At a very young age, indie singer Kai Martin knew her pipes were made to blow sweet harmonies. And while growing up she might have been heavily influenced by soul greats (Roberta Flack, Stevie Wonder) and dreamt of following in their musical footsteps, Martin’s calling card came in a completely foreign genre.
“I knew about house music, but I was into singing R&B and pop music,” points out the Albany, New York native. (She now resides in Atlanta.) It all started in 2002 when a friend of Martin’s cousin scored her a gig with Filur, a production duo out of Denmark, searching for a singer to record one song. “That was my first time singing house, and I had to learn the song in the studio on the spot.”
The single, “Fallin’,” off the Deeply Superficial album, ended up climbing the Danish dance charts all the way to number three. “Once I tried this sound, I thought I could do this.” The style of house Filur introduced to Martin was the antithesis of typical house numbers featuring ubiquitous songstresses belting out vocal acrobatics over pulsating hard beats. Filur’s loungy, melodic house instrumentals teamed seamlessly with Martin’s emotive, moody voice.
“It doesn’t have to be loud and in your face,” says Martin, who cites Sade as another inspiration. Martin’s sonic focus quickly switched to house music, and an ad by production team Solu Music in a 2003 Village Voice newspaper seeking “soulful vocals for house tracks” solidified her presence in this genre.
“I answered the ad and got the gig. One song led to me recording an entire album with Solu Music in 2005.” Affirmation was the first full-length album featuring Martin as the sole vocalist. Singles such “I Feel,” “It Aint Love” and “Blvd” embodied an atmospheric vibe that won her a growing fanbase drawn to her distinctive voice.
Martin continued to forge a musical relationship with house by connecting with electronic mastermind Chris Brann, whom she’s collaborated with over the past seven years. Most recently, she lent her soothing mellow vocals this year on “Come To Me,” “A Second” and “Truth Comes Shining Through,” from Brann’s Ananda Project’s Beautiful Searching.
After years of contributing her talents to other artists, Martin (who divides her time as a social worker and mommy by day) is currently putting the finishing touches on her very first EP scheduled to drop later this summer. She’ll showcase her songwriting skills and revisit her roots on the effort. “I really wanted to mix all the sounds that I love. There will be some house, R&B and pop songs touching on love and relationships. I’m very excited!”—Alexandra Phanor-Faury
Have a longer listen to Kai Martin music on MySpace.
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