Meet Alberta's new air guitar champion
'I watch a lot of guitar players, so I kind of channelled their stage presence'
The crowd roared as Kaje Annihilatrix took the stage in a flash of black leather and head-banging locks, fingers furiously shredding a wild guitar solo.
Make no mistake, she can't actually play guitar. She doesn't even own one.
But her gritty pantomime skills have made her Alberta's new air guitar champion.
Annihilatrix wandered into Red Deer speakeasy Fratters a few weeks ago. By the end of the evening, her performance of I Believe in a Thing Called Love by the Darkness earned her the title of Alberta's best imaginary guitar master.
She admits her foray into the world of air guitar was a happy accident, fuelled by liquid courage.
"I went to the bar with my friend. The competition was happening, and they asked me if I wanted to sign up, and being slightly under the influence, I decided why the hell not," Annihilatrix said during a Friday morning interview on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.
"I'm a theatre major, but a 'behind the scenes' theatre major," she said. "I normally have terrible stage fright. But I set up a lot of concerts in Calgary, so I watch a lot of guitar players. So I kind of channelled their stage presence and went with that."
Annihilatrix will now compete at the national air guitar championships July 16 in Toronto, where she'll face off against nearly 40 competitors from across the country.
If successful, she'll move onto the world championships in Finland this August.
"I didn't even know it was a thing. And a thing to the extent where people go to Finland every year to compete in front of thousands of people."
"It's definitely taken off. People train for it, there are boot camps for it, it's a culture in itself.
"It's a huge thing and I'm pretty stoked that I get to take part in it."
Although initially aloof about her air guitar debut, after doing research on the sport she caught the competitive spirit.
She has now spent hours watching YouTube videos of previous champions, selecting her song, crafting a custom costume, and creating her choreography.
"Before I looked into it more, I was just going to go and get under the influence and just wing it," she said. "But with the chance to represent my country and go to Finland, I'm going to take it seriously.
"And even my competitors in Red Deer, some of the people there do take it seriously. So I think I do owe it to all of them, plus the people that voted for me, to actually give it my all."
With files from Ariel Fournier