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marvin

A chat with Kyle Vincent

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marvin   

The first time I heard about Kyle Vincent was in the late 1990’s, through a Beach Boys newsgroup that I belonged to. The people there were praising his first Hollywood Records effort, drawing comparisons to other Pop artists like the Beach Boys, Eric, and even Barry Manilow. I’d never heard of Kyle before, but the musical comparisons were good enough for me to find out more. Of course trying to find Kyle’s cd in Montreal at the time was like..., well you know what I mean. It was around 1997 while visiting in-laws in New Jersey, and leafing through the cd racks at Vintage Vinyl in Fords, NJ Vintage Vinyl), that I found Kyle’s album. I still hadn’t heard a single tune of his, but I was ready to take a chance (that’s a BM tip of the hat for you, Kyle ;)). Anyway, from the moment I heard the opening guitar chords to “Arianneâ€, I was hooked, and the rest of the album certainly lived up to the praise that the newsgroup had given. As years passed, I have remained a fan, and have eagerly purchased any new music he has released.

After exchanging emails for a few years, I finally met Kyle in NY in 2005 at one of the Raspberries shows. By then I had tried to use any influence I had on EC.COM members by telling people about Kyle, so it was a real thrill for me to bring him down into BB King’s and tell everyone, “THIS is Kyle Vincent!â€

Well that meeting was seven years ago, and that first cd purchase was 15 years ago. Kyle is still out there playing, recording, and remaining active in many causes. He’s also getting ready to release new music soon. So whether you wait for that new release, or check him out now, if you’re a lover of melodic music, I KNOW you won’t be disappointed.

I had a chance to conduct a Q&A with Kyle, and our email conversation follows. Oh yeah, he’s also a pretty funny guy.

1.What is the first instrument you wanted to learn to play?

The trombone, but when I arrived at my school auditorium the only 2 instruments left were the triangle and the alto sax. I chose the latter. Had I chosen the triangle, you probably wouldn’t be interviewing me.

2. Was there a specific event that made you realize you wanted to be a musician?

Not really, it just kinda happened. I started playing the sax, then piano, then bass, then voice, and never stopped. There was never a plan or a thought that it would be a career. I’m still trying to figure out what I wanna be when I grow up.

3. Do you recall the first song you learned to play?

I believe it was “Mercy Mercy Mercyâ€, on alto in 4th grade jazz band at Longfellow Elementary.

4. Do you recall the first song you sang in public?

“It’s A Shame†by the Spinners, unless you consider my mother the public, then the answer would be “The Ballad of Jesse Jamesâ€.

5. Which of your own songs are you the most proud of, and you can’t say the next one you write wink .

OK then, the one after the next one. From a purely lyrical songwriting craft standpoint, my faves would be “Remember Meâ€, “One Last Ride (On The Merry-go-Round)â€, and “Soulâ€. I was able to say exactly what I wanted to say on those, tell a story, and tie the lyric all up in three verses. That’s the sign of a strong song. As for the song as a whole, “Like Nothing Ever Happened†and “Whenever The Rain Fallsâ€, both from the forthcoming album. Don’t you hate it when artists say their newest stuff is their best?

6. I know there are probably a few songs on this list, but give me one song you wish you had written.

“Walking On Sunshine†not because I like it, but because that damn song gets so many freaking placements in movies I’d be a quadtrillionaire. As for the real answer, “Alone Again, Naturallyâ€. Pure. Pop. Perfection.

7. What is the ultimate 'sing in the shower' song for Kyle?

I don’t sing in the shower. Singing is my job. That would be like an auto mechanic rebuilding a carburetor in the shower. Do cars still even have carburetors? Did they go away? Nobody tells me anything. When I’m in the shower I’m usually thinking about how I can solve the problems of the world. I take long showers.

8. Do you recall the first time you heard one of your songs played in public? What was that experience like?

The first time I heard my voice singing on the radio was in Candy. Rodney Bingenheimer was playing “Weekend Boy†on KROQ as I was driving past the Hollywood Bowl, it was very surreal. The first time I heard one of my solo songs on the radio was at a stop light in front of my old 9th grade school in Berkeley. A big S.F. station was playing “Wake Me Up…â€. I had a terrible experience in that school, and at that time in life, I hated that school, so hearing the song at that light was almost like a great payback or redemption. I believe I flipped a finger at the school, and in my best Nelson from the Simpsons voice, said “Ha ha†as I sped away.

