By MICHAEL-SHAWN DUGARMOSCOW — After experimenting with many different genres of music, including punk rock, metal and even world fusion, Kytami decided electronic dance music was the flavor best suited for her musical taste buds.
The Canadian violinist has long been a fan of the genre, mostly through her love of hip hop, which shares the triple drum patterns and heavy bass with electronic music. Kytami recently joined forces with electronic music maker DJ Generic, who will travel to the states with her for what has become an annual tour.
The next stop on their tour takes them to John’s Alley here on Saturday — the second time in two years Kytami has visited the Palouse. Last year, she took the stage on a Monday night, which wasn’t exactly a primetime concert spot. This year she expects a better turnout.
“This time we were able to get a Saturday, so it’s nice to keep on coming back because each time it gets better and more people hear about what we’re doing and we just gain more traction every time,” she said.
What Kytami does is unique, though not nearly as rare as when she began combining the violin and EDM back in 2002. Now more instrumentalists have taken to the idea, but she and DJ Generic still draw a few strange looks when they take the stage.
“It’s still not a normal pairing, so people don’t know what to expect at first, but once I start performing I find people get engaged pretty quickly,” she said.
Kytami — a stage name combining her first name, Kyla, and her last name, Tamiko — said she enjoys the violin because of how close it is to the human voice, which allows her music to ultimately be more self-expressive. On stage she enjoys how the sound of violin meshes with the mixing, scratching and beat-matching of the turntables to create a fast-paced, engaging sound.
Performing is normal to Kytami, as she’s been on stage since she was 4 years old and for roughly 30 years. She has taken the stage in front of a variety of crowds, many of them likely experiencing her unique sound for the first time.
Whether it’s a hard rock or punk rock festival in the states, an EDM concert in Canada, or on stages in Taiwan or Dubai, Kytami feels right at home when she’s in front of an audience.
“I just love getting on stage and performing, that’s when I come alive,” she said. “I love interacting with the audience and it’s just one of my favorite places to be.”
And no matter where she is or what type of crowd she is playing in front of, the connection between her and the audience is there, bridged by what she feels is a truly universal sound.
“I feel like there’s a connection between the sound of the strings and people’s emotions,” she said. “It’s just such a powerful, expressive sound, the violin. I think that’s what transcends genres, it transcends cultures, it transcends styles.”
Kytami doesn’t just play the violin. She takes it to the extreme and tries to “detonate dance floors” with her performances by creating a “noise you can’t really ignore, a noise that shakes things up,” she said.
Her creative description of her sound pairs well with her tendency to veer from the norm. She creates music with a no-compromise philosophy, so if she doesn’t love it, she won’t play it.
“Everything that I play, everything in my set are beats that I think are dope,” she said. “… I would never compromise my sound so that it fit into one box or a certain mold. That would be cheating myself and my audience. I just want to play and I want my sound to be super dope and just authentic.”