This week, we introduce Heal Yourself And Move, a new biweekly column about dance and electronic music, written by Maryland's finest, Andrew Field Pickering. In this edition, he tackles phenom youngster Kyle Hall, who is DJing at Brooklyn Yard this Sunday afternoon , as well as giving an idea of where he's coming from, the wide open world of beats and jams.
Sup. This is Heal Yourself And Move, a music column named after the extremely sick Theo Parrish song. I gotta agree with that sentiment. Keep going forward, you know? Or dance in one place all night, working your shit out. Some friends and I run a label called Future Times, and our name speaks to a similar idea. We write "Things will be better in future times" on our 12-inch labels, because hopefully they will.
To say this column is only gonna be about "dance" music is a little false. Dance music is a wide-open concept. Dance music is playing Fripp/Eno between two house songs to fuck with the crowd. Dance music is the krautrock you listen to while you recover and play Wii after you party. Tracks either fit into a definition or they don't. There is a vast spectrum of electronic everything that I'm gonna holler about here.
Well, now that I think about it, there are a lot of tunes made without drum machines and keyboards that I'm going to talk about too. Maybe this column has to focus on funkiness, whether it be Dam Funk-iness, or some oddball new age music with no rhythm at all. "Funky" is as much a synonym for "strange" as it is for "groovy." I started getting into strange and groovy music as a child. Like a lot of people my age (26), my parents fucked with the Talking Heads. 20 years later, I realize the myriad of connections they have to more club-oriented dance music history (Larry Levan of the Paradise Garage playing "Once In A Lifetime," recording at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas, Tom Tom Club, an adoration of Fela, etc.), but when I was a young fella, my brother, my mother (who I miss dearly) and I would do these little aerobic workouts around the living room to tracks like "Slippery People." I had a headband on and everything. I guess my mom was trying to get in shape, I just thought it was fun to march around. That's my vibe. "Heal Yourself & Move."
It’s impossible to even mention Theo Parrish tunes without thinking about Detroit. It’s such a covert musical utopia out there, and the impression from the public is mutual. I never hear DJs say "Ahh, Detroit techno is okay." NOPE. As long as the address says Detroit, I will always give even the worst off-brand, pseudo-Underground Resistance 12-inch a chance when I'm listening at a record store. The label art might look like a goth version of MTV Amp, but I'm still checkin’ it.
I've been out there twice and, to be real, I don't know it very well, but there is a distinct, open vibe when you're out there. Last time I was there, I heard something from B-52's "Mesopotamia" (which has CUTS on it) as I walked in on some people fucking in the bathroom of a club. And my man Jacob got a big body thrown on him by this grown and sexy 40 year old woman, probably to the tune of a CDJ loop of Kraftwerk (I forget, I was lifted). I saw Moodymann, a Detroit deep house legend with one of the strongest, yet strangest vibes (check for "J.A.N."), play Motown at a roller rink, too. Essentially, you get the sense that funky music is really important to a lot of people out there.
I work at an after school program out here in Maryland for middle-school kids, and I wish I knew some kids that were pointed in Kyle Hall’s direction. I wish my kids came downstairs with questions about drum machines, after walking through hallways while playing them, like Kyle does in this video. (Also, I'm psyched that "DSA High school" has a band room full of keyboards and recording gear!! What?!?!)
Kyle Hall is from Detroit. According to his MySpace, he was born in 1991, which makes him maybe 18. He was taken under a few legendary house wings (Detroit folks like Rick Wilhite of 3 Chairs, and Omar S, who I'll surely be talking about soon, until he started putting out records of his own through his Wild Oats label.
His music is definitely rooted in deep house, but it really expands in a new way musically, with major cues from hip-hop, and thematically too. The track title of his first EP, "I Luv Dr. Girlfriend" is an Adult Swim reference, and I wouldn't have known if one of the kids at my program hadn't told me who Dr. Girlfriend was (a character on Venture Brothers). Maybe all the Dilla that gets played during the breaks on Adult Swim seeped into Hall's mind. Of course, I would bet my record collection that Hall heard Dilla before that.
Here's another clip, ten minutes of Kyle and one of his boys having the most fun ever. It sounds like they sampled a bunch of mouse traps going off at the same time:
Sometimes I get all grump thinking "All the kids at my program are just on iTunes getting whatever's on the front page," and all that, forgetting that it takes one influence (likely, hopefully, mine) or weird turn to twist someone into an experimental music hound. Hall sort of embodies all that, and with intense exuberance, too. More than anything, I'd say Hall seems influenced by experimentation with his machines, and getting deep into the studio with his friends. His rhythms are seemingly hand-played and wild; his 12-inch on Omar S's FXHE label is more of a compelling mind-fuck than a mixable house track. There's a guitar solo in "Dr. Girlfriend" than rips my heart up, makes me think of my mom out of nowhere. And "Fuse N Me" sounds like someone keeping three records locked in a mix, but barely.
I wish that this dude wanted a job at my program. We could run a computer music club every Thursday or some shit. But he's gonna be busy DJing everywhere soon, I'm sure, not just New York City. Check Kyle's MySpace for sound clips. Yeah that's right, you gotta grip that vinyl for the full story!