By Erik Stolpmann

Each week, hosts Erik, Subhraj, and Vaughn explore the familiar and make it strange through voices, observations, and sounds. Catch the full interview and new music by Brendan Kent on Wednesday, December 14 at 11 a.m. on CKCU 93.1 FM’s Curiocity. Tune in and get curious with us!

Over the last two months, I had the great pleasure of participating in Synapcity’s series of civic engagement seminars known as Civics Boot Camp. The opportunity provided me with a refreshing and intriguing look at the city that I have become increasingly familiar with. Much like the purpose Curiocity, it allowed me to make the familiar—in this case, Ottawa—strange. By applying a civic-based lens, I learned more about how I could fully embrace my role as a motivated citizen in the city while also connecting with strangers who shared that spark.

One of the vibrant people who I met through Synapcity was Brendan Kent, a local artist who is described as “a musician of many muses.” This is evident in his 2014 debut, Sound Investment, which will find company when his next record is released in early 2017. His experience is wide and varied.

“I am going to Carleton in January to study classical piano, primarily,” Kent said. “Up to this point, my creative output has largely been jazz played on a nylon string guitar. I also spent some years in Toronto learning flamenco guitar, which was really life changing.”

After getting to know more about him and his wide range of musical talent at the end of Civics Boot Camp, my curiosity was piqued. I caught up with Brendan to learn more about his perspectives on music and community.

“I go to concerts, I go to shows, I learn about new artists on the Internet . . . these places let me interact with others who share a common interest,” he said.

Any kind of art draws people in for different reasons. And those people take different things away from the same song, lyrics, or other art piece—it might mean something different to each individual, and it’s all valid,” he said. “It brings people in, and then they can start to have this dialogue about who they are and what art in the community means to them.”

In addition to his upcoming album, Brendan also wants to give back to the community by hosting music classes and workshops. He emphasized the importance of diverse musical interests, sharing a selection of his own influences that include Paco de Lucia and Neil Young.

“We don’t want everyone to like the same music—it might be very boring. But we can learn how to appreciate other people’s musical tastes and learn why different styles or different genres are what they are. I think something like this will help that,” he said.

Much like the welcoming, diverse, and collaborative nature of Synapcity, Brendan sees value in uniting musical differences within the community in order to help others, and himself, grow as both passionate musicians and active citizens.