blow your mind.
Interstellar . Matthew Mcconaughey, DUH!
Afro Samurai When I was growing up I wanted to be a Samurai..This series made me re-think that.
Little Green by Walter Mosley
The Prince by Nicccolo Machiavelli
,Said the Shotgun to the Head by Saul Williams