Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?
I’m based in Los Angeles which is a massive vortex of creative and spiritual energy. The music scene here is centered around the pop industry and there are just huge amounts of artists, writers, labels, producers, all just buzzing around like busy bees. I’ve found that most of the people I meet are very optimistic and open to collaboration, as soon as you meet someone they’re like, hey let’s write a song together! And you don’t see a lot of artists that are content with just playing a few shows here and there and scraping together a humble living, it feels like everyone here is dreaming big, trying to transform themselves into something greater and shooting for the stars. Which is good because that’s what I’m here for too!
How did you first start playing music?
I grew up in a musical family. I sang in choir, and I started playing guitar when I was maybe 10 or 11, then played flute and tuba in music class and eventually studied classical music in university. For a while I was playing the tuba professionally in a few different bands in Toronto (Lemon Bucket Orkestra for example), and also got into composing and film scoring before starting this project a year and a half ago. That caused me to pick up the guitar again after a hiatus of almost 20 years, so I’m back to square one in a way.
You have an album coming out in the next few months called ‘Love Is Surrender’ what influenced the sound and songwriting for this album?
The biggest influence for me is probably Trevor Hall, I was going through a process of growth and spiritual awakening, and his music not only guided me through my own personal process, but he also showed me that it’s possible to be an artist that writes songs about spirituality and have a career doing it as your authentic self, rather than twisting yourself into what you think the industry wants you to be. Sonically I was also drawn to artists like Gregory Alan Isakov and early Bon Iver who have a soft and gentle Americana vibe that I really love.
How did you go about writing the music for this album?
A lot of the songs I wrote quickly, whenever inspiration struck, which would sometimes be when I was at the beach, or at home, or at my girlfriend’s house. Many of the songs showed up in the aftermath of an intense emotional event and I would use the song as a way of processing while the feeling was still fresh. At first they were just kind of like journaling songs for myself, but as they started to accumulate (I’ve probably got about 40 since I started this process a year and a half ago), I started refining them and choosing the ones that fit together well to make a little record.
Where and when did you record?
I recorded last summer at a studio in Burbank called Eldorado Recording. It’s a beautiful big building with huge rooms and a grand piano which I loved. They are especially renowned for their drum sounds and used to do a lot of rock records there, including Offspring’s “Americana” and My Chemical Romance’s “The Black Parade”, which is funny because I remember listening to those records when I was younger, but I’m now doing something totally different.
How did you approach the recording and production?
We did three days of bed tracks with a four-piece band, all live off the floor so that we could capture a tight ensemble sound. Then another two days of overdubs of additional guitars and vocals. I went back and finished the vocals later that summer. All told it was pretty quick and efficient. I thought we would get four or five songs done and I’d have an EP, but it ended up being seven.
Did you work with anybody during the recording/production process?
My secret weapon was Tim Callobre who played guitar (and also figured out how to play Hammond B3 and lap steel on the spot!). He’s insanely talented and I work with him at the same TV scoring studio, he is primarily a composer, but was a child prodigy guitarist, and I was very lucky he agreed to be part of my project. He brought a beautiful touch and emotion to the record through his guitar-work, in fact it was so sweet that I started calling him “honey-fingers”.
My plan was to produce the record myself, since I have enough music experience to know how to arrange the tunes and get good performances, and work with Eldorado’s in-house engineer to shape the sound since I’m less knowledgable about mic techniques. I was really luck that the engineer, Phil English, immediately understood what I was trying to do and brought a huge amount of heart and creative energy into the record and took it sonically into a completely new arena that I couldn’t have imagined. I ended up having him mix the record and giving him a co-producer credit.
What are you plans for this album?
This is my first release as Kalon Hart, so it’s my way of saying “here I am!”. It feels like there is a shift in consciousness and spiritual awakening happening now across the globe that I’ve tapped into, so I’m hoping the record gets out there and finds an audience online and that people resonate with its message, and in that process I meet the right industry people who can help take my career to a higher level. In the meantime, I’ll be doing a 15-show CD-release tour in July and I’m really looking forward to getting on the road and connecting with people.
What did you find most challenging and rewarding during the creation of this album?
It’s sometimes a challenge juggling my other career, which is writing music for film and TV, with trying to build this project up as a solo independent artist. When I’m working on a film, I’m not as able to get out and see shows or go to writing sessions with other artists for example. On the recording days I was dealing with painters and contractors at the studio in the morning and driving across town to record so I was exhausted by the end of the day.The biggest reward was hearing my songs come to life with a professional band, and realizing that these songs were not just a hobby, but my spirit’s calling. By the end of the recording, I realized that Kalon Hart was a real artist who was going to have a real career, and it changed the entire way I look at my life.
Do you find Amercian and Canadian influences creeping into your music?
Definitely there is an “indie Americana” sonic influence happening. That’s not necessarily a uniquely American thing though because a lot of Canadian artists sound like that too, there was a whole folk-roots scene back home in Toronto that I was probably tapping into. Is there an influence in my music that’s specifically Canadian? Good question, I don’t know.
You have experience working in TV, please tell us what it is that you were doing?
I’ve been a composer for most of my career and I got into scoring films about eight years ago. In 2015 I moved to Los Angeles to see what I could accomplish down here, and I was very lucky to find work as the assistant to a major TV composer, Sean Callery. We have a nice Master-Apprentice type relationship going on and besides keeping the studio running, I’ve had the opportunity to write some music on a few of his shows, namely “Elementary” and “Jessica Jones”.
What has the TV experience taught you about music?
SO MUCH. When I started I wanted to pack every scene full of all of my emotions and all of my musical knowledge, and it would just be way too much. Like, it’s just two people walking down a hallway, chill bro! I’ve had to learn to give only what the drama requires and trim away the fat. As a songwriter, that lesson gave me confidence to expose my voice and write clear, simple lyrics, rather than cramming the mix with too many sounds and muddling it, or writing obscure lyrics that hide my heart.
What do you like to do away from music?
I love spending time in nature. LA is amazing for that, there are beaches, mountains, forests, deserts all within a one-hour drive. I think it’s important to get out of the city and remember that nature is not just a place we go to, it’s what we are, and this capitalism machine that’s got us all in its grip, well that’s one story, but not the whole story. I always feel like the universe has my back when I put my feet in the ocean or lie down on the grass. Often that’s when a song will come.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I’m on a “gentle spiritual acoustic” kick. I’m really into two artists in particular: Danit (her album “Aliento” is a masterpiece), and Rainer Scheurenbrand.
What do you have planned for 2019?
It depends entirely on what happens in the next 6 months. I know that I want to make more recordings, write more songs, play more shows, shoot more videos, collaborate with other artists, and continue growing and experiencing life. Beyond that, I’m open to the unexpected.
Any secrets that you care to share?
Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
I became a vegan about 8 months ago so that brought a lot of changes to my life. Luckily LA is a good place to be vegan, there are a lot of us here. My favorite spot is a fully vegan restaurant called Sage Bistro. Favourite place to hangout – gotta go with the beach, you can’t beat the ocean, and it’s free!