Fiona Ross Interviews…Kyle Eastwood
It was a great pleasure to speak to the incredibly talented bassist, composer and band leader Kyle Eastwood. I have seen him play several times at London’s Ronnie Scott’s and each time I was completely drawn into his music and performances. Brought up in a showbiz family environment (Clint Eastwood is his Dad) and only minutes away from the infamous Monterey Jazz Festival, talking to him you can’t help but get a wonderful sense of the magnitude of the experiences he has had and what has brought him to where he is now.
FR: I have seen you play several times at Ronnie Scotts and you have just finished playing a few nights there. Do you enjoy playing there?
KE: Yes, it’s one of my favorite places to play. It’s a great room, the sound is always good and the audiences are always great there and it has so much history there. My father first took me there in the mid/late eighties and it always a great club and I always have a great time playing there.
FR: You grew up not far from the Monterey Jazz festival and I understand your saw many legendary performances there while you were growing up. Were there any that stood out for you or inspired you in your path?
KE: My father took me there to see the Count Basie big band – and Count Basie was still alive and playing in the band back then. I remember being really impressed by that and I think that was one of the first live concerts I had been to. It was an amazing, powerful, swinging big band.
FR: You started learning the piano then moved to the bass – what was it that influenced that?
KE: Yes, I took piano lessons when I was growing up and my father showed me a few bits when I was little. Then I learned a little guitar for a film I was working on with my father, when I was about twelve or thirteen and then I picked up the bass shortly after that.
FR: Was there a defining moment that drew you to the bass?
KE: Well actually I remember kind of being drawn to the drums after seeing the Basie band – I just always really liked drums and bass. I just picked up the bass and started teaching myself for a few years and it just seemed to come naturally to me. I had a lot of friends who were musicians at high school, but they were always usually drummers or guitar players, but there were never really any bass players – so there was always room for a bass player!
FR: Were there any bassists that especially inspired you when you were growing up?
KE: Well, I remember seeing Ray Brown – and Bunny Brunel, I remember that I had never really seen anyone play electric bass like that – this was around the late seventies. In fact, I ended up years later studying with him.
FR: So, you had a combination of being a self-taught musician and training?
KE: Yes, I studied privately with a number of people, Bunny Brunel being one of my more important teachers. Bunny kind of forced me to be a well-rounded musician and learn to read music and he was the one I initially started studying the acoustic bass with – learning Bach etudes etc.
FR: You also spent some time at college studying film – and in previous interviews I have seen, you always giggle slightly when this is mentioned.
KE: Ha, yes, I did study film for a little while but this was about the time that I was getting really interested and serious in my music. I was starting to get really immersed in playing bass.
FR: You have also written several soundtracks for films – so something obviously draws you to film….
KE: Well, I grew up around film, with my father working in the industry. He was always showing me films from the 40s and 50s that he grew up with. So, he turned me on to a lot of great films from many different era’s. Film and music were just the two things I grew up around.
FR: Your first album – ‘From There to Here’ – features a track with Joni Mitchell. Quiet an amazing feat for a debut album! How did you do that and what was it like working with Joni?
KE: Yes, it was amazing. The song ‘Trouble Man’ is a Marvin Gaye song and Joni is a huge Marvin Gaye fan. Larry Klein produced the album, and obviously knew Joni as they were married, he asked her and she said yes. It was a great experience.
FR: Your albums show a real growth and breadth – how do you come up with your ideas, what your process?
KE: Well, sometimes it’s just me on the piano, coming up with ideas or sometimes I bring ideas to the band and we work on a groove and take it from there. I also work closely with Andrew McCormack, my pianist.
FR: Your father is well known as being a jazz lover, demonstrated beautifully in his film ‘Bird’ , have you ever performed together? Would you?
KE: Well, we play a lot at home, informally, but he’s a behind the scenes type of guy, although he did play at Carnegie Hall, but no, he prefers to be behind the scenes. But we play together when I go back home.
FR: For the bassists out there reading this, what is your practice routine?
KE: Well, I try to do an hour every day but it can be difficult while your touring and gigging. But you know, gigging is the best kind of practice.
FR: I recently interviewed Michel Camilo and he said he likes to have a hot bath before his performances. Do you have any pre-gig rituals/routines?
KE: Well, it’s difficult to find any quiet time before a gig, so I just hang with my band and we relax really.
FR: You’re currently touring, do you have any plans for when you finish?
KE: Not sure yet. I have some ideas but I shall go home for a bit – it’s my 50th birthday in May and I promised my Mum I would go home!
FR: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us – enjoy your tour – and your birthday!
KE: Thanks Fiona, my pleasure!
Social Media Links: