Back around 2002 Dream Magazine contributor Ethan Gicker
(who took the photo here), brought his friend Kyle Field over to my house
to visit. Kyle's longish blonde hair held in place by a wooden clothespin,
he exuded a sorta Huck Finn as surfer vibe and seemed like a genuinely nice
guy. Later on I got to see Kyle with his acoustic guitar playing at local
venue The Magic Theatre; and I realized I had been initiated into the Little
Wings love cult. A crowd of sweet faced local kids sang along to Kyle's mystic/comic
campfire songs, and one was swept up in the moment. I'm sure that many folks
that see Little Wings share the experience, and want to share it with their
friends; and thus the love cult grows. It's not really about pop star adulation;
it's the warmth and universal stoned humanity of his insight and compassion
that lifts a whole crowd up on their own little wings. He seems to combine
the off-key emotional honesty of Will Oldham, with the childlike shared fun
of Jonathan Richman; as his story songs meander along their rhyming, rhythmic
way. There is also something of the wiser older brother in him as well; I
like Kyle, and I like his music too.
G.P.: We're all familiar with the idea
of various mixes being released; but you've taken this to another level with
Light Green Leaves, with the CD, vinyl, and cassette versions of the album
all quite different from one another. Would you explain what you did?
K.F.: I basically took several approaches to try to get these
songs recorded, to allow myself some freedom and room for imperfections and
just "release" in general. I am trying to have music act in the
most natural way that is possible, trying to keep it as close to the original
spark as I can. One way of doing this for me was to document different versions
of the songs so that the songs weren't so tied up in one mold or form. I feel
it lends the songs extra flexibility in a live setting as well, I am not afraid
to really change everything about them that way. They can continue to grow
and live. Technically, what I did,was to use different settings and different
people, different time restrictions and different equipment so that everything
about the experience for me was varied and a bit out of my control. I am really
interested into environments take over the song so that I can get out of the
way and just let it happen.the more I try to control the process I feel the
more I veer away from the original instance of inspiration.
G.P.: Looking back at the Wonder Trilogy,
how do you feel about it?
K.F.: I feel good about it. There are three albums and the
"Wonder Trilogy" has a nice ring to it in the way that a painting
I might have made still looks good hanging on the wall in the kitchen. It
still seems to wear well. It feels like a good place to start the Little Wings
world for me, to release three recordings that relate to one another so that
there is a sort of broad platform for me to draw upon in my mind. Sort of
like building a little model of a fictional city that you can leave on the
dining room table and look at while you're talking on the phone. you see different
things in there after a while that you never remembered building. That is
my favorite thing about listening to old recordings, being surprised again.
G.P.: How long have you enjoyed wandering?
K.F.: I have been wandering off and on for about four years,
that is, going in between the state of renting a place and not renting a place.
At this point my attention span for any one geographical location seems to
be around one month. One month and then I get itchy and go somewhere else.
My wanderings are a bit more structured now than they used to be. The positive
side to that is that it involves touring and actually making a living. The
downside is that I am away from the ocean quite alot, and surfing is my main
religion... I have lived out of three different vehicles for months and months
and held jobs while living in a small camper shell. I worked at a liquor store
and would park wherever I parked and sleep in the back. A few mornings I rolled
out of bed and put on my shoes, walked right into the liquor store as I had
parked in the back parking lot. My favorite spot to sleep is definitely in
Big Sur or on the sand anywhere. I am based on the west coast.
G.P.: Would you tell me a bit about
your family? Where your were born and raised?
K.F.: My family originated in the south. My father grew up
in west Texas and my mother grew up in a tiny town in Arkansas. My dad was
a college football coach in Alabama and Mississippi until I was five. He got
a job coaching at UCLA at that point, so we moved from this three acre gravel
driveway home in Starkville, Mississippi to southern California. It was shocking
but wonderful. I had never had so many kids my age around. And that is when
we found the ocean. I have two younger brothers, one is two years younger
than I, and the other is eight years younger. They were more into sports and
football earlier on, and I was the drawer or "artist" of the family.
Now we are all doing our own thing, but we all play music now. I want to have
them on tour with me sometime, they can both play guitar well and it would
be a nice family outing. My dad actually played tambourine from the crowd
at a show we did this summer in Los Angeles. And my mom has been to a few
shows as well. They are really supportive.
