Rebel. Outlaw. Storyteller. Educator.
An emerging voice from the margins.
“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations (dreams), we fall to the level of our training.” ― Archilochus
“Such eloquent wording. Reading (you) out loud is an absolute pleasure.” – 大兵哥
“We’re not worthy; we’re not worthy! Your writing…is amazing. I can’t even imagine myself being able to write prose as you do! I’d love to see your short story converted into a full-length novel.” – Amanda Blightly
“A gifted writer.”- Monika Brewster-Villiger
In grade 9, he was invited to join a much older crowd at the University of Ottawa gaming club and immersed himself in geek culture. There he discovered tabletops like Marvel Universe and Warhammer, and role playing games like Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars, Shadowrun, Champions, Vampire, Werewolf, Mage and diceless games like Amber. Here, Jorah Kai began to grow up, met his first girlfriend, went to his first rave, a warehouse party with Canadian techno icon Richie Hawtin aka Plastikman.
As a teenager, Jorah was a dark gothy sort of dandy and at least a little bit awkward, and fell into the ’90s Rave scene because it was at that time a catch-all for rogues and misfits. There, he blossomed from shy loner into a popular music promoter, stumbling into a career as a distinguished DJ and dance music producer who, despite his propensity for the absurd, achieved some accolades such as #1 dubstep chart-topping Quest for Fiyah, the gypsy glitch anthem Balkan Sideways Sandwiches (both Root Sellers collaborations) and the very popular team up with childhood friend ill.Gates My Special Place and On A Boat. Perhaps reeling from an existential crisis at the age of 14, it was attractive to cultivate a persona, craft a myth brick by brick and attempt to leave a legacy. And so the years in Neverland began, with Jorah one part Peter Pan and one part Pinocchio.
Jorah wandered and performed across North America for years constantly cranked up to 11, a time that was both invigorating, inspiring and taxing. He won praise from legends of dance music – such as the world’s #1 Hardcore DJ Lenny Dee (whom he battled in his American debut in Lenny’s home turf of Brooklyn, New York at the age of 18). Jorah Kai built a reputation as an engaging performer, with live remixing, record-smashing and fire breathing stage antics that kept him in demand at some of the most legendary venues and festivals in North America.
In 2004 while living in Halifax, Nova Scotia Jorah did some work on camera and stage, playing roles in several independent Canadian movies and a walk on in the wildly popular fringe festival original Play of The Dead. Before every show, he would also lead the cast out walking on the Halifax Harbourfront spooking tourists and then handing out playbills. Their run of shows was completely sold out, and they won the Fringe award for best original play. Later, the zombie walk became a popular subcultural meme.
When the seasons changed, and Jorah landed in Vancouver for a new set of musical adventures, he felt quite a dizzying case of Vertigo. Within 24 hours he had gone almost deaf, a condition that lasted most of a year, and forced him to begin to reconsider his purpose. He worked as a landscaper, and began to write poetry and read voraciously again. Eventually, the hearing returned, but there wasn’t much room for a deaf DJ in the music scene, so Jorah began to host an overnight radio show based out of London UK via the internet.
He reconnected with old friend Galen Ashley brother and his brother Dash in 2005, and Jorah assumed the moniker Danish. He’s been a steady contributor to their project The Root Sellers which has produced several very tasteful musical albums as well as some very standout dance music collaborations with artists such as Myagi, ill.Gates, Stickybuds, JPod and the Utah Saints (whose remix of Rock One garnered a shortlist for a UK Breakspool award and massive media love). The Root Sellers became key contributors to major Canadian music festivals such as Shambhala, Evolve and Future Forest over the next decade, and performed high profile gigs at the Beijing Olympics (2008) and Vancouver Olympics and Paralympics (2010), Commonwealth Games, Arctic Winter Games (AWG) among others.
He studied at Dalhousie University in Canada, earned a double major in English literature and creative writing, and then a robust graduate-level teaching certification from George Brown College (GBC). Now he is working towards certification in creative writing and game writing and pursuing an MFA in creative writing from Canada’s most prestigious graduate program for writers (UBC).
During his time at Dalhousie, he was a guest speaker at several academic conferences around maritime universities, speaking about his book Lobster Revolution. He was also asked to judge a Canadian Forces DJ battle and entertain, a contract he signed between with Queen Elizabeth of England. He used the royally sanctioned funds to buy a small chunk of his ancestral Highland in Scotland for a program that supports environmentalism – something he, a lifelong fan of The Nature of Things and the life work of Dr. David Suzuki, holds dear.
His roots are of rebels, outlaws and storytellers, including Bon Vivant French flair in the first female Balloonist Jeanne Genevieve Labrosse, the Celts (his lineage harkens to Scottish Robin Hood and folk hero Rob Roy MacGregor), a Roma Gypsy grandmother and an artistic, hard-boiled street cop Quebec Métis grandfather, with a splash of sports and journalist stock in great Grandpa Pappy Wood and his son Howard, Brier champions and Guinness record holding curlers. His own difficult and sometimes larger than life story has earned Jorah Kai a doctorate-level mastery of the absurd, and in many ways, his writing and experiential appreciation of life are an homage to Mr. Gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson.
After Dalhousie, Jorah landed in Toronto and worked with former collaborator ill.Gates to assist in the daily operation of his music studio and help propel him towards his current superstardom as a global force in bass music based out of SF. During the year they played to a crowd of 50,000 at Dundas Square for Nuit Blanche, released My Special Place and sold ringtones to Windows Media Phone and Bing after a chance encounter brought ill.Gates and Microsoft Genius Bill Gates together. Kai also enjoyed discovering ill.Gates’ love of desert parties and performed at Burning Man Arts Festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, USA where he hired himself at the Deus Ex Machina Detective Agency to discover his purpose. He’s maintained detective status ever since, as the world is indeed quite mysterious.
Upon returning to Toronto after an exciting career as touring performer and with a desire for stability, Jorah became involved in education. First, he volunteered at Art Heart and then took on paid opportunities to mentor children in deprived urban areas in English, literacy, and music. Later he became an English mentor to young children who’d just arrived from China to teach basic communication and literacy skills. He found this was in its way as enjoyable as a public performance. It nurtured something different.
Fulfilling a lifetime dream of taking the stage as host and comedian, Jorah made appearances at the legendary Second City comedy house alongside Love Letters Burlesque, studied vaudeville under Sketchy the Clown and has hosted burlesque and comedy shows in both North American and Chinese cities.
Currently, Jorah Kai lives in China and develops his craft as an emerging writer, cranking out stories, books, and poems. He also teaches creative writing, drama, and public speaking workshop classes to high school students in a prestigious international AP program in Chongqing, a misty mountain city with a history that goes back 5000 years, and a population of 42 million people.
This year (2016), Jorah Kai participated in his first NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month (November) and finished a successful 75,000-word manuscript for his first thriller, Where the Wicked Rest. Next in line is Elsewhere, a whimsical, magical story much more suitable for the children he mentors about a Chinese rural protagonist maturing in the face of fantastical adversity. After that project are 10 more he’s lined up, because letting go of the “stage bug” is not easy, best, instead, to bury it under a pile of creative work, so that much will be accomplished by the time it springs forth from the rubble, requiring public appearances, concerts, and signings. Else it will be, much ado about nothing.