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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Hip Hop R&B




"Ottawa Bluesfest 2015- BlakDenim"

The set began with a quiet, sparsely populated crowd, country music bleeding over onto their stage. But it ended with an electric crowd dancing, shouting and calling for more.
Blakdenim’s Thursday night Bluesfest set didn’t come easy, but it proved that Ottawa is more than capable of putting out truly elite talent.
Horns squealed in lip-splitting solos, vocalist Erin Tompkins sang with the passion and poise of a 20-year soul veteran and frontman Precise Kenny Creole’s infectious personality bled into the crowd from start to finish.Perhaps most impressive aspect is that amongst all of the fun, the band managed to put on a socially conscious set that showed how music can simultaneously entertain and educate.
All of this was emphasized by the country music backdrop of the rest of the night. While country musicians may be working on reconciling their past, they’ve still got a long way to go.
When Creole spat verses about racial profiling, police shootings, and gave a direct call-out to Ferguson, it was hard not to wonder how many people would turn out for Jason Aldean wearing confederate flag memorabilia.
In a furious rendition of “DeCypher,” Creole wove a hard-hitting narrative of the struggles of a young black girl.
At the song’s finale, Creole rapped over a single haunting flute, “Live by the gun die by the culture created/ gotta say we made it.”
His lines addressed both the North American culture of hatred and the issues prevalent within the group’s own hip-hop genre.“I don’t even gotta say shit/ I don’t agree with it becoming a term of endearment/ It’s in the song so sing along with it/ Making it okay to say the names they gave the slaves and shit.”
The band’s politics were abundantly clear in “Horticulture,” where they called upon the crowd to join in the chorus, singing “Tell me who’s worried about the oil/ Officer I’m just planting seeds in the soil.”
The chorus built with Creole’s declaration of “I push knowledge,” before Tompkins broke in with a heart-wrenching chorus that soared above the climbing horns, a sparkling gleam in her eye beneath the stage lights.It wasn’t the heavy verses that pulled in the crowd however, it was the intoxicating funk and contagious energy of the entire band.
Unswayed by the quiet audience at the beginning, the band was clearly just happy to be there from the first song. All smiles and dancing, the atmosphere pulled more listeners toward their riverside stage.
A few songs in, the audience’s cheering drowned out the sound flooding over from the next stage. The joy that the group took in that was painted in neon colours across each member’s face.By the time Creole and multi-instrumentalist Vick Bernard broke into a dance-off midway through the set, the captive audience had tripled in size. The two performers slid across the stage smooth as the calm water beside them, laughing as they broke out impressively fluid dance moves.
At the show’s climax, Creole got the crowd to join in a memorable chant of “Blakdenim one word no C, what?” while the band jammed. Then he broke out his freestyle chops.
Creole’s improvised verses were hilariously meta and self-effacing, admitting his own freestyling flaws and smiling the entire time.
Even amidst all the impressive vocals, it was impossible to ignore the talent of the instrumentalists. Bassist Karl Acelin and drummer Sacha Nagy held the night’s set together with their tight rhythm section. Mark Onderwater’s moody keys added drama and built tension when the band needed it, and the horn section took the music to the next level.The lows of Sebastien Christopher’s tuba vibrated through your chest while Ed Lister’s crisp and chaotic trumpets brought the funk. Bernard proved to be the band’s jack-of-all trades, providing poignant trombone, atmospheric flutes, haunting back-up vocals and of course the aforementioned dance moves.
When it came time for the final song, the group had the audience singing the chorus of “Hold up, Hold On.” Creole ran backstage only to reappear in the crowd, jumping and dancing around with his newly won fans.
Blakdenim’s Bluesfest set was simply monumental, perfectly displaying the talents of one of Ottawa’s most creative and impressive acts. Familiarize yourself with Blakdenim’s catalogue, because they’re going places. - the Scene Magazine

"After Funk and BlakDenim Burn Down the Rainbow"

BlakDenim kicked the show off with power and energy, and they refused to relent until their set ended. This big band focused around frontman Precise Kenny Creole’s crisp and fluid rap, using thought-provoking lyrics and quick, varied rhythm to keep the crowd fully engaged. His vocals were contrasted by soul-pop singer Erin Tomkins, who delivered beautiful vibrato hooks and melodies. Surrounding the vocalists was an incredibly tight rhythm section. These guys gave their brand of hip-hop a heavy dose of intensity and emotion. Laced with funk and jazz, the backgrounds really set BlakDenim apart from your average hip-hop show. BlakDenim is the complete package. If you’re looking passionate lyrics, infectious rhythms, expertly layered instrumentals, or simply something to move your feet to, this is a band you have to check out.

If you are so inclined, BlakDenim will make a return as the headliner at The Rainbow Bistro on August 16. Go see them, and pick up their new EP, you won’t regret it. - The Indie Blender

"Festival Blog: BlakDenim, The Split and Vintage Trouble"

With the arrival of the weekend, sets began much earlier in the day than the weeknights. First up in the heat of the day were BlakDenim, a group that stand out in the city’s burgeoning hip-hop scene. Nine members in total, an initial comparison would see them line up alongside The Roots—hip-hop with the live backing band aspect that shouldn’t be missed. In support of their new EP Vangard(en), the band delivered a wonderful blend of hip-hop, funk, and soul across their hour on stage. Emcee Precise Kenny Creole rapped just as his name advertised—rhyming rigorously while Erin Tomkins handled the soulful singing of hooks and choruses. Backed by a band full of interesting inclusions such as a horn section (complete with a custom BlakDenim-branded tuba), a flautist, and a keyboardist who also scratched records live, BlakDenim was seamlessly operating as a well-oiled, nine-piece hip-hop machine. By the time the set was over, they had proven capable in delivering one of the better live shows Ottawa has to offer. - the Charlatan

