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Blazing with KO

Toronto-based urban folk artist sings of struggles of addiction on debut album, Let’s Blaze



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Musically, it's difficult to put a finger on KO's style: a self-described folk musician, he started off rapping. There's still a strong urban element to many of his songs (just take a listen to Drunk on his My Space page).

"I go from rock to reggae to rap, and I think if it sounds good, it's good! I just like to mix it up and test things out."

But almost all of the genres he draws on are heavily based on rhythm.

"If there's no thump to it I'm probably not going to be feelin' it," he added.

His personal musical influences are vast and varied, as well. While he's a fan of mainstream rap he also admires artists like Everlast, Kid Rock, Ani DiFranco, Thelonious Monk, Van Morrison and Neil Young. So it makes sense that his style is eclectic.

But none of these artists is on heavy rotation in his CD player right now. Rather, he's listening closely to a collaborative side project he's working on with a new crew, Unknown Nation, made up of himself, female vocalist Kendall Thompson and rapper Unknown Misery.

"We cook all the stuff up in-house and its like sampled but not sampled, because we sample live instruments, and it's just funky ass stuff!"

KO just kicked off a tour of Western Canada, playing two "phenomenal" sold-out gigs in Edmonton and Calgary over the weekend before making his way to Whistler to perform at the GLC on Saturday night.

"Great people, wicked crowd; I love Alberta... they're all really good people. Its not like Toronto where there's hate mixed into the love, its just all love out here."

KO is no stranger to the West Coast of Canada. In fact, in many ways, he feels his musical sound and style resonate better with the crowds here than at home.

"I think the record, Let's Blaze , it just clicked; it just made perfect sense. I didn't have to explain it to the West Coast - they're like, 'Let's Blaze? You got it,'" he laughed. "Like I said, the vibe out here is just so different. People just want to have a good time, life's too short to be stressed and hating on things."

So far, KO has opened for Ill Scarlett, Swollen Members and Ash Grunwald. Since releasing Let's Blaze last year he's also had the opportunity to perform alongside some pretty major names, including Snoop Dogg and De La Soul.