Retrospection can be a bitch. Alessia De Gasperis Brigant, more conveniently known by her stage moniker Kai, tends to cringe when she hears her old stuff. Kai, a Toronto local who is signed to Warner Music Canada, is trying to veer away from her old sound as much as possible, and if the current snippets of her recent musings are anything to go by, she’s achieving it.
Kai, originally a dancer in her school days, can’t recall any definitive musical experiences that have informed her current sound, but certainly her exposure to The Beatles was an eye-and-ear-opening moment. She rates Jeff Buckley and Lauryn Hill as “pinnacles” of her musicianship, and certain elements of their soulfulness – with the ‘tude of Lauryn Hill – can be heard in her earlier tracks, like ‘I Choose Me’ and ‘Unlucky One’, the former having been featured on a hairdresser’s commercial. There’s a playfulness about the tone, and the frivolity of it would have suited the nature of the ad. There’s even a kazoo thrown in and sing-along choruses. Other tracks on her EP, 11.11, channel Angus and Julia Stone, Regina Spektor and Lisa Mitchell, but Kai has chosen to take her music down another track.
She cites extensive writing opportunities with some real music-industry heavies that have given her sonic palette an update and offered her the chance to really explore musical styles previously unexploited. Just try listening to ‘Need Your Heart’, a collaboration with dubstep group, Adventure Club. Kai’s vocal range has expanded beyond a cutesy, girl-next-door soprano, to a soaring, Queen of the Night tone that, with the crystal-clear dubstep production, really takes her from the acoustic ambience of her earlier material.
While her dream collaborations would still be with John Lennon or Jeff Buckley, she still has her ears on current sounds, citing Kendrick Lamar and Bruno Mars as more modern influences. Her recent collaborations with Diplo and Canadian export, Sherry St. Germain in Las Vegas (her “soul sister”) has put her on the right track for a successful future. She sees stars in her future, and wants to be up there with the Rhiannas and Florences of the music industry, emulating the hard-worn path of her idols. But, who knows, with a little retrospection, this period of creativity could prove to be also as cringe-worthy.