INTERVIEW by MATTHEW KITCHEN |PHOTOGRAPHY by LAUREN DUKOFF
Whether he’s taking his sound on the road, heading to India for inspiration, surfing the coasts with Bob Marley on the brain, or finishing up his eighth studio album, Everything Everytime Everywhere, Trevor Hall is a tough man to get ahold of. But for the hardworking 24-year-old South Carolina native, that’s a good problem to have. During some rare downtime – and after some phone tag – we were able to speak with him about his unique mix of reggae, folk, and pop, his prolific career, and the recent struggles that have helped make his music what it is today. We didn’t get around to chatting about that sweet smile (sorry, ladies), but the pictures speak for themselves.
First off, how do you get started on a new album?
I usually write the music first and whatever vibe the music is in, I’ll write lyrics according to that. I’m always humming melodies and it’s all just very natural to me. I started playing really early. I remember as a kid I would skateboard down to the music store near my house and try out all the instruments. I could never decide which new instruments I wanted to try or which one I wanted to dedicate myself to, but around 12 years old I started sticking with the guitar and that’s when I started writing songs.
Who were your influences at 12?
Well I was also into surfing and music is a big part of surf culture, you know? Especially reggae. So I got into Bob Marley and he was, and still is, one of the biggest influences I have. After listening to Bob I asked, “Where does Bob come from?” Well he comes from Jamaica, so I found other music from there. And early on that reggae foundation was very strong and everything really built around that. That’s always been my rock.
But your music isn’t just reggae, right? You seem to mix a number of different styles.
I’ve never sat down and said, “Oh, I want to write a reggae song right now,” or, “I want to write a rock song.” That’s just not my way of doing things. I listen to so many different genres of music that all those different styles just come out in their own way.
All your songs seem pretty happy, even though they’re emotional. How do you avoid turning into a typical sad bastard emo kid?
It’s funny, sometimes I think, “Oh man, my life sucks” and when I sit down to work on album I think, “Well, this is going to be a really depressing song” and maybe it starts out like that, but it always ends up with the idea that everything’s going to be okay. It’s not a choice. Sometimes I’m like, “No, no I want it to be sad,” but inside I feel like no matter what comes up, it’s all going to work out. I think that’s the beauty of struggles and of suffering. It really builds your character and it’s better than lying to yourself. It’s different for everybody but that journey of turning suffering into something positive is really awesome.
Which you can definitely feel on Everything, Everytime, Everywhere.
Yeah, there’s lots of those flavors on the record. We have audio of a monk in 1950 reading from a passage and a priest from India chanting prayers. Everyone gets the hit somewhere different. Some people get it here in the States, some people get the hit by working out, some by painting. When I went [to India] I just got the hit. I can’t really explain it, but when I went there I said, “This is it.” Before India my songs were about things like which girl I liked or whatever, but when I started getting into spiritual life the music became a different tool for me. It became a way of exploring and sharing my life. The concept changed and music kind of became my map. I wanted to create that journey and explore the things that inspired me along the way.
How did India influence the new album?
I recorded it in October 2010 while I was going through a lot of changes in my musical career and in my life in general. It was a pretty stressful time and being in the studio was one of the only things that was really calming me down. [laughs] I was able to just let it out. Then I took off to India for a couple months to recharge my batteries. When I was there I told a teacher of mine that I was having trouble balancing my spiritual life with everything else and sometimes the environments I’m in weren’t conducive to my growth. I thought he was going to give me some big ol’ teaching I could chew on, but he just said, “Everything, everytime, everywhere. God is in everything everywhere you go all the time and if you have that outlook nothing can really bother you.” When he said that I realized, “Yeah, that’s my record.” Even though it was done, the whole album was about that theme – about struggling and trying to get to that place.
And now I hear you’re looking for ways to give back to India.
My first trip over there I went this temple. It’s an amazing place. Very small and very poor, but this teacher takes street children, young boys, and teaches them yoga and philosophy and sends them to school. I love kids and I was so taken with these children and their lives that when I got back I decided I had to do something. It’s very small and very casual, but when we get some money we send it. And by God’s grace lots of fans have donated lots of money and we’ve been able to do amazing things over there. It’s just a joy.
How can Daily BR!NK readers contribute to your success?
If people listen to the music and it brings them joy or inner reflection or whatever, and they pass it along to someone else, that makes me super happy and really helps my success. Just knowing that people are listening and spreading the word is amazing for me. Usually people come up and say, “Oh, my friend turned me on to you,” or, “Hey, I brought a friend tonight,” which is awesome for me. The fact that people are excited about the music and telling others, rather than just hearing me on the radio, is so cool. I love when I hear people are sharing it.