Thursday July 31, 2014





Victoria-based musician defies labels as she fuses multiple music genres

It was supposed to be the piano.

That was the instrument Kyla LeBlanc's mother wanted her to learn when she took a three-year-old Kyla for music lessons at the Vancouver Academy of Music.

But, as luck would have it — and it truly was luck, in retrospect — the piano class was full.

Perhaps it was a simple coincidence; perhaps there was an otherworldly influence guiding the budding musician. But, if it weren't for a booked-up piano class, LeBlanc might never have picked up a violin.

Divine intervention?

"Yes!" says LeBlanc as she lets out a laugh over the phone, "Exactly!"

LeBlanc, who is best known by her stage name Kytami, is a violinist of extraordinary talent and enigmatic style.

Trained in classical string, the Victoria-based musician and composer has carved a unique niche as a rock-violin pioneer, one who has managed to defy categorization.

Her music is a fusion of multiple genres — classical, electronic, new age, hip-hop, plus many others, making it virtually impossible to label her music.

"I've always tried different things," said LeBlanc.

"To me, it's about pushing the boundaries, seeing where I could take my instrument, what realms I could take my instrument into, and it was almost limitless."

That musical fearlessness has gained LeBlanc fans worldwide, some who first heard her when she was part of the global-fusion group Delhi 2 Dublin and others who have only known her as a solo performer slaying her mighty bow through electronica and bass tunes.

On Friday, May 17, Kytami revisits both spectrums of fans when she returns to Kamloops for a solo show at Cactus Jacks Saloon Night Club.

She has played the club before and also performed at Thompson Rivers University.

The CJ's audience represents the younger range of her fan base. It's likely most of the club's patrons were pre-teens when she was still forging her musical style some 15 years ago.

In those early days of LeBlanc's career, it was not uncommon to find the young violinist playing fiddle in an Irish bar one night and jamming with a metal band the next — all the while experimenting with hip-hop-inspired compositions in her spare time.

"It was funny. In early 2000, I really wanted to get into hip-hop and do the hip-hop thing," she said, "and I was working with a couple of DJs, but all these metal bands kept on asking me to join."

It wasn't that she couldn't decide on a genre. She liked the diversity. Her style emerged as a natural extension of her musical tastes (everything from punk to reggae) — and from her desire to follow her own path as a musician.

"When I started, no one was really doing it," she said.

"I didn't copy anybody or follow anyone else. I just sort of had this idea I could do this."

Audiences and fellow musicians welcomed the sound.

"At one point, I was playing in five bands because people were really into what I was doing," she said.

These days, LeBlanc's schedule sees her in equally diverse settings as a solo artist. Last week, she performed in a former church in Port Alberni for an older, seated audience. Next week, the dance floor at CJ's will be crowded as LeBlanc plays for a nightclub crowd.

In the meantime, those who are curious about her music can find multiple tracks on Soundcloud as well as her 2012 self-titled album on iTunes and Amazon.ca.

Tickets for the CJ's show are $7 and are available in advance at Mountain High Pizza, 314 Victoria St.

ON STAGE

KYTAMI

WHEN: Friday, May 17

WHERE: Cactus Jacks Saloon Night Club, 130-Fifth Ave.

TICKETS: $7 at Mountain High Pizza, 314 Victoria St.

WHY YOU SHOULD GO: “She could make you crowd surf to Pachelbel,” says Vancouver Island music festival director Ty Cooke.



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