When you consider his internet celebrity and sizeable back catalog, Kaytranada’s debut LP 99.9% (XL Recordings) almost feels overdue. He’s been a household name on Soundcloud since his 2009 remix of Janet Jackson’s “If” and has continued to put out quality flips of songs both old and new since. His talent is undeniable, and his newest collection of songs is an opportunity to display it alongside a plethora of other artists.

In listening to 99.9%, some obvious influences float to the surface – its music is full of the synthetic jazz chords of the Neptunes and the drunken drums of J Dilla (former Dilla collaborator Kareem Riggins plays on “Bus Ride”). However, it never feels imitative. Kaytranada is one of many producers who can claim these artists as touchstones, but one of the few that can also lay claim to a distinctive sound. This distinctiveness is made all the more impressive given the diversity of samples and guests on 99.9%. You can safely bet that this will be the only album ever made with both Craig David and Little Dragon as featured artists, but Kaytranada’s production allows it to flow seamlessly. It’s a remarkably strong debut, and a timely release – tracks like “Glowed Up” and “Got it Good” are guaranteed to be rattling trunks all summer long.

The question Thursday night, however, was how well this new album would translate to a crowded venue. Kaytra rocks the club with his hip hop sets, and any remix of his is perfect driving or bedroom jamming material. But in the traditional DJ setup of screen, table, and pit, the rhythmic intricacies of 99.9% were at risk of getting lost on the moshing crowds.

Fortunately, while Kaytranada tracks may be more complex than the typical club fare, his set at Metropolis was evidence of their adaptability to a live setting. Kaytra modulated the energy of the sold out venue with ease, opening with some bangers like “Drive Me Crazy” that got the room bouncing. The set came in peaks and valleys; after a few high-energy tracks, Kaytra would slow the tempo with some mellow instrumentals that kept the crowd vibing. “Got it Good” and “One Too Many,” set against .gifs of pot leaves and waves crashing against the shoreline, went over especially well, lending a hazy, blissful atmosphere to the evening. Of course, just as the room was settling down, another high energy track, like his flip of Missy Elliott’s “Sock it to Me,” would bring the energy back up again.

The two-hour set closed with an extended play of Kaytra’s now-classic take on Janet Jackson’s “If,” picking up the crowd and setting it back down one last time. After a quick encore consisting of album cuts and a new Chance the Rapper song, he departed to rabid applause. If there was any doubt about Kaytranada’s appeal to a larger audience, it was unwarranted – it is now abundantly clear that he’s ready for the big time, and thankfully, he’s taken his idiosyncrasies with him.

Featured image by Ralph Haddad.

Oh man, this is gonna be good.

As I sat down at my computer this afternoon to begin “working on an essay,” I was, of course, immediately distracted by the shiny blue-glow of my Facebook newsfeed. For once, though, this unintentional procrastination session paid off large.

Yes– my wandering eyes were greeted with the official poster for this year’s edition of Montreal’s favourite summer music festival. This evening, the Internet is abuzz with excitement over this year’s acts, and for a very, very good reason.

Osheaga 2016 marks the first time that Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lana Del Rey and Radiohead will grace the stage down at Parc Jean Drapeau. In fact, both RHCP and Radiohead haven’t even played a show in Montreal since 2012, making their upcoming sets this summer a much-needed return.

On top of the major headlining acts, the 2016 lineup boasts the strongest, most well-rounded collection of artists that the festival has ever organized.

More than ever before, Osheaga 2016 has something for everyone– from the electro-stylings of Disclosure, M83, and Flume to the hip-hop presence of Future and legends Cypress Hill, to the alternative-pop charm of groups like The Lumineers, Bastille, and Passenger.

On top of that, Montreal’s thriving music scene is, once again, very well-represented. This year, Grimes, Half Moon Run, Kaytranada, as well as Busty and the Bass will all be performing over the course of the three-day festival. If you were thinking that Montreal could host a version of Osheaga with only local artists, you’d be absolutely right.

But what makes Osheaga even cooler is it’s ability to feature up-and-coming artists that are about to, for lack of a more eloquent phrase, “blow up.”

Take, for example, Toronto’s hip-hop phenom (some might even say the best thing to come from the 6ix since Drake), Jazz Cartier. There’s also London-based ‘grime’ act Skepta, who’s had tremendous success the past year in the UK and Australia. But if hip-hop isn’t really your scene, there’s Toronto’s grunge-influenced Dilly Dally, Vancouver’s punk-esque White Lung, and Australia’s ultra-innovative Hiatus Kaiyote– all of whom are set to have a massive 2016.

If last year’s edition (Osheaga’s 10th anniversary) was meant to celebrate a decade of growing the summer music festival scene here in Montreal, this year’s edition definitely looks ahead to the future– and no doubt, the future is looking extremely bright.

* For the complete lineup and to purchase passes, please visit osheaga.com

Thursday marked the second day of POP Montreal, and it was arguably the best day for electronic music lovers. Kaytranada, a Haitian-born, Montreal-raised producer who is known for his groovy, R&B infused dance music, played his second sold out show in Montreal at the SAT.

