Reggae is something that reaches out to all different kinds of people. It’s something that just makes you feel good, and you can’t help but move to the beat of it. One of those artists that is breaking out of this genre is young but a veteran in twenty one year old Trevor Hall. Since he was fifteen, he has been writing, recording and performing his music and has had quite the roller coaster ride since.
Coming fresh out of high school and with a recording contract, it may have seemed clear that it was meant to be but after some hardships with his first label, Trevor made the switch to Vanguard and dropped his self titled record this past July. Since then he has been hitting the road and playing his high energy shows all over the country. Collaborating with such artists as Matisyahu and Colbie Caillat just to name a few (Unity and Lime Tree respectively), his name has began to be heard around the states. Finally, his hard work is paying off and I got the opportunity to talk about it all with him when he came to Cambridge last February with a sold out show at the popular venue Harper’s Ferry.
Trevor Hall Interview
(Q): I know you’ve collaborated with a lot of artists like Matisyahu and Colbie Caillat, but if you could pick any artist to collaborate with, who would they be?
Do I have to pick one or can I pick a handful?
– You can pick a handful.
Cool. I would definitely have to collaborate with Michael Franti. We just got done doing a tour with him and we became really good friends and I would love to do a song or have him on a song, something like that. I also am like a huge Bjork fan and even though our styles are like really different, I think it would be really fun just to see what would come of that mash up so Michael Franti and Bjork. Those are kind of my two main ones right now I’m thinking of.
(Q): And who would you say are some of your bigger musical influences?
When I was growing up I was really, really influenced by Ben Harper and I remember the first time I heard him and just thinking like just getting a really intense feeling like ‘woah! I want to make music like that’. So Ben Harper through out my high school years was a huge influence but you know, of course all the reggae stars like Bob Marley. Burning Spear was a huge influence, but in high school I was really influenced by hip hop like OutKast and you know Aesop Rock ,just the way that they would put words together and stuff and I think that really influenced me just lyrically like the way I write lyrics so it’s kind of a mash up organically of a whole bunch of stuff.
(Q): And in high school, you ended up getting signed to Geffen your senior year and then unfortunately you got dropped by now you’re with Vanguard? How did that time when you were really doing it on your own help you grow as a musician?
Well, you know when I was on my own I was lucky to have, even though I wasn’t on a label, I was still lucky to have a lot of like good people around who were working for me and stuff. So it was just a struggle because I didn’t have some of the necessary tools you know a label can really help you with. Things like radio and you know putting up money to help make a record which I didn’t have so it was great but when I was on Geffen you know, we had a little bit of trouble, a lot of trouble, getting albums released but it was a really good experience. Just to be on a big label and say ‘Hey I did it!’ So now I’m with Vanguard which is a smaller label then Geffen but it’s more of a family vibe which I think I’m more about and it’s been a little easier communication you know. Communication is really important in anything, but especially I think in the business and we just weren’t getting a lot of communication when we were on the bigger label so it’s better just to bring it down.
(Q): You played with Ben Harper actually and Stevie Nicks, Colbie Caillat etcetera. If you could tour with say three dream acts, who would they be?
I just think it would be awesome to be able to tour with Bob Marley. I mean, there would be a lot of pressure involved because he’s a huge star. It would have been really hard but I would have liked just to travel with him and his crew even if his crowd didn’t like me. It would still be fun just to be on the same stage as him every night but, uh, other acts I would like to tour with. I mean, I love Michael Franti, and we just did a tour with him but it was just so beautiful that I would just do it over and over again like we just really hit it off. Some other dream acts, I mean, it would be fun to do stuff like out of the ordinary like tour with Bjork or tour with like Radiohead or somebody that’s really different and not be the same old thing but those are probably some dream ones.
(Q): For sure, and I think you’ve actually shared the stage with Ziggy. How was that experience because you’re kind of similar to Bob Marley’s style?
Yeah, Ziggy is amazing and I didn’t really listen to that much of his music before we went on tour with him. The thing about Ziggy is that his band was one of the best bands I’ve heard, not just reggae bands, but just an amazing band. So to be around that high caliber of musicianship every night like really taught me a lot and he was very like focused and he had this intense like feeling about really wanting to have everything right. The effort that he put into his music was really inspiring but the cool thing about it was he did sing a lot of his dad’s songs and he kind of sounds like his dad so if you closed your eyes, you could just feel like ‘Oh man, I’m with Bob Marley right now’. That was a lot of fun, that was one of the best tours we’ve been on for sure.
(Q): How do you normally go about the writing process?
Uh, the writing process. It’s a process that takes a lot of time but for me, the writing process is a very kind of meditative thing. For me, I just try not to, when it’s working perfectly, be thinking at all and the songs are just coming out and I’m not trying to figure out what they’re about. I’m not trying to think ‘oh this makes sense’. I can’t say that, I’m just trying to let it come out and usually the music comes first and like the sound and the music will inspire me with the words. Sometimes words come first but mostly for me, it’s the music but it’s just a big process of me moving aside and letting whatever wants to come through come through and not try to think about it too much.
