It’ll soon be 2:00 p.m., and the crowd is slowly gathering in front of Osheaga’s Valley Stage, under a glorious sun and sweltering heat. A surprise show is about to begin, offered by someone whose name is on everyone’s lips lately: Kallitechnis. Despite a few technical hurdles, she’s about to play her biggest gig so far. “Half of my band wasn’t there, and we had to rehearse that very day,” she says. “It was quite stressful, but in hindsight, I wouldn’t change a thing; all of those hurdles were great learning experiences,” she says a few days later, on her way to her gig at Manifesto, in Toronto, a cultural festival organized in collaboration with Moonshine.
But exactly how, in merely a few months, did Kallitechnis manage to climb to the top of the list of emerging Canadian artists who are working with some of the best international producers?
Born Cassandra Kouremenos in Montréal, Kallitechnis was born to Greek parents. Her artistic life began when she was four years old and took ballet lessons. Fascinated by all art forms, she also oversees the visual aspect of her productions. And as with many of her contemporaries, her career was launched in large part with the help of social media networks. Powered by “an undeniable urge to create,” she started sharing her creations online, as an outlet to express herself, including experiments and her “deep self.” Her stage name came from this artistic process. Kallitechnis is a Greek word that means “master of his art” and harks back to her origins, but also to her personality and passion for the arts.
In 2015, producer Rami Bizzle (Planet Giza) discovered her on SoundCloud. “That was my first real composition and writing experience,” she says. A few months later, Lou Phelps offered to work on her first single, “Average,” produced by none other than Montréal’s own international star, Kaytranada. “I just couldn’t believe it,” she says. “Kaytranada is someone I’ve always wanted to work with, so hearing my voice on one of his productions was an accomplishment.”
Kallitechnis found herself faced with a tough decision, typical for many young artists: should she pursue her burgeoning career, or stay in school, to eventually land a stable, well-paying job? Thinking about her future, she chose to graduate in psychology at McGill University and embark on a Master’s degree in Music Therapy at Concordia University. But before she started that, she had to complete one year in the Arts program at l’Université de Québec à Montréal. That year would prove to be pivotal. Surrounded by like-minded, talented people, she discovered sculpting and other art forms that only solidified her passion. In March 2017, her Master’s project fell through when her application was turned down. It would prove to be the turning point of her young life. And far from feeling discouraged by that rejection, she felt relieved. She took it as a sign from The Universe and decided to devote herself entirely to music.
Wet Paint, her first EP, came out a few months later, in October of 2017. At the crossroads of R&B and soul, she was inspired by luminaries like Sadé, Anderson .Paak, and Kendrick Lamar. “If I had to qualify the music I do, I would describe it as soul searching,” she says. “I write about what I know, about what I’ve gone through and – after thorough introspection – about who I am and what I feel. I love passionate people who deeply love their art form, people who are in touch with their artistic soul.”
Nowadays literally indispensable, social media networks have completely changed the music landscape by turning it into a sort of playground where explorations and unlikely collaborations happen. A true child of the online generation, Kallitechnis uses that resource to collaborate with foreign producers like Intellect (U.K.), Andrew Void (L.A.), and Evil Needle (France). As a matter of fact, it’s the one piece of advice she has for emerging artists: “Don’t wait until it falls on your lap. Be pro-active, use the resources at your disposal, and above all, be patient. One thing at a time.”
Far from wanting to give lessons to her audience, Kallitechnis sings about her perspective on life, her love of humankind, and about the strength of being vulnerable. She defines herself as a feminist in her daily actions, and doesn’t hesitate to talk about her experience as a woman, of the hurdles she faces on a daily basis, but she doesn’t associate herself with the common definition of feminism – which she believes has taken on a negative connotation.
We’re eagerly anticipating the release of Chromatic, her upcoming seven-song EP, set for release at the end of September 2018. In the meantime, she’ll put out a two-song release, Complementary, produced by fellow Montréalers Chase Wave and Jay Century. She’s also working on a surprise, a single to be released in a few weeks where she worked with one of the planet’s biggest rappers. Kallitechnis doesn’t do half-measures.
“I’m ambitious, but realistic,” she says. “I’d love to collaborate with producers like Timbaland or Pharrell, or even BadBadNotGood, for their jazzy touch.” The invitation has been extended…