IDAHO FALLS — Wil Baptiste and Kev Marcus, the men behind the musical duo Black Violin, didn’t originally set out to combine hip-hop and classical music.
“We were hip-hop before we were classical,” Baptiste said. “The idea happened very organically.”
The pair play violin together in a style that is a fusion of classical and hip-hop music.
Black Violin is set to perform 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Colonial Theater in Idaho Falls. Tickets can be found at idahofallsarts.org.
Baptiste and Marcus were classically trained in their high school orchestra class but also enjoyed listening to hip-hop music. Once they became roommates after college, Marcus and Baptiste became music producers.
“We … always clicked together,” Baptiste said. “Hip-hop is all about expressing yourself, being you and what you love doing and expressing that in a way that no one has ever done. That’s what hip-hop is all about. And that’s all we did. We didn’t think (using violins) was weird, because hip-hop is all about expressing yourself.”
When it comes to being a musician, Baptiste’s favorite part is being able to communicate with anybody.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what language you speak — if I pull out a viola and I start playing, it makes sense,” he said. “We can talk.”
During their Idaho Falls performance, Black Violin is planning to play a mix of songs from their new album, “Take the Stairs,” and songs from previous albums.
“It (the Idaho Falls performance) will be a combination of instrumentals and vocals, with a little bit more focus on instrumentals,” Baptiste said.
Black Violin’s music uses their instruments to create an energetic, contemporary sound that isn’t typical of how some may think of violin music. Their instrumentals are often interspersed with hip-hop style beats and singing.
In “Take the Stairs,” the main message and theme Baptiste and Marcus wanted to communicate was hope. Baptiste said that Black Violin’s music already generally projects hope, but with this album, it was something specific that he and Marcus wanted to focus on.
“We wanted that album to be something that everyone can always go to that would give them strength ... to persevere through anything,” Baptiste said.
Outside of music, Baptiste and Marcus also make an effort to help kids who may not have as much access to music education. They formed the Black Violin Foundation to do so.
“The Foundation is an extension of what we do. The whole point is to be able to assist kids that may need that extra push,” Baptiste said.
He had a teacher in high school that provided him with a semi-professional instrument to audition for college. “We wanted to be able to provide these things to anyone and everyone if we can,” Baptiste said.
The most important thing for young musicians to remember is to be themselves, Baptiste said. “Just be who you are, you never know (if) your voice is something someone is going to connect with.”