PEI

Winning ECMA 'shocking' for Summerside born electro-pop artist

Denique LeBlanc remembers watching the ECMAs in past years. He would close his eyes and think about what he could do to some day get on the stage.

Denique receives award for Electronic Recording of the Year

Denique says he was convinced for a long time the East Coast wasn't ready for an artist like him, a queer artist who does things unconventionally. (Matt Rainnie/CBC)

Denique LeBlanc remembers watching the ECMAs in past years. He would close his eyes and think about what he could do to someday get on the stage.

Denique was watching Ashley MacIsaac, Natalie MacMaster and other great artists win awards, he said.

"To be there on that stage in front of the same people who are friends and family of these people, it was really emotional and also quite shocking because as much as I dreamed about it, you know, you don't think these things are going to happen," he said to Mainstreet P.E.I. host Matt Rainnie.

But his dream did come true.

Denique said he was excited to be taking home the East Coast Music Award for Electronic Recording of the Year in Charlottetown for his album Shape 1.

"It means a lot, especially as a queer artist in the East Coast, that's a very unique experience in and of itself."

Not sure it was his time

Denique was convinced the East Coast wasn't ready for an artist like him, a queer artist who does things unconventionally. His win really marks the beginning of a conversation, Denique said.

"For me and my own personal music this is the beginning of the acceptance in the East Coast. And I really hope to represent in a whole, completely brand-new niche and to bring a whole new style to this beautifully cultured music industry."

Denique turned some heads at the ECMAs in Charlottetown, not just for his music, but for his fashion as well. (Simon Goupil Photographe)

He describes his music as electro-pop.

"But it's really its own thing. We will call it, alien, gaylien pop. My music is very ambient and very vocal based."

There are a lot of queer themes, and his music is based on nature and technology combining together, Denique said.

"It's in a different planet we will say."

Growing as a young artist in Summerside

Denique turned some heads at the ECMAs, not just for his music, but his fashion as well.

He spent the first 10 years of his life in Summerside, P.E.I., and credits the city for shaping the musical artist he has become.

"When I lived in Summerside you know it was really my childhood. So, it was the opportunity for me to really experiment with my fashion," Denique said.

He would go into his mother's closet and try on different clothes when he was young. Denique said he thinks he had a very strong hold of who he was, even at 10 years old.

"At the time people thought I was a little bit bizarre. I guess looking back in retrospect my days in Summerside really have impacted the way I create now." 

Denique's time in the city foreshadowed the unique "avant-garde" artist he has become, he said.

Most of his time in Summerside was spent at the College of Piping.

"That was where my musicality, everything started. I really owe it to the people of Summerside as well as the College of Piping to really have fostered my talent and my abilities," Denique said.

Denique's album Shape 1 is available on Spotify.

He is also playing WorldPride in New York City this June, which marks the 50th anniversary of the raids at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 that sparked a massive, six-day uprising and launched the modern gay civil rights movement.

"So that was the queer liberation period and the liberation movement. And so I am so grateful to just have the opportunities nowadays to present myself in this manner."

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With files from Mainstreet P.E.I.

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