Kendall Denton (BLKGLD)
“I’m a firm believer that everybody needs somebody. I try to be that somebody.”
I am Kendall Denton and I am a the co-founder of DANK and the bass player of BLKGLD. Originally from Cincinnati, OH, I spent the past 4 years in Columbus making a place for myself in the city. Picking up the bass in 2013, it’s been something of a pillar of my character. I try to master new techniques and make my playing more organic. When I’m not working or facilitating DANK, I’m pretty much playing video games, watching Youtube videos, practicing bass, or sleeping. I’m an introvert through and through. I’ve put a good bit of time into breaking out of my shell and putting myself more in center stage to build connections and bridges with people as well as have fun. I love dancing. People know if the track is lit, I’m fucking up the dance floor.
I really want to foster unity. Active unity. Where people work and organize together. Where several groups are involved in one event and are pushing their aspirations in commune. I feel like a lot of us strive for the same things with very small differences. I’m going to work to highlight the reasons we should work together far above any reason we may have not to.
“Any means necessary is my tattooed on my heart my work doesn't stop at getting out my own dreams, the woke are tired and deserve sleep. I believe whole heartedly that a revolution that stops at your needs isn't revolutionary.”
Apollo Akembe is a non-binary musician, writer, poet, and activist hailing from Milo Grogan, a neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio. They’ve been writing music since the age of 15, with a sound that slips through hip-hop, folk, punk, and other genres. Their music seeks to elicit an emotional journey through simple story telling and powerful vocals. Their writing style mimics that of a cinematographer i.e., the creation of vignettes and full stories with a minimalistic use of words. As well as writing and performing, they are responsible for founding the Melanincholy Music Festival, a celebration of artists of color centering queer performers. They also write poetry under the moniker of Aloe Vera. Their music and activism deals heavily in the philosophy of relating and seeking community and it’s goal they often accomplish.
I’ve always felt that giving up your imagination is a rite of passage into adulthood. Creativity becomes a second-rate personality trait, and straying from the usual is cause for concern. Our hopes and dreams line the garbage cans overflowing in our cubicles, as dead as the thick, padded gray walls that surround us day in, and day out. What you could’ve been becomes a reminder of how silly belief is, and the hard, crushing weight of reality hangs overhead, on the ready to crush you for ever thinking differently. I still find myself trudging through life, haunted by the apparitions of my lost aspirations, desperately holding onto the memories that allowed me to progress this far; childhood adventures, the ethereal feeling of a new horizon to aim my bow toward, the cartoons, the video games. Stories full of magic and wonder that allowed us to be part of something bigger than ourselves. That’s the magic I’ve spent my twenties trying to recreate, the same magic that I’ve harnessed and used to breathe life into my music.
“FAIRY POP” was a joke title I came up with for my own brand of ukulele-laden music, mostly out of fear of critics getting a hold of my songs, and creating a nonsensical genre title on their own. That was, until I started to think about how fitting it actually was. Fairies are associated with magic, mischief, the otherworldly and innocent wonder. Pop is all about catchy, infectious melodies, upbeat delivery, and quotable lyrics, all wrapped in an easy to consume package. FAIRY POP is all of that, mixed with rock riffs, sing along rap, and a self-awareness bordering on stream-of-consciousness. Even with my melancholic and at times, depressing lyrics, there’s a genuine shine about it that makes it difficult not to sing along.
I don’t want much from this world. The idea of fame is absurd to me, and financial gain has rarely been a motivation for me in all honesty. All I want out of this existence is to bring the magic back into our lives. I want people to feel like there’s a reason to keep dreaming, despite what life throws at them. If my songs give you a reason to once again gaze at the sky with hope, then I can die happy.
“Is there magic left in this life? Why don’t we live instead of this?”
“I am nothing but what I create. Nah, I don’t know. I’m just here to fuck shit up.”
