Between The Ripples: An Interview with Trevor Hall
If Bono, Marley and Cobain had a love child, his name would be Trevor Hall.
With a deeply soulful sound that far exceeds his 23 years, Trevor Hall has already racked up some illustrious career points. He signed his first major record deal as a senior in high school, he’s toured and played with the likes of Matisyahu, Los Lobos, Ben Harper and Stevie Nicks, and his song “Other Ways” is featured on the Shrek The Third soundtrack.
Besides raw talent, passion and mad song writing skills, one of the most notable characteristics about Trevor Hall is his genuine love and humility—for his craft, for people, for the world and for his ability to play in it.
“My music is acoustic, folk, reggae, hip hop and lots of other things, and it’s meant to inspire and uplift and just make the world, you know, a better place,” he says.
For Hall, the journey began in South Carolina, where he was born and raised. “I would come home (from school), pick up my guitar and write songs for a couple of hours. It was my favorite time of the whole day,” he recalls.
He began playing for his parents, who supported his passion. And then, on his 16th birthday, his father surprised him by paying for a recording session. “Something low key, not like ‘we’re gonna sell it to the masses.’ Just friends and stuff,” Hall says. “Then I sent one to a friend in L.A., and he told me to come out and play a show and that’s kind of how everything started.”
At age 16, Hall moved to California and attended Idyllwild Arts Academy in the San Jacinto Mountains, east of L.A., where he studied classical guitar and got serious about music.
Hall signed with Geffen before graduating high school, and he recorded an EP, The Rascals Have Returned for the label.
“Unfortunately,” says Hall, “Other than the EP, none of the records I made with Geffen came out. They dropped me from the label in 2008. But, that didn’t deter me.”
After being dropped, Hall’s songwriting skills flourished. He partnered with his good friend, percussionist Chris Steele and recorded and released a 14 song album called “This is Blue” in that same year.
“Its kinda interesting being so young in such a big, massive industry,” he says. “But I haven’t had too many challenges because music is a joy for me. It’s my job, it’s work, but it’s also what I love to do. When you love something there’s really not any confusion involved. The biggest challenge is trying to take that love for something and try to make it a job as well.”
Hall’s eclectic mix of reggae, acoustic rock and profound lyricism quickly earned him fans across the country.
One day, he took his acoustic guitar to Vanguard Records, played some tunes, and they listened. Hall signed his second record deal and released his self titled album in July 2009.
The first single from the album, “Unity” (which he co-wrote with his good friend Matisyahu), debuted at #7 on the Billboard Heatseeker’s chart.
“A song says a lot of different things, and not just from one place. But there are just themes that are really prevalent. I was just thinking about the Mumbai terrorist attacks, and Israel and Palestine, and thinking a lot about all this fighting. And that isn’t really anything new, but like I said, sometimes themes are just prevalent. And it all just kinda erupted in this song,” he says.
For Hall—who cites Bob Marley, Ben Harper, Bob Dylan and Bjork as his main influences—not all of his influences come from music.
“I’m really inspired by certain literature, certain poets like Hafez and Rumi. I read a lot of mystic poetry, and it definitely has a heavy sway over my lyrics. I get inspired by day-to-day things I see. Positive things. People trying to do good things. That’s what inspires me most.”
Trevor has been to India three times, and incorporates meditation and vegetarianism into his life. “I have a place that I go in India, a little ashram there. I’m involved in a lot of things for children,” he says.
“In particular, a charity called Baal Dan, started by my friend Tanya Pinto. Basically, [Baal Dan] feeds children, builds schools and builds orphanages in India. I raise money for those kids. It’s a small thing, I know, but something very personal and close to my heart.”
When not devoting time and energy to helping India’s less fortunate, Hall is working hard to rise to even greater professional heights. Currently, he’s getting ready to hit the road with reggae legend Jimmy Cliff in support of his upcoming album, Chasing the Flame, which will be released on June 29.
“My favorite part of the whole thing thus far,” says Hall, “is meeting new people on the road. It’s funny how people come together, connect and establish friendships. I never knew that I would have friends in Peoria, Illinois, or in Vail, Colorado. Through music, we have all been able to come together, share our ideas and love and move on. I am eternally grateful.”
This author remembers when, years ago, as a little girl growing up on reservation land, Chief took me to the Reservoir. It was a sacred place, reserved only for ‘real’ Indians, which I was not (due to my mother’s fair Irish skin).
Chief picked up a pebble and dropped it into the glass-like surface of the water, and we silently watched the ripples as they expanded, one from the other, eventually disappearing into the void.
“To understand that is divine,” was all he said.
Chief has long since returned to the earth from which he came, and I have long since left reservation land and grown into a woman. Still, as I find myself listening to Trevor Hall’s music, I am reminded of this simple exchange between a white girl and a full-fledged Indian Chief—a big message of few words and lots of silences.
Ultimately, that is what I love best about Hall’s music; his ability to create meaning within the silences, like the spaces between the ripples.