Gary James' Interview With Lynzie Kent Of
They just happen to be one of the hottest, most popular bands out of Toronto! We are talking about Electric Blonde. Their lead singer, Lynzie Kent was nominated in 2012 by Now magazine as one of Toronto's best female vocalists. Lynzie Kent spoke with us about Electric Blonde.
Q - There must be something going on in Toronto because I've noticed more Canadian bands are getting booked in the States. Do you have a lot of dance bands in Canada?
A - We do. Canada has a very close knit community of musicians with a really amazing level of musicianship. We have a lot of schools here that have music programs. Maybe it's because of the way we foster talent and the way that we take care of our musical community, but the city seems to pump out these incredibly talented musicians and at the end of the day we don't have as big of an opportunity in Canada as you guys do in the States for touring 'cause our cities are so far apart. So, we have to do things like work in dance bands to sort of make a living as musicians. It's sort of a means to an end. We still get to play music and we get to make a living, so it's wonderful.
Q - You're performing in Turning Stone Casino which is top of the line, but musicians are struggling in Central New York.
A - You definitely have to be among the better bands to be consistently booking gigs and you have to have a band leader who puts their nose to the ground and who is out there looking for the work. You can't just expect it to fall in your lap. You still have to really, really search for it, but it is possible if you have the drive.
Q - Was it difficult to get into Turning Stone?
A - Well, we have a really great agent here in Toronto who takes care of us and he submitted us for the job and I think because of what Electric Blonde is doing, we're branding ourselves a little bit differently compared to a lot of bands out there. We're playing a lot of '80s and '90s, the things that people in their 20s and 30s want to hear right now and those are the kind of people that are out partying. We've got a really specific look, so I think people just kind of appreciate that as a dance band. We're doing something just a little bit different.
Q - You refer to Electric Blonde as a dance band. Aren't you a show band and / or cover band as well?
A - I think we're a dance band. Our goal is to get people dancing. We're replacing a DJ by playing music people are going to get up and dance to. A lot of people call us a cover band. It's pretty rare that we would be called a show band because other than what we wear and what we play; we're definitely performers, but when I think of show bands I think of people who are choreographed. I think of like big bands, 15 people or more, but that's me.
Q - You could have fewer people. When I think of a show band I think of a group that wears matching clothing with a female lead singer.
A - We're actually up to nine pieces now.
Q - As a dance band, do you need all nine members?
A - Well, when we're in Turning Stone we play as a five piece and these days I'm pushing more and more for people to hire us as a nine piece because we bring along the whole horn section which is super cool because it allows the material that we do to be so much more expansive. We're adding more Hip Hop to our repertoire. The options are endless when you add a horn section and also the energy is so much more prevalent on stage. The more members up there having a good time, the more people in the audience are having a good time.
Q - If you play as a five piece band that means four people are getting left behind. Does that create any hard feelings?
A - Oh, not at all. No. I honestly rotate through a group of about fifteen different musicians that know the band's repertoire and they come in and they come out. The thing is, a lot of members also play in original acts a lot of the time. My drummer will be on tour with an artist or my keyboard players will be on tour with his band. So I have to have a large pool of musicians that know all of our repertoire so that I can consistently make sure that Electric Blonde is working.
Q - So, you're more or less, and probably a little more, the leader and founder of Electric Blonde?
A - Oh, 100% yes.
Q - So you're really calling the shots in this band.
A - I do. (laughs)
Q - Before Electric Blonde you were the lead singer of God Made Me Funky. What kind of a band was that and why did you leave?
A - It was a New Funk band. New Funk is Funk music, but it's updated to be a little bit more accessible to people who like Pop and R&B in today's world. I was with them in 2007 and 2008. In all honesty, it wasn't the right fit for me. That was a decision that was come to by both the band members and myself. I learned a lot about music and running a band and the business of music from working with them, but it just wasn't my place in music.
Q - You have twelve million YouTube views. Was / is that with Electric Blonde?
A - Well, that was just me and my guitar player as a duo.
Q - That's quite impressive, isn't it?
A - Yeah. I don't know what happened, but something good happened and people started watching.
Q - Did you get an offers of a record deal?
A - No. A lot of amazing opportunities came out of it, like I was able to collaborate with some really interesting artists. I booked quite a few gigs in the States when I was working on my solo, original music and I even booked gigs locally based on that sort of acoustic Pop format and I still do to this day. People are often calling us up saying, "We want the acoustic format." I would say the opportunities that came from it for me was just legitimizing myself as a musician as well as people sort of getting excited about hearing acoustic Pop songs done in an acoustic Pop format and hiring us to do that.
Q - Where did this idea of wearing bow ties come from?
A - To be honest, it came from the prom scene in Back To The Future. When they go to the prom and he plays "Johnny B Goode" on guitar, I always thought wouldn't it be great if my band all wore suits like that band does in the movie. So, I decided we have to wear bow ties until I can get us all tailored, powder blue suits. The guys will kill me, but I can't wait.
Q - You can never mistake a guy in the band for someone in the audience with that idea.
A - That's kind of the idea, to bring a sense of unity to the band, to make sure everyone just looks slick and polished so that people know we're the band. It's all about branding. I want people to know that Electric Blonde is the band that wears bow ties and they can't really confuse us with anyone else.
Q - Why the name Electric Blonde? What does that mean?
A - Well, I don't really know. It kind of started when I wanted it to sound exciting, but also cool and it kind of stuck. I named the band that way back in 2009 and now I don't even think about it when I say it. I just thought it sounded cool (laughs)
Q - Now we're getting closer!
A - There you go! (laughs)
Q - Do you ever get tired of singing the same songs or do you have such a variety you can rotate songs?
A - We've got a repertoire of about 500 songs right now. Of course, if we're doing 85 shows a year, I get tired of certain songs. Right now we're actually doing a huge overhaul of our set list. We're learning a bunch of new stuff because we're sort of moving toward the nine piece format and so we have to learn a lot of new material. That's exciting for me. I want to sing stuff that is fresh for me, because then the energy on stage is better. At the end of the day, a lot of the old songs work. We play them because people love them.