This pandemic has sure handed plenty of difficulties to parents — and some silver linings: Like professional violinist-looper and vocalist Joe Kye’s decision to start creating music for kids as Hi Joe Kye!. “My twins were born in 2019, and as I stepped back from touring,” says Kye, “I found myself singing all sorts of silly ditties around the house for the kids — songs about dumplings, diapers, and their grandma, who lives across the Pacific in Korea. But it wasn’t until last year (in 2020) that I started to think about presenting it to the public. My friend, Portland artist Mike Bennett was in the middle of building his first (pandemic-prompted) A to Zoo, and we had a crazy idea of making an accompanying song and music video. When that became a local hit, I realized I should pursue it further.”

More recently Kye has joined forces with Portland rapper Bula. (Local fans may know him better by his other rap moniker Castle Clouds.) Their sweet song Ice Cream Truck captures the feeling of childhood summers when your biggest worry was catching the ice cream truck before it rounded the corner. Kye says the single is one of more songs for an upcoming Hi Joe Kye! album. He’s also one of the creators of a kids’ YouTube series on Korean-American culture called The Woori Show. 

Kye will be performing with Korean traditional folk/pop group ADG7 on Sunday, November 7 at the Newmark Theatre. While his set will be his non-kindie music, it will still be family-friendly as he performs some of his all-ages favorites. Buy tickets here.

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Pro tip: Check out his non-kids’ music TikTok or IG feed where his peppy tunes and crooning vocals belie stinging anti-racist truth bombs that often end with a pluck of violin strings — “Yes, I’m an Asian in an Asian restaurant/ No, I don’t work here.” Find out more at joekye.com

Denise Castañon
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