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Blacklite District Returns With a Transformative Approach That’s Amassing Millions of Views

Blacklite District

Given death’s prolificacy in Kyle Pfeiffer’s life – its recurring tendency to isolate and push him down varying paths alone – one might think the Chicago-born musician knows little about community. But that’s where you’d be wrong. In fact, Pfeiffer, perhaps better known as Blacklite District, knows exactly what it means to lead the charge for the betterment of the whole. He did it early on in his career when he got clean & sober for his then eight-year-old son, refusing to repeat patterns he, too, witnessed as a child. He did it again when he bucked music executives and their commitment to tired trends, opting for proven reach and resonance over radio success (and still charted on the Billboard Top 40, four times). And he’s doing it now as he gears up for a comeback tour – a badass music and internet-culture showcase centered around authenticity, triumph, and togetherness. At the end of the day, as with many an underdog before him, Kyle Pfeiffer’s life may have been marked by loss, but it will never be defined by it. This is Blacklite District, the TuneCore/SPIN Artist of the Month:

SPIN: You’ve been quoted as saying music saved your life. What does that mean?

Blacklite District: Little backstory – I never lived with my mom. I lived with my grandparents, and my mom would come see us from time to time. Sometimes she’d say things, like, “I’ll be right back. I’m going to the store,” and I wouldn’t see her for three weeks. She passed away from a heroin overdose right before I turned ten years old. I remember meeting my father for the first time at my mom’s funeral. We only started building a relationship 20 years later while I was out in California working on an album. A year after that, he killed himself. From there, I ended up getting addicted to fentanyl and had a whole couple years of just getting into opiates and experiencing the nightmare of withdrawals. By this time I had a little eight year old son, and I was standing there one day, like, “Holy shit, I’ve [almost] reversed the roles.” I mean, I wasn’t leaving or doing that kind of stuff, you know? But I finally went to rehab and here we are. 

After my mom died, I discovered Ozzy Osbourne. The song “No More Tears,” something about that voice and the message of the song, I just knew from the second I heard it that music was meant for me. [To this day], all of my song writing comes from these negative events that I’ve tried to turn into fuel for the fire.

In collaboration with Rainimator’s Minecraft music videos, Blacklite District has found some viral success. Walk us through how this partnership came to be… 

Around ten years ago when there was this transition happening in the music industry, a lot of the executives I worked with would say things like, “Oh, [your music] is just internet stuff. It doesn’t matter if you get 10 million views, it doesn’t mean anything. What about the radio?” It was always a fight like that. But I was always like, “I’m literally out-streaming and outselling 80 percent of the stuff on the chart with no radio support.” 

So once I kind of ran out of budget, I started thinking, like, how can I get my music in front of as many people as possible without having to spend tens of thousands of dollars. I started seeing these Minecraft videos which would have 20-30 million views. Just crazy. Eventually, I partnered with Rainimator to put the first video out and within a week it did a million views. I was obviously very impressed. The second video came out and it did five million views in 15 days. Then all of a sudden it started trending. Every year, on every video, it kept happening: bigger numbers and bigger numbers. We just released one under three weeks ago and it did a million views organically. And on Spotify and all the streaming platforms, our streams are up 200 percent without spending a fucking penny. That’s the beauty of this video game [connection]. 

Let’s talk about the upcoming tour and the all ages aspect that Blacklite District is bringing to the table…

This entire tour and its concept are built around the gaming audience. Two or three years ago, we started noticing these younger kids coming out when we would have an all ages show, and the parents would say, “We drove two hours to get here.” You’d see one or two here and there, maybe three, four. But then, about a year ago, we went on tour again as the headliners. The first weekend was all ages and there was a line of people outside. I’m so used to being on the opposite end of that where everyone leaves before I go on, so I was like, “There’s no way that line can be for me.” I was like, “Holy shit,” to the [band], like, “can you believe that they actually came to see us?” We sold maybe 25 to 30 tickets that night, but we came back a few months later and had almost tripled the ticket sales by doing virtually nothing. 

But here’s the real important part: so many of the fans are young kids and their parents are driving them for hours to get to our shows. We had a father and son show up to a show in Wichita, Kansas on a Sunday night. They drove ten hours and drove right back to get to school the next morning. Every night, there were 3,4, 5 different families that drove from all over to get [to the shows]. So the whole purpose of The Red Carpet Tour is to make it an experience. In addition to the show, we have these two little vintage gaming stations set up where they can play Sega Genesis, Sonic, things like that. There’s an actual red carpet when you walk in, they can meet the band, take a photo afterward. It’s almost like a mini Comic-Con specifically with Blacklite District, and its for the kids and their awesome parents who drive them out. I’ve even had some of the parents tell me that their kids play our music so much, they’re starting to get into it, too. 

I don’t want to be a Disney act by any means, but to me it’s way more special than just having a rock radio hit or opening for a generic rock band. To me, this really has the longevity to mean something more. 

Tell us about the upcoming album You Can Do Better. What’s the overarching theme if you had to choose one? How does it differ from any of your previous works?

This is the follow up to my 2022 project 1990 so it’s been, like, two years since I’ve put out an original project. I’ve been working with a producer named Bret Hesla for many years, but I produced and mixed this album myself. I don’t know if it’s just me getting older and wiser, but I feel like this one is special because so much more time went into it. Instead of just saying “Here it is!” We really focused on everything, from the packaging to the branding and the tracklist, every little thing we could do, always keeping our fan base in mind. 

The title of the album, and the [titular] song itself, were created from the narrative of somebody – really, me, in this case – trying to give everything, trying their best, and only ever hearing people say “you can do better.” What it comes down to is that people don’t really have the full context of things.  

I just wanted to deliver what I thought was the best music possible. So it’s a combination of the hardrock stuff but with elements of everything. I don’t want to limit it [this time]. It’s just about what is real. I feel like people can see right the fuck through something that’s not authentic so why even risk it? That’s how I look at this project. It came from the heart, it’s as real as it gets, and I hope people like it. We’ll see what happens. 

What would you say the overarching theme of your entire career up to this point has been?

Everyone loves a good underdog story…and I think people resonate with the triumph and the overcoming of those hurdles. 

What’s next?

We’re going to drive the tour well into 2025 and we want to hit as many markets as possible. We’ll also not only be promoting the new album, but the old songs as well, because some of the songs that are six, seven years old, they continue to grow at a rate that almost feels like they’re new. It seems like every day there are people discovering our music from the last decade, and we just want to expand on that and continue reaching new people to spread the message of hope, the message that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Being a hard rock act, the fact that we can get these young people to resonate with [the music and the message],to me, is special. The fan base drives this project, hands down. No question about it.

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