Since the start of his career in 2010, Kaytranada has been able to cultivate his own unique sound that differentiates his music from other producers, which has allowed him to not only draw in thousands of loyal fans from Montreal and across Canada, but also grow rapidly as an intentionally recognized producer.

I attended some Kaytranada shows a few years ago, back when he was opening for bigger producers and playing at smaller club-type venues, like Le Belmont. The setting was intimate, and everyone who attended was there for the music. I knew this wasn’t going to be the case on Thursday, simply based on the fact that this was a sold out show at the SAT, which is a sizeable concert venue.

Planet Giza and Graves were the opening acts of the show, and the crowd loved them. Or maybe they were just really stoked for Kaytranada. Before the opening acts were even over, I had a layer of sweat all over my body from how crowded and hot the space had become. I was already nervous about how I was going to be able to withstand that level of heat for the rest of the night.

Once Kaytranada came on, everything went wild. I became a human sandwich, pressed hard in between people in the crowd. Kaytranada started his set with one of his classic tracks, and continued his set with catchy beats that just make you want to dance.

The problem was, you couldn’t dance because there was simply no room for it. Every couple of minutes, an intoxicated person would push through the crowd, falling on the people around him or her, trying to get as close to the front as possible.

It was hard to immerse myself in the music when I found myself caught in the middle of all of this. Kaytranada seemed to be okay with this though, because at one point during his set, he took the microphone and said “this isn’t a concert, it’s a party!”

Kaytranada played a good set, but I wouldn’t say it was spectacular. He played many of his older songs, which I enjoyed, but there were definitely points in the night where I had trouble telling the difference between one song and another. This may have been a result of his staple sound that can be found in most of his music, or because I wasn’t able to immerse myself enough into the show.

It disappointed me when I realized that much of the crowd was not there to enjoy the music, but simply for the hype that Kaytranada has become. I’m thrilled for him to have found fame and success, and he definitely deserves it. Despite that, I’ll forever miss those raw, intimate shows he was able to play before he became a mainstream musician.

As a long time fan of Kaytranada who went to the show for the music, it was difficult to fully enjoy myself. However, I have no doubt that those who went to the show to party had an amazing time. I wish Kaytranada the best with his career and I will continue to support his music, but I can’t say I am planning to ever go to a Kaytranada show again.

If Krystale is a machine as she claims, she is one that has soul.

That was a terrible pun, but it highlights a theme of the Montreal singer’s new album Machine. She continually navigates a balance between warm, romantic vocal delivery and cold, withholding lyrical content. The dichotomy creates an exciting, diverse set that will satisfy any fan of original soulful music. Krystale succeeds here by singing with a confidence and talent that command attention from the listener. The songs are complex but catchy, the performances are first rate (Krystale is joined by Harvey Bien-Aimée on drums, Hrag Keuchkerian on guitar, and Pierre Erizias on bass), and the production by Tim Gowdy creates a lush sonic atmosphere that coheres the album.

Machine is a clear synthesis of Krystale’s previous EPs, the jazz-inflected Reboot (2011) and The Good Fight (2012) in which she was joined by beat-maker Kaytranada. It is her most unified work and it achieves the ideal of sounding organic, even with the inclusion of electronic elements. Many musicians categorize themselves within the jazz, soul, R&B, and electronic genres but nobody else sounds like Krystale.

While Krystale’s vocal prowess is undeniable, the emotional tone of her lyrics is one of the most noticeable attributes of the album. She is vulnerable but also closed off, making the listener curious as to what will come next. With song titles like “I Don’t Like to Share” and lyrics such as “I’m a Machine” and “I be cold if I have to / self control is a virtue,” we can only wonder why she is so emotionally guarded. There are lighter moments, though, with lyrics about restarting, changing perspectives, love, and companionship.

The title track puts Krystale’s expressive vocals on display while leaving room for funky bass fills from Erizias. Here we also witness how tight the band is through a complex arrangement that includes a four-on-the-floor, head-bobbing bridge and syncopated hits to close the song. Bien-Aimée’s drums and Keuchkerian’s guitar riffs are in the forefront of “Cold Without You.” They pair with Krystale’s airy, emotional singing to create a spacey, entrancing musical experience. “Midnight Blue” sounds nothing like any of the other songs but could be the one that best encapsulates the balance between upbeat, accessible music and sombre but tender lyrics. This is the song with the fastest tempo and has an unrelenting rock feel, all while being matched with lyrics such as “I taught myself disaster when the hue soaked in my sight / but the dark seems so fulfilling / there’s no way to change my mind.”

Some listeners might notice that many of the songs have similar structure with verses, choruses, and a bridge toward the end of the song, but each composition is unique enough that it stands on its own. Machine works because each song is catchy in its own right, but when put together they all gel as a cohesive work of art. Krystale’s vocals and compositions carry the album, but the instrumental performances and production prove just as integral to the outcome. Krystale’s sound is wholly unique, particularly within the Montreal area, and that makes Machine an album you do not want to miss.