But let’s back up. Kyle has basically been playing music since he could pick up an instrument. And he’s the guy who can pick up any instrument and master it before you can grab another beer out of the 'fridge. He started playing in bands such as The Simples and Corbin Eldra in high school, touring in his teens. He soon helped form nationally recognized band, The Uglysuit, after graduation and joined O Fidelis and Mannachine (with former Uglysuit member, Jonathan Martin) around the 'Suit split in 2010. As of recent, he plays with Feathered Rabbit, Bed People, Junebug Spade, Fright Night Club, The Aphids, Willow Way, and just joined Kite Flying Robot for the month. He also contributes to Drainbows and is recording bass for Blaises.
A long list of music projects, right? And then that brings us to Larry Chin. The Larry Chin project is a series of songs that tell the story about a troubled, loner insomniac who heads to a cabin to try and get sleep and peace & quiet. But then something goes wrong. The album's beautifully arranged, haunting songs take us through Larry Chin’s time in the cabin--which includes ghosts, insanity, insomnia and more. (It is recommended to listen with headphones to discover the mysteries.)
"I have an addiction. An obsession. Both with music and the human psyche, dreams and lack of sleep. Punch drunk is one of my favorite mind states, being both a gift and a curse. It may be a bad thing sometimes when it happens, but when it does, I always feel at home." -Kyle Mayfield
Kyle records and produces his projects, while writing the majority of the songs. But if being an excellent musician, writer, sound engineer and producer weren’t enough—Kyle also is co-founder for Schwarzstock, a 2-night, 2-stage festival held in Yukon that includes over 15 bands. This past year they had multiple buzzing artists perform such as Ali Harter, Bowsley, Broncho, Chase Kerby, Chelsey Cope, Horse Thief, Jabee, John Calvin, Junebug Spade, Samantha Crain, Prettyboy, Sherree Chamberlain, The Wurley Birds…the list goes on.
Kyle also has partnered with Charlie and Jill Trujillo (owners of Lettering Express) in organizing Just An OK Art Show. This art show is held several times throughout the year, bringing local artists and musicians together for a night of talent and creativity.
With so many plates spinning, I had been looking forward to finding out more about Kyle’s music journey, primarily with Larry Chin. Chin has a mystery to it, like ghost stories around the campfire. There is a splendid eeriness to it that keeps you wanting to hear more. I was ready for Kyle to take me further into what drives his unique alter ego and his intriguing music.
Jenn: What launched Larry Chin, how did the project evolve?
Kyle: I was writing songs for The Simples at the time, but sometimes what I would write didn’t fit, so Larry Chin became my file cabinet for what wouldn’t work. Then I started writing so much and so often, and it was all so different from The Simples--I decided to find another outlet as well.
Crosby Bray and I ended up joining forces outside of Corban Eldra to form (No Title). This folk band was exactly where my writing was splitting. As Cros and I started writing and recording, I started writing in a different way as well, which was more ambient and pretty. This is the time, 2005 when I graduated high school and my insomnia really began to kick in. Suffering from an incredibly crazy long-term break up, and starting college, my sleep left me and my music became me. I started writing this ambient music to sleep to. And Crosby was all on the same musical page. So (No Title) turned into a split band of folk on one disc and ambient on the second disc.
At this point The Simples had died, and I was only doing Corban Eldra and (No Title), but it wasn’t enough for me. I was still writing and experimenting with even more different soundscapes, noises and instruments. So I started recording Larry Chin as my personal personified window to my crazy sleep deprived and paranoid mind.
Jenn: So, much of this was your personal project that grew into a full-fledged band, but it took you awhile to form an actual band. You have had several loyal friends stick with you through the entire project, can you tell us about your collaborators?
Kyle: After being a studio musician for years, and only quietly releasing the albums to close, close friends, I decided to finally form a band. I took Isaiah Sharp and Sam Welchel, whom I had been in several projects with already, then acquiring Derek Moore (Deerpeople and Limber Limbs) on bass and recently adding Steven Worlow (Bedpeople, Feathered Rabbit and Softaware) to the band as the multi-instrumentalist. I started up the live band in 2010, and went through tons of changes, but regrouped in 2012 to start the Chin running storyline saga.
Jenn: You recorded a lot of material for Larry Chin in a small amount of time, which is a lot of work. What drove that intense focus?
Kyle: That’s all I would do is stay up all night writing and recording, writing and recording. The albums, once they started, never stopped. By 2007 I had written and recorded 4 full lengths and one E.P., just for Chin. Not to mention the two double L.P. (No Title) records and the last Corban Eldra record released before our death.
