Denique LeBlanc: Scandinavian at heart

Born and raised on the east coast of Canada, the multi-talented Denique LeBlanc started step dancing when he was seven years old and moved on to the fiddle at the age of ten. At 16, he became obsessed with a few female singers who, in his words: ”changed my views on what singing really was.“

He’s been around the world, he’s opened up for RuPaul along with his ex-gay male jazz quartet called “Velvet” – but now he’s focusing on his solo music career and film making. During his travels around the world, he had one ultimate goal: To end up in Scandinavia and promote himself there.

And now he’s in Iceland…

…well, he was here but he’s currently back in Canada, waiting for his Icelandic work visa. We caught him on a train in Montreal, where he was more than happy to chat and kill some time.

"Unlike Reykjavík, I grew up in a place where if you had any ambition to pursue the arts, people would wonder why you where still there. The mentality was that if you were really good, you wouldn't still be there. You were only taken seriously if you left; what a shame."
Denique LeBlanc. “Unlike Reykjavík, I grew up in a place where if you had any ambition to pursue the arts, people would wonder why you where still there. The mentality was that if you were really good, you wouldn’t still be there. You were only taken seriously if you left; what a shame.”

Halla: ”Describe yourself as you would to … Hillary Clinton.“

Denique LeBlanc: ”I would say: “H-dog, my name is Denique and I am the pop star you haven’t heard of yet.”

I was born into a family that loved to travel and because of this, I was able to live in multiple cities and quickly learned the value of leaving your comfort zone. I am actually Scandinavian at heart, although my passport disagrees, and have been obsessed with Nordic countries for as long as I can remember.

In music, I’m a one-man team and like to experiment with all facets of creation, from the writing of my music, to sound engineering, to videography, to the promotion, etc. … I don’t want to box myself in as “just a singer” or “just a video editor”. I want to do it all. I think there are many advantages to seeing the industry from all sides of the spectrum both in front of the lens and behind it. Why not acquire new skills along the way? Oh, and I can cook a mean grilled cheese.“

H: ”That’s Hillarious.

But tell me… why would anyone be obsessed with the Northern countries?“

Denique: ”When I first moved to Iceland, that was the exact reaction I always received: “Why would you ever move here?” Having lived in the North American culture for 20-something years, I was able to see the differences in both places on so many levels. I don’t think one is better than the other, as I love Canada and everything it has provided me. However, if we look specifically into the arts world, I would argue that Nordic countries put more value into creativity and treat their artists with more respect, encouraging them to push their passions into stable careers. Whereas, Canada offers a massive range of talent, but often doesn’t value the hard work that thousands of artists are putting into their art every single day.

Also I’ve always been fascinated by the relaxed, chilled out nature of the Nordic countries. In North America, we stress out. We’re always stressed; school, family, finances, traffic, relationships. Perhaps you Scandinavian folks hide it well, but at least in Reykjavik, everything feels much more calm. People never lose their minds over the tiny things.“

”In music, I’m a one-man team and like to experiment with all facets of creation […] I don’t want to box myself in as “just a singer” or “just a video editor”.“

H: ”Interesting. But, speaking of which, we love your music! Your creative work seems to be a simultaneous stream of video and music making, as you produce your own videos. Do you consider those processes to be one and the same, in a way?“

Denique: ”Thanks for checking it out! It’s still so weird that people are actually paying attention to my homemade videos, which is so cool. I do record and edit all my own videos, sometimes with the help of my oh-so-patient friends. Since I was 13, I was really passionate about photography but four years ago, I began filming random things. At the time, I had no idea what it would eventually become.

Over time, I collected a ton of footage that sat in my computer. Finally, I thought: “Hey, why don’t I try to make a music video”. And bam, that was the moment where everything changed.“

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A one man team Denique likes to experiment with all facets of creation, from music writing to videography and everything in between.

H: ”Wow.“

Denique: ”Yeah, I also don’t write music in a traditional way. I can’t just sit down and write a song, or sit in a group and force a song to happen. I’ll be walking down the street and I’ll see an object or anything, and ta-da! It’s a song. When I wrote “Electrical Wires”, I remember seeing a pile of wires in my dads garage and that was it. I could instantly hear the melody in my head, so I ran to my computer, transcribed the lyrics from my head and voila, the track was born!“

H: ”So you’re practically always working. Seeking inspiration everywhere. Do you feel you get different inspiration in Iceland?“

Denique: ”From a visual standpoint, of course. Iceland is world-renowned to be one of the most bizarre and stunning places on the globe. I would definitely agree with that. I remember driving to Akureyri and thinking “Jónsi, Björk, Sóley… it all makes sense now.”

