Biography / Info
Art can be a powerful device. Music in particular has the capacity to break down social and political boundaries, as it allows for many fusions of influences, ideas, and ideologies in all facets of its construction and execution. Shai Locke as guitarist, composer and beatmaker is the embodiment of this. As a guitarist, he manages to fuse elegant and lush harmonies, with lyrical melodies and uber-funky rhythms, all with a uniquely appropriate timbre for the style at hand. As a composer, he fuses urban music with a myriad of conventional styles such as organic with electronic, and world influences with western composition. As a beat maker, he takes hip-hop and R’n’B to new heights with a large palette of rare samples stemming from his diverse taste in music paired with the utilization of live instrumentation and cutting edge synthetic tones. In all of these genre, he employs a cunning sense of timing and development to achieve diverse, yet focused arrangements. This is critical, especially when applying his compositional strengths to the production and development of emcees and singers. It could be said that everyone needs at least one Shai Locke track on their album to help separate themselves from the rest of the artists out there.
Shai Locke originally hails from Ottawa, where he made his first forays into music composition and performance. He began his music studies at the age of 6 on the piano and pursued guitar studies at the age of 10 at the Ottawa Folklore Center. He added bass guitar to his skill set starting at the age of 13 and Oud (middle eastern lute) at the age of 16. He moved on to playing 10th grade level RCM solo guitar pieces. All the while, he played with avant-garde prog-rock/fusion jazz group Red Beryl, whose achievements included being finalists at the first ever Ottawa Bluesfest “Blues in the Schools” competition. Shortly after, he moved to Toronto where he studied Jazz Guitar at York University, while simultaneously learning electronic music production and turntablism. At the same time, he performed regularly with the fusion jazz group Red Pill Theory on bass guitar, turntables and sampler. He then took to performing regular weekly events with several R’n’B, soul and pop music cover bands around Toronto.
After this new period of learning and integration of new styles, sounds, and ideas into his compositional palette (and stacking over 300 performances in the Greater Toronto Area onto his mantle of musical achievements); Shai Locke went on to perform and compose with many notable Toronto Artists. He has co-composed and produced tracks with notable Canadian urban artists such as: Unknown Mizery, G-Rock, Golden Disciples, Riksha, The Rhyme Travelers, AlienN8, Undun, Lefspek, Mav Dub, Sense-I-Miller, Cryogenics, Pojo, Reasun, Bubba Sean and Doomsday. He founded the backing band “Crowd Control” which took a critical supporting role in the Cryogenics project (whose notable achievements include headlining the Hype Festival, and opening for Saukrates, Kardinall Offishall, and Ice-T, among many other large-scale shows). The band included well known Canadian artist/producers such as Thrysite and King Reign. He did a stint of performance supporting C.U.M.A. award nominee Melanie Durrant (including a televised duet on City TV’s Breakfast Television). In 2006 he met Luca D’Addario of Codex, a pioneering group who released some of Toronto’s first breakbeats and drum’n’bass, and was recruited to perform live arrangements of their electronic compositions, as well as recording and co-composing their seventh release. At the same time, he also began recording and performing with urban soul singer Amanda Davids.
As an extremely active member of Toronto’s music community, Shai Locke has promoted and hosted weekly open stages at 7star and Q-Bar (where he also played in the house band). Through his company, Dasch Media Group, he has promoted weekly events at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, The Shpiegeltent (a harbourfront centre summertime venue), Beba Lounge and Edge 102 Live to Air @ Velvet Underground. Working with Dasch Media Group and Emerge entertainment, he has also promoted onetime events with performers such as Micheal Franti and Spearhead, Femi Kuti, Soulive, Wassabi Collective, Lal and Rebel Emergency, Suzanne Vega, Skye (from Morcheeba), Bill Frisell, Rise Against, Daft Punk, Gilby Clarke, GZA, Masta KIlla and Hellraiser.
He is currently working with Codex on an Urban Rock/ Breakbeat fusion album. As well, he is recording and co-producing a soul/R’n’B /hip hop fusion album with Amanda Davids. He is providing beats and arrangements for Zulu Nation affiliates The Rhyme Travellers. As well, he is in the finishing stages of a solo album.