Kyle Hall Interview: “Better than a freak circus damn it!”

20.01.10, Words by: Ruth Saxelby

KYLE HALL’s backstory is already common knowledge in house circles, generating a lot of “he’s how old?” type-reactions and undoubtedly a lot of tears of envy from the eyes of struggling producers the world over. It’s definitely a rare one in the internet age, recalling the path of someone like Steve Reid (jazz drummer and teenage friend of John Coltrane and Quincy Jones) with his years of early study and experimentation (and a little support from a few famous friends). In brief: starts playing on Casio keyboards and cassettes (which he’s still unopposed to using) before his 10th birthday; meets Rick Wilhite, Alex Omar Smith, Marcellus Pittman, Mike Huckaby, all of whom provide degrees of tutelage and support; and then begins releasing vibrant, off-center tracks while still in high school – a veteran at 17. It’s a great story but it’s starting to sound tired next to how fresh Hall’s material is; his vision is as loose as his music, unwilling to be pigeonholed. (Listen to Fuse N Me from ‘Worx Of Art’, his first EP on his Wild Oats label, above.) It’s not that the legacy of Detroit is necessarily a burden, and he does mention more than a few Detroiters when he lists who he’s been listening to lately: “Kaidi Tatham, Joe Clausell, Dam-Funk, Space Dimension Controller, Martyn, Dennis Ferrer, Anthony Shakir, Scott Grooves, and Piranhahead,” but it’s also clear that he draws from a myriad of influences and his future blueprints are designed for change. His first few EPs sound like a perfect storm, coupling wide-eyed teenage experimentalism with the attention to detail expected from producers fifteen years his senior. KYLE HALL is thoroughly unjaded, and the world is pretty much his oyster right now.

Even if I think it’s important to partially separate his music from the hallowed house axis of that city, Hall is a Detroiter through and through and like most of his forebears, he doesn’t see himself leaving: “It is pretty easy going here, as long as you have some sort of income,” he says over email. “The city of Detroit I guess…has an automatic, maybe subconscious influence, but it’s hard to say exactly what the influence is because this is the only place I’ve lived. This is the only place I know.”

This hometown pride is evident in how much emphasis he puts on helping young musicians from his city. Lately, he’s been working with kids at Youthville, which is “both a ninth and tenth grade high school and an after school facility, [with] various arts and technology programs available to the kids. My particular class is the music production beat-making course. I teach the children how to compose music using computers and other pieces of hardware such as the MPC.” Aside from a day job of helping kids come up, Hall has begun putting friends out via his Wild Oats label. The track Lax Adrenalin on his most recent EP, ‘The Dirty Thouz’ features The Qu’ran, and he’s considering a collaborative release with Jack Hamill (also known as Space Dimension Controller).

Although he’s happy to release other people’s records, Hall is adamant that Wild Oats is purely his vision. That vision is a hot commodity; in 2010, he plans on releasing a “new project on Hyperdub, a four track EP on Third Ear, a remix on Warp, a remix for Jimmy Edgar, a project with Amp Fiddler and Alton Miller, and a gang of other treats.” He mentions the album he’s steadily working on and he’s excited about the live show he’s cooking up: “Kyle MF Hall live! Better than a freak circus damn it!”

It’s admittedly awkward writing about KYLE HALL at this point in time, trying to paint a portrait of the artist as a young man. I’m sitting here blissfully lost in the extraplanetary jungle vibes of his remix for Darkstar’s Aidy’s Girl Is A Computer on repeat, reading through his tantalising future plans, and as great as he already is, this just seems like the calm before the storm. He is a teenager with wild ambitions, and yet all of his work thus far seems to be leading up to a ‘Donuts’ or ‘Parallel Dimensions’; it’s fascinating to hear it percolating. Oh, and he has plans to counter FXHE’s ice-cube tray sales with a utensil of his own: “Wild Oats rubbers…yep…get yo oat on!”

Kyle Hall plays Fabric in London this Saturday 23 January. See the full listings here plus look out for new releases soon.

Kyle Hall’s myspace

Into this? Then check out Charlie’s interview with Darkstar.

Submit your music Close