I have pretty limited gear, I work on old stuff…I mainly record on this old digital 8-track, the buttons barely work…it serves a nice creative purpose (on limitations).
This podcast is sponsored by Artspire La Crosse.
This podcast is brought to you by Artspire presented by the Pump House Regional Art Center to attract, engage, and connect artists in the community through an Art Fair and Sale on Saturday, June 12. Information is at artspire.thepumphouse.org. Today we chatted with Kyle Crayton, who goes by the moniker One More Onion. We talk about music projects, experimentation through limitation, the songwriting process, the new area supergroup, The Lavender Project, and what’s coming up for this musician. You can find more conversations, food reviews, live music and events on our website, lacrosse local.com. I’m Amy. And I’m Brent. And this is Lacrosse Local.
Kyle Crayton 01:22
My name is Kyle Crayton. I was born in La Crosse. Actually Gundersen Hospital. Let’s see, I’m about 27. Yeah, I got into music at a pretty early age. Actually, one of my first memories was of a piano lesson. You know, it was a piano lesson. Unfortunately, I didn’t continue those, but I then went into some violin and kind of went up in music through the school system. I ended up taking a long break through high school, I got really into sports at the time. It was only until college that I kind of picked up the music again. And that was in the form of a guitar. I ended up playing my first house show in college. That was pretty wild. Because, you know, I’d spent my whole time as a bedroom guitarist, as I like to call it. The first time I heard my voice coming through a speaker from the other side of the room was a real trip. It took some getting used to. I think that’s something that a lot of people have problems with right away, is hearing their own voice. I kept at it and here I am.
Brent Hanifl 02:29
Getting to know you, I’ve seen you so far just in The Lavender Project, which is something that we can talk about a little bit later, but you work under the moniker of One More Onion. How did that project come about?
Kyle Crayton 02:40
Well, One More Onion started as a four piece band. I was writing some songs and I met this cat, Lucas Brimmer and we actually ended up living together. He was a drummer, he had drummed with the drumline at UWL. He had a lot of skills, it was really great to be playing with him. Yeah, so we started as a four piece. Yeah, I don’t know, we played some shows out. The name comes from this. I was working in food service at the time. And I like to play this game where for the meal preps I try and eyeball the exact amount we need for each ingredient. And I was short that day by one more onion. So, I don’t know, that’s kind of where that name came from. And for some reason, I latched on to it. I really like it because it’s unassuming, it’s a ubiquitous vegetable. There’s not much to it other than it’s just an onion. And I like that kind of blank slate to put things on. Oh, and I also, I like the anonymity. I don’t like to use my own name. That helps because why, like, what if you want to make a character? You know, I don’t know, it allows for more creative freedom, I think, at least for myself.
Brent Hanifl 03:53
Looking on your Bandcamp, you know, you state the solo project is experimentation through limitation. What does that mean?
Kyle Crayton 04:02
Well, I think in music, and unfortunately in music and recording it, there’s kind of a…there’s a limitation based on gear and subsequently money. So, for me that means that I have pretty limited gear. I work on old stuff. Like for example, I mainly record on this old digital A track that’s I think 14 years old. The buttons barely work at times. But I mean like as kind of a bummer as that is, I do think that it serves a nice creative purpose. Because through limitation you’re able to experiment. You end up having to resort to like creative problem solving in order to find sounds. In addition, I get limited tracks. There’s not much I can do, like as far as like the current kind of state of music is centered around DAWs or Digital Audio workspaces. And they’re great tools for getting your ideas down. At the same time, you can run into this problem where, like, almost everything is possible. Which sounds great, the idea of that sounds great, but also, it can be limiting. Because if everything is possible, like what do you do then? Whereas like, my situation its pretty… I would equate it to like, a pen and a paper, you know? There’s not much between the pen and the piece of paper that you’re trying to write your ideas on. And so I think in that simplicity, you’re allowed a nice creative lens to just get your ideas down. It also helps add like a kind of unique flair to my music. You’ll hear some mistakes, you’ll… I track it mostly live. It kind of, I don’t know, it feels authentic to me and I really like the workflow of it. And so long, the long answer to that, or rather, the short answer, I just like trying to find sounds with the minimal means that I have.
Brent Hanifl 06:03
When you have a new song, and maybe you can maybe reference a song now, what goes into writing that song before you even record it? What’s your process? I mean, is it just straight up like right on like the guitar, or the keys or?
