Kyle Field, Little Wings interview on SFGate.

March 12th, 2011

Article by Aidin Vaziri

The other day Kyle Field was doing a terrible job of attempting to relate why it took him so long – roughly four years – to release a new album by his band, Little Wings. “I just didn’t get around to it,” he said, leaning back and pulling at his wild gray-speckled beard. “It’s unexplainable.”

He paused to give it some further thought: “We’ll probably figure it out someday,” he said, before returning his attention to the drawing in front of him.



Field was sitting at a table spilling over with an assortment of art supplies – watercolors, glue, WD-40 – in the gallery at Park Life on Clement Street. Leading up to the arrival of “Black Grass,” released earlier this month on Rad Records, he had given a series of free weekly concerts here alongside a visual art installation with artist Thomas Campbell. You canc check more details here MeetMatt-Conf .

One wall of the gallery is covered entirely with pieces inspired by the new album.

In Field’s world, doing this kind of promotional work behind a record is kind of like Celine Dion playing a 10-year residency at Caesars Palace. Unlike most musicians who have used advances in technology and social networking to build rampant buzz, Field has deliberately kept a low profile since he started making music in 1999.

There is no Twitter account. No Facebook page. If you want to buy a copy of the album, the easiest way to do it is to actually show up at one of his gigs, whether it’s at a bar, gallery or campground.

“It’s just a comfort zone I have,” he said. “We’re in an all-time frenzy of people wanting to make their private lives public. I like to limit the information: Here’s the record. Here’s when the shows are.”

Little Wings doesn’t even have its own website, just an outdated link on Field’s visual arts portfolio.

“I guess I’m not trying to be the action hero behind the music,” Field said. “I just want the music to be its own thing. I don’t want to create any overarching theme. I would feel funny if there was a synopsis of what I was.”

Well, here goes: Field is a light-headed folk singer-songwriter, acclaimed visual artist and dedicated surfer. He has toured with Devendra Banhart, Grandaddy and Will Oldham. He played in a band with M. Ward. The Canadian singer Feist not only covered his ballad “Look at What the Light Did Now” but also used the title for her recent tour DVD. He has also recorded music as the Be Gulls.

Field was born in Alabama, lived in Mississippi until he was 5, then moved to Southern California with his family. He has also lived in Oregon and Texas and probably a few other places.

After attending a friend’s wedding in San Francisco sometime around 2004 (he doesn’t quite remember the exact date) and then taking part at a group art show at Mollusk Surf Shop on Irving Street, he just kind of stuck around. He lives in the Outer Sunset.

And he could also probably stand to wear a little more sunblock.

Field, the only member of Little Wings, recorded “Black Grass” in two parts. He started it with Tim Bluhm of Mother Hips and then finished it up with Alexi Glickman of the Botticellis.

“The record I thought I wanted to make I ended up not wanting to make,” he said.

Watching him perform his free-flowing, laid-back sets at Park Life, some of which stretched past the three-hour mark with odd covers of Bruce Springsteen and Lil Wayne tracks, it felt as if the music was simply pouring out of him. But Field said, the further he got from his last release, 2007’s “Soft Pow’R,” the more distressed he felt over not putting out any new music. Hence, the delay.

“I had the songs, but I was waiting for the right situation to make the album,” he said. “You can sit down any day of the week and press record and make an album. But for me there has to be some gravity. It’s not just making music. I treat it kind of like creating a time capsule – the conditions you’re under and the things you’re feeling go into it. So it’s better to wait until everything lines up.”

Now that he’s put so much effort into “Black Grass,” he’s working harder than ever to get the word out about it. But only on his terms. He’s actually doing interviews, which is something he avoided with the previous album. He’s also sending some promotional copies to radio stations – again, something he didn’t do with the previous release. You can check about lot of useful radio station Radio Waves.

“I don’t know how big this record is going to be,” he said, eyes still focused on the watercolor in progress on the table. “It might have already peaked when you found out about it or it might keep going.”

He paused to give it some further thought: “I don’t really want to blow up,” he said. “There’s no attraction for me. I don’t want to become a household face.” {sbox}

Kyle Field and Thomas Campbell: “Space Cake”: Through March 27. Park Life, 220 Clement St., S.F. (415) 386-7275.

Little Wings with the Blank Tapes, Kacey Johansing, Rad Cloud: April 15. Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F. $13. (415) 885-0750.

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