Birdwell Blog

Kyle Field, Little Wings, Big Songs
Dazzling Blue #107

There’s the Kyle Field I know from the surf, the post-surf coffee, the banter about waves, music, art, books, the curse/blessing of life in Los Angeles. And then there is the Kyle Field I know from my car, driving through Topanga Canyon, Kyle’s band, Little Wings, on the stereo, soundtracking the winding curves through oaks and eucalyptuses and chaparral and gorges. His music and that canyon are, for me, forever entwined. Kyle is an ace wordsmith. His lyrics are the kind that play back and haunt and reveal a kaleidoscope of meaning and feeling. I have lived with them in my head, like an imaginary friend of great depth and substance. This is why there are two Kyles. And while the flesh-and-blood version is terrific, I have an ongoing romance with the musical one. Kyle and I spoke via phone—he driving south on the 101 after a gig in Big Sur, me driving west on Topanga Canyon. Also, Kyle captioned the pics.

How does the process of writing lyrics go for you?

Thankfully, I feel like it’s different with every song because I kind of feel like I want every song to do something unique. And I don’t really know how it all works. And I don’t really try and figure it out because I’m just happy that I get a new song. So, for instance, a chord progression can come first sometimes, and for instance, with Explains, I didn’t have any words for any of those songs. And I kind of didn’t really know what to write about. And so I was just playing these chord progressions for a few months at home. And I figured if I could not get bored while playing this chord progression over and over again, then I would figure out how to sing over it, and what it meant someday. So I kind of feel like that’s the floor, or the foundation, the musical aspect of it, and then to tile the floor with the appropriate words that match to the actual tones, that’s one of the things I’m most fascinated with and obsessed with. When I learned the words to the Beach Boys songs when I was a kid, I always felt they had such a knack for meshing the right tone and the right note with the right word. It’s almost like onomatopoeia, how a word sounds like what it is, you know? And I just feel like that strong bond between a note and saying a word is the secret trick of it all. 


 

When you’re on the road and playing songs repeatedly every night, do you find new angles into them? Do they become something new to you?
Yeah. Every time we play the song, it’s slightly different, and I like stalling a certain line that I didn’t do the night before, or just kind of jazz style it, and feeling the freedom to kind of shift around those timings. I feel like that’s the ongoing practice of making a song continue to live and exist, because the recorded studio version is just where you laid it to rest forever, or the one way that it’s able to be heard repeatedly. But I don’t adhere to or hear that version in my mind when we’re playing the song live. But I think lots of bands play the song exactly the same every time, and I’m totally uninterested in that. It sounds like a total drag to me. All my favorite musicians do it different every time and kind of keep exploring the song, you know?
 

 
You draw and paint as well as make music. Do they all feed each other?
I feel like I have a few different hobbies, my pursuits, and that I don’t really want to be defined by any one of them, per se. I’ve always felt like if I was only a musician I would feel like I was on the ropes, just like, “Oh, God! I’ve got to write a song.” I would feel the pressure. But with a few different practices, I can float between them with something that feels like very little commitment to them, where it always feels fresh because I’m not burning myself out by trying too hard.
Not trying too hard—there’s so much to be said for that.
Yeah. Absolutely. I always want to feel I’m playing a little bit. So I like balancing a little pocket notebook on my knee while I’m also eating a sandwich and like, “Oh, I have enough to rewrite this but I have to write this down now,” and it might look slanted and crazy, but I like constant change with it all, in a way, and not getting comfortable seems more comfortable to me.
 

 
Tell me about your new record.
So People is the first new record. And that’s the one that’s out now. And it’s 10 songs. It’s recorded with what has become the live band over the last three years, since the last record. And it’s kind of the first album I’ve made with a six-piece band that can play together really well. So, to me, it’s a special representation of how the live band has grown over the last three years. It sounds really boring. Even though the term “live band” sounds way less interesting than it actually is. But I love it. I love the versions that happened. And it was recorded really quick. It’s recorded in three days. And I think almost every one of the songs is a first take. And we did a few over-dubs. But we just got used to playing together well. And I feel like it just feels like a really natural record. And I’m happy with the song choice. People seem to be really enjoying it, which is the most important thing.
 

For more of Kyle Field and Little Wings go HERE.

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