A young spirit still searching for purpose. Using their voice, poetry, and art it seems their journey is not as taxing nor as bleak. After finding DANK, they have found a piece of themselves again and is loving the song inside them that was once lost. Tragically magical, an out of this world royalty, this handsome potato goes by Marinette.
Josh Hughes (BLK GLD)
“I repeat, I want to make people dream.”
I’m Joshua Hughes and am a co- founder of DANK collective. I am the guitarist/vocalist for BLKGLD. Originally from Cincinnati, OH, I have spent the last 7 years in Columbus networking with artists and musicians. Growing up I was always bothered by the notion that black people had to confine themselves in such a narrow space of existence. An example is the expectation of black people not performing or indulging in genres outside of hip hop/r&b (though I live for these genres). These limitations pushed me to explore myself further. In my teenage years, I played bass for a death metal band. In later years, I played guitar for a folk duet. Living in venue houses was also something I did briefly. Through all of this I always wondered why there were such a small number of POC surrounding me in my experiences. In all that I do I hope to bring even more representation, space, and inclusiveness for POC in the arts. It always feels good knowing people with a shared experience/understanding are around. I want my music to reflect all parts of my experience. My friends and community inspire me to create, and I hope to always bring fresh material to invoke dreams and imagination. Outside of this I’m usually biking, jamming with friends, drinking wine, watching anime, or playing video games (especially FFXIV!!!).
FlashGrimm is the moniker that Zachary Graham uses when he's writing poetry. He grew up with a love for reading and as he got older, he began writing short stories and poetry. Since arriving in Columbus in 2006, Zachary Graham has searched for outlets in local communities celebrating music and arts that provided platforms that create unity of all races, ethnicities, religions, genders, and sexual orientations. This is one of the main reasons that he has joined D.A.N.K. As a poet, Zachary sees this type of philosophy implemented through D.A.N.K and is working towards uniting our generation through educating youth, seeing great value in teaching them how to express themselves through writing.
"Would you hate me if I told you that the human existence is just the eye of a spiritual monsoon?
Or that the skin of a butterfly is just another cocoon?
This is not about death;
it's about savoring your breath
until your breathing is through"
I came to Columbus 8 years ago from Cheverly, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC. As far back as I remember, I was never very good at addressing emotional trauma through the correct channels. Music became my emotional second leg very early on, and I constantly kept it nearby in some form. I always fought with the knowledge that I would never achieve what society asked of me, whether it be machismo, subservience, or the dissolution of my compassion, and it remains a struggle. It is largely in response to this ever-present struggle that I've learned to view music not only as an escape, but also as a tool for self-empowerment.
I am very aware that much of the music that helped me was not written for me. Some of the artists whose music has helped me couldn’t possibly be more different from me, but the confessionality of the author allowed me to relate on the purest level. My goal is to have that same kind of impact, even if just for one person.
I would like to make beautiful, chaste music, but that would be an inaccurate representation of my experience. Humanity is full of picturesque, aesthetic beauty, yes, but we are so much more than that. We are taught from birth to run toward an arbitrary, unattainable image of perfection, idolizing it while shirking the most intimate parts of ourselves that do not fit its mold.
Don't get me wrong; I see great benefit in improving ourselves. We must always push ourselves forward. However, we still have to love ourselves during the journey. Only when you are aware and unafraid of your flaws can you truly know who you are, and only when you are self-aware can you begin to decide for yourself who you wish to become. Sometimes I'm Superman, but other times I'm Lex Luthor in my songs, and that's okay. It is my mission as an artist to inspire growth through the recognition of all parts of self, especially the "ugly" parts.
Michelle Imari is a queer musician, artist and writer from Columbus, Ohio. No newcomer to songwriting, she has penned many songs about relationships, sexuality, race and mental health, and delights in performing them whenever she gets the chance. When she doesn't have a guitar or camera in hand, Michelle is either attempting to master every baking recipe she comes across, analyzing media through an intersectional lens, or marveling over natural hair tutorials. (Or most likely cooing over cat videos, but that’s a given.)