G.P.: In the past you have professed
a fondness for the number three, would you elaborate?
K.F.: The number three sort of runs throughout my life in
many ways. I am one of three boys, I was raised on three acres, it was my
first number on a soccer team. when I see the number three it is the equivalent
to seeing the word "yes." 3:33 is my favorite time of day, and I
witness it alot. I will look at clocks at that time, and it makes me feel
different. It is as if that minute means something, I don't know why. Something
that needs no explaining. It allows me to live in a "waking sleep"
sort of state that I am really into. Being awake but you feel like you're
dreaming because everything seems strong and symbolic.
G.P.: You seem to travel pretty light.
Do you ever have the feeling that all of the stuff people carry with themselves
sort of gets in their way?
K.F.: I try to have one of everything, and try not to have
any more than that. One sleeping bag, one flashlight, etc. I feel that once
I neglect that philosophy, things get all sloppy and haywire. I think there
is something to simplicity being potent and swift, and that the integrity
of objects exists only when they are appreciated as essentials. Less is more
certainly works for me. I give extras because there is only so much room in
a station wagon.
G.P.: Tell me a bit about the band
K.F.: Rodriguez was the band in which I learned how to play
music. It was Matt Ward and I and a few different drummers. In order: Jake
Hockel, Sanjeev Srinivas, and lastly, Mike Funk. It was the only band I will
probably ever be in. It was much like a marriage and it was my life at the
time. All of the songs were so specifically worked out amongst that band that
there was no playing the songs without the other members. Matt Ward was this
guy I barely knew but really liked when we first started playing together.
The chemistry and the humor and the general feeling of Rodriguez was really
special. We wrote so many songs but didn't record very often. We were a very
energetic live band and played these really physically involved songs, akin
to the Minutemen in many ways. I walked away from the breaking up of that
band and realized I had no songs. They were all locked up in others. My approach
since then has been a reaction to that loss and that feeling. There are many
members in Little Wings, now. Several drummers, guitarists, etc., they are
all scattered. I want an all inclusive experience now, where the music is
the thing, and it can be played by many people.
G.P.: Any favorite poets?
K.F.: I like D.C. Berman a whole lot. Also, Scott Nairne,
a friend from childhood and one of my first "writing friends". I
have copy of Arthur Rimbaud's Illuminations in my station wagon and read it
from time to time and it always seems new. I actually draw a lot from Rimbaud
subconsciously. I wrote a pamphlet called Fall Phantoms last year,and it was
a sort of transplanted Californian living in the northwest through a fantasy
hallucination filter sort of piece. Seemed awfully Rimbaud-like to me. I like
anything that takes my mind somewhere that seems familiar enough to relate
to it, but foreign enough to provide a profound experience. I like the writing
and audio cassettes of Alan Watts and Ram Dass for this very reason.
G.P.: Can you tell us a bit about the
mysterious figure known as Ethan Gicker?
K.F.: I lived at Gickerberg for two weeks this summer. The
guy is an anomaly. He knows something about everything it seems, and I honestly
felt like I was his student or his understudy or something. We went hiking
and swimming, threw rocks through the windshield of an abandoned car,it was
boyhood revisited. I don't know exactly what he will do, but I know he will
do big things. We keep talking about making a "boyfort" on their
property out there, a cross between the palace flophouse and a tipi or zendo.
His mother, Carri, is all about it. She might have come up with the idea for
all I remember. Anyhow, Ethan is a young prodigy living in the mountains outside
Nevada City, California. He knows about engines and digging holes and following
a single bug around without ever touching it, for like, an hour and a half
while eating his lunch, all hunched over......
G.P.: A few of your favorite hip hop
artists and songs?
K.F.: I am addicted to Missy Elliott's Work It. I have listened
to that song at least one hundred times. I have it on a bootleg CD compilation
i bought called Holla @ Yo Boy. I got it at a flea market in Augusta, Georgia
for five dollars. It's a CDR but it has Work It on it and that is my favorite
song in the world right now. That and Blue by Joni Mitchell. I like Eminem
alot, too, though listening to it for too long makes my face hurt for some
reason. I like the Marshall Mathers album the best. I heard We Gonna Get It
On Tonight while driving through the central valley (of California) with Rob
Kieswetter and Matt Gottschalk and we were going kind of crazy the first time
we heard it. We wanted it to be describing our nightlife, though it ended
up really missing the mark.
