SXSW Artist Interview: McKinley Dixon

todayApril 6, 2023 66 1 5

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By: Kenlie Golleher
Rap Music Director

During SXSW, I got the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Chicago-based artist and rapper McKinley Dixon to discuss new music as well as his time at the festival.

I was first introduced to Dixon upon reading the lineup of the SPIN showcase that would be headlined by Killer Mike. I decided to do some research on the said lineup, and that’s when I stumbled upon the music video for “Tyler, Forever.” I was initially captivated visually by the video’s warm and gorgeous cinematography, but I soon found myself loving what I was hearing as well.

Beautifully orchestrated horns ring throughout the song, and Dixon’s flow and heartfelt lyricism pair effortlessly with the instrumentation to create a catchy track that leaves you wanting more. As someone who immensely appreciates the genre of jazz, I just love how much jazz is incorporated into his discography, especially in his full instrumental song “But, Still Tomorrow,” which is the last track off his 2018 album, The Importance of Self Belief. After watching that video and checking out the rest of his albums on Spotify, I knew I had struck gold.

Throughout the mass influx of emails I was getting from SXSW affiliates regarding opportunities at the festival, I stumbled upon one in particular regarding Dixon and his availability for an interview. I had never previously interviewed anyone before, let alone an artist of this caliber, so I will admit I was hesitant to reply at first, but I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I couldn’t let get away from me.

McKinley is wearing a black bandana and a white graphic T-shirt. He is looking down at the ground. The background is illuminated with yellow lighting.
McKinley Dixon at the SPIN showcase at SXSW 2023 | Image Credit: Kenlie Golleher

We met at the Native Bar & Cafe, a beautiful place that set the vibes high right off the bat. Upon our first meeting, we immediately hit it off and began chatting. We soon found ourselves discussing common interests, such as our shared love for emo bands. We geeked over My Chemical Romance and Pierce the Veil and shared a lot of laughs while reminiscing about growing up and being fans during the peak reign of these pop punk legends. Our conversion was so genuine, and it felt like I was just chatting with any other friend of mine, which I thought was lovely.

After watching him perform and sitting down to chat with him, I easily found myself feeling really grateful to have experienced his presence during my time at the festival. On stage, you can clearly see the display of sincerity that he has for his craft by the way he delivers his songs to the audience. Off stage, I was able to open up with the person behind the craft, and found myself resonating with the relatability between our interests and mindsets. Overall, I had a fantastic time, and hopefully I’ll get the chance to catch him another time.

His newest creation, Beloved! Paradise! Jazz!?, is set to release on June 2 on all streaming platforms, so make sure to mark your calendar! Dixon’s talent and passion are heard throughout every song of his, and I’m very excited to see his growth from here. I really hope y’all decide to check him out if you’ve never heard from him before, you won’t be disappointed.

Check out my interview with him below!

Featured Image from Kenlie Golleher

Written by: Hannah Walls

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