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From snowboarding to violin
When self-described “violinistextremist” Kytami graduated from high school, she decided to give up violin and take up snowboarding.
“I quit playing because I was just kind of done with classical music,” she said.
Kytmai, who was born in Vancouver and raised in White Rock, had been playing the violin since she was three years old. She graduated from the Vancouver Academy of Music when she was 17, but felt the classical music scene was far too restrictive for her.
“I was getting in trouble for the way I dressed for my lessons,” Kytami said. “I was never really into competing and testing. I think I’ve always been more of a performer. I’ve been on stages since I was three and that’s what I love to do. I loved playing chamber music and playing in an orchestra, but I didn’t know I could play with other kinds of musicians.”
It was around that time that Kytami decided take up her new found love of snowboarding and move to Whistler, but it wasn’t long before the violin was back in her hands.
“I ended up landing a gig at the Irish pub [Dubh Linn Gate Pub] up there. It was supposed to be a one-off thing but it turned into a pretty regular thing. It really got my chops back up and it also got me having fun with music again because people would come down after skiing and have a few drinks. It just became a fun thing and there was no pressure.”
Around the same time, she was dating a DJ who exposed her to a wide range of genres. The frequent exposure to hip-hop, trance, dance and other genres got the creative juices flowing for Kytami.
“I started having this idea that maybe I could make music in that style,” she said. “I thought about moving to the U.K. for awhile to really explore that, but I ended up coming back to Vancouver and meeting bands and producers in Vancouver.”
Kytami will be showcasing her unique style at the Globe on March 29. It will be the first time she’s ever performed as a solo artist in the Harbour City.
In 2002, Kytami released her first solo album titled Conflation and followed that up with the release of her self-titled album in 2012. Both albums feature her unique blend of classical music and fiddle styles with hip-hop and dubstep.
“I just made it up as I went along. I felt like it was something I needed to do. I just had this idea and I felt like it could be done,” Kytami said about her style. “Now it’s a little more common, but at the time I didn’t know anyone. I kind of felt like I was knocking down these walls. I was discovering who I was more as an artist and creating art and creating music.”
In 2006, Kytami was a founding member of a band called Delhi 2 Dublin, which captured international attention with its unique Celtic-Punjabi-electronica style of music.
“I was there right from the very beginning,” she said. “I wrote our very first two songs and one of those songs just hit a chord. It was really amazing and fun to watch it just take off.”
As a member of Delhi 2 Dublin, Kytami toured across throughout North America and overseas. She said that she learned a lot about the music industry during her time with the band.
“I learned a lot about how to organize myself and I made a lot of great connections with that band,” she said. “When I launched myself as a solo artist I was able to take advantage of those connections.”
However, in 2010 Kytami decided to split from the band restart her solo career after a continuing disagreement on the artistic direction of the band.
“Near the end I felt like I still had my own ideas that I wanted to focus on more,” Kytami said. “It was a really hard decision and it was painful because we had spent five, almost six, years together and we had accomplished a lot.”
Since relaunching her solo career, Kytami received two awards. In 2013 she won Live Act of The Year at the Vancouver Island Music Awards and Electronic/Dance Recording of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards.
“That was some reassurance that I was on the right track,” she said. “It was amazing. I did not expect to win at all.”
Kytami is currently finishing up a mix tape, which she hopes to release soon. She’s also working on a new album and planning on touring. Since the birth of her daughter nine years ago, Kytami only tours for a maximum of three weeks.
“I’ve always toured ever since she was a baby and luckily I have amazing family support that has allowed me to do that ... That’s the unfortunate thing for a lot of female artists. I’ve seen it happen with a lot of female artists where it’s either a family or a career in music. It’s really tough to balance both, but I like I said family support has made all the difference in keeping this going,” Kytami said.
Her daughter, Cyprus, still has questions about her mother’s career choice and once suggested that her mother get a regular job.
“I don’t think she fully understands. She told me once that I should get a real job ... she said I should work in the movie theatre,” Kytami said, laughing.