I think no matter where you travel to, you’ll always be inspired. When you step into a new place, your brain has to work extra hard to process what’s happening, so naturally you’ll see things from a new perspective. This being said, Iceland feels strangely familiar and 100% comfortable. It’s as if I’ve been from there forever, lived in Reykjavik in a past life and worked at Rúmfatalagerinn since the beginning!“ (Laughs)

H: ”You should definitely try to get a job at Rúmfatalagerinn. (Laughs) But let’s cut to the chase now, tell me about you and RuPaul!“

”Finally, the day before the show, our manager called us saying: “So, yeah, you’re opening for RuPaul!”.“

Denique: (Laughs) ”Yes! When I moved to Melbourne at 18, I had no idea what the fuck I was getting myself into. It was terrifying. I scrapped my University plans, hopped on a plane and never looked back.

Upon moving Down Under, I lived in a share home with 21 different people from all over the world, and began networking to make my music goals happen.

I think the day I found out I had bedbugs was the same day I got called to be part of a men’s vocal jazz group called “Velvet”. At the first rehearsal, there was me and three Australians. Such lovely men, all young aspiring performers. We instantly bonded, sang everything from Etta James, to Motown, to Adele. It was so amazing.

Finally with RuPaul, I heard he was coming to town and Nick Len, my fellow Velveteer, and I were thinking “we need tickets!”. Finally, the day before the show, our manager called us saying: “So, yeah, you’re opening for RuPaul!”.“

"I want to let people in. I'm craving new perspectives. I want to work with as many passionate artists as possible and create magic."
“I want to let people in. I’m craving new perspectives. I want to work with as many passionate artists as possible and create magic.”

H: ”With a day’s notice!“

Denique: ”I know, right! It was such a surreal moment in my career, as it proved that anything was possible. What are the chances I’d move to Australia at 18, become friends with thousands of bedbugs, get into a fab jazz quartet and open for RuPaul?

My visa eventually expired, which was a hard pill to swallow, but I love those boys and still keep in touch with them every now and then. I think our friendship will be forever, I mean, we’ll always be Velveteers at heart.“

H: ”Denique, I heard you had a dream to do Eurovision! Are you planning on applying for the ESC 2016? 2017?“

Denique: ”I am! (Laughs) For Eurovision, I want to do something like this.

This is just a small example of what I will do… singing, dancing, and fiddling, the whole shabang!

”I want to win Eurovision for Iceland. I want to release a larger body of work. […] Run into a field of arctic terns with Jónsi and scream. […] and take selfies with Páll Óskar.“

H: ”We’ll see what happens! So tell us… what does the future look like in the world of Denique?“

Denique: “You know, I feel like I’ve been living under a rock for way too long. I’ve been so territorial over my work, so adamant about doing it all on my own. While this approach helped me to develop my artistic intuition, I want to let people in. I’m craving new perspectives. I want to work with as many passionate artists as possible and create magic. Short term, you can expect new homemade videos, new tracks and most importantly, more live shows (with mermaid ears, hehe). I spent four years crafting this project and I’m in the final stages of bringing this online world to the stage! S’about time, eh?

Long term, I have so many goals. I want to win Eurovision for Iceland. I want to release a larger body of work. Perform at Pride celebrations all over Europe. Sing on the Ellen Show. Sign onto a label like XL. Run into a field of arctic terns with Jónsi and scream. Play live at Harpa. Wear a matching glitter onesie and take selfies with Páll Óskar. Pick up a few Juno Awards and maybe get an e-mail from Björk that says “A, E, I, O, U…”?

I’ll never limit myself to the possibilities of the universe. I’m a singer, a writer, a film-maker, a fiddler, a dancer, a runner, a professional grilled cheese maker… I don’t have to pick and choose. Besides, success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion; ya gotta set yourself on fire.“

Denique recently launched his first Icelandic music video: “Vegvísir” . You can watch it and all his other videos at DENIQUE.CA!

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      Landsbankinn
      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      Dohop
      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      Macland
      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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        Ísey skyr
        - once tasted never forgotten

        Our Story
        Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

        For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

        Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
        This is our secret and you are in on it

        You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

        Núðluskálin
        - noodle bar

        Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

        All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
        We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
        Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

        Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

        Seatours
        - adventure cruise

        Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
        and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

        The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

        600x400-seatours-tasting

        This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

        600x400-seatours

        The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

        Birds, possible to spot:
        -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
        -eider ducks
        -shags
        -kittiwakes
        -fulmars
        -white-tailed eagle

        The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
        Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

        Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

        Contact Us


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