Earlier this year, I wrote about Trent Prall, a Southern California-born, Wisconsin-based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter and his solo recording project Kainalu, which derives its name for the Hawaiian word for ocean wave. The music that Prall has created over the past decade or so, draws from psych pop, psych rock, dream pop, Tropicalia, synth pop, funk and childhood trips to Oahu, Hawaii visiting his mother’s family — and the breezy and retro-futuristic mix is what the Southern California -born, Wisconsin-based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter has dubbed Hawaii-fi, as a homage to his Hawaiian roots and their influence on him. Now, as you may recall, “Love Nebula” reminded me quite a bit of Tame Impala, Toro y Moi, Shawn Lee’s Synthesizers in Space, AM and Shawn Lee’s La Musique Numerique and Lee’s split album with Tim “Love” LeeNew York Trouble/Electric Progression as “Love Nebula” was centered around shimmering analog synths, a sinuous bass line and copious amounts of cowbell; but underneath the breezy and summery groove is a bittersweet yearning both for a sense of belonging – and for someone.
“Finding Peace of Mind” Prall’s latest single was inspired by Trent’s father, who routinely gives him advice on life and other matters — and the song was written in some way from his father’s prospective. ““He would always try and get me to read Alan Watts’ literature as a way of accepting the stress and anxiety of the world. Although, it’s kind of ironic though because a book inspired the lyrics which are about not being able to learn yourself inside of books,” Prall explains in press notes. “The overall message is sometimes you can’t learn yourself by looking outward, instead you must accept that you can discover more by diving deep internally.” While focusing on a deep and thoughtful self-assessment and introspection, the single will further cement Prall’s reputation for crafting dreamy and retro-futuristic synth pop — but in this case with a decided psych pop leaning.
Trent Prall is a Southern California-born, Wisconsin-based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter whose solo recording project Kainalu derives its name for the Hawaiian word for “ocean wave,” and interestingly enough the music Prall has created over the past decade or so draws from psych pop, psych rock, dream pop, Tropicalia, synth pop and funk and from childhood trips to Oahu, Hawaii visiting his mother’s family to create a breezy and retro-futuristic sound that he’s dubbed Hawaii-fi, as a homage to his Hawaiian roots and their influence on him.
“Love Nebula” Prall’s latest single immediately brings to my mind Tame Impala, Toro y Moi, Shawn Lee’s Synthesizers in Space, AM and Shawn Lee’s La Musique Numerique and Lee’s split album with Tim “Love” LeeNew York Trouble/Electric Progression as the song is centered around shimmering analog synths, a sinuous bass line and copious amounts of cowbell; but underneath the breezy and summery groove is a bittersweet yearning both for a sense of belonging – and for someone.
I recently chatted with the up-and-coming, Southern California-born, Wisconsin-based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter via email about how much Hawaii has influenced him and his music, his musical influences, the new single and more. Check out the Q&A below.
WRH: How did you get into music? And when did you know it was your calling?
TK: Both of my parents are creatives/musicians so I was surrounded by instruments for longer than I can remember. My dad always tells this funny story about how he would put some headphones onto my mom’s stomach while I was in the womb and blast Earth Wind and Fire haha…. I don’t know if that did anything but I still love EW&F …
WRH: From what I understand, you were born and raised in Hawaii and are now currently based in Wisconsin (which probably is one of the biggest cultural shifts I can think of while still being in this country). How was it like growing up in Hawaii? And how much have your formative years in Hawaii influenced your sound and overall aesthetic?
TK: I wasn’t actually born in Hawaii, I’m from Southern California but my mother’s family, extended and all, lives in Hawaii and so I would spend the majority of my summers there. I moved around the country a lot in my formative years and so I didn’t have a real “home base” growing up. The only constant was Hawaii. Those summers really had a lasting influence on me and the music I write. I was introduced to Hawaiian music early… a popular genre of music in the islands is called Jawaiian music which is a fusion of reggae and Hawaiian sounds, very groove-centric.
However, I think the ocean and the peace I feel with it is the biggest influence on my music. The ocean really feels like home to me… playing and later relaxing on the beaches of Oahu are my most cherished memories. I would grow each year but the beaches never changed, I’m not sure why but I love that concept, it’s very tranquil to me and I try to capture that feeling with Kainalu. Kainalu actually means ocean wave in Hawaiian
WRH: You’ve dubbed your sound “Hawaii-fi.” What does that comprise of? And how does that differ from say, dream pop or psych pop?
TK: I honestly am not a fan of naming genres because in my mind every artist is unique in their own way. From the point of view of describing the music to other listeners I understand why genre names exist, but I think it forces preconceived ideas on the listening experience. So I honestly just made it up because the music was heavily influenced by my love of Hawaii and my memories there. More specific, I think tropical psych music is Hawaii-fi. But yeah, it could very well be psych pop or dream pop, I think people who enjoy the music should decide how to describe it and I’ll gladly take the tag that’s given.
WRH: What is the influence behind your latest single?
TK: “Love Nebula” was written because I wanted to write a heavy bass driven song. I started on the piano but bass is my favorite to play. Once I had the instruments laid out I wanted to write the lyrics about wanting to be wanted. Through middle and high school, I was bullied a lot about my race, it’s kind of fucked up… it made my cultural identity confusing as a child. This song was written to be a sort of reclaiming of my identity and confidence… but the reclaiming comes in the form of wanting to be desired by a love interest
WRH: What’s next for you?
TK: I’m about half way done with my next release, once it’s done I’m ready to tour.
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