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Hxppy Thxxghts Exclusive: Interview with Trevor Hall

With his A Reminder / Blessed Is This Life Tour on the horizon, Trevor Hall had to call an audible as a result of the ongoing uncertainty of the Corona Virus. Having pushed back the tour with Brett Dennen from spring to fall, Hall was left with plenty of time to grow his family with Emory and focus his energy on other endeavors.

It’s with immense gratitude we release the Hxppy Thxxghts interview with Trevor. Read on to hear Hall’s thoughts on the postponed tour, his forthcoming album and loads more.

Hey Trevor, thank you for taking the time to chat with us today.

Yeah, man. I appreciate it. How are you doing?

I’m doing pretty well. How about you?

I’m good, just hanging out in the crib.

Yeah, you isolating?

Yeah, I mean that’s kind of the thing to do (laughs).

Definitely seems like the smart idea right now. Alright, before we really get started, I just want to say thank you. Ever since I started writing about music, there have been two artists I would consider my “dream” interviews. And you’re one of them. So I’m really excited to have you here today.

Oh, man. Well I hope I live up to the hype. Where you calling from?

I’m out of Connecticut.

Oh, cool. Where about?

I live in a town called New Hartford.

Oh, ok. I was born in Connecticut.

Really? Where was that?

In Greenwhich (laughs). I moved when I was like 2, so I don’t really remember it. But we got that in common, I guess.

Absolutely, that’s cool. Now, let’s get started. Might as well kick things off with what’s on everybody’s mind…you got a dog! And that’s awesome.

Yes, I did! (laughs)

Tell me about, what is his name, Kalo?

Kalo! Yeah, man. Nice job. Most people are messing it up their first go around. We’ve been kind of talking about it for a while, but it’s hard with how much we travel. And we had this tour set up for April and my wife was supposed to go to Nepal in March for work. We had talked about it and we’d go visit the shelter a lot but we just didn’t think it was the right time. Then we were like, let’s just do it. It was speaking to us and then everything happened with the Corona Virus; we found out we were going to be home. It all kind of worked out. We went to the shelter, connected with good ol’ Kalo and we’ve been blessed. It’s really awesome, man. It’s funny how much it changes your life.

Oh, yeah. Absolutely. How old is Kalo?

He’s one.


Yeah, he’s a really great dog. “Kalo” means “black” in Nepali – he’s like a black lab retriever. It’s been really awesome.

Ah, man. That’s beautiful. Cool. Moving on then to something else that’s obviously on peoples’ minds – originally, when I reached out for this interview, it was intended to promote the tour. But timing is kind of funny like that, so what are your thoughts on everything that’s going on and postponing the tour?

Yup. I mean, it’s definitely a very eerie time, you know? I’m glad that everybody is taking the precautions and doing what they can to support everyone – our communities, our elders, all of it. It’s very uncertain and I think that can create a lot of fear and anxiety, of course. But I’m glad that everyone is doing what they need to do, or hoping that everyone is doing what they need to do, to stay safe and healthy. It’s tricky. There are a lot of different lessons and a lot of different things that can happen during this time. For instance…you know, I try to see the good in everything. And it’s been interesting in respect to seeing everybody in isolation or lockdown in a way – of course it’s really awful, people are losing their lives and getting sick and all of these things. But also, Mother Earth is getting a break and the environment is improving in such a quick way…

So quickly…

Yeah, you know, it’s like a great lesson for us to see that it is possible for us to change our lifestyles and only take what we need. So that’s been really interesting. And for a culture, as a people, we’re so habituated to always go out – our senses are always going out – and consuming, consuming, consuming. This time has sort of forced all of us to go within; to go within ourselves and ask ourselves what’s important in my life, what do I hold sacred and why am I here? This whole thing sort of inspires those things, which I think is really healthy. As with anything, there is always pluses and minuses to everything. You have to take in the full picture. I feel fortunate and lucky that, by God’s grace, we’re in a good place financially so that we don’t have to really worry during this time. But my heart really breaks and really goes out to so many people that live check to check and are getting laid off. It breaks my heart…I can’t imagine the fear and the situation that they’re in. That part is really hard to wrap my head around, so it’s just a lot of mixed emotions. You just have to sit with it all and hold space…yeah, that’s what it’s about, you know? It’s a tricky time, for sure…it’s a tricky time.

For sure. And kind of like you mentioned with the Earth healing, hopefully this brings some things to the surface and the social or material issues begin to heal as well.

Right. Hopefully we can learn a lot from this and not have it just be this, oh that was a bad time and now we’re back to our old ways. I’m hoping this can inspire us in different ways.

I’m presuming the answer to this is no, but have you ever had to take an entire tour and push it back two seasons?

I haven’t had to do something like this before. I’ve missed shows because of being sick or things getting canceled because of weather, you know, stuff like that. Nothing as drastic as this, so it’s an interesting feeling. You mentally prepare and physically prepare for going out on the road for a month – there’s a lot of different things that go into touring. It’s not just about getting up on stage and playing a show. There’s artwork, there’s all these logistics, plane tickets, travel…so it was definitely like, wow, I can’t believe this is happening. But it’s hard to get upset about because of the situation and you know there’s nothing we can do. And you know postponing the tour is the best decision to promote everyone’s health and safety. You just have to accept it and know that everything happens in its right time.

