It All Started With A Little Boogie-Woogie

Monday, March 26, 2012 1:00

An Interview with Kyle Eastwood

by: Casey Pukl

Kyle Eastwood is not only an accomplished jazz bassist, but he’s also the composer behind some of Clint Eastwood’s latest movie soundtracks. Growing up, Eastwood was exposed to jazz early on, and annual trips to the Monterey Jazz Festival  with backstage visits were the norm. So it’s not surprising to see that over the years, Eastwood merged his passions for the bass and films to create quite a career. I had the chance to catch up with Kyle last week to find out what he has been up to as well as get a glimpse into his writing process. Read on to find out how he got his start in film scoring, and what’s on deck for 2012.

CP: Who inspired you to play bass when you were young?

KE: Actually, one of the very first things I learned on the piano was the bass part. My father started teaching me a little bit when I was about five or six, and the first thing he showed me was how to play the left hand parts, and I would play that while he would play the right hand part on boogie-woogie kinds of tunes. That was the first thing I learned to play. Then I studied the piano for a while, and I sort of picked up the bass and started teaching myself at first when I was in my mid-teens. But I was listening to my jazz idols, Paul Chambers, Ray Brown, Ron Carter, Mingus, all that. But I was also listening to a lot of Motown music and a lot of electric bass players, funk bass players like Bootsy Collins. I’ve always listened to lots of different styles of music and tried to draw from all of it really.

CP: For sure— you can really tell when listening to your music. I knew there had to be some Motown in your collection somewhere (laughs).

KE: (Laughs) Yeah, I’ve always loved R&B and soul music. I listen to a lot of everything though. Everything and anything. If it’s good, I like it.

CP: That’s a good way to be. I know you also do a ton of film scoring for your father’s movies, “Million Dollar Baby”, “Gran Torino”, and “Mystic River” just to name a few. How did you get into that?

KE: I initially started playing bass in the string section in the orchestras when I was starting out as a professional musician in Los Angeles. I played in the orchestras a bit, and that’s how I saw the inner workings of how film scores were done. Then I just gradually started writing bits and pieces of music for some of my father’s films. I worked on a few other people’s scores here and there, and then I just gradually worked my way up to doing the whole score myself.

CP: Film scoring seems to be a really technical process from time constraints to programs that are used to actually merge the film and music together. Was that something you studied formally, or did you just really learn as you went?

KE: I studied some music theory and arranging and stuff, but as far as the technological side of it, that’s something I just learned from using other music programs and kind of picking it up from there.

CP: What’s your writing process like?

KE: For film scoring, or just in general?

CP: I guess let’s start with film scoring!

KE: For film scoring, usually we’ll sit down and watch the movie first. I’ll watch it through once, then a second time sometimes to take some notes and sort of pick the scenes that really need music. We pick what seems the most important musically in the film. Then from there, I just sit down at the piano and try to come up with a theme for the film in general or a particular character’s theme. I try to come up with some melodic ideas and motifs and then play them against the film to see what fits and what works.

CP: Do you use a different process to write for your own band?

KE: Well, you have a lot more freedom when you’re writing music for yourself and your own albums. You can sort of start from anywhere. I’ve always found traveling and hearing music from other cultures to be really inspiring for me. I think sometimes I just sit down at the piano and just force myself to noodle around with some rhythmic or melodic ideas. Then I just start building on it from there. Occasionally something will start from a bass line, but more times than not, they start at the piano.

CP: Do you play piano often, or is it more of a writing tool for you?

KE: Yeah! I love to play piano. That’s usually what I write music on, or at least I’ll start there. There are a few things that have started on the bass or come from bass lines, but the piano is a great tool for writing with.

CP: What’s on deck for the rest of 2012? I know your last record, “Songs from the Chateau”, came out last year, so will we be seeing you hit the road for most of the year?

KE: Yeah, we toured on and off all last year, and we’ve been doing stuff in Europe since late January this year. But yeah, I’ve got some new tunes in the works, so I’m trying to get those together. I’ll probably try to cut a new album this summer or fall maybe, but yeah, so that wouldn’t be out until late in the year this year or early next year. But yeah, we’ve got some tour dates around Europe, and then we’ll be back in the states in September for the Monterey Jazz Festival, so it’s busy. I’m looking forward to coming out and playing the west coast next week! It’s where I’m from, so I’m excited.

CP: What are you most looking forward to about returning to Anthology?

KE: I enjoy San Diego— it’s a great place to come and play. I remember from last time, it’s a beautiful club! I’m looking forward to coming back to play!

Special thanks to Kyle for his time! Be sure to come out and catch Kyle and his fabulous band next Thursday! Tickets available below!
Kyle Eastwood on Spotify

WHAT: Kyle Eastwood
WHEN: Thursday, April 5, 7:30pm
TICKETS: $10-$39 Buy Tickets
MORE INFO: Artist Profile