Yellowknife-based experimental electronic-music artist Sami Blanco plays me a snippet of a soundbank he made for late-night broadcast on Yellowknife’s francophone radio station, CIVR-FM, familiarly known as Radio Taïga. Emerging from a Korg MS2000—the virtual analog synthesizer Blanco dreamed about owning since he was sixteen—is a dazzling sequence that twinkles like stars on a clear night. “That’s created with nothing more than synchronicity with how I’m feeling today,” Blanco explains. “I’m trying to create an atmospheric place. I’m trying to create a temple for the moment. It doesn’t have any religion; it’s just whatever you feel, what feels sacred for you.”
Blanco’s sonic explorations are driven by intuition. His improvised pieces have roots in ambient and techno music but don’t fit any one form. Under the moniker Temple Volant, Blanco has released over eighty solo recordings, including aeri, a collection of airy synth-driven songs that unfold softly and slowly.
Blanco also creates ambient and noise music as Nava Luvu with electronic-music artist and partner, Ashley Daw. Another of Blanco’s collaborations is MIRAJ, a duo with electronic-music artist Harrison Roberts (aka DJ Flora), which makes music they describe on Bandcamp as “Atmospheric Ambient Houseboat Techno.” MIRAJ is participating in the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre’s (NACC) two-year mentorship program. As protégés, Blanco and Roberts receive business-development aid and artistic support from the NACC, which includes assistance with grant applications and access to a large studio space.
“Before I started making music, I was drawing a lot,” Blanco says. “I visualize music a lot and [that process] creates a canvas without me even having to use the tools: you’re not taking up space in the world, except for sound for a moment. You can create whatever world and whatever feeling you want.”
Born and raised in Montreal, Blanco moved to Yellowknife in January 2014 to be with Daw, after she got a teaching position at the local Montessori School. He has become an active resident and performs at all kinds of events, from raves to family-friendly festivals. Blanco also teaches multimedia production and gives DJ workshops at schools and for various organizations geared towards supporting youth. “It is so rewarding to watch a kid being so captivated when he’s learning that he’s able to go for two hours straight, learning something that he likes—and [with] the biggest smile ever,” he says.
Blanco has a fervent interest in music and listens to everything from Britney Spears to reggaeton. When he was fourteen he picked up the guitar and in high school played in a band that fused elements of grunge, metal, and glam rock. After high school, Blanco pursued music more seriously and also studied sound engineering. He became involved in Montreal’s club scene and was a tenant in a warehouse that doubled as a venue called Torn Curtain. There he was surrounded by industrial music, punk, and many other genres, and started to improvise and create experimental electronic music with other artists.
Blanco spends time creating at NACC’s studio space, which he calls “the mainframe,” located in downtown Yellowknife, and at his home studio, dubbed “Delphinity Sound System.” Using his collection of vintage synths, Blanco’s pieces are free flowing expressions of his moods, and they range through hushed ambient tracks, harsh noisescapes, and throbbing techno tunes. He’s influenced by the sounds of Yellowknife and incorporates field recordings of natural elements and of the bustling cityscape into his works; he giddily describes the parking lot of a local mall as the “best techno arena.”
While Blanco continues to produce a steady stream of recordings, he is also committed to learning more about and connecting with sound through self-taught practice and meditation. All of this is expanding his distinctive sonic world.
“I’m exploring a lot of different scales, and I like healing music. Each musical key is related to one chakra of the body and one place in the body, and each scale gives a specific mood. So it can go through a deep range of sonic exploration.”
“I’ve learned a lot about the history of the music that I wanted to achieve,” Blanco adds. “Now every time I’m making a new album, I’m evolving into a new chapter. I think I’m trying to fill up a giant book of legend.”

Audio: Natation (2019) Composed, performed, produced, and mastered by Sami Blanco and le temple volant.
Photo of Sami Blanco at Northern Arts and Culture Centre in Yellowknife taken by Bill Braden.