Austin punk band uses music to address modern-day inequality

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Austin punk band BLXPLTN plays music for reasons beyond entertainment and personal expression — through its music, BLXPLTN aims to tackle questions of inequality head-on. 

BLXPLTN is named after an abbreviation of Blaxploitation, a subgenre of films made for black audiences during the 1970s. On Monday, BLTXPTN will perform live at “Rebel Music: Police Brutality and the Sound of Protest,” an event that combines a concert with a discussion on police brutality that targets minority populations. The free event, which UT’s Warfield Center for African and African American studies will host, takes place at the Black and Latino Studies Building. 

BLXPLTN guitarist Khattie Q said the band has provided an outlet for its members to speak out about social injustice. 

“I want to talk about what it’s like to be living in a ‘progressive’ city with a diminishing African-American population,” Q said. “Segregation is alive and kicking here in Austin, yet people would rather discuss the food cart phenomenon.”

BLXPLTN describes its music as “politically charged electronic punk.” It combines guitars and synthesizers to create a futuristic sound. BLXPLTN drummer and vocalist TaSzlin Muerte said the band often writes about topics that affect people of color in the local punk music scene.

“When you go to rock shows, you don’t see many people of color,” Muerte said. “We’re here to build a community, and to say ‘We’re here, and we’re not going anywhere.’”

Priscilla Hale, the director of allgo, an Austin-based organization for the advancement of queer people of color, will speak at “Rebel Music.” She plans to focus on how police brutality specifically affects queer people of color.

“I hope that attendees are moved into ensuring that state violence is at the forefront of issues impacting queer people of color communities,” Hale said.

Hale worked in cultural arts programming for over seven years. She teamed up with activists to address social justice and antiviolence through work such as BLXPLTN’s music.

“I think music and the arts in general provide a medium for people to share their experiences, hopes and dreams with others, as well as the opportunity to heal and cope with injustices,” Hale said.

Leonard Moore, history professor and senior associate vice president of Diversity and Community Engagement, will also contribute to the discussion. He plans to address the history of state violence against the African-American community and how it relates to current issues.

“I really want [students and attendees] to leave knowing that police brutality is a systemic issue dating back to the late 1800s,” Moore said. “What we are seeing now is nothing new.”

Jonathan “Javelin” Horstmann, BLXPLTN’s bassist, vocalist, and synth-player, said the band looks forward to an energetic, engaging experience with the UT student body during “Rebel Music.”

“We’ve been blessed to be in a space to really investigate what our music is saying and how people are interpreting it,” Horstmann said. “It’ll be fun to get down in a space like that.”