Phillyist Interviews... Trevor Hall

When you speak to singer/musician Trevor Hall on the phone, you get the impression that he is, in the words of Eddie Izzard, "relaxed and groovy." When you listen to his self-titled album, that vibe comes through, but so does a very chill energy that reaches out and relaxes you while you're tapping your foot along to the music.

Phillyist was fortunate enough to ask Trevor a few questions before he performs an acoustic set with percussionist Chris Steele at the Electric Factory tomorrow with Colbie Caillat and Howie Day.

What inspires your music?
A majority of it is other music, but I think if one is an artist, one has to be particularly open to all things, everything that's happening around him—the weather, current events, other art, even simple things like colors. I get inspired by everything.

What's involved in your songwriting process?
The songwriting process is very spontaneous for me. I can't really sit down and say, "I'm gonna write a song right now," because then there's too much thinking involved. I find it works best when your head's out of the way, and you're just kind of letting it flow through. So, whenever it comes, great, but when it does come, the music usually comes first for me, and then I'll hum some words to it, or try to figure out how I want the words to fall in. Other times, I may write a verse or some words, and then try to put music to it later. But most of all, it's the music before the words.

Who are some of your musical influences, and what artists are you currently listening to?
I'm a big Bob Marley fan. I really love his music but also love his whole message, his whole vibe. I really like Ben Harper. Those were two musicians early on that really shaped me.

Right now, I'm listening to a lot of Michael Franti and Spearhead. We just did a tour with them so I'm kind of still stuck on them, missing them, and so I've been playing a lot of their music, his CD, All Rebel Rockers. I've been listening to a lot of Matisyahu, his new CD. Mostly friends, I've been listening to all my friends. But I also like a lot of world music.

How would you describe your music to someone who hadn't heard it before?
This is a hard question for me, 'cause I have no idea what I sound like. I usually just say it's like acoustic reggae, rock, a little folk, with a very spiritual vibe.

Are you enjoying the tour with Colbie Caillat so far?
We're enjoying it very much. I've done some tours with them in the past and she sang on my new record, so we know each other a little bit, which is nice, we're friends. But it's also an adjustment because the crowd is a lot different, it's a very young audience, and it's important that we learn to bend to that crowd, but not break from our own style. I think it's a good growing experience, and we're making a lot of new fans, which is great, and Colbie and her band are just really sweet people, so it's been going very well.

How do you stay connected with your fans?
I answer as many messages as possible on MySpace. If somebody sends me something, I'm usually pretty good about getting back to them, if it's a sincere message, if they're asking a question, I do try to get back to them. But mostly through the Internet.

If you could collaborate with any musician/singer, who would it be?
I would really like to collaborate with Michael Franti, just because we really hit it off and we became really good friends. We have very similar styles so I think that'd be a lot of fun. But I'm also a huge Björk fan, and I know it's very left-field, but I think it would be really fun. Not even to collaborate with, just to be a fly on the wall in the studio as she's writing a song, I think that'd be awesome.

Finally, if you weren't a musician, what would you be doing instead?
I don't know. Music is a big part of my life. If I wasn't a musician, I would probably be on some kind of spiritual path, spiritual journey in some form or another.

by Jenn DiSanto