Tuesday 18 February 2020

Kyle Lacy: "Tomorrow Starts Today" [Interview]

Kyle Lacy's solo introduction through Dala Records came in early-2019 courtesy of his debut single, 'Hangin On'.  We previously gushed about the incredible gut-wrenching nature of the break-up number and Lacy's masterful ability in conveying such a sincere and raw emotion - so with great excitement, a year later, the single has expanded into a full-length project further developing Lacy's passion for an old school and classic soulful aesthetic.

And 'The Road To Tomorrow' aptly celebrates that aesthetic in true Dala fashion.  Recorded to analog tape with a band comprised of JC Myska on drums, Cole Stone on saxophone, Evie Andrus on fiddle and Dala founder Billy Aukstik on production, trumpet amongst other instruments, Lacy plunges head-first into a strong gospel-infused set inspired by the likes of Sam Cooke, Les McCann and Eddie Harris.  The album also further benefits from the backing vocals of musical duo Mel Johnston and Kim Foxen (Mel & Kim) who themselves are certainly due a follow-up to their northern soul inspired, Dala Records release, 'Bad Man'.

From the album's opening number, 'Hello Monday', the innumerable talents of Kyle Lacy absolutely shine through.  Lacy, who throughout the album, is credited as singer and songwriter as well as playing guitar, piano, bass amongst others, makes the transition so effortlessly from the 1950's inspired Rockabilly he initially carved his name from as one-half of Harlem River Noise (with Cody Gibson).

Dala Records releases have a unique way of presenting its artists with the creative freedom to express themselves in ways they haven't done so before: Antibalas trombonist Ray Mason veered from the afrobeat funk of his usual projects to deliver a more rock-infused set of singles with 'Back When' and 'No Clue', folk singer Georgia Lee Johnson's 'Languages' EP saw her delve into more soul territory and 'The Road to Tomorrow' carries on in that vein taking Lacy from the dancehall rock’n’roll and rhythm & blues realm into pristine southern soul. 

It was our distinct pleasure to have secured time with the multi-talented Kyle Lacy to discuss the new album 'The Road To Tomorrow'...

Congratulations on the single releases in the run up to the excellent new album: are you happy with how the project is being received so far?
It can be hard to tell how things are being received in this age of streaming.  I still count heavily on my friends and loved ones for the feedback I value most.  The process of this record brought my band closer than we've ever been, and that relationship in turn moves the music to a new height.  I hope that when people listen to this record, they receive the message that hope will always come back.  And I hope they dance a little, too.

Who are some of the musical influences that have gone on to shape your own sound over the years?
Ray Charles, Van Morrison, The Beatles, The Stray Cats, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Nina Simone, Nick Waterhouse, JD McPherson, T-Bone Walker, Sam Cooke, Jerry Lee Lewis, Aretha Franklin, Mose Allison, Big Joe Turner, Lou Rawls and Lake Street Dive.

How did you initially come to the attention of Billy Aukstik and Dala Records?
I met Billy in a session where I was recording with my previous band.  We really enjoyed working together and I went to see him play with the former Charles Bradley guys, The Extraordinares.  I told him I wanted to sing with his band, and he invited me to the studio.  The day I came, we recorded 'Bad Days' which is the eighth track on the album.  We hit it off pretty quickly, and I invited my friends and road band to join us over the summer as we finished the record.  We had seven or eight days of recording and mixing, and did the final eight tracks with the band.

What was the process of putting this album together like?
Kind of answered this above, but adding that working with people who love music as much as I do was the biggest joy I've ever had in my life.

How does the writing and recording process usually work for you?
The best songs that I've written have been effortless, as easy as noticing something someone said and writing it down, I notice a thought as it goes by and put it on paper, and usually, if it's any good, the whole song is written within twenty minutes.  On the record, we did songs that I'd written the same day - we'd bring everyone together and I'd teach everyone the new song on the spot, and then we'd go record it.

Whether it be through your solo projects or through music with Harlem River Noise, there seems to be a strong commitment to traditional standards when putting the music together and recording to analog: where does that stem from?
I just love the magic of analog equipment: it forces you to be real on the mic, because you can't go back and fix things like intonation or phrasing.  In effect, recording to tape forces you to stop thinking about the music and start feeling it.

How does your music tend to transfer to the live stage?
I play a show full of traditional rock’n’roll and blues alongside our original music which we've crafted over hundreds of shows on the road for the past three years.  People should expect to dance when they come see us. Think: Jazzy-blues-punk-boogie-woogie-extravaganza.

Who would be a dream artist for you to either record or perform with?
Elton John [to perform with], Lake Street Dive [to record with].

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