Electric Forest 2016: Kyle Hollingsworth x Vinyl Mag

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Known for his magical keys, creative brews, and having a thing for cats, Kyle Hollingsworth, keyboardist for The String Cheese Incident, is one of our absolute favorite musicians today. With his quirky personality mixed with his many talents, Hollingsworth isn’t afraid of taking risks, especially when it comes to his music or his beer. This year at Electric Forest we sat down and had a chat about the multitude of facets that make of the world of Kyle Hollingsworth, including new Kyle SCI music, the expansion and evolution of Electric Forest, and cat flavored beer?

Vinyl Mag: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. I would love to start off by asking you how the whole cat craze began?

Kyle Hollingsworth: Am I allowed to talk about the ‘cat craze?’ I don’t know…I started wearing cat shirts…I’m not sure why. Actually, I do know why, I just can’t tell you why. It’s a secret. But, I starting wearing them everyday on a tour; that was my theme and this summer’s theme is ‘Nothing but Flowers;’ so I’m doing the whole Talking Heads’ ‘Nothing but flowers…’ So two years ago was ‘Nothing but Cats’ and people started thinking I liked cats; which I’m actually not that fond of them. So then all of a sudden people started bringing me cat shirts and thinking ‘Oh my God, he loves cats!’ I think the original conception was from a bad post on Facebook where I posted a meme about cats, so then I felt like I had to make up for it and I started wearing cat shirts all the time. And then people forgot about the Facebook post and said, ‘He loves cats.’

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VM: And I guess the cat story is history from there! So with this whole cat theme, obviously you’re going for a floral theme this weekend and for the rest of summer tour…With your beer Hoopla, it’s hooper themed and ties back into Cheese, do you think you will or have any plans to put in production a new feline themed beer?

KH: Gosh, I love that. Cat flavored beer…

VM: Maybe not cat flavored beer…

(Laughing)

KH: I love that, let’s quote that, ‘Cat flavored beer.’ Yes I’m working on that…No. I don’t know, but I love that idea. I definitely tie it into whatever I’m doing and cats have become a thing for me. So whenever I can, I brand something in a way that’s feline related. What about ‘Feline Good IPA’ or something like that?

VM: That could definitely be a great beer! Speaking of Hoopla, what do you personally like to pair with it?

KH: I’ve made over 28 collaborative beers all over the country, and Hoopla just happened to be one of them that I have in production in addition to two others. I have one with Stone Brewery and Alice Cooper’s guitar player Keri Kelli (Stone Collectrive Distrortion IPA) and one with Cigar City (Happening Now Session IPA) and they’re all connected to my last solo release where I made three singles and then paired three beers for them, and made three beers to release with the singles. So Hoopla, I was thinking when I was making it, it’s a summer sessional type of IPA so the whole concept was that if I wanted to go see Phish, or the Grateful Dead, or Widespread Panic, or go to Bonnaroo, in the blazing sun and have a good tasting beer that’s also sessional. So that was the idea, I think it goes best with festivals. In fact, we were going to call it an FPA, “Festival Pale Ale.” So we were thinking festivals, summertime, hoola hooping, and camping.

And then food wise, watermelon, anything summery.

VM: So anything summery and I have to say that music goes best paired with Hoopla.

KH: Yes, absolutely. Music goes best paired with Hoopla.

VM: With all of those 28 plus beers, and you just did a collaboration with Odd13 for your Brew Fest coming up in Colorado, and those two other beers in production, your brewing started at home. How did the crossover from home-brew to production occur for you?

KH: It all started home. I started home brewing probably when I was eighteen. So that was like three years ago since I just turned 21 last week..Ha no…I’ve been home brewing for quite awhile, but I made the connection in the last 5-6 years to my creative process, similar to making music on stage, the risk I take, the accidental surprises that happen in improvisational music can also happen in how I brew. Sometimes the best brew you can make is the one you kind of mess up the recipe, but you don’t know how you did it. Like the best jam you make is from taking chances.

VM: I also think it boils down to allowing your creativity to expand and you have to be very inventive when it comes to both music and brewing. And you can take it wherever you want to go.

Photo by Bethany Jayne

KH: And I think it’s the same with cooking also. Even though I’m not huge on cooking. I love eating, just not cooking. I brew.

VM: I did bring up your brew that you are currently working on for your Brew Fest with Odd13, and you just have so much going on with other Brew Fests, festivals, touring, producing, writing…how do you manage your time?

KH: It has been challenging and the wife has found it challenging as well. I was having a conversation with my father-in-law last night about how being a part of modern media is having an awareness and presence in multiple circles from Facebook to all the different outlets you can do. So keeping part of what my job is now, is to be relevant in different creative spaces. Whether it’s brewing, or music, producing too, I’ve also been thinking about writing a book, so I’m trying to tell my wife and my family that this is part of my work, ‘I swear to God I have to go in the backyard and dress up in a cat shirt and make a silly video.’ And she’s like, ‘Really?’ So part of it I think is that my presence is important in my career and as part of my job, but I also have fun. I’m a goofy guy so I like doing weird and goofy stuff. So when I find the time, I make the time.

VM: We’re currently at Electric Forest and it’s been a couple of years now for the festival with Cheese playing every year. The festival has changed quite a bit over the years, do you have any favorite aspects of the festival that you have seen change/grow/get added?

KH: Two things: Obviously the forest within itself is evolving. Andy [Carroll], our good friend, has been making the forest more unique every year. I went to see it for a moment this year, and heard it’s the best ever. So I’m going to go out tonight and explore. The other aspect I think, which I like from Jeremy Stein who puts on the festival, is that the last couple of years I’ve been noticing the addition of artists that are not just DJs, more real bands occurring with real instruments. I have nothing against DJs at all, I actually think they are super great producers, but I also do miss, and I’m glad it’s coming back, is definitely live performance bands. I think that is something as we all evolve our musical taste, and we come back and play more. Even if it’s just like Big Gigantic style with drums and sax player. To me, that’s more exciting than just having a DJ.