G.P.: You do your own cover art, and
I’ve seen your drawings elsewhere. What is your art background?
K.F.: I have been drawing for my entire life. I started playing
music ten years ago. So, I have been drawing for a bit less than thirty years.
I studied it in college at UCLA as well. I don't do any comics with strict
story lines, but I make drawings and create characters, build models and scenes,
action figures. I am attempting a book of drawings that I hope to have published.
and that. That is actually my main practice in a sense, it is more consistently
in my life than making music or writing songs.
G.P.: What's the best thing about music?
K.F.: I enjoy being transported by music, I enjoy the combination
of certain music with specific places or seasons or smells. I feel like music
combined with the other senses works to create our own personal microcosms
that can be revisited and experienced again. I think that music has magic
to it, it is impossible for it not to.t That is my feeling about music, that
if music is actually being made, it does something to the soul.
G.P.: Can or does art improve our lives?
K.F.: I know it improves mine, and there seem to be others
that agree about their own.i If taken in, it seems like an effective tool
for documenting your life. I know that recordings and drawings serve as postcards
to "future Kyle" like, "Hey, remember that feeling? that was
G.P.: How important are dreaming or
dreams to your work?
K.F.: I have had dreams predict events and futures and all
of those things that can't be explained. Dreams are what I am doing when I
don't know what I am doing. That seems like a valuable time to me. The topic
of dreams is like the topic of God. It is infinite and can't be touched or
really described. When I get my head around things so abstract and everlasting,
that is when I am mostly spirit and not much body anymore. That is where I
am trying to spend more time, all alone like that. That is when the "work"
happens for me, when I am detached enough to be a channel or a vessel and
not be scared, lose fear. That's when I make my favorite things.
G.P.: Do you pray?
K.F.: I talk to something or someone and call it praying.
I believe in the idea of there being something other than what we can all
see. I talk to it. I have faith that everything happens for reasons not always
be knownst to us. Call it chaos or whatnot, I trust this life and this universe.
I think it is good.
G.P.: Tell me something about surfing?
K.F.: It is, for me, about gliding on the water and getting
exercise. It feels amazing to be linked up to an actual energy source and
relying on it to generate speed and momentum. It is one of my favorite activities
in the world when it is right.
G.P.: What inspires you?
K.F.: Too many things to name, or, everything. The idea of
limitlessness and that when you create you are merely sampling one point of
reference on the larger projection of the idea or "thing". Other
music, drawings, something that started out very private and small and then
got out into the world without being too changed or touched up. I enjoy raggedly
made folk art that comes out of people's houses and campershells. The notebooks
of other people inspire me. I like looking at the quality or shape of other
people's handwriting. I remember really liking this one guys handwriting in
high school. When he was writing in black, so was I. When he was writing in
blue, I would switch. I was the oldest brother and so had to go outside of
the family to find someone to copy, a surrogate older brother if you will.
What are your favorite songs from Light Green Leaves, and why?
K.F.: I enjoy What Wonder the most because it is an anthem
or directions to someone or to everyone, in how to live, to observe certain
things in the nature of all things and try to apply that message to your
own life. I like it for the uplifting message and the objective message.
It feels like a reggae tinged spiritual to be sung in the woods about
the trees. It feels "hard" to me, like how a hip hop song feels
hard. But in this case, there are hard looking troll or woodnymph figures,
burly beards and things growing on them made of moss and springy, twiggy
things in their hats. I also like Boom! because it evolved over a few
different "slang exchanges" between friends and I. Tim Bluhm
(Mother Hips, Ball Point Birds), was using the word "boom" for
alot of different purposes. Like,"hey Tim, do you have a pocketknife?"
and he would go "BOOM" and present the knife. I lifted it and
used it with friend Phil Elvrum (Microphones, Mount Eerie) and he wrote
the line,"BOOM! my voice says make room!" into a song that might
have disappearred. That happened and I wrote my song using his line. It
is one of the latest in Phil and I's continual thievery/homage collaboration.
It is a good way to work.
Do you believe in magic?
K.F.: I believe in everything and think that every idea
that anyone has ever had is a truth. so magic fits into that.
