Featured Artist of the Month
May 2021 - Kyle Rasche
About Kyle Rasche
Kyle’s connection with music came at an early age. With Detroit as his birthplace, you might guess The Temptations or Bob Seger, but no, before he could walk, this kid was singing the theme song to the Monkees TV show while playing the air guitar. He was singing along with the radio, too, imagining he was making the music. His parents paid attention and piano lessons quickly followed.
His creativity also came early. "As soon as I was proficient enough to improvise on piano or guitar, I was making up jingles and tunes to make my friends laugh. I didn’t even know that what I was doing could be considered songwriting until after high school."
Kyle spent his school years in Okemos. He listened to his dad’s James Taylor, Elton John and Dan Fogelberg records and was the kid who latched onto every musical theater production he could watch or listen to. Describing his music education and each choral director as "incredible," he feels they definitely nurtured his passion for writing and singing harmony.
He remembers his older sister bringing home Green Day’s Dookie and that it "blew my mind, and opened doors to music" that his parents' music hadn’t. His influences broadened further while he studied at Michigan State and sang in the Men’s Glee Club and Spartan Dischords there. He’d spend time in class with choral masterpieces then go home to his roommates blaring everything from hip hop to bluegrass. For him, "it all distills down to the songs. If it's a good song, I like it."
Kyle describes his musicianship as "singer-songwriter with lots of harmonies and (hopefully) thoughtful lyrics." The part of making music that’s most soul-fulfilling for him is "writing, hands down...not even close." He’s an active writer who firmly believes that "there’s a difference between a songwriter, and a person who has written songs before. I strive every day to be the former. That being said, my musician friends inspire me immeasurably."
In the past few years, much of his musical energy has gone into writing and he feels this has been the best thing that’s ever happened to his career as a performer.
"During quarantine a group of us started writing to prompts - where there’s a deadline attached to writing something pertaining to an assigned word or subject. At first, I thought that forcing the prompt would take the emotion and authenticity out of the process - but I could not have been more wrong. Not every song is a keeper, but the process of wrapping up a complete work, and the accountability that comes with the deadline have undoubtedly made me a stronger writer."
Typically, his compositions begin with spending time on the guitar or piano, improvising and trying to find a phrase or progression that hits him a certain way. "Once I know the mood of the story, I'll compose the musical roadmap to hopefully compliment it. The final lyrics are generally last, as I am very particular about how each word fits rhythmically, syllabically. A lot of my editing goes into making the phrasing consistent and singable." As his band Chain of Lakes evolved into a stage act, and grew, he "began writing for the personnel . . . crafting songs with instrumentation in mind, etc. It makes so much more sense to put my energy into making the best song I can, and then choosing elements that best serve the song."
Kyle speaks of a shift in his writing during the past few years. "I had an epiphany at FARM (Folk Alliance Regional Midwest) in 2019 that the song should be the lead singer. Making a song to fit a band is about as logical as constructing a mannequin to fit the clothes."
Despite the Covid pandemic, he is excited about his current work and looks forward to getting out and performing in public again. "You’ll never find a more generous, respectful audience than a listening room like LowellArts, and those opportunities are beginning to present themselves more and more. Getting asked to play my songs for an attentive audience, even if it’s only for one person, just means the world to me."
His current releases include Chain of Lakes (2010), Kind of Quiet (2011), Hamacide and Chain of Lakes (2012), Softer Sticks (2013), and In & In (2018). These, and Next Few Winters, just released in April of 2021, are available on Band Camp.
Next Few Winters is a three-song EP, with the tracks “Next Few Winters,” “Black Ice,” and “Where it Starts.” Kyle also has a full LP underway. Intended as more of a solo singer-songwriter effort, seven of the tunes are almost tracked, and he plans to record at least four more. The release is planned for fall, but is not hard and fast.
And that’s not all Kyle has in the works, since he just started writing songs for a musical called Chevy Town. Written by Patricia Theiler of Washington DC and collaborating with Charlie Walmsley, “it’s a Vietnam war-era story set in a Midwest industrial town.” He adds that he’s “super excited about that, as it's my dream job’” to write for musical theater. “I have a few other musicals in the early stage of brainstorming, too, and in the meantime, I'll keep honing my lullaby skills for my three beautiful girls.”
He’ll be performing in competition on May 22 and 23 as one of twenty-four finalists in the Kerrville Folk Festival 2021 Grassy Hill New Folk competition. The winners will be announced May 29.
Treat yourself to seeing Kyle in performance or, barring that, listen to his available tracks. There is a human connection that comes through in his music, an emotional connection that seems so important right now. Hearing his beautiful lyrics, not to mention his voice, will give you an even greater appreciation for this humble, kind and very talented man.