VM: I definitely agree, and I enjoy seeing those live electronic acts get added to the lineup.

KH: So I have been noticing that, and I hope those artists continue to be added and evolve. Community wise, I went to another festival recently and the spirit of the festival was missing and I feel like Electric Forest has a spirit that people respect. I feel like the community respects the Forest and each other, and I see that growing every year.

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VM: I’ve seen that grow as well in the EF community and it’s a really beautiful thing. You don’t find that at many festivals.

KH: Exactly.

VM: Going back to what you said about Stein bringing in more live bands, over the years with your performances at Electric Forest, seeing new acts, and collaborating with artists you may not perform with on a normal basis…

KH: Skrillex for example…

VM: Yes, exactly. Do you and the other members of the band ever see your music influenced or evolving from music you have seen and interacted with here?

KH: That’s a really good point I should have brought up. Absolutely. We have done a lot of collaborations here over the last few years. From Lauren Hill to Skrillex, things like that. For me it feels a little like, in music you work with the same five people, when your brewing you’re working with same five friends you brew with all the time, and when you step a little bit outside your circle and invite someone else in, it changes the formula from five to six. Now, everything has changed. And by default, having that extra person on stage is going to influence you and it’s going to change the music. And once again, just like brewing it can be better or for worse. But generally I think having someone else and bringing new energy on stage is always for the better. And then you learn, even if it’s a bad experience you learn, ‘Let’s not do that again.’

VM: I think it’s also great to surprise the audience as well. Like last year with Skrillex on the guitar. That was a collaboration that caught a good amount of people off guard, but it worked. As an audience member I thought it worked.

KH: It did and it worked great!

VM: And it was fun to see him not behind a booth and just on a guitar playing off of you guys.

KH: We are definitely working on some other stuff like that for this year, so we’ll see what happens.

VM: Well I know we can’t wait to see what SCI has in store for us this year.

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Photo by Bethany Jayne

VM: We’ve talked about your beers, and Electric Forest, let’s get into the new music SCI is releasing through the Sound Lab. That first release definitely surprised a lot of people. I know I was sitting on my computer and I was like, ‘ Wait a minute, What is this?!’ Very excited.

KH: I’m really glad it came across that way. We were all like, ‘Did anybody even notice?’

VM: Yes, trust me, we noticed! It was just the surprise of the drop that I think got everyone excited.

KH: Good, good, good!

VM: So, I know you guys will be releasing new music, when will we be hearing a new Kyle tune?

KH: I wrote a new SCI tune with Bonnie from Elephant Revival called “My One and Only.” She and I co-wrote the tune that we recorded and it should be coming out in the next couple of weeks. It’s more of a mellow song, kind of goes from the Elephant Revival perspective so it’s more acoustic type Cheese and then ramps up into more of a Mumford alto singing. Then there’s a couple of other ones. I’m releasing, somehow it always happens, but I have an overflowing amount of songs, and I went into the Lab myself, so I’m going to release two of my solo songs in July with my solo project all through the Lab. All of us are taking our solo projects in as well, and the Lab is a place where we can creatively examine. So I have a couple of tunes coming out in a few weeks, but we’re trying to make sure the String Cheese songs come out first, but mine might come out a little sooner. In addition to the song with Elephant Revival, there will be new music from Kyle, it will be on the SCI website but it wont be from SCI specific.

Photo by Bethany Jayne

Photo by Bethany Jayne

Vinyl Mag would like to thank Kyle Hollingsworth for taking the time to chat with us at this year’s Electric Forest!

You can catch The String Cheese Incident on tour now:

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Morrison, CO

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Morrison, CO

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Morrison, CO

Big Sky Brewing Company

Missoula, MT

Big Sky Brewing Company

Missoula, MT

Big Sky Brewing Company

Missoula, MT

Marymoor Amphitheater

Redmond, WA

Cuthbert Amphitheater

Eugene, OR

Cuthbert Amphitheater

Eugene, OR

The Peach Music Festival

Scranton, PA

Kings Theatre

Brooklyn, NY

Kings Theatre

Brooklyn, NY

Suwannee Hulaween

Live Oak, FL

Suwannee Hulaween

Live Oak, FL

Suwannee Hulaween

Live Oak, FL

1STBANK Center

Broomfield , CO

1STBANK Center

Broomfield , CO

1STBANK Center

Broomfield , CO

It all started when a much younger Jackie dove into her parents’ record collection, grabbed that trippy Magical Mystery Tour album, and played “Strawberry Fields” over and over again until it was engrained into her soul. She grew up on the dreams and stories of Simon and Garfunkel, “Bleeker Street” being one of her favorites, the seduction of The Doors, Van Morrison, because “Brown Eyed Girl” is definitely her song, and the likes of Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Jimi Hendrix…you get the picture. It may not show on the outside, but Jackie has a hippie heart, and that reflects in her musical tastes today. While some of her favorites may or may not be jam bands, her taste in music feeds into many genres. From alternative, Brit, and indie rock - OK, maybe all rock - to pop, to rap, to electronic, she loves it all. As a northerner, she thought she would never understand country until she found herself on a Georgia farm in cowboy boots watching Luke Bryan shake it for her- yeah, she got that. She is a chronic wanderluster, she doesn't believe in guilty pleasures, enjoys a great Moscow Mule, and is an absolute music festival fanatic- you’ll find her wherever the music takes her.

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