Kalo Hoyle's music both deeply personal and wildly ambitious. His work with KC's premier post-rock band Riala is itself noteworthy but Hoyle is also a prolific classical composer, visual artist and collaborator on musical theatre and dance productions. His most recent work is "To Some Transparent End: A Ballet on a Bus". For this interview Kalo Hoyle discusses how he makes time to be creative, his inspirations and book, music and movie recommendations.
Please introduce yourself. Where do you live and work?
My name is Kalo Hoyle and I am a composer and musician in Kansas City where I live and work. I grew up and regularly retreat to my family’s farm in Prairie Home Missouri. While I love KC my heart is most at home far from the city lights.
You're a multifaceted and prolific composer and collaborator, in addition to being a member of the band Riala. What do you see as the creative challenges inherent in each of these disciplines?
It is a definite challenge to find the time to get to work on every project that I’m interested in. Making time for Riala, collaborative works, personal thought-sound experiments and commissions is a task in itself, but the variety of work that I have the opportunity to work on is definitely part of how I overcome the individual challenges of each genre. I see each type of work as an opportunity to make the most of that medium’s assets. When I am trying to share an idea I have that needs physical movement I’ll find dancers to collaborate with. When I am trying to express a deep internal feeling that is an aggressive, direct statement I will often use words or poetry since I find it the best for sharing philosophical meaning without writing a 40 minute opera. Sometimes an idea doesn’t come out in a sound so I will end up having to draw or paint the experience. It all comes down to finding the best medium for the experience I want to share.
What tools do you use to compose? What may surprise a listener about how your music is created?
The most important part of working on a piece is taking incredible long walks! There are not many streets between 35th and 70th I have not passed through, always singing and noise making, planning out my sounds and concepts that I can then go and write out. After this process I will do lots of research on music others have made that I can learn from. I then write out basic visual sketches of the music and notation on paper and when it is no longer incredible vague I’ll take this and build it in Finale (a music notation software).
If I am collaborating with someone I will try and spend time with that person, talking about the work and sharing ideas and parts that I have made demos of. I tend to use about a third of the material I’ll write for a work since my process usually involves writing all my ideas and then taking the good parts out.
Who really inspires you as an artist?
My inspiration tends to be specific to the project. If there is anything consistent with me I would say it is an absolute reverence for folk music from every corner of the earth. I was raised on American folk music and being aware of its unique direction I began to explore music from all over the world. My favorite part is it allows me to never get bogged down, worrying about being original. If you look long enough you will find a tribe in some remote place that came up with your idea 1,200 years ago.
The second aspect of my music I always reach towards is creating art that allows people to ask questions. Right now I am working with my good friend Mark Lauer on composing a bassoon work for one of his upcoming projects that tries to look at the relationship between sound, language, story, and when we cross between these different places. Many of my experimental works fall into this realm, being more question than art.
What inspires you the most about the Kansas City music community?
The most inspirational thing about Kansas City is the astounding variety of artists working here, collaborating with people from all walks of life. The communal support for art here is incredible and I am very excited to see where all this creative energy leads this city.
The Triplets of Belleville (Sylvain Chomet)
Dreams (Akira Kurosawa)
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene)
Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard)
My Brother’s Book by Maurice Sendak
Selected Poems by Wallace Stevens
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
Ali & Toumani by Ali Farke Toure and Diabaté
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by The Flaming Lips
Blood Money by Tom Waits