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Five Minutes At Decibel with Kyle Hall

In the interest of full disclosure, we ended up talking with Kyle Hall for a little more than five minutes—actually, a lot more—but by the time we finally pinned down the future of Detroit before his Friday show at this year's Decibel festival, he clearly had a lot on his mind. Between touring the world, starting a regular night in his hometown, dropping a new, single-sided 7" on his Wild Oats imprint from DC newcomer Jay Simon (the release party for which is happening in Detroit next Saturday), Hall was eager to talk to us about where he's been, and better yet, where he's going.

XLR8R: This is your second year in a row at Decibel?
Kyle Hall: Yeah.

What's different this time around?
It's a different type of venue than last time. Actually, it's called The Baltic [Room], it's kind of cool.

Where'd you play at last time?
I don't know exactly what it was, but I was definitely up on a terrace-type thing. It was a little different cause people were dancing down [below] and you're raised above really high up. It was still a bar/night club kind of style, but it was different cause [the audience] could go up there too. It was sponsored by Windows or something. [Laughs]

You've been touring a lot this last year, do you find time to produce in between?
A little bit, but if I was home longer I could make way more music.

That's where you're more comfortable?
Yeah, now I want to go back home more. Sometimes I like to play a lot too, do a whole bunch of dates. It changes.

You've been tagged as the "New Detroit" guy for a while now, but it does feel like you've become pretty established. Does it feel that way at all to you?
I still feel fairly new I guess.

In comparison to your counterparts from the Detroit scene?
Yeah, if you look at it that way.

In the scheme of things, you're the last guy on the bill tonight and probably most of the places you go, does that change your approach at all?
Well, I'm not really thinking in terms of concrete ideas of there being something that's distinctly different than what else is going on already. Just making music better and things like that. Just trying to improve more on whatever you do. That's the only main goal for me as far as music goes is to try to have more output. Cuz a lot of stuff I was doing is just coming out now, whatever remixes and stuff I did a while ago. Except for the Motor City Drum Ensemble remix, I did that not too long ago. But the other things, like the Ninja Tune Emika remix, the Tribe remix I did for Planet E, that stuff was about a year already done and it actually just happened to come out around the same time. I've been making music for my own label, the record I did before—the "Wild Oats 6K"—but really I haven't been doing as much as I used to because of the touring. So if I could get back to that amount of making stuff, I could progress faster and farther. When you have time at home to make music, you can get into it more. When you're touring, you're constantly trying to get back into the groove and then it gets interrupted and then you have to go back, so it breaks up your progression a bit.

You've been through a lot of countries, have you found any places or scenes you resonate with more?
Yeah, definitely, there are some places I like way more than others. London I like a whole lot.

Do you ever have time to see what's happening in those cities, music-wise?
Yeah, London is probably the one I get to explore the most, I have a lot of friends there and things always to check out, at least a little bit. Sometimes I get to spend a week there, and I'm there probably every other month so that's probably the only place in Europe that I could say I've really checked out and had time to walk around and talk to people. I'll buy records there. Compared to other cities in Europe, I buy records in London mostly, find people on Discogs and save money on shipping. I do that a lot.

What projects do you have in the works?
Well, the "Wild Oats 7J" came out this week. It's a white, single-sided 7" from this guy Jay Simon from DC. That's the newest thing, and then after that we've got some Anthony Shakir stuff coming out too.

With Wild Oats, do you make an effort to get things out faster than the traditional label time frame?
Usually when I find them, I'm going to put it out like [snaps]. I mean, there's always stuff that's scheduled, but it's not going to be way longer, and pushed back. I did some stuff with Funkineven, that's another project—the Fucking Evil project.

Is that something you guys did while you were in London?
Yeah, whenever I go over there we work on tons of stuff, so we have a lot of music we we're working on.

That's going to be a 12"?
I think it's going to be single-sided, actually. We're going to try to do some laser scribing on the other side. Then there'll be more stuff to come, going to just keep cranking it out, maybe a box set or a compilation of certain releases.

Sounds like you've been busy.
Yeah, man, been going full force, trying to push this stuff on Detroit. I'm starting up a night there too called Fundamentals at this place called Motor City Wine. The first was really good, I did the whole night from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. The second one is going to be me and my boy Jay Daniel—he's really good too. He's helping me do stuff with the label and will be starting up his own thing too.

Is that night going to focus on the Detroit scene, or are you going to bring other people in eventually?
It's really going to be a tight focus, it's what I like basically. [laughs]. Cuz everyone else is doing what they like, so it's about time I put my foot down and say, "I don't like your stuff. This stuff that I like. This is why it's only this, and if you have any questions about it, fuck you." [laughs]

Is that going to be a regular thing?
Well, it's hard for me to get the consistent date, but it's going to happen once a month. Basically, it's going to happen. [laughs] There's a lot more stuff in Detroit now, a lot more underground stuff now cause people are staying home more. Well, they're not staying home, but they're doing stuff for some reason in the last year. Before it wasn't as much but it's starting to bubble up a little bit.

It seems like there's a new focus on Detroit recently.
Yeah, it has been. I think that's helped. People there are like, "Maybe I should do something if people are watching." [laughs]

So you think the Detroit scene is starting to recognize itself more?
Yeah, that's what it is. I think the main thing is people are starting to be like, "Hey, we should just do stuff here."

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