9. Which artist would “Kyle the producer†like to produce?

Barry Manilow. I have had ideas about how to produce him for about 30 years. Obviously he doesn’t need me, but I just think since I’ve been a lifelong fan, I would have a unique perspective in the studio. I’d also love to produce a young pop band or solo artist with great vocals and melodies. Here ya go: songtreerecords@gmail.com

10. Main influences as a musician and a songwriter

No one singer, songwriter, or musician. My main influences are songs--songs that move me with melody and production. Those are always the two elements that hit me first and stay with me, but a lyric that makes me want to crawl up into a ball can be a big influence as well, and if you can accomplish all three elements, well, I’m all yours. Melodic pop and soul songs from the early 70s tend to be my primary influences.

11. Favourite bass guitarist, lead guitarist, pianist, male and female vocalist.

Bass: Dee Murray from Elton’s band. His bass would just cut through the mix. It was almost like a song within the song.

Lead Guitarist: Roland Chambers. Session cat on all the great Philly International records with Gamble & Huff, and also Thom Bell stuff. He would do a Wes Montgomery octave thingy, but on these amazing Philly Soul records. And of course Wally Bryson—probably the most relaxed, gum-chewin’, cool rock guitarist ever, with the best tone, bar none. Oh, and any $^&%@( guitarist who knows how to %&*^@)# turn down so the audience can hear the ^&*$#)%$^ vocals. Those guys are rare.

Female Vocalist: Karen Carpenter (although Nina Simone, and Gladys Knight are right there)

Male Vocalist: Tony Bennett, Danny Hamilton, Michael Jackson pre-1980, Freddie, Frank, Barry, Gilbert, David Ruffin, Jimmy Seals, Russell Thompkins, Jr., wait..did the instructions say to pick just one? Sorry, didn’t read them.

Pianist: Vlad Horowitz. Elton for pop/rock

And

I’ll add favorite saxophonists¬–Freddy Gardner, Phil Woods, Stanley Turrentine, Gato Barbieri, Bobby Militello

12. Is there an artist out there that you think could cover your songs and do them justice?

I think I just naturally tend to write and co-write catchy melodic songs, so I would hope there are probably a lot that are coverable, but since I produce them as if I haven’t listened to the radio in 35 years, perhaps it’s difficult for today’s stars to hear what I hear.

13. Is there an artist that you’d love to do a duet with or record with?

Gladys, Zooey Deschanel, Rachael Yamagata, Chihana (Japanese artist), probably a ton more, but I’m late for beddy-bye.

14. When you just want to relax and 'get away from it all', what do you do?

Clean my basement, mulch, play centerfield, or ride my bike, in no particular order.

15. What is your all-time favourite movie?

Did you really just add a ‘u’ to the word favorite? Commie Canadian. But really, just one? Impossible. “Sons of the Desertâ€, “Sling Bladeâ€, “Paper Moonâ€, “The Big Picture†(Kevin Bacon one), “State & Mainâ€, “Glen Garry Glenn Rossâ€, “About A Boyâ€, “To Kill A Mockingbirdâ€, “12 Angry Menâ€, “Mao’s Last Dancerâ€, 90% of Woody Allen movies, “The Out of Towners†(the original), “Waiting For Guffmanâ€, to name a few. I’m not a big action movie guy.

16. What is your all-time favourite album - the one that you never get tired of listening to?

Again, just ONE?! There are so many, but well, OK then... this one will throw many for a loop, but the honest answer to this is “Ben†by Michael Jackson. I adore every single song on that album and also the production. Michael’s voice was in the short-lived vocal window between teen and older teen where his tones of innocence and angst were just perfect. Certainly there are better albums with better songs by better artists, but for some reason this one always puts me at peace.