Any favorite films or directors?
K.F.: I like The Shining almost the most of any movie
for a certain feeling. I like The Endless Summer for another feeling.
And I like The Big Lebowski for quite another feeling. These are probably
my favorite films of all time.
G.P.: Who is Will Oldham?
K.F.: A singer and writer and actor from Louisville,
KY. He has been an inspiration to me and many others and performs under
the name Bonnie 'Prince' Billy. I like his music a lot and talk to him
every once in a while. He is very good at what he does, maybe the best.
What's the best antidote to fear?
K.F.: Remembering in that moment that the only thing
to fear is pain or certain death. Pain doesn't last forever and death
will cure the pain. Not being afraid to die is the first step in conquering
Any favorite painters/artists?
K.F.: I like Cy Twombly, Jason McClean, Chris Johansonn,
Khaela Maricich, Phil Elverum, Paul Klee, Mike Kelly, Raymond Pettibon,
Francis Stark, Chris Burden, Luce Cupery, Jonathan Wilson, Tim Bluhm and
Were you athletic in school?
K.F.: I played a year of water polo. It was good. I played
a year of football, I stood on the sidelines hoping not to be called into
the game. I never scored any points. I deflected a pass with amazing vigor
once, slamming the ball to the ground because if I had caught it, someone
would have tackled me really hard, probably.
What do you think about the consciousness of animals?
K.F.: I like to think that everything is sharing the
same grand pool of consciousness, but being filtered through different
physical entities. I like the illustration of a ladle and a lake. Every
living thing is a ladle of a different shape. All are dipped into the
lake when the being is alive. They are all sharing the same water but
shaping it differently because they are shaped differently. When the ladle
is removed, it ceases to be a vessel for the water. That seems like a
very simple way of looking at existence. Consciousness is the feeling
of being this or that ladle. Some might even have holes in them, but they
still serve their function.
What's your favorite time of day?
K.F.: I enjoy the evening time almost the best.
How would you describe the music of Little Wings?
K.F.: I would say that it is the sound of my
notebooks and moments of singing coming together, that my drawings and
feelings about things get to know each other. I am constantly changing
as a person and so feel that the music is constantly changing and drafts
behind me (or precedes me) as a running subconscious commentary or record
keeper of my life. I incorporate those around me from album to album and
have girlfriends singing for the first time on my records. So the music
to me is raw and as fresh as the original inspiration was in some cases.
I like it that way. I love a recorded mistake that acts like a hair out
of place. I like messy hair. My dad used to cut my hair when it would
get right about where I liked it. It was this sense of impending doom,"my
hair is actually getting long!" I would think to myself, and it would
be flipping out on the sides. And sooner or later, I would get the soft
tap on the shoulder from Bob the barber, "son,i think it's time for
a haircut" (because he's from the south and they weren't used to
the California hippie inspired things) and so we would get out the towel
and spread newspaper on the floor and I would lose my little wings. Now
as an adult, I have decided to grow them and name my band after them in
an homage to freedom and independence.
Do you feel any connection to the work of Jonathan Richman?
K.F.: I am not so familiar with the work itself but met
him a few months ago when Adam Selzer and I played in San Francisco. Adam's
cousin Nicole is married to Jonathan so they came to the show and we met.
It was really nice to be around him. He was genuine and a genuinely good
freak, very inspiring.
What do you learn about your songs when you sing them live?
K.F.: Sometimes I find out what they mean, if they were
written very abstractly or written from a character. That is a profound
feeling for me. I learn about their grain and pace as well,but often times
I am simply singing along to the recorded version in my mind. It is like
I have burned a copy of it into my brain and can pour attention over it
in order to replay it, as if my focused consciousness were a needle or
a laser, and that synapse in my brain were the copy. The way anyone can
conjure their favorite songs. When I was in fourth grade, for instance,
I had a glitch in that department. I had trouble for a while humming the
tune to the television show The A Team because I would get it confused
with the theme to The Raiders of the Lost Ark. I developed a trick of
some sort to separate the two songs, and I think that sort of learning
might be in the same neighborhood of thought or recollection as song writing.
It has to do with memory.
How important is the audience to the performance?
K.F.: Anyone that is intentionally there to hear some
music is very important in my mind.
Reasons to be cheerful?
