WMU saxophonist, composer, and producer Kyle James recently released his debut album, DATUM! To learn a little bit about this awesome album, we interviewed Kyle which you can read below. Be sure to check out the album here and follow Kyle on social media to keep up with his future musical endeavors!
Interview with Kyle James
What was the inspiration behind this album?
A lot of the writing on this album was emotionally rooted in the confusion and anxiety induced by the pandemic. My underlying feelings of uncertainty being a college student and worrying about the future were forced to the surface during the early COVID days. A majority of the songs were started with those thoughts at the forefront. As that specific emotional tone dominated most of the pieces I somewhat forced in moments of peace and resolve, which turned out to be some of my favorite moments on the record.
What was your process for creating this album?
This being my first album as a composer and saxophonist, I wanted to really showcase my specific style and sound in the jazz world, doing my best to blend my many influences within the genre. The title ‘Datum’ is defined as “a fixed starting point of a larger operation". This album serves as my starting point as an artist, but sonically is only one destination in a much more expansive artistic space. Most of the material on the album was also featured on my senior recital last spring, which was the culmination of the time and studying put in at Western’s jazz program.
How did you first get involved playing music?
Music’s been a part of my life ever since I could remember. My parents always had music playing in the house, anything from Bob Marley to Thelonious Monk. I started taking piano lessons at a very early age and that was really my foundation once I got older and more interested. I for some reason chose the saxophone in the school band in 5th grade, and from the second I started playing it I felt a connection to it.
What other musicians/bands have you taken inspiration from?
One of my biggest current inspirations is saxophonist and composer Immanuel Wilkins. His writing and playing is so honest and visceral. I listened to him a ton in preparation for the recording session, trying to replicate his fearlessness. My musical inspirations range pretty drastically, but Immanuel, and also Joel Ross, were pivotal artists that I drew from on this album.
What is your favorite song on the album and why?
My favorite song on the album is probably "Ordinance". It goes to a lot of different places. It was the first song on the album I wrote, and I started it while I was living back home in Iowa for a month during the summer. I find I always write differently when I’m in different environments, and I think that gives it a unique sound compared to the other songs. It’s also probably my favorite to play.
Do you have anything coming up that we should look out for?
Yes! The album is available to stream, but I’m having a formal release show on March 3rd at 7:30 PM at the Crawlspace Comedy Theater downtown. My band and I will be performing the album from start to finish, and stretching the tunes out a bit to let loose. It’s gonna be special. I’ll also have CD’s available for the first time at the show. For those that can’t make it in person there will be a live stream link on my Facebook page.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I’m currently working on my second album which will be completely different from this one. Eyeing a Fall release for it. Very thankful for everyone that made DATUM possible!