17. Is there an ‘undiscovered artist’ (not Kyle Vincent) out there that you think deserves to be heard?

Well, first of all Marvin, are you saying that I’m undiscovered?? Wow. That’s harsh. True, but harsh. But I’m a professional so I shall rise above it. Throwback Suburbia, a very strong power pop band out of Portland, Oregon; the Ferocious Few out of San Francisco, great songs, great stage presence, great uncle; A couple years ago I was walking in Hiroshima late at night. There was a young man singing and playing guitar. His voice was incredible, I just stood there in a trance. And like a dummy, I never got his name or bought his CD. Every time I’m in Hiroshima I go looking for him.

18. Do you think that you could ever be in a band again, or are you more comfortable as a solo act?

Funny this should come up. There’s recently been an ongoing email thread between myself Parthenon Huxley, Rusty Anderson, and other musician friends of ours. It all started with Parth sending out a photo of his beautiful daughter with a Parthenon smirk on her face. So we’re thinking of starting an all-star pop band called the Smirks. But barring that, the thought of being in a band again isn’t as queasy-inducing as it once was. So if anyone’s looking for a singer, as long as I get the big room on the bus, give a call. I used to think I’d never be in another band, but I have recurring dreams that Robert Lamm calls me and asks if I’d be interested in joining Chicago. Am I supposed to put the little trademark tm symbol when I type Chicago? Sorry, I don’t know how to do that. Please don’t sue me, Mr. Lamm. However, if Jason ever decides to do something else (I mean, c’mon man, give another kid a chance!), I’m ready. And, I play sax and piano and can cop Cetera! kv@kylevincent.com

19. What are you most proud of (can’t say your hair) musically or otherwise?

If I can’t talk about my hair, I walk. OK, I suppose I’ll stay. Not to sound important, but I’m most proud of making music that may have helped someone get through something tough. Hearing that still makes me shiver with pride.

20. And the ever popular, if you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?

Hey, at least you didn’t ask “What comes first, the words or the musicâ€! To your question-- I don’t have a ‘Plan B’, for if I did, I might choose it. If I had a plan to fall back on, I might fall. I certainly do other things, I write, I plant things, I play baseball, I shoot photos, I travel, I hang out with animals and nature, I talk to strangers for extended periods of time, I even hold elected public office, but none of those is a Plan B, they are just concurrent supplementations to Plan A, which as I previously stated, was never a plan in the first place.

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LC   

Hey, good job, Marvin. There's another thread here where I noted that I somehow hadn't heard any of Kyle's work. But I checked it out based on all the recommendations here, and what I heard is as advertised — top-notch and appealing.

Anyway, I love the sense of humor — especially the shower response (people don't laugh enough today...). I also love the "centerfield" response. "Put me in coach..."

Thanks again, Marv.

Best,

Larry

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marvin   

Thanks LC and Tony. There are others here (Jennifer!) who have had much more interaction with Kyle than I have had, but I'd like to think that I was the first wink

After the 'berries show in 2005, we went out for a bite to eat, and I got to experience his wit first-hand. He really has a great sense of humor, and couple that with his musical talent, it makes a great match.

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AnneG   

Marvin first introduced me to Kyle's music. Been a fan ever since. Wonderful music, beautiful melodies, sensible lyrics (and a few witty ones...guy can't help it, he's naturally witty), and an all around great person. What's not to like? Thank you, again, Marvin.

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aggiesjc   

I really enjoyed reading this, Marvin. Good job! I have now seen Kyle perform 35 times in many states across the country, and even own and pack around the equipment he uses when he comes to California. Obviously, I am a fan. Marvin introduced me to Kyle's music via a CD shipped from Canada many years ago, and introduced me to Kyle in person at B.B. King's during one of the Raspberries' shows. Going out for that bite to eat after that concert still sticks with me because it was so hard to find something that Kyle would/could eat, as he's a staunch vegan.

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Wait...Jennifer likes Kyle? Who knew??????

Kyle definitely has a good sense of humor. First time I went to see him many years ago here in Chicago, I had heard his music (thanks to Marv) but had no idea what he looked like. The hostess sat me at a table and there was a guy sitting right next to me, who said hello and asked me what my favorite song was by Kyle? I told him "Wake Me Up" and he said he liked that, too, then had about a ten minute conversation with him about my and his music likes, Chicago, etc.....