Kyle Crayton 06:16
It really varies, and it depends on like what I’m trying to get out of the song. Like, for example, if I’m trying to write just like a kind of simple pop song, I’ll probably just start on the guitar, the piano. And lyrically like it really varies because one of my goals is to have strings in many different… You know, that’s not a great analogy. I just want to be able to do as many things as I possibly can, genre wise. And so one of the ways I do that is almost compartmentalizing my creative process. So, for example, if I’m trying to write kind of a serious… There was a time in my life that was pretty depressing… and if I want to write seriously about that, I’ll usually pick up a guitar and write with lyrics specifically in mind. If I’m just trying to have kind of a fun, like kind of, let’s just for example, say like a funky jam. I’ll just start laying down a bass on my A track, letting that almost be an instrument in the creation of that track. It helps because it’s a little less serious, then, it’s less personal. And you can really get down to the meat and potatoes of the music itself.
Brent Hanifl 07:34
So you kind of referenced genre there. The first time I’ve seen you play live was actually with The Lavender Project, which people can check out that show on our YouTube page. But that kind of blends all that you know, blurs the lines of what’s, you know, music with your different songs. It’s like from hip hop to, you know, almost has some like BEC qualities to it. What is that group about and how do you fit into that?
Kyle Crayton 07:59
Ooh, yeah. You know, I can only speak for myself. But I mean, it sounds cliche, but that group is like, was founded on fun and music, and the fact that music is just fun to play. And it’s incredibly fun to work cooperatively with people. And you don’t always get a good chance to do that. COVID has definitely not helped that out. I think the vision that I have for The Lavender Project is one that we can blend those lines of genre. I love the hip hop element of it. It’s incredibly freeing to explore this, I don’t know, somewhat new medium in music. But as well, I would love…I actually just wrote this little song for Lavender that I have yet to show everyone. But it has this false folk opening. It masquerades as, like the first couple verses are a folk song and then it jumps into the greater lavender project and experience. What I hope to get out of this or at least show the people in the audience. I really don’t want them to know what to expect, and especially what to expect next. I love blending genres. I know we have some atmospheric stuff in the works for our set, pushing the boundaries of what is normal and doing it in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Brent Hanifl 09:27
You know, you kind of referenced it too, early on in here, you know, related to COVID. How is this experience of maybe, and maybe you haven’t stayed indoors, but you know, it’s been a lot of alone time I think for the majority of the population. How has this affected you know you creatively?
Kyle Crayton 09:45
Well, yeah, it’s been really difficult for everyone, including myself. The first couple months, I wasn’t super effective creatively. Since I was in the food service industry, I lost both my jobs. And really the first couple months of that, the lockdown, was really just getting used to the new reality that we’re all living in. So, I wasn’t very productive. And finally, when I was learning how to kind of deal with the world, I was finally able to start doing the creative things. And, you know, I don’t have internet at my house, so there was a lot of Tetris being played, as well as crosswords. I was living under a rock pretty extensively. I think I benefited, especially creatively, once I got out of the rut, so to speak. You know, I feel like oddly enough, I’m healthier now mentally and physically than I think I’ve ever been. And I think a lot of it has to do with the solitude that was allotted. So I’m really excited about that.
Brent Hanifl 10:47
What’s coming up for you, maybe for 2021, or even 2022?
Kyle Crayton 10:51
Well, I have my eyes on a number of things. The live music scene, I really hope opens up here pretty soon. Of course, safety is a number one priority. In addition to that, I have 40 plus songs that I need to record. I have like two full length albums of music that I’ve been kind of sitting on recently. One would probably take the form of a kind of stripped down acoustic thing, kind of tapping into my roots as a folk and bluegrass musician. The other would be kind of a more produced, full arrangements, kind of indie rock thing with some absurdism sprinkled in there. And so I’m really hoping to get those done. It’s just, there’s only so much time in a day. And with things opening up, we’ll just see how far I get. In addition, Lavender, of course, we’re working pretty hard at that. We’re building our song set and so I’ve been writing a ton. So yeah, lots of things. I’m just really excited. I’m excited most of all to start playing with more people because it’s been really difficult. Like creative isolation isn’t really ever good. I’m really excited for that.
Brent Hanifl 12:01
So if people want to find out more about you, what’s the best avenue for them to follow along or check out your music?
Kyle Crayton 12:07
Well, currently, as the world stands, Instagram. I’m probably most active on Instagram. I like to do a lot of other art, too. I recently got a smartphone that has a really nice camera, so I’ve been enjoying the visual aspects of art as well. Other than that Facebook. Hopefully, like I said, some shows coming up soon. And then as far as like the music itself, my favorite place is Bandcamp. It’s a little bit better for the artists. Of course, Spotify and Apple Music. Yeah, you can find it almost anywhere. YouTube as well. I want to get some more videos out. In fact, I got some music video in the works with a friend, Jake. It’s just this old low fi instrumental that I recorded a few years ago, and I’m really excited for that. It is very low fi, it’s gone through tape decks and back to digital, back to a tape deck. So it’s all tore up a little bit, but I really like that aesthetic.
Amy Gabay 13:07
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