Interview with Kyle Hollingsworth of String Cheese Incident


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Kyle Hollingsworth is one of our favorite keyboardists on the scene. His jazz background collides with a host of genres ranging from bluegrass to rock n’ roll music creating a really impressive sound. He’s also constantly pushing himself as a musician. Here Kyle discusses their new recording studio, the upcoming Merryland Music Festival, and more!

Could you tell us about the Lab? Keith told me that it really makes the whole process move much smoother. For example, a song idea can come out once it is done and it doesn’t have to sit and wait 6 months for release. What newfound freedoms do you enjoy in this sort of setting?

This is the new SCI creative space. Yes, it’s great! We finally have a location where we can dig in and release music as much as we like. In this new age of constant content, I think this a needed outlet for SCI. l am looking forward to spending some time in there. We also will be launching other projects from this space. I am releasing some new tracks in the next few weeks from my solo project Kyle Hollingsworth Band. Some fun tunes I wanted to put out that represent me and what I am doing currently. So this new space will have a lot music from all sources coming out in the coming months.

You are playing at Merryland Music Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion this Saturday. You are from MD and went to Towson, what is it like to be playing at home?

I have been to lots of shows at Merriweather.  The best one was the first HORDE. I was front row….like front row . . .head touching stage… I went to see Bela Fleck and the Spin Doctors. I love Howard Levy’s playing as well.  I also saw Jerry Garcia Band there as well, good stuff.

You said in the early days that a lot of your sound was piano driven, could you tell us personally about your evolution of sound? How has your playing style progressed over the years? When did you start experimenting with organ, clav, and eventually synth?

Yes, I am educated in jazz piano but influenced by many styles. I was working up Herbie straight ahead solos in class during the day and checking out the funkier side, Headhunters, at night. I was excited to dive into other keyboards as soon as I could afford them. The first was the Hammond.  I was listening to a lot of Dead and Allman Brothers, it seemed the next logical step. Then I started playing synths, and from the Talking Heads influence, namely Bernie Worrell, I found clavinets. So much fun!

I’ve heard about the “nerd corner”- what types of exercises do you use when practicing?

I used to find the nearest piano practice area in every town and make my way to the room for a few hours every day prior to the show. It was great.  I would scope out the local universities and break into their piano halls.  I always had such a blast sneaking around the college pretending to be a student, then jumping in when no one was looking. I know every great practice area in the country!

I have a regiment that involves scales and exercises and ends up with full tunes or transcribing.

There’s a jazz sound in quite a bit of your piano and wurly/fender rhodes tones playing- a bit of Herbie, some Chick, even Bill Evans- do those guys percolate in your mind when you’re making music?

For sure, I love Herbie’s feel.  I listened to all those guys a lot.

I’d be remiss not to mention “Bam!”. Reminds me a little of something George Duke might have done for the Mothers of Invention–how much of a joy is it to improvise on a vessel like that song?

I love being able to have a strong band that can flow with any direction the music might go. I tend to just move through what feels good and hope it all works out. I think when the band is locked we can go anywhere with any tune.

*Special thanks to Tripp Demoss

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