"RBC Bluesfest Day 2"

"For those who aren’t familiar, I’d compare this group to the likes of The Roots and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. So yeah, pretty hype." - Ottawa Showbox

"BlakDenim Capitivates the Mercury Lounge with it's Intoxicated Tunes and Good Vibes"

It’s safe to say that BlakDenim is an up and coming force to be reckoned with and that this group of hard-working musicians is bound to have much more in store for the National Capital Region sooner than later. Be sure to keep an eye out for this band - Eventful Capital

"Kingston Welcomes BlakDenim for the First Time"

Vanguard band BlakDenim combines brass instruments with hip-hop beats to create wildly experimental harmonies.

The Ottawa-based, eight-piece hip-hop/rock/funk band formed in 2012 . They didn’t start as the full ensemble, but gradually added members as the years progressed.

BlakDenim consists of emcee Precise Kenny Creole, vocalist Erin Tomkins, bassist Karl Acelin, drummer Sacha Nagy, keyboardist Mark Onderwater, flutist, trombonist and vocalist Vick Bernard, tubist and cellist Sebastien Christopher and Ed Lister playing the trumpet.

“We played our first show in December of 2012,” Tomkins told the Journalvia email. “While most of us did not really know each other before the band, we gelled musically very quickly.”

The fact that there’s eight members can be a lot to deal with, and it makes things both more challenging and rewarding for the band.

“A band as big as ours is definitely a lot to handle, particularly when it comes to organizing schedules,” Tomkins said. “It also makes touring more interesting — but while it presents many challenges, our size is our strength.”

In terms of song writing, the band feeds off each other’s ideas and energy, the vocalist added.

“On stage, there really is nothing like the sound and energy of a big band,” Tomkins said. “Our shows get crazy.”

BlakDenim’s music is distinctly diverse — they pride themselves on having origins in hip-hop, with an infusion of rock and more classic rap.

“Our music is firmly rooted in hip-hop — we infuse rock elements with grimy classic hip-hop,” Tomkins said. “This doesn’t seem like a natural fit with a horns section and a flute, but it really works.”

The singer added that the band loves emotive music with strong social messages, but their repertoire also includes party songs with strong elements of funk and soul.

The band aren’t unfamiliar with studio recording, having already released an EP, entitled Vanguard(en).

“We have already recorded a couple of songs for the next project, however we’re taking our time and being very thoughtful about the follow up [album],” Tomkins said. “We’re also not done with Vanguard(en) yet — we really love that EP and think it deserves some more promotion.”

The band plans to branch out their musical fan base to cities outside of Ottawa this year.

“Ottawa has been really great to us — we’ve built a solid fan base that we’re very lucky to have,” Tomkins said. “Since last summer we’ve begun focusing on building fan bases outside of Ottawa.”

This is BlakDenim’s first time performing in Kingston, and they’re looking forward to the city’s vibrant atmosphere.

“Kingston has such a cool vibe and university crowds are so hype,” Tomkins said. - The Journal: Queens University


Butter On Toast, Single, 2017

Complexus, EP, 2016

  1. Fight For
  2. Wtfu
  3. The Interlude
  4. Switch (Break It Down)
  5. Summer Lane (feat. Exco Levi)
  6. Get Loose
  7. Persevere
Decypher, Single, 2015

Vanguard(en), EP, 2014

  1. Terra Nullius
  2. Intoxicated
  3. Horticulture
  4. One Hit
  5. So Cold
  6. Hold Up Hold On



Formed in a basement in Ottawa, Ontario, in late 2012, BLAKDENIM blends genres like no Canadian act today. The group fuses hip-hop, funk, rock and soul with lyrical content that ranges from identity issues to daily issues, like picking yourself up after a bad day, perseverance, self-esteem and hope. Influenced by artists like The Roots to Earth, Wind and Fire, there’s no shortage of musical expertise with the line-up consisting of an emcee, female vocalist, trumpet, saxophone, bass guitar, guitar, keys and drums. They soon became known as an incredible live act not to be missed within the Nation’s Capital across a spectrum of music genre fans alike.

As finalists in the Live 88.5 Big Money Shot radio competition in 2013, the band was awarded a small sum of money that allowed them to record their debut EP. “Vanguard(EN)” was independently released in 2014, and made top hip-hop charts on college radio and selective rotation on commercial FM stations. Their professional music videos quickly gained traction with thousands of views each.

Serious media buzz came from a highly successful club tour in February 2015, and well-attended showcases at Indie Week, where they were a top finalist. BLAKDENIM was destined to become a festival favourite across Ontario and Quebec, and soon found themselves opening for iconic artists like Charles Bradley and Karim Ouellet.

The Scene Magazine proclaimed of their 2015 RBC Bluesfest performance, “BLAKDENIM proved that Ottawa is more than capable of putting out truly elite talent.” For an emerging band to have been invited to play these festivals and showcases, including Canadian Music Week, indicates the great potential for career longevity that major festival promoters and industry recognize in them.

The band recently released their sophomore project, Complexus (May 2016) and have received attention from both commercial and college radio, as well as performances at top festivals (which includes opening for legendary Trombone Shorty).

“BLAKDENIM are the complete package. If you’re looking for passionate lyrics, infectious rhythms, expertly layered instrumentals, or simply something to move your feet to, this is a band you have to check out.” - Indie Blender

Band Members