Kyle Field, or Little Wings, like several other artists in the same music camp, is a grizzly looking man. He is abundantly bearded, regularly sweatered, and carries the aurora of a friendly uncle (Interestingly, I wrote that before hearing his song “Uncle Kyle says”). When looking at a photo of the guy, you’d assume his voice would mirror that of a drunken sailor belting shanties from the bow of a ship with a bottle of brown liquor in hand. However, you would be mistaken. Instead, his music has a soft playful bounciness to it accompanied by Kyle’s buttery voice. Still, his sound ranges from angelic to a sleepy folkish grumble.
I was fortunate enough to talk to Kyle over the phone and I’d say his personality matches his music. He has a surfer friendliness to him accompanied by interesting insights. I also noticed that he speaks like a writer, pausing to choose his words carefully
I began the conversation by asking about a Documentary called “Wise Old Little Boy” from 2002. The film captures the tour of the same name that Kyle did with Phil Elverum of the Microphones. According to Kyle, this was the more commercial tour of his early career. Jumping from coffee shops to house shows and everything in between, Kyle said, “It felt like the difference between a road trip with a friend and a reality television show.”
The conversation flowed nicely into the obviously more influential tour of Field’s life called “The Golden Shoulders Tour.” Taking place prior to “Wise Old Little Boy,” and including Karl Blau, the trip seemed like every indie musician’s fantasy. The three men traveled the Pacific Northwest in a Volkswagen, painted with oil paints, and admired Blau’s crocheting abilities. Stopping in towns off the beaten path, the trio played in venues even more off the beaten path. Field described their shows as fuming with creativity, improvisation, and offbeat comedy. He talked of Gorilla masks, painting on stage, and biting blood capsules mid song.
Kyle is also a visual artist and creates drawings that are definitely up my alley. They have the energy of a child’s imagination and are finished with watercolors. He said drawing came before the music, and while he has been writing songs since college, he majored in fine arts. In the past 20 years, Kyle has been represented by galleries in New York, Los Angeles, and Paris. Even if now drawing is secondary to music, Kyle said album covers are very important to him. Back in the 90’s he saw so much bad cover art that he wanted to bring an artistic style back into the industry. My favorite of his albums, art wise, include “Explains,” “Grow” and “Magic Wand.”
Picking the brain of the man behind Little Wings gave me an even greater respect for his music. It was refreshing to speak with someone motivated to always be creating quality music.