GEN F: Kyle Hall

Photographer A.J, Wilhelm
September 30, 2011

Kyle Hall graduated high school in June, and aside from a few hours a week teaching DJ lessons to kids and going to his girlfriend’s house every day, he’s got a lot of time to kill in his hometown Detroit. He spends most of it in his basement studio, cramped with gear. He may no longer have ample access to the school’s instruments, but it’s a vast improvement over his former practice space in the bathroom stalls. “I hated Spanish class,” Hall says. “Sometimes I’d be like, ‘May I use the restroom? I’m not feeling too well.’ I’d get in there and start hooking shit up, just chilling, man, making beats.” And though he never brought a camera into the toilet, he wielded it freely in the hallways, winning fans by posting videos to YouTube of him playing keys on some stairs by the lockers.

Kyle Hall comes from a family of musicians, and was introduced early to house music by his uncle, DJ Raybone Jones. With access to equipment and the nimble technological skill of a ’90s baby, Hall naturally crafted his own songs, and the happily lightweight house music he makes is consciously deeper than the occasionally haughty, clean repetition of his influences. A CD-R of the music made its way to Detroit’s hard techno staple Omar-S, who offered to release a single for Hall when he was just 15. But it was the Worx of Art3 EP, Hall’s first record on his own label, Wild Oats, where he drifted from the standardized wetness of house into something more purposefully amorphous. On “I <3 Dr. Girlfriend,” a mossy song laden with earthy Stevie Wonder keyboards, a shuffling backbeat and baby-breath samples, Hall slowly splits his musical inclinations, letting bits of hip-hop, R&B, minimal techno and cool downbeat electronics froth and overlap. “It’s like you want to produce a human child but somehow some car parts end up in it,” he says about “Dr. Girlfriend.” There is a crucial divide between younger kids and older folks who didn’t have every nook of their daily lives somehow tied to technology. Though he is especially musically inclined, Hall’s no more technically adept than anyone else his age. He mentions that he likes the texture of Soulja Boy’s beats, and the two of them, members of the first generation to grow up amongst routine electronics, are not dissimilar—almost-adults making misshapen songs at home on technology their parents don’t understand. There’s an outfoxing in their music. They’re not young geniuses so much as shining examples of everything there is to soak up when you start listening early and applying your god-given gifts with manmade tools.

Stream: Kyle Hall, The Dirty Thouz

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GEN F: Kyle Hall