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Electronic musician Adam Kyle is perhaps the most well-known unknown musician in D.C. After coming out as gay in 2010, Kyle quickly made friends in Washington after deciding to be open about his personal life. Yet, the artist still chose to keep one aspect of his life largely hidden from many of those closest to him – his musical abilities. So much so, that when he threw an impromptu concert in late 2013 to mark his first album, many of his friends were surprised.

It’s been a little over a year since that quietly-announced pop up concert. With the release of his new EP Walk On By, Kyle takes a further step into public view with a concert this Tuesday at the DC9 with Nyteowl and DJ Money Jungle.

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Brightest Young Things: Until a little over a year ago, I don’t think many of your personal friends in D.C. even realized that you produced and wrote music. You kept it all rather quiet until you produced your first album (The Laws of Love and Desire). I think many people who know you in Washington still may not know your musical side. Can you tell us a little bit about your personal music history?

Adam Kyle: I had a sort of musical awakening in middle school when I started playing trumpet in the school band. It was the first time I began to understand the songs I heard on the radio as the sum of a bunch of smaller layers and instruments, and as the work of a group of people.

I played trumpet through high school, and picked up guitar along the way. My music, like the rest of my life, was wrapped up in the church for about 10 years, and while that period is most certainly behind me now, it was there that I started writing my own music and performing. Over the past five years I’ve been exploring what music means to me now that I’ve left the church behind. My 2013 album “The Laws of Love and Desire” and my new EP “Walk On By” are drawn from my experience of coming out, getting divorced, leaving the church, and learning what life and love, and music, look like for me now that I’m living honestly and openly.

BYT: You mentioned your experience in the church. There are many artists who got their start singing or playing music in church. For most, it seems to be an experience that naturally flows into a secular career and one which can be continually tapped for further inspiration. But, for many gay artists, there often comes a clean break from their church roots, and that seemed to happen to you in 2010. Did you feel that you lost a home base of support at that time?

Kyle: My family is actually not especially religious. I turned to the church as a teenager, when it became clear to me that my sexuality was different than what was socially acceptable. I saw it as a problem that needed to be solved, because I’d never seen an example of a gay person I could relate to or wanted to be like. As far as I could tell, being straight was “normal,” and whatever was happening in my head and body was “queer,” so the only option I could see was to find a way to get rid of those thoughts and feelings.  

The church was the only place that offered a “solution” to this “problem” and I spent ten years (from age 16 to 26) giving it a chance to deliver on that promise. When my ex wife and I split up, I lost my entire social structure which had been wrapped up in the church. I was faced with a choice between trying to rebuild a life as a ‘straight’ Christian, or accepting myself and figuring out what my life would look like as a gay man. It became clear to me that my motivation towards Christianity was wrapped up in my own self-hatred and desire to escape my sexuality, and had never really been rooted in legitimate belief. I ended up choosing the path of authenticity, and that’s the best decision I ever made. Turns out that queer is way more interesting than normal.

However, my family has been incredibly supportive of my coming out and my music. My mom will actually be at the DC9 show.

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BYT: You seem to have found a new support structure in DC. You’ve got an adoring boyfriend and a pretty strong group of friends. What type of inspiration and support do they give you, and how is that different from the previous musical support you received in the church?

Kyle: I take a lot of inspiration from the people around me. One of my dearest friends from my time in the church came out as a trans woman last Fall, and my song “Walk On By” was written for her. She’s such a strong and loving person, and she’s shown me so much about love and friendship and family, both before and since we each came out. 

A lot of my music has also come from the wonderful, unexpected, life-changing relationship I have with my partner. He came into my life at a time when I didn’t expect to find that kind of love, and really redefined my understanding of what real love and commitment could be. He has also been an amazing supporter of my music – he is the first, and sometimes the last, person to hear each song I write, and is one of the only people I trust to tell me when something I’ve written isn’t good. He’s both supportive and critical, each in the best possible way.