Definitely. Ok, you’ve just wrapped up the recording process for a new album, right?

Yes, I did. Just got home a few weeks ago.

Is there a projected timeline for that project? I know you have a single dropping tomorrow with Brett Dennen.

Yeah, we have “Put Down What You Are Carrying” coming out tomorrow which we’re really excited about. That’s a song that we recorded as a band back in the fall, in October I think it was. We recorded the demo while we were on tour in Washington – we were on tour with John Butler Trio and we had a day off. So we laid down the demo while we were at the hotel, which is cool. We ended up recording it in Ohio in the fall and just sort of kept it in our back pocket. Then I asked Brett to sing on it and we were going to release it before this tour. It’s an important song and I think that even though we can’t play it live like we planned this spring, I hope it brings people some good spirits and lifts peoples’ spirits. I hope it inspires them to get in their power and get in their strength and keep on moving. We’re excited about it.

The other day, you gave out a phone number where fans could text with you. And you used it to drop a snippet of the new song. Where did that idea blossom from?

That came from my manager. We’re always looking for different ways to connect with fans and keep the Village strong. This is a platform my manager had looked into and presented it to me and we just got on it. It’s been super cool to just text with fans and send out different things. It’s been really beautiful…anyway that we can connect with our fans and let them know what’s going on and make them feel special is really important to me.

Cool. And I saw a photo you shared a little while ago that featured your mother, Emory and your sister all in the studio with you. Does this mark the first time you’ve worked with all of them?

Yeah, well it’s a special moment for me because I recorded the new album in North Carolina and I grew up in South Carolina, so my parents were quite close. My sister and my mom came out, Emory flew out to hang out for a bit and I was like, this is so cool to have them all in the same room or in the studio. So, we should do this! And they all got on the mic for a song and they were kind of like my background singers for a tune. I’m really happy and excited to have them on the record, it was a really special moment for me.

I remember a couple weeks back, you did a live stream on Facebook and you and Emory performed a song together.

Yes! Yes, that’s a song that’s also on the new album – a song called “The Old Story,” which Emory does sing on the recording of. We’re really excited to have that. On this album, Emory sings on a few songs…I think she sings on three songs total, so it’s really special for us to have that creation together.

What else can we expect from the album?

Well, with this album I’m most excited about…I worked with a producer that I really look up to. His name is Brad Cook, he’s based in Durham, North Carolina – he’s just a really talented and incredible individual. We really hit it off and I learned so much from him. He’s produced so many people that I admire and look up to, like Bon Iver and Sylvan Esso and Hiss Golden Messenger, so it was really amazing to work with somebody who kind of works in that field or genre that I love and that I’m trying to stretch into in a way. It’s also amazing to work with somebody where you’re just learning so much everyday, just by observing them and how they approach or hear a song. I think that’s what I’m most excited about – we really, really explored every inch, nook and cranny of potential on each song. And I feel like we did a great job bringing it all together and bringing it home, so I’m super excited for everyone to hear it and to get it out there.

Do you have any sort of a time frame for the roll-out of the album?

We have a plan. We’re definitely going to be releasing some songs, some singles, as we go through the summer and into the fall. I think the full album will hopefully come out around October, so that’s kind of the game plan but you never know with these things…you just kind of see how it goes.

Awesome, man. Looking forward to hearing and experiencing all the new music as you share it with the world. Ok, I’m not sure how you’re doing with time right now so if you have to cut me off, by all means…

No, no! Go for it.

Excellent, thank you! You’ve got The Villagers, an official Trevor Hall fan group on Facebook. I dropped a post in there the other week, just letting the fans know about this interview and checking in to see if anyone had any questions. So if you have a little time, I’d love to run through some of those with you now.

Oh, that’s cool. Fire away, let’s do it.

Sweet. First one – what Bob Marley and/or Dave Matthews Band song has had the biggest influence on you?

Oh, man…I’m going to have to go with Bob, ’cause he’s just kind of the OG. There’s so many Bob tunes…I can’t even, he’s just such a massive influence. One of my favorite Bob tunes is a song called “She’s Gone,” I used to kind of cover that live. That was always a special song for me. There are so many, oh gosh, “The Heathen“…I’m trying to think, there are just too many. I’m actually pulling up my Spotify, there are just so many songs, man, it’s too funny (laughs). I would definitely say “She’s Gone” and just pretty much the whole Exodus album was really the album that pulled me in. “Guiltiness,” “So Much Things To Say,” those songs really formed a great base for me, a great foundation.

This just came to me as you were talking about how you used to cover one of Bob’s songs. You’ve got this beautiful cover of Mac Miller’s “2009.”

I love that.

Oh, man. Yeah. I guess this isn’t even a question, really. But, man, I saw a video of that and, dude, that was incredible.

