THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Return to Trevor Hall

Trevor Hall blends styles to create a unique sound

By Keith Valcourt — Special to The Washington Times - - Wednesday, June 17, 2015


By blending a series of styles including reggae, rock and pop, Trevor Hall has created a truly original sound. His tours with reggae giants Jimmy Cliff and Steel Pulse have seen him travel the world and his exploring all aspects of music.

Mr. Hall, who is on the road again, will play Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, Virginia, Wednesday. He took time out to reflect on the influences that made him the musician he is today.

Question: When did you start making music?

Answer: I started making music when I was pretty young. My dad was a musician. There are pictures of me in diapers, banging on the drums and stuff. I didn’t seriously start writing songs until I was about 12 years old. That’s when I started playing the guitar.

Q: How soon into it did you know this is what you would do for a living?

A: I still don’t know if this is what I’m gonna do for a living. [laughs] It was just what I loved to do. I remember coming home from school and locking myself in my room trying to learn all my favorite bands’ songs. I never thought of it as a career. It’s just something that came so naturally to me.

Q: Who were your earliest influences?

A: In the beginning stages I went through the punk rock stage of my youth: Rancid, NOFX, Less Than Jake. Then around 13 or 14 I started changing. I started surfing and got into that culture, discovered Bob Marley and [Ben] Harper. That opened up a door for me.

Ben was a huge turning point. I was working in this little surf shop in my hometown, and it was a really slow day with nobody coming in. I went exploring through the CD rack and discovered Ben Harper’s CD “The Will to Live.” I put it on, and that was it for me.

Q: You music blends several styles. How do you describe it to folks who have never heard it?

A: It’s so hard. I never know what to say. It’s like acoustic, folkie, reggae.

We recently played this amazing festival in Monterrey, California, called Cali Roots [California Roots Music and Arts Festival]. While there we did this thing called “Jam in the Van.” The guy who drives is this old, old dude. He was sitting outside the van while we played. When we came out, he said, “Oh, my god! You guys are so good. You know what kind of music you play?” I said, “Please tell me, dude.” He said, “You play ‘stretch out’ music.”

So from now on that’s what I’m gonna use when people ask what kind of music I play — “stretch out” music.

Q: How important is spirituality to your music?

A: That is 90 percent of it. The music is my spirituality — my way of exploring and navigating in the world. It’s superimportant.

It’s hard for me to write a song about ordinary things. I always ends up turning into this. I wish I could keep it simple and down to earth, but that is hard for me.

Q: With touring, what is the coolest place you have gotten to visit or play?

A: We just played this festival on the Big Island of Hawaii on this Hawaiian sovereign land down on the south coast on this guy’s property, where the lava is cutting off the town from the rest of the island. So on days when the lava flows across the road, they have to figure a way around it. You won’t be able to get in or out. We were playing on this black, dried lava field on this island.

Q: Do the cultures you visit have an effect on your songwriting process?

A: Definitely. The places that we go and the people we meet, that is one of the greatest rewards of playing music [and] seeing new cultures. We’re storytellers. Everywhere you go on the road, there are so many stories that you hear and retell. That is definitely one of the highlights of doing what I do.

Q: How has that process evolved since you started?

A: When I was younger I was still exploring my sound and trying to figure it out. It was only recently where I feel that I started to figure out what type of artist I am. Of course that will change and change as I go forward. But at least for right now I feel like I have found myself musically.

Q: Are you currently working on a new CD?

A: We are working on something. We haven’t really announced it yet, but we’re close. There should be something this year.

Q: Why should people come out and see you play live?

A: The live show is everything. The albums are good to get and pump in your car. But for the full experience, live is where we let loose. Live is where you can feel the essence and the energy.