Making music in and for the church was very different for me than it has been since I came out. My church community was very supportive of my music when I was part of it, but my departure from that community was very difficult. I lost a lot of dear friends in that transition, and it took me about a year to get to a point where I could even play music again, because my music had been so wrapped up in the language of Christianity and the relationships I had that were now broken. The Laws of Love and Desire was my first album after coming out, and it was for me a sort of catharsis for all the pain and angst I had from that period of my life – from losing friendships, and faith, and a marriage, and in many ways an identity that I had held onto for so long. It was also in part a sort of musical coming out – many of my friends at the time had no idea that I was a musician, because I just hadn’t shared that part of my life with anyone since I had come out. I had to find a new source of inspiration and grounding for my life and my music, and that came from taking an honest look at my own life and experience, and the people around me, and exploring the dynamics we all encounter in our lives. 

BYT: You produced the backing music for your previous live show in an electronic format, but you’ve also got a few stripped-down acoustic covers (this one of XO from Beyoncé comes to mind) that are really terrific. Any chance for some acoustic selections at your show?

Kyle: Yes! I have a lot of respect for songs and performances that maintain a strong emotional dynamic when they’re stripped down, and I’ll definitely have a few of these in my set. Some will be acoustic arrangements of my own songs, and yes, there will be some covers as well. I’ve picked a few that I think are fun to sing, but also fit in thematically with the rest of my music.

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BYT: The electronic production on your EP  and previous album is a genre of its own, but I can see how it is also a necessity when producing your own work. Do you see yourself eventually bringing in traditional instruments to back you on future efforts and shows, or do you think you will continue to evolve in a more electronic direction?

Kyle: I love the way that technology has made things possible to musicians that were never even conceivable a few years ago, and I’ll definitely continue to use electronic elements in my music. That being said, I think I’m a guitar-oriented musician at my core. I’ve always loved blues and rock music, and you definitely hear more of that in my most recent music. There’s even more of it in my live show. But I doubt I’ll ever make a record that is devoid of electronic instrumentation, simply because that seems silly to me in 2015. 

On the other hand, I do miss playing and writing music with other musicians. I had a couple of bands in college, and playing with those people gave me some truly magical experiences. There’s something that happens when musicians fall into a groove together that I just can’t re-create by myself in my apartment on my Mac. I look forward to tapping into that again, hopefully very soon. 

BYT: The song “More than Ever” on your EP is the one that particularly stands out as having a bit more wispy and dreamy sound in the California singer-songwriter tradition. I could see that taking you in a direction outside of electronic music. Do you think about dedicating future projects to specifically explore particular genres, or are you just letting the things you write fall onto whatever labels they happen to land?

Kyle: I actually have a great appreciation for many genres music, whether that’s bluegrass or deep house or the blues. Creativity can sometimes thrive when the rules go out the window, but in my experience, great things happen when you stick to a few guidelines, like a specific tempo, or instrumentation, or chord structure, and push the boundaries of what is possible within those parameters. I love the idea of making a record that is specifically committed to one of those genres, and I won’t be surprised if I do that at some point. But I don’t think I would ever limit myself to one category of music in the grand scheme of things. Maybe my next project will be a screamo bebop rock opera. You never know.

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BYT: How long did it take you to put this EP together?

Kyle: This project came together over the course of about a year, but most of it was written and produced in the past six months. 

BYT: What other things will you be doing to support this EP?

Kyle: I’m working on booking shows in other cities, and reaching out to other bloggers and publications to review and promote my music.

Adam Kyle takes the stage at DC9 this Tuesday night to showcase his new EP “Walk On By” as well as music from his previous album “The Laws of Love and Desire.”

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Adam Kyle at DC9 (1940 9th Street, NW – 9th & U Streets)
Opening Sets by DJ Money Jungle and Nyteowl
Set times: Money Jungle – 8:30pm/Nyteowl – 9:00pm/Adam Kyle – 10:00pm
THIS Tuesday, April 28 – 8:00pm
$8 at Door, No Presales
For more informatin, click here.

More from Adam Kyle:

All photos by DuHonPhotography.com

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