Five minutes later, he says, "well, I better get started, excuse me, let's talk later". IT WAS KYLE! (He then opened with "Wake Me Up"!)

Funny guy!

Nice job on the interview, Marv!

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Kirk   

Another good piece, Marv. I heard about Kyle before most...I was introduced to him by Patrick Beckers, who is always searching for great pop music.

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Here's a photo I took the day I met Kyle Vincent for the first time in the Summer of 1997. He was in New York City with Parthenon Huxley promoting his single, "Wake Me Up (When The World's Worth Waking Up For)" and performed live at World Trade Center Plaza. Yep, that's the World Trade Center towering behind Kyle and P. Hux!

1997 was the year I started EricCarmen.com—I told Kyle I was a big Eric Carmen/Raspberries fan and he told me he was as well. Then he autographed my CD:

"Bernie! Go All The Way! Kyle Vincent."

laugh

Bernie

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LC   

However, he's a little bit too trusting of his mentor, Al Gore...That kept me from joining his harem.

Tony,

Were you talking about Kyle? I thought I was the only one whose mentor was Al Gore....

--LC

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LC   

Jenn,

I love seeing you post. I'll have to start a Fleetwood Mac thread in your honor. :-)

Best,

LC

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aggiesjc   

Thanks, LC! I've had a rough few years, but gradually, my life has been getting back to being good. Enjoying visiting with my friends online again! I have continued to see Kyle perform, as well as Lindsey Buckingham every time he's been in Northern California and those events have helped lift me out of some emotionally tough times. Now I'm headed to your FM thread!

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Hey EC Planet! Thanks for all the nice things said, and for the interview, Marvin.

I've just returned a couple hours ago from Japan, I can't believe I've now been there EIGHT times! Sheesh. This time the host barely spoke any English so it really made me use my Japanese, which is sketchy at best, but getting a bit better. Sometimes I catch myself over there speaking for a few minutes before I realize I'm not speaking English. That's such an odd feeling.

I guess I don't visit this board often because I think it's maybe not so cool to infiltrate another artist's message forum, and of course my undying crush on Al Gore (according to Tony! erggg) might not go over so well. smile

But I love talking music, especially melodic pop, and hearing what you guys are listening to, so I'll try and keep up.

I'm currently working on a new album, hoping to have it out by Spring. I'm heading down to Parthenon's pad to cowrite a couple songs I've got in my head. Some songs I decide not to finish myself because I know locked in the studio alone they'll get all mushy and I'll end up adding oboes and modulating 20 times, so if I want to offset my innate wimpiness, I might decide to collaborate with someone a bit more rockier. I hate to think what might happen were I to collaborate with Engelbert.

The new record will feature 2 cowrites with Tommy Dunbar and probably 2 with Parth. I'm also finishing up a cover of "How Much I Feel" by Ambrosia, which will be appearing on a tribute CD to soft 70s songs. AND, my Japan Candy band, "CandyRocks!" (they chose the name), will be cutting a couple songs with me for a 45rpm release in Japan to promote the next tour there.

Gotta try and make believe it's bed time now. 14-hour time zone jetlag's a bit rough.

Thanks again for the kind words.

kv

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Kirk   

Kyle, let me be the first to welcome you! Nice to see you posting here. Maybe you can liven things up around here, or at least get Jennifer to post more often wink Welcome aboard!!

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LC   

Well, don't let the neo-cons scare you away. There are indeed some of us here who shake our heads at right-wing fanaticism. And some of us even dig Al Gore, the best president who never was. (What a nasty twist of fate that 2000 "election" was.) He's my favorite politician since... Bobby Kennedy? (And I only faintly remember RFK's assassination, having been in 2nd or 3rd grade at the time.)

Anyway, the good thing is that you have a lot of fans here, so pop in when you can.

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Kirk   

Uh oh, Kyle, you've only been on board for a couple of days and already the EC.com satirist, aka Lew Bundles has you in his sights...check out 'Track #10' in Everything :yikes:

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