Exclusive Premiere: Blak Emoji’s “Velvet Ropes & Dive Bars,” a Snapshot of Modern Romance

Blak Emoji © Nicole Brody
Blak Emoji © Nicole Brody

Let’s take the city for a ride…

There’s a lot to love about city nightlife, but sometimes the idea of culture collide gets in the way of truly appreciating everything the surrounding environment has to offer. The folks who grab a $3 beer at the local pub are not the ones ordering bottle service at the swanky club, and vice versa: They live in separate bubbles, detached from each other. There are, of course, those who fit themselves into both worlds. Blak Emoji’s “Velvet Ropes & Dive Bars” is dedicated to one such chameleon, a girl who transcends cultural boundaries to live her life the way she wants, free of restriction and accountable to herself only.

You’re the girl who’s down with velvet ropes and dives
Raising glasses shaking ass all through the night
Like a form of religion
My kind of religion
Listen: “Velvet Ropes & Dive Bars” – Blak Emoji

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Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Velvet Ropes & Dive Bars,” the debut single from New York City-based indie R&B project Blak Emoji. pILLOW tHEORY frontman Kelsey Warren has assumed a new musical space with the synthy, soul-twinged stylings of Blak Emoji, which joins Warren with bass/synth player Chris Gaskell, keyboardist Sylvana Joyce and drummer Max Tholenaar-Maples. What began in 2015 as an exploration of neglected territory – the sweet and sultry, the smooth and classic, the fresh and funky – is now on the path toward a full debut. “Velvet Ropes & Dive Bars” is the first single off Blak Emoji’s forthcoming debut Intro EP, expected in January 20, 2017.

“Velvet Ropes & Dive Bars” immediately opens into an ode, its entrance lines crafting a Bonnie & Clyde-like relationship between the narrator and his femme fatale.

Let’s take the city for a ride
I’m anxious to have a good time
Flashback a year ago tonight
We were like partners in crime
Can’t wait to see your face, a moment from now
Miss you more than I ever had before
With you it’s comfortable to just be myself
Together we have the best of times

Warren’s voice is full and focused atop big, bouncing synth lines that melt seamlessly into jazzy guitars and steady, laid-back drum beats. His lyrics read like a love song, and indeed this is a love song: His words are dedicated to that special someone, the girl who opened, and continues to open his eyes to the world.

Dirty floor and a buyback
Rancid shirt on the barback
Drink cheap thrill no frills
Seedy joint with charm still
Not elitist, but still down with the elite
Dressed in black during Fashion Week

An attitude snob near
But our crew’s cool that’s why we come here

Openness to experience can be tremendously attractive. “You’re the girl who’s down with velvet ropes and dives.” Much like the character of Penny Lane in Cameron Crowe’s acclaimed Almost Famous, Blak Emoji’s main character sees opportunity where others see limitation. She’ll (literally) stand in line at the club, and she’ll hang out at cheap, dark (and traditionally dingy) dive bars. This makes her somewhat of an enigma – and as the narration explains, it leads the two of them on many adventures.

Blak Emoji © Nicole Brody
Blak Emoji © Nicole Brody


Everyone knows this girl; everyone wants to be like this girl. That fluidity is contagious, but it is also unique to a special few. We all have someone like that whom we know; maybe we’re lucky enough to even be that individual to our friends. Blak Emoji sings of her like a half-Goddess, half-ghost; she is this mysterious phenomenon, something that is both cherished and feared.

Such vivid portraiture offers a sublime introduction to a daring new act. Blak Emoji delivers a vision of the nighttime, capturing a familiar aesthetic that is certainly common not only in their native New York’s bustling scene, but also in cities around the world. This is Blak Emoji’s take on modern romance – a kind of religion, sings Warren. It is not an ode to any scene – this is not about bars and clubs, drinking and dancing – but rather, “Velvet Ropes & Dive Bars” gives praise to the special, inclusive someone who can embrace and appreciate both sides of the coin.

Look beyond your humble boundaries and challenge yourself to be uncomfortable; to experience the new and the unknown. Look out for more from Blak Emoji; the Intro EP drops 1/20/2017!

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Blak Emoji single art
Blak Emoji single art
Connect with Blak Emoji on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Discover more new music on Atwood’s Picks
cover photo: Blak Emoji © Nicole Brody
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