Soul Brothers; Kyle Hall

Soul Brothers: Kyle Hall

In this new series named ‘Soul Brothers’, House Cult will be digging deep into the soul of several electronic artists. The first musician featuring ‘Soul Brothers’ is a young producer who’s born and raised in Detroit, Michigan: Kyle Hall. Just before his DJ-set at the 90Degrees party in Perron, Rotterdam we had the opportunity to ask Kyle some questions.

The rise of Detroit as one of the leading music capitals in the world started in the ‘50s and ‘60s during the last century. The soul, rhythm & blues created by Michigan’ natives Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin became the sound of a new, revolutionary generation. The ‘Motown-sound’ is still a global phenomenon, but halfway through the ‘70s, the golden days of Detroit’s soul music ended. It took some time before artists from the Motor City once again significantly shaped the music history. At the end of the ‘80s, kids from the urban communities started to experience with electronic devices which resulted in completely new music genres like hip-hop, house and techno.

Detroit was once again the centre of these musical elaborations and Detroit’s rising stars were worldwide acknowledged for their skills. Pioneers like Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May gained well-deserved attention in the early days of this new musical revolution, and within a few years other DJ’s and producers such as Jeff Mills, Carl Craig and Richie Hawtin followed their footsteps.

Unlike many other cities in the USA, the economic crisis of Detroit began way before 2007. The main industry that had been an important factor in the expansion of the city slowly left the capital of Michigan and so did the population. Step by step it deteriorated. In 1995, Detroit was home to more than a million inhabitants, in 2013 the number of residents was a shocking 700.000. The number of unemployment citizens was overwhelming, crime rates shockingly high and the local government was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Nevertheless the city functioned as a breeding ground for quality music and artists. One of the latest wonder kids of Detroit’s electronic music is Kyle Hall. Despite his age of 22, Hall already has made a name for himself as a producer, DJ and label owner. Earlier this year he released his debut album ‘The Boat Party’ on his own imprint ‘Wild Oats’. The album represents Hall’s style to the fullest; a mix of mid-tempo drums, jazzy sounds, electronic cuts and techno beats that all perfectly merge. The diversity of his music is an outgrowth of Hall’s earliest days. Just before a DJ-set at the 90Degrees party in Rotterdam he’s reflecting on his youth.

Kyle Hall – Ghosten

“As a young kid I always played different instruments. Drums, keyboards, horns… A lot of my family members were into music, so it was always around me. Music came naturally to me I guess.”

The hours invested in practicing all those instruments are the cornerstone of his impressive career. It didn’t take long before Kyle Hall got his first opportunity to show his talents to a bigger audience.

“When I was sixteen my first record (‘Plastic Ambush’) was released on Omar-S’ label ‘FXHE Records’.  We first met at the (Detroit) Movement. I was at an after party and Omar came by. He heard some of my records and asked me if I wanted to work with him. Since then, everything went fast forward. Omar has been like a mentor to me. He taught me many things; how to arrange my tracks, how to use equipment, and also about the business.”

In a short period of time, several other records hit the market. Labels such as ‘Third Ear Recordings’, ‘Moods & Grooves’, and London based ‘Hyperdub’ became involved, but most of his work, like the ground breaking track ‘I <3 Dr. Girlfriend’,  was released on his own label. ‘Wild Oats’ was launched when Hall was just 17, again with some help of his advisor Omar-S. A year later his music was picked up by two influential BBC radio DJ’s Gilles Peterson and Benji B. That opened the doors to dance floors (and boat parties) in Europe. The risen star of Detroit’s new stream of electronic artist still lives and works in his hometown. Unlike many other people and businesses that left the city, Hall wants to stay in the place he grew up.

Kyle Hall – I <3 Dr. Girlfriend

“Of course Detroit has changed a lot. But when you grow up, that’s just the way it is, and you don’t think it’s strange. I don’t think it influenced me as a musician. Maybe it depends on every individual. It’s also true that the music scene is a lot different nowadays. The warehouse parties are nearly gone. It isn’t like the ‘80s, ‘90s anymore. To me these parties always have been just stories. But even today there’s still a lot of creativity in the city. Some of my friends are doing art stuff. Exhibitions in vacant buildings, visuals and video mapping on all kind of backgrounds. I’m not really involved right now, but maybe next year something will happen.”

The future looks bright, both for the artist as well as for the label-owner. 2013 has been the most successful year so far in his young career. Besides his debut album, some impressive remixes (recently f.e. Mount Kimbie – You Took Your Time, Nosaj Thing – Try, Close –Wallflower) came out and also a number of releases on ‘Wild Oats’ by different artist were released. Last but not least, Kyle Hall teamed up with FunkinEven. Together with the producer/DJ from London he forms the duo FunkinEvil.

Mount Kimbie – You took Your Time (Kyle Hall remix)

“The gigs with FunkinEvil are doing good, and so does the label. I want to do a FunkinEvil trilogy of EP’s or remixes and there will be some new releases on ‘Wild Oats’. Jay Simon and Kero will drop new stuff. It’s going to be a busy 2014. As a DJ, I’m doing weekends. Means I’m flying over from Detroit to another part of the world, mostly Europe. After the weekend I’m going back home. I don’t stay longer than a weekend in cities like London, but maybe that will change. Rotterdam seems really good to me. And I really like the kind of handshake you guys do over here haha!”

Michel Ribbens

Michel lives and works in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Since he got access to the internet he’s collection all sorts of music. He grew up with hiphop in the mid ‘90s and later on started searching for the best soul and dance music he was able to put his hands on. Beats, rhymes and life is still his life motto.