Singer/Songwriter Finds Inspiration in the Electric Hum

Monday, November 7, 2011 12:04

An Interview With Kyler England

by: Casey Pukl

I can’t even express my level of geeky songwriter excitement as I sat down to write this up. This interview really wasn’t a typical interview— it was more of a discussion rather than a q&a. This is what happens when a songwriter tries to interview another songwriter. They geek out about keyboards, sounds, the mutual friends they never knew they had, and what it “feels” like to have songs just pour out of your eyes. OK, so maybe Kyler’s new record Electric Hum didn’t pour out of her eyes per se, but it certainly came from a deep place of inspiration. I mean really, who would’ve thought writing a record would start with a trip home from picking out the perfect house-plant? Seriously— not joking about that. Fortunately, that’s just the kind of inspired writer Kyler England is, and she was kind enough to open up and tell me all about it.

CP: Tell me about recording this album. I know it’s really different from some of the other work you’ve done, so I’m curious how you arrived at this sound.

KE: Getting to this record was a really interesting journey. I’m originally from North Carolina just outside of Raleigh. I never really listened to country growing up, but all of my songs leading up to this always had that alt-country sound. There’s something about the sound of my voice matched with an acoustic guitar that just gives it that extra twang, and while my material isn’t country music, it always had that color. So when I started working with DJ’s on some of the electronica projects, what really surprised me was listening to the final mix. When I heard my voice paired with the tracks, it brought out a completely different color in my voice. It’s like when you wear something blue, and you put something orange next to it, both colors just pop. That was what was happening with the sound of my voice. It really started to “pop” and change colors with the different instrumentation. I was really into experimenting with those electric sounds and my voice.

CP: Did you purposely start writing with the idea that you were going to make a record?

KE: I started writing in January, and I really had no intention of making a record. I was just writing because I had something to say. I have a really clear memory of what really started the whole thing. I was driving home from getting a house-plant actually. It’s really random, but I was driving home, and the sun was setting and it was just this gorgeous scene. The verse for “Eye of Your Storm” just appeared in my head. The song just started unraveling so effortlessly— I’m sure it was probably brewing for a while. But I went home and wrote the song, and it really opened the floodgates. Songs just started coming out really easily, and eventually it became clear that I had a record. It was interesting for me because the process was really organic. I’ve always had a plan for recording. This time it just happened, and I think it went really well.

The other thing that was really different when I was writing this record was writing to drum loops. Instead of just strumming things on my guitar, I’d turn on drum loops in Garageband and really actively imagine the groove of the song. Some of the loops actually made it to the record in some form or another. It was also really cool to let the loops influence some of the phrasing of the lyrics and melody. It was a totally new way to write for me, and I found it really inspiring.

CP: Totally. Changing how you actually start the writing process can completely change the game.

KE: Definitely. And you know, there’s actually one more thing that really inspired me too. So, I’m addicted to the show Parenthood, and there was this song, “Love and Permanence” by Azure Ray that was featured on one episode. It’s such a gorgeous song. It’s very understated and ambient. It’s vibey. I love it. It’s got this tremelo Wurlitzer sound, and the bass— that song was totally what sent me down the rabbit hole.

CP: I’ve been dying to ask you this, and I apologize in advance for the geeky gear question, but I’ve seen you play a Nord in some of your videos, and I’ve been so curious about whether or not that keyboard had an influence in your writing for this record. I know for me, when I bought my Nord, it completely changed the way I approached writing, and after listening to your record with all the Rhodes and Wurlitzer on there, I thought you might’ve had a similar experience. Did you write any of the songs for this record using that keyboard?

KE: You know, I actually didn’t. The Nord is badass, but I actually have a Yamaha keyboard at home that I used. The keys are weighted, so it feels more natural than the Nord to me. The Nord was in my husband’s studio, and I just like the ease of touring with it. It’s light, has great sounds, and it pretty easy to use. I’m actually relatively low-tech, so this whole experience of changing sounds on the keyboard and stuff has been totally different for me.

CP: It sounds like you’ve had a blast experimenting with this album.








KE: Oh yeah. Bill Lefler and I really worked well together. He produced the album. He had done some electronic kind of stuff before, so it was a cool fit. Everyday was like Christmas with all of the new sounds. I think being in the studio was some of the most fun I had all year. I wish it could be like that every day.

CP: Tell me a little bit about what our audience can expect to hear at your show on Sunday.

KE: For this show, I’ll be playing as a duo with my husband. It’s really tough to travel with a full band, so he and I have really worked to create a much bigger sound. We’ll be playing a lot of different instruments- I’ll be playing bass on some songs, guitar on others, keys. It’s really fun and exciting. It’s so different from what I used to do, but I love the collision of a great song, the voice, and new sonic elements. I’m so hungry for more of that.

Be sure to catch Kyler England & Erick Macek this Sunday, November 13 here at Anthology, and definitely check out both her new record Electric Hum and some of the songs that inspired her most on Spotify by clicking the links below!

Electric Hum
Kyler England’s Influences

WHAT: Kyler England & Erick Macek
WHEN: Sunday, November 13, 2011, 7:00pm
TICKETS: $10-$23 Buy Tickets
MORE INFO: Artist Profile