Kyle Eastwood: Movies, Motown & Monterey
Eastwood is not a prolific artist in terms of record releases. Since From There To Here, he has produced just four more albums. "It depends on how and when I'm writing. After I did the first album everything changed over at Columbia, then I put together a couple of different bands, then moved to New York. By that time I was playing with a lot of different people ... working on my playing." Eastwood moved to Europe and signed to the British label, Candid Records, which has released all of his subsequent records. "I moved here before I signed to Candid. I started to work in Paris, just for a change really. My daughter started to go to school in Paris too. I also started to play in Londonthat's how this band came about. That's when I met Alan Bates and signed to his label."
The titles of Songs From The Chateau, Metropolitain (Candid, 2009) and Paris Blue (Candid, 2005) are strong indicators of his love for Europe, and France in particular. "I like it here. I really enjoy living in France, working with the musicians. There are still musicians in New York and Los Angeles that I work with, but the steady, regular band is here." The Candid albums have all been recorded in Europe too; in Paris and London and, most recently, in Bordeaux.
Songs From The Chateau was recorded at the 15th century Chateau Couronneau, a beautiful venue but not one purpose-built as a studio. This suited Eastwood, but required some preparation before the session could begin. "The Chateau belongs to a family who are friends of friends, as it were. We were looking for a different place to record, something less clinical than a recording studio." The band moved into the Chateau for a few days for the recording, with the whole process taking less than a week. "We brought in the equipment, took a day setting up, then the band came down. I was there for five days, the rest of the band came down for three days."
The speed of recording is due at least in part to the compositions having been written beforehand. "Most everything was written over the few months leading up to the session. We wrote one song while we were at the Chateau, that's all. Andrew [pianist Andrew McCormack] and I got together in Paris earlier in the year, we wrote some stuff at rehearsals and the rest on the road." Eastwood tried some of the tunes out while touring: "We don't always get the chance, but I like doing that. This time we did get the chance to play some of the stuff on stage in the spring and early summer last year, so everyone had the music fresh in their heads and in their fingers. So they didn't have to think about reading the charts so much."
The tunes also develop as they are played over a series of gigs. "Things change, dynamics change. The song takes on a different life. It's always nice to be able to work that out." The album also sounds like a band having fun: "Yes, it was. It was a beautiful place; we recorded off and on all day, a little at night. It was the end of the tour, so it was a nice 'decompression' too."
The tunes on Songs From The Chateau have an immediacy to them, a ready accessibility with strong hooks. This element is important to Eastwood: "I like writing music that has a lot of space for improvisation, but I also like through-composed pieces. And it's always good to have a strong melody."
Eastwood's work as a film composer has also garnered praise, and he's created some striking pieces of music. Indeed, one of the highlights of his live set is his duet with McCormack on the theme from Letters From Iwo Jima (2006). It's a beautifully melancholic tune, far removed from the more upbeat numbers on Songs From The Chateau. It brings to mind the question of approach: just how differently does Eastwood approach writing for movies rather than writing for a jazz combo? "Well, it's a totally different thing," he explains. "You're writing for something that's already on the screenyou're playing a supportive role. You're always having to be concerned about not treading on the toes of certain dialogue, or certain shots or edits. Sometimes you have to create a very short piece of music, five or ten seconds, then next you have a ten minute section to write. Sometimes the way the film moves is not a particularly musical way and you have to work round thatthere's a lot of time spent sitting in front of the computer, working things out.
"The beauty of jazz, as a writer, is the freedom to do what you want," Eastwood continues. Film music is a different discipline, but it is one that I enjoy. And luckily, when my father directs he's usually pretty good at getting things locked downhe knows what he wants. It's always easier to write for a finished piece."
Eastwood's burgeoning career as a composer for films begs another question: if he had stayed in film school, what would he be doing now? "I guess I'd probably be trying to be a director. That was what I set out to do, even if it didn't quite work out that way."
Most fathers and sons have a conversation about careersdid Eastwood senior ever sit down with his son and say "Are you sure you want to be a musician? Wouldn't you rather try something more reliable, like acting?" Eastwood laughs loudly before replying: "I don't know which is worse, which is less reliable, being a musician or acting. He was very supportive of me; he wants me to do what I want to do, what I'm passionate about. That's what he does, after all. So he was supportive of me, as long as that's what I wanted to do and was prepared to work hard at it. I think he'd be supportive of me no matter what I wanted to do as long as I was serious about it."
Kyle Eastwood, Songs From The Chateau (Candid Records, 2011)
Kyle Eastwood, Metropolitain (Candid Records, 2009)
Kyle Eastwood, Now (Candid Records, 2006)
Kyle Eastwood, Paris Blue (Candid Records, 2005)
Kyle Eastwood, From There To Here (OST) (Sony, 1998)