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Interview: Trevor Hall
By Katy Wilkie
August 13, 2015
Trevor Hall from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina got his start in music when he was just 16-years-old. Since then he has …
Trevor Hall from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina got his start in music when he was just 16-years-old. Since then he has become an accomplished singer songwriter whose music has been compared to Bob Marley, Dave Matthews Band and Jack Johnson. Hall has mastered his sound which is an eclectic mix of acoustic reggae, rock and sanskrit chanting. Hall’s unique sound has landed him on sold-out tours alongside musicians like SOJA, Michael Franti, Colbie Callait and Matisyahu to name a few. Hall’s 2009 debut self-titled album debuted on the billboard Heatseeker chart at #7, he was one of MTV’s twenty emerging artists in 2010 and his music has been featured in movies and tv programs including “Other Ways” on Shrek the Third and “Brand New Day”on the CBS This Morning Show. Despite his success, Hall took a yearlong break to get back to his roots and put his heart fully into his music, his 2014 surprise album Chapter of the Forests was birthed from his sabbatical. Most recently, Hall released an EP titled Unpack Your Memories in march and is gearing up for the August 21st release of his new album Kala.
CLTure had the chance to chat with Trevor Hall about his new album Kala, his travels to India and his motivation to write and perform music. Trevor Hall will be enchanting the crowd at Visulite Theatre on August 16th.
CLTure: You seem to constantly be releasing new music. In the past year and a half, you’ve released “Chapter of the Forest” in June 2014, “Unpack Your Memories” this past March, and you’ve got the new album “Kala” coming out on August 21. Where do you find the motivation to keep up such an intense work ethic?
Trevor Hall: It’s not really up to me. It’s up to the music and the spirit of how it wants to be shared. I am fully aware that at anytime the music can stop coming through. But as long as it does, I need to share it and honor it. For me, it doesn’t matter if that means one album a year or five albums a year. The work must be done.
CLTure:What do you credit as your catalyst for getting involved in music?
TH: My father was definitely the catalyst for my musical journey. He is a musician himself. He plays the drums. Ever since I was a child, music was always around the house. My dad had a huge record collection, and as a boy I would love to go through it. I would take random ones out and put them on the turntable all day long. We also had many instruments in the house that I loved to jump up on.
CLTure: Was pursuing music a career path that you had always wanted to explore?
TH: I never thought as music as a career. When I was younger, music was just as much a part of life as breathing. It was so natural for me and for our home. I never thought that it would be my “career path”. I just did it because I loved it and didn’t think beyond that. I wish I still thought that way:)
CLTure: Your music has been compared to the likes of Bob Marley and Jack Johnson, to name a few. What musicians have you drawn influence from in your career?
TH: Bob Marley and a lot of the reggae artists that came out of Jamaica have a strong influence on me. They provided a strong foundation. However, it was when I heard Ben Harper’s “The Will to Live” … that’s what really changed things. Ben just touched a spot that I didn’t know was there, especially on that album. That album really changed a lot for me and I drew a lot of inspiration from the rest of his works.
CLTure: You took a year-long sabbatical visiting countries like India, Nepal, and then states like Vermont and Maine. How have your travels been influential on your creative process with your music?
TH: Traveling brings experience. It provides story. That story I like to share. Sharing it helps unpack it and helps me find the essence of it all. Traveling opens a person up to new possibilities and ways of doing things. It also challenges one’s perspective. I like that. I like how it shows me that there really isn’t one way to do things. There are many different paths. Those things really effect my music and helps me explore new territory sonically.
CLTure: In what ways did your sabbatical enlighten you personally?
TH: I don’t know if it really “enlightened” me, so to say. It just really helped me quiet my mind and get back to the simple things. Before I left, I was really beat up from touring and from the “business” side of being a musician. The sabbatical really helped me get back to what’s important.
CLTure: “Chapter of the Forest” was born out of your sabbatical and mostly self-recorded. Was it a refreshing experience to create an album outside of the studio atmosphere?
TH: It was very refreshing. “Chapter of the Forest” wasn’t a “planned out” album. I was so stressed and tired from the road that I really had no plan of making another album. I wasn’t in a rush to get back to things. The songs on “Chapter of the Forest” came out super organically and slowly. I wasn’t writing them to put them on an album. I was writing them to heal. For me, that album is my most important album yet. It helped me get back to the heart of things.
CLTure: What inspired you to release the EP “Unpack Your Memories” with a full length album shortly following the release?
TH: There wasn’t a huge strategy for “Unpack Your Memories.” These were songs that have been in my “vault” for some time and I just really wanted to share them. They were recorded at home with one mic and I really wanted to share that intimacy with my fans and listeners. It was just a fun project to do and I am grateful my fans gave me the opportunity.
CLTure: The title of your upcoming album “Kala” translates to “time” in Sanskrit. What is the significance of this title to you?
TH: Ever since I was a child, time was something that always stressed me out. It seemed my life was controlled by it and it was something that I was always running out of. I always felt like I had to figure everything out right at that moment and if I didn’t .. well, I would run out of time. This is just how it was. However, a year-and-a-half ago, I was with my grandmother in South Carolina. She is kind of in her final stages of life and doesn’t say much, but when she does, it really means something. She just looked up at the sky while we were sitting with her and she said, “Isn’t time such a wonderful gift?” I really didn’t know what to think of that. I just let it go and we continued on with our day. What I didn’t know is that at that moment, my grandmother really planted a seed in me. Over the past year-and-a-half, that line “isn’t time such a wonderful gift” has been coming back to me over and over again like a mantra. As a result, my perception towards time has started to change. I’m beginning to look at time more as breath, as space, as growth and healing, as a circle rather than a linear thing that has a beginning and an end. It has been incredibly healing for me and has been a huge learning process. I mean, look around you. Especially in our western culture, we are ruled by the clock. We try to fit as many things into one day as we possibly can and put so much stress on ourselves to get things done. It’s ruining us. It’s not like that everywhere. Maybe we have it wrong. I think if, as a people, we can adopt a healthier outlook towards time and growth, it would really do us a lot of good.
CLTure: How does “Kala” differ from your previous releases?
TH: With “Chapter of the Forest,” I felt like I was really growing into “my sound.” I felt like I was coming into my own. “KALA” is a continuation of this journey but whereas “Chapter of the Forest” is more of a meditative album; “KALA” has a little more movement … like time :)
CLTure:You seem to have a personal connection to every song you release. Do your songs evolve to having a different meaning when you play them live?
TH: Every time I play a song, the meaning changes or evolves. I never meet the same river twice. That’s the exciting thing about music for me. I’m always learning. The songs are always helping me grow and at the same time keep me humble.
CLTure: What can fans that haven’t been to a Trevor Hall show before expect to see at your live shows?
TH: We really have a family vibe at our shows. We are all together and we are ALL listening. When I’m having a really good show, there is no performer and there is no audience. Those lines are gone. We are all listeners and learning from our time together. I think that feeling is unique and I’m very humbled I’m given a spot at the table.
CLTure: What does the remainder of 2015 look like for you?
TH: Lots and lots of time in the van! Haha! We are touring a lot for the remainder of 2015, getting things set up and spreading the word for “KALA” which comes out on August 21. It’s going to be exciting.