You know, it’s really interesting because I’m kind of slow when it comes to mainstream music or what’s going on. I actually didn’t hear Mac’s music until after he passed. Then, after he passed, I heard everyone like, oh, Mac Miller passed away. Like, I don’t even know who this is, I feel bad, who is this? That’s when I started pulling up his music and it was like, oh shit, this stuff is gold. I went down this Mac Miller rabbit hole where all I was listening to was Mac. In the course of that journey, I pulled up his Tiny Desk concert with NPR on YouTube. That’s where I heard the song “2009” and I was just…it was so emotional for me because it was after he passed and what he speaks about in that song, you can feel everything he was going through internally, his battle. That song hit me and that’s when we decided to cover it.

Wow, thank you for sharing that. That’s cool. Alright, let’s see…have there been any fans that you’ve met over the course of your career who have really stuck out to you in your memory?

So many, man. I actually have a really good memory, my wife wishes I would forget some things (laughs). I’m really good with people’s faces and with how many years we’ve been doing this and how many times you visit certain cities, you really make friends or connections with certain fans. There have been a lot of fans who have supported me so much over the years, and that’s hard to forget. Whether it’s driving to different shows, coming to a bunch of shows in a row, bringing me gifts, it all really touches me and it’s hard to forget that love. I really hold it dear, so I don’t know if I can say one person in particular because there have been so many people who have supported us. It doesn’t go unnoticed and that’s the most important thing for people to understand.

Very cool, I like that answer. Who are some of your favorite artists to listen to?

One of my favorite of all time is a reggae band from St. Croix called Midnite. The lead singer, Vaughn Benjamin, recently passed away, which was very shocking for the reggae community because he wasn’t too old. That’s kind of like 80% of what I listen to, to be honest (laughs). They have such a huge catalogue – they would put out like three or four records a year. It’s just endless. Midnite is probably my most listened to artist. Other than that, I’ve really been on a Sylvan Esso kick. I’m a huge Bon Iver fan, so anything Bon Iver. Big Red Machine has always been in the headphones. I think right now, I’d have to say Midnite and Sylvan Esso are my top two played artists.

This is kind of a broad question but do you have any tips for navigating the world while staying on one’s spiritual journey?

Oy (laughs)…you know, the world is not outside of the spiritual journey. I think that’s important to understand because if you’re always trying to be outside of the world then you’re going to be miserable. Because, here we are. We are here and we’re in the world. There’s nothing that’s separate from God, you know? There’s nothing that’s separate from Spirit. It’s a matter of mindset, it’s a matter of how you look at things. If you look out and see everything – trees, nature, people, even the ugly and the negative – and see that all of that is made up of one substance, then there’s no question of “am I in the world, am I not in the world, how do I get out.” I think it’s a matter of approach, you know, it’s a matter of your mental approach and having a healthy outlook. For me, it’s not about rejecting anything. It’s about staying in your heart and trying to love everything, even the stuff that scares us or is negative.

There’s a beautiful story they tell in India: God resides in everything, even the tiger. But you’re not going to go out and hug the tiger. It’s important to recognize that Spirit is in everything but that doesn’t mean to be a fool and just walk around and put your hand on a cactus (laughs). It’s important to understand, you have to understand. I hope that helps, I don’t know if that helps (laughs).

You know, that was a broad question and I think you just did an excellent job covering it. And it’s a good segue into the next question – do you have any thoughts on the political landscape?

It’s hard for me because my mind doesn’t naturally go to politics. I have a lot of friends that are very into politics and I look up to them in that way. They know all the facts and they’re able to navigate those waters really well. For me, it’s not something I’m great in. It’s not something my mind goes to and it’s hard for me to focus and understand. I don’t know if I’m the best person to answer the question. For me, I have core values for my own life and my own self. I believe in oneness, I believe in selfless action, I believe in righteousness, I believe in love, these noble qualities. I believe in the Earth, you know? So that’s how I try to navigate these waters, I try to look for people that embody those qualities. But there hasn’t been a lot of people.

Politics is a tricky thing because with politics comes power. And power is not a bad thing, but power is easily abused and power can make somebody drunk. People can get drunk on power very quickly even if in the beginning they have good intentions. For me, I’m always a little skeptical and maybe that skepticism keeps me from getting involved. Of course, there is the other side of the argument – your voice matters and if you don’t pay attention…I respect that and I understand that but my answer is, look, I try my best. I really admire my friends and peers that are really good in that world but for me it’s just more difficult to understand.

Well said, man. Final question – with the tour getting postponed, I know a lot of artists right now are doing live streaming performances. Do you have any intention to do anything like that?

Yeah, we have one tomorrow (laughs). I think it’s at 5pm Mountain Time…we posted about it and we’ll post about it tomorrow. We’re trying to do what we can to offer our gifts during this crazy time, you know? Do what we can to continue to connect with our communities and inspire each other. Hopefully this will be the first of many and we’ll just keep the water moving, you know, keep the river flowing. We’re excited to connect with people in that way.

Beautiful. Alright, man, well thank you so much for taking the time for this interview.

Thank you so much, man. I’m really happy to talk with you.

It’s been a pleasure. Thank you.

Yeah, brother. Have a good one. Stay safe.

Connect with Trevor Hall: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

[Featured Image Via Greyson Christian Plate]

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