Saturday, July 11, 2015

K is for Kid Koala, Kiva, Pierre Kwenders and Kiesza

     Post #11 in our musical journey across this great country of Canada takes us to meet those performers whose name starts with the letter, "K".    These "Special K" list of artists is a mixed bag of up-and-comers, grizzled veterans, as well as, several who are gaining the notice of the music community while mastering musical genres that are, to say the least, obscure and/or cutting edge.  So without further ado, let's meet our featured artists.....

     Legendary composer Henry Mancini composed the lovely and lilting, Moon River, while Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics.  Moon River won an Academy Award for Best Song in the Audrey Hepburn classic, Breakfast at Tiffany's.   As time has gone by, the tune for this song has become one of the most instantly recognizable pieces of music ever written. It is, definitely, a timeless classic.
     It is, also, the signature song performed by rising Canadian DJ/turntablist, Kid Koala.  Kid Koala (Eric San) was born in British Columbia and has used his turntable virtuosity while performing as a solo act, as an opening act for tremendous artists such as Radiohead and Bjork, as a contributor to the albums of others (such as Gorillaz) or, as a member of influential groups such as Deltron 3030.  When performing, Kid Koala usually uses four turntables at a time....or more.   In his most famous piece, Kid Koala samples from four separate turntables simultaneously to recreate the lilting violin sounds from Moon River and he does so, live, in front of his audience.  Nothing is pre-recorded, aside from the sounds on the LPs he is scratching.
     As I mentioned in a previous post, sometimes, an artist can be a huge hit in their specific genre but remain, relatively unknown, to the larger music community.  This is probably true for Kid Koala. In the techno/electronica scenes, Kid Koala is a big, big star on the world stage.  Please check out his version of Moon River and see a wonderful young Canadian performer at the peak of his creative powers. Ladies and gentlemen, I present, Kid Koala live!  Enjoy. :)

     Equally "out there" as far as mainstream music is concerned is a singer called, Kiva.  Kiva is regarded as one of the world's experts on a style of singing called Harmonic Overtone Singing.  Harmonic Overtone Singing is a style of vocal theatrics in which the singer amplifies the sound waves they are creating by changing the shape of the air cavities located in the mouth, the larynx and the pharynx. By doing this, the singer can create more than one pitch at the same time while maintaining a single frequency via their vocal cords. Harmonic Overtone Singing is the musical cousin to the increasingly famous Inuit Throat Singers (in particular, Tanya Tagaq, who won the Polaris Prize last year.)
     Kiva was born in British Columbia and has recorded several albums of original compositions, as well as, teaching whole choirs in her technique.  When we listen to music, we don't always dwell on the science behind the sounds we hear but, there is a ton of science involved in the very unique genre of Harmonic Overtone Singing and one of our own, a Canadian lady named Kiva, is at the forefront of this movement.  Here she is, Kiva!  Be prepared to experience music in a whole new way....scientifically, as well as, artistically.  The creativity and intelligence on display here blows my mind!  It is crazy brilliant, at a very profound level.

     Pierre Kwenders was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo but came to Canada as a child and remains here to this day.  Kwenders combines jazz, funk, rap and world beat music together in multiple languages. His work has seen him receive nominations in the World Music Album of the Year at the 2015 Juno Awards, as well as, the 2015 Polaris Prize.  In this video, he is performing his most well-regarded song, Mardi Gras, with Montreal group, Radio Radio.

     Finally, we have a pop-star.  Kiesza was born in Calgary and spent time involved in the unlikely combination of pursuits as enlisting in the Royal Canadian Navy, training to be a ballerina, as well as, entering the Miss Canada Pageant.  Kiesza is gaining fame across North America and Europe thanks to her infectious pop melodies, as well as, her energetic dance choreography.  She sprang to international attention as a result of her dance performance in her breakthrough video for the song, Hideaway.  She followed that up by transforming the hit, What is Love?, made famous in the movie, A Night at the Roxbury and on Saturday Night Live.   She is currently working with Techno heavyweights, Diplo and Skrillex.   Pop stars have a historical tendency to go supernova and then fade away into obscurity. Time will tell if that is true for Kiesza or if we are witnessing the beginning of a long and illustrious career. But, in the here and now, Kiesza is making a big splash. Let's enjoy her talented stylings, as showcased in her award-winning video for Hideaway.

     Here are the best of the rest. Please extend a big tip of the hat to the following performers whose name begins with the letter, "K":

     From Peterborough, Rev. Ken and the Lost Followers, Poet/rapper, K'naan, from Quebec, Karkwa (the only Francophone winners of the Polaris Prize), Hip Hop/Rap stars, k-os and Kardinal Offishall, singer/songwriter, Chantel Kreviazuk, Blue Rodeo co-founder, Greg KeelorJohn Kay (Lead singer of Steppenwolf), The Canadian Beatles, Klaatu (*They actually wrote Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft. The Carpenters covered it later and had their own big hit with it.),  Alt-rockers, The Killjoys, Jesse Keeler (Lead singer of Death From Above), 70s star, Andy Kim, Jazz legend, Moe Koffman and modern jazz star, Diana Krall, Joe Keithly (Joey Shithead, lead singer of D.O.A.), Ontario's own, King Cobb Steelie, Chad Kroeger (Lead Singer of Nickelback), Benjamin Kowalewicz (Lead singer of Billy Talent), Children/Folk singer, Connie Kaldor (who was the final guest ever on Peter Gzowski's famous CBC radio show called, Morningside), Rapper/Spoken word artist, Ian Kamau, New wavers, Kinetic Ideals and finally, Alt-Ska band, King Apparatus.

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