(Q): How is your last album, ‘Unity’ doing? I mean, the show’s sold out tonight.
Really? I didn’t know that, that’s cool! It’s been going good, I mean we released it a little while ago-
– Last year?
Yeah, last year like around summer/fall. The cool thing about Vanguard is that they’re releasing it and then they’re like it’s not like if it doesn’t do good, then we give up on it and do another one. They’re the type of label that just really works at it and you know that was kind of our goal with this record. It was like let’s just put this out and then use this as a way of, you know, getting the name out but I think, that being said, it’s been doing pretty well. To be honest, I don’t really pay attention to much of the numbers.
But like by kids coming out, the shows.
Oh the shows have been like, this tour has been really surprising for us just because some places that were sold out were a lot bigger then we expected. Places that we haven’t played where people come out and kids singing songs so that’s been really like amazing. So, we’ve been really blessed on this tour for sure.
(Q): And how do you believe you’ve grown as a musician? I know you started really young 15 or so.
Wow like when I listen to that stuff, I’m like ‘What the hell was I thinking?’ I think that you know, just time is just a very interesting thing. It’s a very interesting like illusion but it is this thing that just makes you grow and you have to have patience. Patience goes with time, they go hand in hand. If you don’t have patience, then the time will destroy you. So, just over time I’ve just had experiences and stuff. I don’t think it’s really only a question of how my music has grown since then because the music is a reflection of my life, what I’m going through, so it’s like through time I just grew as a person. In a different direction that I never thought I would grow, but I think I’m just going that direction and I’m just learning along the way. So the writing process has just been with the music as a way of exploring all sides of me and the past and other peoples’ past and what is this all about. So, it’s just kind of over time but I don’t think back then I was writing a lot about like you know my relationships with people and like now I’m writing a lot more about my relationship with like spirit. It’s a larger thing so music is about relationships for me just depends with what, and I really think I’ve grown in that way.
(Q): Yeah for sure. What can fans expect when they come to a live show of yours?
You can expect to rock! I really don’t know, I just can always speak from my point of view, like when we play a show, we just love to have a good time and a lot of that depends on the audience you know. Seeing an audience just standing there, it’s hard for us to get in to it right but we just love to have a good time and we just love to play music and I think that that just shows so people feed off that. You know, we’re also really spontaneous like we just tend to switch it up at night or stuff. I just think people should expect just to like you know, have a good time and just enjoy themselves because we’re not singing any songs like about bad things I don’t think so far. So, people should just expect to feel good.
(Q): What’s your favorite part about playing on the road and touring?
On the road? Hmm, I can definitely list the things I don’t like. The things I love about being on the road. You know, there’s pros and cons of everything but you know travel is like a really good teacher because you’re just seeing a lot of places, seeing a lot of different people. You’re just learning from your environment so in that sense it’s really good. In another way you know, I think touring is just one of the best ways to build your family of fans. I mean you meet people and they come out again. It’s just great to roll into a town and be like ‘Oh I know a few people there’. It’s like you have a family which is good. And of course, you know, we get to play music every single night which is you know what we love to do. It’s a pretty great thing!
(Q): If there was one message you wanted someone to take away after listening to your music, what would you want it to be? What do you want them to feel?
I don’t really want to impose my thing on them you know what they should feel. You know, like I mean I want to make them feel good but you know that can go on many different levels. I mean in a general sense, from my point of view, music has given me inspiration. Inspiration in everything, like in my life, the way I live, the way I dress, everything. I remember growing up and just being so fascinated with all these different styles of music. It inspired me in so many different ways. So the only thing that I can hope for is that it will do the same for other people. It will give them inspiration to live like the way they want to live. I mean, whatever way that may be. If it supports them in their life, it makes me happy in whatever sense that is.
(Q): And then what can fans look forward to? A lot of touring or new music?
Well, you know we’re doing this tour and we’re going to be done in a couple weeks. Nothing is kind of set in stone but we have a rough plan of just getting back in the studio. We have some songs so you know just work on another record hopefully, just getting that out but they can expect a lot of touring. I mean, we do tour a lot in general but right now because of just like a little bit of you know hype I guess you can say like just a little bit more recognition. We’re probably going to be on the road a little more then usual so come out and see us everywhere! All fifty states!
Hawaii! Hey, I’ve been to all the states except Alaska. I don’t know how it would go but I think my friend Matisyahu went one time but I’ve never been up there.
I saw Matisyahu once way back in the beginning.
Oh yeah? Way back when?
I knew you guys were friends. You did a version of Unity together?
Yeah really good friends and I did some songs for his record but we’re just good friends. We just get along, he’s a good egg. He’s like a big brother, he helps me out a lot.