What is it about the youth that inspires us? As a people we are consistently told that we should work to make this a better world for children. They need our support to get them off the ground, and to a degree that is very true. But when kids take inspiration from the experience that has been handed down to them and begin to find their own voice , what can take place is a tremendously powerful transformation. Kyle Hall is one such kid. I call him a kid based only on his age, 17 years old. Listening to his music though, a different impression takes form. I first discovered Hall’s music by accident, a friend of a friend on Myspace clued me in and that was when I heard a track in his player that really caught my ear. The song was “Create Your Own Existence,” an adventurous and raw exploration that manages to touch on elements of jazz fusion, ambient and soul within the parameters of house. It opens with clangorous waves of organ blending into warmer Rhodes keys that extends for a full 4 1/2 minutes before the kick drops, the bassline bubbles and a vigorous piano loop emerges and sets the stage for a journey into the confines of deepest house. Later I heard another track being played by Mike Huckaby on one of his radio mixes. It turned out that that connection was no accident as Hall had taken Huckaby’s Reaktor class at a local Detroit youth center earlier. The training may have given Hall the knowledge of synthesis he was missing but Hall comes from a rich musical heritage that is ostensible in his productions.
He has already demonstrated his creative approach to house music with releases on Moods & Grooves and FXHE, but now Hall is really making strides with the start-up of his own label, the appropriately titled Wild Oats. The first release, Worx of Art EP, is ripe with exciting details tucked amid jazzy, soulful grooves. If it finds it way to a record store near you, it might be filed under Detroit house, but there is a distinct character to these tracks that pushes them into new territory and is worth tracking down (btw, you can mailorder directly from his Myspace page as well). Oh, and did I mention that he’s a bad ass DJ too? Below Hall takes time out from his busy schedule and provides insight into his start, style, and what the future may hold.
I read that you got involved in making music when you were fairly young. How old are you now?
Yes I started really making beats around 11 using my parent’s computer. But even before then I was using one of those cheap ‘90s Casio keyboards and recording the drums to a tape recorder. At that time I was around 7. Currently I am 17 years old and I am a senior in High school. I attend the Detroit School For Fine and Performing Arts, which is also the same high school famous singer Aaliyah graduated from.
What have kids your age thought of the music you make-do they appreciate it, as it’s a fairly mature perspective you’re coming from.
A lot of people my age appreciate what I do. Not saying that they are really into electronic music, but for the most part they can appreciate the quality of my music. And then there are some who are really interested into electronic music and production. At my school there are a lot people who make beats, some are really good too like my boy Caron he’s a sophomore he does some dope hip hop stuff (keep an Eye out 4 him;).
How would you describe your approach to each release so far? How has each been different in terms of expression?
I have so many different styles and I’m always evolving so the approach is usually based off of the type of music. But what ever I put out there for the world I think is quality, and that’s one thing that will never change. In terms of expression the past 3 releases I have done are just different. They were all based off of where my head was at the time and where my soul was. That’s all can really say.
How do you view your involvement within the Detroit musical tradition? How do other more established Detroit house/techno artists view your output?
The way I look at my involvement is that I’m contributing originality and inspiring other young people from the city to get up and start pumping out music. One of my goals is for what I do to rub off on my peers. When it comes to other more established Detroit producers view of my music almost all of them are supportive in some way. A lot of them have respect for what create & put out there because they know my music comes from a honest place. Omar S really has always seen something in the music I was creating and really drove me to independently put out music—same goes for Theo.
Your style is quite diverse; taking in elements of jazz, soul, funk within the framework of dance music, where do you see yourself fitting into the current and previous musical history of Detroit?
I think I have an interesting fit lol, my own fit. Currently a lot of people are just trying sound like what’s hot. If they are into dance music u have a few choices: minimal Techno, Moodymann sound-a-likes or stuff like Dennis Ferrer and if they are into hip-hop they wanna be all goofy ‘80s style lol. Me personally I’m not trying to fit into a trend I’m just making music that I want to hear. I don’t really mind where I fit. I guess people who listen to me can decide.
What artists have you looked to for inspiration and guidance, besides Mike Huckaby?
Omar s (I call him like almost everyday asking him something lol), Theo Parrish, Sterling Toles, Invincible, Rick Wilhite, Pirahnahead, Carl Craig, DJ Whodat, Nelson Davis, Amp Fiddler. Other than that my Dad helps me with whole lot of stuff.
What are your future plans for the label, approaching other artists, planning on doing digital distribution or sticking strictly to vinyl?
My plans for the label are to release some more material on my own for a while. Maybe showcase a few unheard artists here and there. Right now I’m working on getting out my Hip-hop Beat Tape entitled: Circle of Sound. Also another Wild Oats 12 in the coming months. As far digital, yes…that will be available soon.
What do you think the biggest challenges will be for running your own label?
Time because I’ll be (at) college next year. Probably balancing school and music will be the toughest obstacle, who knows.