Trent Prall is a Southern California-born, Madison,WI--based producer, multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and creative mastermind behind the acclaimed solo recording project and JOVM mainstay act Kainalu.
Deriving its name from the Hawaiian word for ocean wave, Prall’s work with Kanialu sees him drawing from psych pop, psych rock, dream pop, Tropicalia, synth pop and funk, and childhood trips to visit his mother’s family in Oahu. The end result is a breezy, funky and nostalgia-inducing sound that Prall has dubbed “Hawaii-fi,” which he further developed and expanded upon with his full-length Kainalu debut, Lotus Gate.
Back in 2020, the JOVM mainstay collaborated with fellow JOVM mainstay MUNYA on the breezy and infectious “You Never Let Go,” which revealed some easy-going yet ambitious, hook-driven songwriting that found the pair seamlessly meshing their individual sound and aesthetics.
Prall’s highly-anticipated sophomore Kainalu album Ginseng Hourglass is slated for a November 4, 2022 release, The 11-song album is reportedly a contemplative and philosophical exploration of the passage of time and the finite, fleeting nature of life. Ginseng Hourglass follows the recent and untimely death of Prall’s mother, and is deeply informed by the conversations they had about her life and mortality during the last few months of her life. While seeing Prall striking a delicate balance between breezy effervescence and the darkest depths of despair, the album’s material captures life’s small joys and victories amidst trauma, emotional ruin and hard-won wisdom. Ultimately, the album makes a concerted effect to find and see hope in heartbreak and pain.
“I don’t want people to think this album is sad because it’s not,” Prall says in press notes. “I have always used music as a way to heal. That’s what this music is — a way to escape into a vibe and atmosphere when the world was crumbling. It’s meant to transport you into a world because that’s what I needed when I wrote it.”
The album’s main thematic concern is also shown in the cover art, which resembles falling sand in an hourglass — the literal embodiment of time physically slipping away, knowing that one’s time is the most precious thing anyone could ever have. While the album will further cement Prall’s reputation for crafting dance floor friendly grooves, lyrically, it may arguably be the most personal of his growing catalog: The songs dig deep into a rabbit hole of complex, conflicting (and intimately familiar) emotions making the album a cathartic, therapeutic fever dream — with Prall’s story at the center. Created as a means of escape and healing, Prall explains, “I write to escape the thoughts that keeps me up at night. It’s a therapy device and meditative practice. These past years we all experienced so much loss. On top of the pandemic, I really went through some serious trauma and I wrote this record because I needed to.”
So I’ve written about two of the album’s singles:
“Queen of Wands,” a strutting, funky bop that sonically seems to draw from Currents-era Tame Impala, electro pop, 90s funk, and 90s house music centerdd around Krall’s unerring knack for yearning, nostalgia-inducing songwriting and infectious, soaring hooks. Interestingly, “Queen of Wands” took shape after a tarot card reading in which Prall drew the queen of wands card. (According to some interpretations, the queen of wands card suggests that the person is upbeat, courageous, determined, self-actualized and self-aware. and can channel their strengths and weaknesses to achieve their goals. In some cases, those who draw the card are inspirational, charismatic, creative sorts.)
“It’s about being overwhelmed in the complexities of modern dating and relationships. As we grow older, the desire for deep connection becomes increasingly stronger and a sort of existential longing develops.” An ode to the power of femininity, Prall continues, “The track is a metaphor for this desire as the card roughly symbolizes a strong, driven feminine persona. When the queen of wands reveals themselves to you, resisting the signs is futile.”
“Inhibitions/Intuitions,” the album’s second single, which thematically and sonically continues where its immediate predecessor left off. Seemingly influenced by Tame Impala with the song centered around a strutting bass line, bursts of glistening synth and buzzing guitars, “Inhibitions/Intuitions” continues Prall’s ongoing and wildly successful collaboration with Quebec-born-and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and fellow JOVM mainstay Josie Boivin, a.k.a. MUNYA, who contributes her ethereal and coquettish vocals. While reminding listeners of the pair’s unerring knack for crafting earnest, yet hook-driven bops, “Inhibitions/Intuitions” grapples with the apprehension that comes with taking risks in love and in other aspects of one’s life, and trusting your instincts, which aren’t always right.
“MUNYA, aka Josie Boivin, and I have been collaborating on tracks together for several years,” Prall says in press notes. “We met through Instagram and have actually never met in person despite creating countless songs together. The song dives deeper into the story presented by ‘Queen of Wands.’ Fighting one’s inhibitions about taking risks in love versus following their intuition which has previously led them astray.“
“Trent and I have been working together for a few years now. Even if we have never met in person, we have built a strong connection that allows us to create and complete each other in a very natural way,” Boivin says. “I had a lot of fun singing on ‘Inhibitions / Intuitions’ and I’m so honoured to be part of Kainalu’s album. Super stoked for this one and the whole album.”
The album’s third and latest single, album title track “Ginseng Hourglass” manages to accurately capture the overall world of the album. While centered around a buoyant and breezy, Tame Impala-like arrangement that pairs a strutting and funky bass line with glistening synths, the song lyrically and thematically may arguably be the heaviest, most personal of Prall’s career to date. The song may focus on one of life’s most heartbreaking aspects, but there’s a deep sense of understanding and hope throughout. r
The song thematically finds its narrator grappling with life’s fleeting and finite nature, while touching upon the complexities of loss and grief and the need for growth. According to the JOVM mainstay, the song is “a psychedelic funk song that explores everything from deep rhythm and overblown heaviness. Ginseng is a representation of the darker, grittier side of the album. The song is written about wrestling with the reality of your fleeting lifespan. As depicted in the album’s artwork, Kainalu adds, “Ginseng – the traditional, medicinal herb, and hourglass – the falling sands of time. Together the words symbolize the sands of time. How will you spend the life you’ve been gifted?”
The song’s subject matter was inspired by a conversation Prall had with his mother before she died. Referencing the song’s lyrics, Prall says “The contemplation presented by the song climaxes in the bridge: ‘When you’re life’s run, will you tell it like you turned your lights off? Did you spend it all overly cautious? Were you someone your mother was proud of? Or did you keep running from all of your problems?” This line resonates deeply with me because it was written after I had one of the final conversations with my mother before she passed of stage 4 cancer. In those last moments of her life, she imparted as much love and wisdom upon me to “carry me through the rest of my life ‘because she knew she wouldn’t be there to help me along.'”