I have an addiction. An obsession. Both with music and the human psyche, dreams and lack of sleep. Punch drunk is one of my favorite mind states, being both a gift and a curse. It may be a bad thing sometimes when it happens, but when it does, I always feel at home.
Jenn: There’s a very creepy, dark, dreamlike feel to your Larry Chin music. Where does that originate?
Kyle: So Larry chin was my insane outlet. An experimental music project with no boundaries, much like your dreams and your mind. It was my way to let the world see what I see all the time…to let whoever dares to take a peek in.
Jenn: You are basically a Jack-of-all-trades when it comes to music…tell us a little about producing/recording and the instruments you play.
Kyle: I have been recording music since I started basically with a little tape deck boom box, which had a built in microphone hidden a the speaker. That’s how the front man of The Simples and I recorded our first three releases when we were 13/14 years old. That’s also how I started Larry Chin—I was recording the songs that wouldn’t fit with The Simples and calling it my own. After that, I graduated to a boss digital 8 track, where I started recording the majority of the Chin releases, both double L.P. (No Title) albums, the Aphids releases, a Simples tribute album, my first local musician compilation, a couple of songs for a project entitled "Super Chocolate Bear", the first O Fidelis E.P., and the very first Feathered Rabbit E.P. After that, I finally got Pro Tools where I have been recording everything else since. Which would include-Feathered Rabbit, Larry Chin, Drainbows, Fright Night Club, The Aphids, and (No Title).
As far as instruments, I can play bass (acoustic and electric), guitar (electric and acoustic), drums, percussion, vocals; I can kinda play keys (not that well but a little) ukulele, mandolin and banjo.
Jenn: You have co-founded the Schwarzstock Festival and collaborate with Lettering Express in putting together Just An OK Art Show. Tell us how you began organizing some of these events.
Kyle: Back in 2004, with the help of Dustin Maynord and some really great people, I successfully threw my first "festival" if you will. We featured 12 bands, all bands I had played with before being in Corban Eldra. I had stayed friends with some and picked 12 bands I really enjoyed to come to my high school and play all day. I had the concert filmed, including 3 songs from each band live, and some bands I set up an acoustic song for them to do. It wasn’t pack to the brim, but there were a decent amount of people all getting down and enjoying the music. So I count that as success. I was a senior in high school then. From there I got the bug.
In 2010, while the three backing band members were still in O Fidelis, we decided to throw a surprise birthday concert for our fellow friend Doug Schwarz. We were gonna set up a stage on his land out in Yukon and play for him unexpectedly. However, Doug found out, so he just helped us set it up and invited all his friends. It was a blast even despite the cold ass weather. About 150 people, I think, were there. So we figured out we were on something here. From then on out we just keep putting it on, trying to make it bigger and better each time. Starting out with only two acts and one night, we now have it up to two full nights, day and a half, full of music and activities—along with two stages, over 15 bands and camping all weekend. It’s so much damn fun and always turns out well, despite certain difficulties.
As far as Just An OK Art Show goes, being good friends of the Trujillo family (Lettering Express), and sharing the same love for local music, we wound up teaming up together to try and bring something different to the table. They bring artists and musicians together for a night. Usually a $5 dollar cover, but free booze so it’s highly encouraged to have some drinks and meet some talented new people. It’s been one of my favorite things to be a part of.
Jenn: Back to Larry Chin, I hear there are ghost stories surrounding your music. Care to elaborate?
Kyle: In the house I grew up in, I am convinced that there is a female presence that lingers and hangs around. Seeing weird things as a child, they would scare the shit out of me. One day, I sat down in an empty house to write a song. While recording the song, I picked up (the sound of) my bedroom door opening and closing. But I was the only one home. And the door was shut when I look at it. I listened to that a million times to make sure I wasn’t just crazy...but it was very clearly there. So instead of being afraid all the time, I faced my fear and made friends with the scary ghost. In doing so, it made my obsession grow wildly. When I did get to sleep, I would have more intense nightmare than I had ever had. Being surrounded by death in life, I somehow put myself in the middle ground. And now it’s a part of me. I am a dead insomniac musician. And I keep coming back to haunt.
Jenn: I look forward to it. What’s next for Larry Chin?
Kyle: We are set to play 35 Denton this year and NMF for the first time. We are currently in studio tracking the new Chin record that is being recorded by Sam Welchel. It will be Volume 3, but will pick up in Larry’s world this time. For "Drifting" Larry is the insomniac. With the new record, he is an "oneironaut". You will just have to stay tuned to fins out what happens…MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.