Tony Styxx doesn’t write poetry and beatbox simply for entertainment.
While his quick-paced wordplay and picture-painting imagery leaves audiences eagerly anticipating each line, the Indianapolis artist feels his work has a higher purpose.
Every poem he writes documents the highs, lows and in-betweens about living.
“We poets, we singers, we rappers, we’re the library of life,” he said.
Styxx, a human beatbox and spoken word poetry maestro, will perform at 7 p.m. today at the Christian Theological Seminary Shelton Auditorium. He’ll join indie musician Son Lux and conceptual artist Kathryn Armstrong in an event titled “Lanterns Raised: Journeys Through Art.”
The kickoff program of the annual Spirit & Place Festival will feature the three artists discussing the transformative power of art.
Tickets are $15 and are available at the door. The Christian Theological Seminary is located at 1000 W. 42nd St., Indianapolis.
How did you get started doing this?
I started professionally around 2007, in a Starbucks here in Broad Ripple Village.
I started out doing poetry there. After that, I started doing poetry hardcore in the Indianapolis wing and traveling throughout the Midwest.
Around 2009, I started taking the musical aspect of it very seriously. Entertainment in general has been my cup of tea for the last seven or eight years.
What is it about spoken word and mixing it with music that you’ve found helps express yourself?
It’s the stories. If you look at early versions of country or of symphonic opera, they tell stories just with the change of pitch or the length of a note, to get your point across or to paint a picture emotionally.
Where do you get the inspiration for the stories you’re telling?
Life. Life is the biggest inspiration I have, for any of the stories I’ve done. It’s one thing to look at life flat-faced, if you look at the negatives going around. But music is there to uplift, to inspire, to tear down racial barriers and walls. It’s been there through it all.
How did you get involved with Spirit & Place?
(Executive director) Pamela Blevins Hinkle found me through the opportunity I got performing with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. She wanted to know if I’d be interested in doing something with the festival.
What are your thoughts with performing with two other people?
Son Lux and Kathryn, I’d never heard of them before. I love working with people I don’t know. We haven’t contacted each other yet, but I like the surprise aspect of it. Just to watch each other, and then sit down and see what comes out of it. It’ll be a lot more organic on stage.
Someone comes out to see this performance, what can they take away from your art?
It’s kind of like food. If you go out to eat, you get a bowl of beef Stroganoff and I get a bowl of beef Stroganoff, what you tasted and got from it is not going to be the same as mine. It’s the same with music.
But is there a shared response that people have at your shows?
I hope you take a great experience from it. I’m pretty sure that you will. As a performer, I always set out to be emotionally stirring. I don’t write for your amusement, or to the idea of what you think poetry is. I’m not going to write like the masters. I’m going to write like Tony.