Danny Lee Blackwell puts another chapter into Night Beats’ genre-boundless discography with the newest album Outlaw R&B.
Born in Dallas, Texas but now based in Los Angeles, Blackwell uses inspirations he gathers from all his environments. This time around, he says the main inspiration while writing Outlaw R&B was the battle fans have between the iconic country music company Sun Records and the pioneering blues and R&B soul music company Stax Records.
“A lot of the time it’s a debate between people about if you’re more of a Stax guy or more of a Sun person,” he says. “I wanted to blend those two worlds [together] because I love them equally.”
Outlaw R&B, released just last week on Fuzz Club Records, uses influences from both groundbreaking recording companies. Tracks like “Stuck in the Morning,” “Revolution,” and “Hell In Texas” have obvious old-school country influences, with twangy tunes and sad howling guitars. Other tracks like “New Day” and “Never Look Back” get groovin’ and funky with their soul-inspired melodies.Night Beats, “Ticket”
But having the dueling Sun and Stax Records in mind while creating Outlaw R&B didn’t prevent Blackwell from dabbling in his many other influences like psych-rock and even classic Indian music, which he grew up listening to with his Indian mother. He even credits raga music as what got him into eventually picking up jazz, R&B, and psychedelic music.
“[Outlaw R&B] was my way to carve my own pumpkin a bit, but it’s inclusive…. It’s for the unknown or the borderless…it isn’t necessarily set in any sort of rule book,” he says. “It’s about being cool with yourself; it’s about accepting yourself.”
To fans, it’s not surprising that Night Beats is unapologetically staying true to its ever-evolving self. ButBlackwell says being able to express himself so purely didn’t happen overnight. The musician says the line in “Revolution”—don’t care, don’t fit in—has even become a sort of mantra to help him embrace his uniqueness.
“[‘Revolution’ is] saying I don’t care that I don’t fit in, you shouldn’t either,” he says. “If you start by knowing your own cool, then it gets a lot easier from there—but it definitely takes some evolution.”
Listen to Night Beats new album Outlaw R&B in its entirety along with the full interview with Danny Lee Blackwell on this week’s episode of The Music Meetup.