PUNK BLACK's 3rd Anniversary - Interview with Founder Von Phoenix
PUNK BLACK has come a long way since its inception three years ago. What started as an effort to get more votes during a battle of the bands event has grown into a tri-city media collective with counterpoints in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York City. PUNK BLACK’s core mission is to promote and increase media representation for people of color -- and they’re doing a damn good job of it.
Atlanta prides itself on being the hip-hop capital of the country, and as a result the rock and indie music scene often gets overlooked. Von Phoenix, PUNK BLACK’s founder, CEO, and guitarist for local Atlanta band Howling Star, recalls the public’s reception during the early days of PUNK BLACK. “It’s really rewarding doing something like this in Atlanta. When we first started, we were met with a lot of thankfulness and support, because people had been looking for something else that didn’t yet exist, and they found it in us.” Phoenix describes PUNK BLACK as a media network featuring rock, art, and cosplay by artists and performers of color. The PUNK BLACK website showcases merch, interviews, music, photos, and podcasts by local artists and contributors-- and they’re just getting warmed up. In the next few years, Phoenix would like to see PUNK BLACK grow into an even more expansive media network, with plans to include an ongoing web series or even a television component comparable to the more intimate and artist-oriented MTV.
Despite PUNK BLACK’s growing success, they still face the usual challenges expected from an organization of this sort. There’s the ever-present issue of having the financial security to implement their plans and dreams, and to pay contributors for their work. Booking at venues poses another challenge -- because PUNK BLACK’s network is made up entirely of local bands and artists, it’s often difficult to convince venue owners that their sponsored shows will bring in enough money to be a worthwhile investment. The hesitation from venues is why community support is so vital to PUNK BLACK’s ongoing success. Not only do the folks at PUNK BLACK provide a platform to promote work by local artists, they also strive to use their growing influence to give back to children in the community.
Beginning in summer of 2018, PUNK BLACK will launch their Next Generation program in effort to provide instruments for children from Title 1 schools which have a high percentage of children from low-income families. The program works as a lottery for kids who are interested in pursuing music but who don’t have access to their own instruments. The Next Generation program is supported mostly by donations-- even donations of old instruments are welcomed.
In celebration of their three year anniversary, PUNK BLACK is hosting a show featuring performances by seven local bands, plus a Streetfighter 4 tournament. The event will be held on May 31st at Union EAV. Visit the PUNK BLACK website for more details, and be sure to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Soundcloud.