“I try to be incredibly honest and raw in my writing using wordplay and metaphor. Most of it is just about figuring life out.”
Natalie Durkin (TribeLA Magazine): Give yourself and your work a tagline and tell us why.
Kyle Rogan: Working to make ‘Lil Sebastian proud. Because ‘Lil Sebastian.
ND: What got you started in music? What is the reason you are here today?
KR: My brother and I used to improvise songs in our basement when we were younger. He’d play the guitar and I’d make up words. Eventually it would end up with us fighting about something stupid, so I learned guitar. I like to think that I am here today because I kicked him out of the band. But, he’s the one with the girlfriend, so we’re even.
ND: How do you hope to influence your audience?
KR: Anything I can do to make people think, “Man, I really like this music. In fact, I really like this guy in general. I want to buy him candy. You know what, I’m going to do that. Where’s my wallet?”
ND: What do you do when your creativity is blocked?
KR: I have a playlist of songs that inspire me, so I start listening to that. Eventually I get caught on a particular genre or sound and, not too much later, an idea comes to me that I can run with. I let the other artists do the hard work for me, refer to what they have, and with enough finessing and personal preference, the song becomes my own.
ND: What fires you up and gives you energy?
KR: Anything that is competitive in nature, especially if it is inane. My friends and I play games a lot. We set aside entire afternoons to play Diplomacy, which is a Risk-like game with much more lying and deceivery. My roommates and I also have a wall where we tape fast food receipts with our names on it. At the end of the year we count up who ate the most fast food. You don’t really want to be the winner of that one. I think Zale has the title two years running now. And I’m not even going to bring up the Little Drummer Boy Challenge we play during Christmas.
ND: Can you tell us a little known fact?
KR: Ok I’ll tell you about the Little Drummer Boy Challenge. From Thanksgiving through Christmas you are to avoid at all costs hearing the song “Little Drummer Boy”. Once you do, you are supposed to scream bloody murder right where you are and fall to the ground. Then you recount your story about how and when you heard the song on the Facebook page. People get really into it, sometimes recounting the story like a dramatic short story or in Shakespearean verse. If you love spending the holidays in a constant state of fear and stress, I definitely recommend it.
ND: Where is your favorite place in Los Angeles and why?
KR: You know I’m not a big city guy. Definitely prefer to be out camping or hiking. BUT, that being said, this past year I did Questival with Cotopaxi which held a giant scavenger hunt around LA. I was with a group of four friends and we spent 24 hours running around LA trying to reach different landmarks like the original Batcave tunnel or the old abandoned zoo in Griffith Park, both of which are super cool.
ND: How do you make music? Briefly chronicle your creative process.
KR: It’s different every time. Sometimes I’m listening to a song or artist I really like and I’m like, ‘I want to write a song these guys would sing’. Or I’m like ‘I want to write a folk song’ and just do it. Other times I’m fiddling around on the guitar or piano and a riff happens that I really like. I write and work on it until I don’t feel like it anymore. I try my best to finish a song in one sitting because I’m usually operating off a particular vibe. But other times I just record a video of myself playing/singing it and then come back later to fix it. Depends on the day. I have several folders in the cloud of lyrics, mp3s, and videos of a bunch of finished and unfinished songs. I think I’m at about 350 total. I especially like it when people ask me to write songs for them. I can usually pound out 3-4 songs in a couple hours once I have the vision for what they need.
ND: What is coming up?
KR: I have a song called “Thunderclouds” coming out on February 28 that I am INCREDIBLY excited about. I’ve had this one on the docket for a while and my producer totally killed it. Not sure if you’ve listened to John Mayer‘s version of “Free Fallin’ ” but it’s got that vibe to it with three acoustic guitars and some fun stuff with harmonics. It’ll be the first single I’ve released in a while that has more low-key, chill vibe so I’m pumped.
ND: Describe your style – musically and otherwise.
KR: I care about lyrics a lot. I try to be incredibly honest and raw in my writing using wordplay and metaphor. Most of it is just about figuring life out. Life as a twenty-something can be pretty confusing sometimes (em, all of the time). Musically though I like to call it “mainstream eclectic”. Each song could probably be played on the radio, but I jump from folk to pop to rock to rap to country to indie to blends of it all. I try to write music I’d want to listen to and I listen to lots of Twenty One Pilots, Weezer, Avett Brothers, and Matchbox Twenty, so you definitely hear that. Aside from that, give me good pair of jeans and a Patagonia jacket and I’m good to go.
ND: What is the best advice you’ve received and the best advice you can impart onto us?
KR: When I was on a middle school camp trip, my Young Life leader, Max, told us, “Fellas, if you need to explain a joke then don’t tell it in the first place. Explain it, drain it.” I realize he was trying to get us to shut up, but I carry that with me. Best advice I could impart: Go to as many national parks as you can and spend some time in awe at something bigger than yourself. It’s good for the soul.
ND: Any closing words?
KR: If any one knows Jimmy Fallon, can you let him know that I’d be down to reenact with him the plot of Die Hard 2 using shopping carts in a mall parking lot for the snowmobile scene? Thanks.
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