K.F.: I am enjoying eating well and becoming more useful
of my time, I want to keep growing as a person, and so the idea that I
am only getting better makes me really happy and inspired.
K.F.: Singing and writing and drawing and surfing alot.
All of the things I did when I was thirteen basically, my life hasn't
changed much. College and school in general was the strange bump in the
road. Now I am back to this child that laid on the kitchen floor in Starkville,
Mississippi drawing pictures. I always love making pictures and now I
know how to make songs whereas then, I would listen to music while I drew.
So, I am just continuing on with my practice that I developed soon after
I came into the world. But now there is the internet.
Do you believe in luck?
K.F.: Yes. I feel like success in life is recognizing
and using your luck, and not feeling self conscious or egotistical when
doing it. To be able to realize a situation that you have been trying
to manifest, and when it is right in front of you, having the presence
to flick the switch.
I just saw Whysp play at the 3rd floor of St. Josephs and was very impressed,
you've played with these guys what do you think of them?
K.F.: They are one of my favorite bands right now, they
are so loose and tongue in cheek in some ways, but the songs are well
written, I love it. Hugh and Josh are these brilliant Fluxus style pranksters
who always have something new and usually funny up their sleeve, and Tom
is wonderful and Jeff Manson is this Danish looking surfer kid from Santa
Cruz who has a secret driftwood shack. It is a good group of people, plenty
interesting for me.
Tell us a bit about Harvest Joy, and Discover Worlds of Wonder?
K.F.: Harvest Joy is a new recording of songs that was
made and was released in the fall of 2003. It is a quietly loud record
if that makes sense. It is noisy in some ways and ragged, but all as if
it were happening in a place in the woods where you can't make too much
noise or the woods witches will hear you and look at you with poisonous
stares. The fall wind will creep up and bite you with teeth made of dried
leaves. It is a fall record in some ways. In the way that Light Green
Leaves was sort of a seasonal feeling record, maybe for summer turning
into fall, this on was recorded in october and feels very fally to me.
I am a fall birthday so I romanticize the fall to no end. It is my favorite
victorious and solemn season. I experience this vibration between those
two states of being that really does something for me creatively. The
Harvest Joy album will see two different versions: the vinyl record version
(put out by K) includes a B side drum and word piece called Field Trip
where the drums got recorded first outside near this wooded area, so they
echo and all, it sounds neat to me, and me reading notes and ideas and
things from my notebook and from a booklet I wrote called Fall Phantoms
which is a vicodin induced piece of nonfiction psychedelia. My girlfriend
got her wisdom teeth pulled and got alot of pain-killers, so I took some
with her and relaxed in the apartment in Portland, and wrote alot. I wrote
this booklet in a few days, and it is about imaginary transformations
that happen to me and these characters that are projected onto me by myself.
Lots of fangs and nanny goats and such. Laurels of flowers and beauty
and city snow, imaginary fawn footsteps early in the morning, contrasted
with fictitious cobblestone roads in modern day Portland. A lot of transparencies.
The CD version comes out on a new label from Spokane, WA called The Invisible
City and is actually two albums on one disc. It includes my album and
an album by a friend of mine called Lee Be's Octember Sketches. Lee has
been a guitar player for many years and has played in lots of bands, and
has just recently started to document his songs and the album is wonderful.
Both albums were recorded fall 2002 so to have them on the same record
feels right... that way people get to hear Lee and get two recordings
for the price of one, etc. It feels unique and progressive and positive
to be doing it that way. Discover Worlds of Wonder is an older recording
that was all locked up in boxes in a warehouse, and K has recently liberated
it so they are rereleasing it along with Harvest Joy. It was recorded
in 1999 in Portland with Adam Selzer and is part two in the Wonder Trilogy.
As far as songs go and albums go I feel good about it being a nice work,
but it is pretty old and my mind has changed alot since then, so I haven't
heard it in a while. I still stand behind it, though, like I would for
any of my children.
K.F.: I am beginning to show some art, mostly in Los
Angeles at this point, but that is opening up new experiences and I have
been meaning to get into it for a long time, but have been focused on
the music more for the last five years. I played an art opening the other
night and my youngest brother, Michael, played guitar with me and that
was really fun. I spent ten days in the sequoias away from electricity
and found it very rejuvenating and want to get out there more, away from