Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday July 23rd 2019


The Fundamental Things Apply

By Hana Frenette

Sometimes you’re laying tile and sometimes you’re painting a masterpiece. For Kyle Field, both jobs are equally important.

Field, the founder and only permanent member of the band Little Wings, is a West Coast musician and visual artist who incorporates a vaudeville variety of talents into whatever project he’s working on at the time—an album, a painting exhibition or a musical collaboration with a friend.

“I think whatever you’re doing at the moment is the most important job to be doing,” Field said. “Like with the Sistine Chapel—there was a week or two when they just tiled the place. So sometimes you’re a tile person and sometimes you’re a structural engineer and sometimes you’re a painter—but you only have to be one thing at once. That’s the ease in just giving focus to not overwhelm yourself.”

Over the last two decades, Field has released over a dozen albums under Walking and K Records and has played with Grandaddy, Lee Baggett, André Herman Dune, Peaches, Devendra Banhart,  M. Ward and Calvin Johnson. His most recent record, “Explains,” is his first release on Woodsist label.

While Field’s humorous and heartbreaking lyrics and simple arrangements have amassed loyal fans over the years, he still manages to fly just under the radar, never reaching a level of fame that makes him uncomfortable.

He’s casually recognized on the West Coast by a relaxed patron here or there who sidles over to ask, “Is your band Little Wings?” Field will smile and say yes, and the two might exchange another sentiment or two before finishing their grocery shopping or ordering at In-N-Out Burger.

Field likens his feelings about fame to something he once heard Ian MacKaye of Fugazi say—“I don’t need it to be in every kid’s lunchbox.”

“Not everyone has to hear what I’m doing—I’m like a cobbler in his shed, just whittling out these new old songs,” Field said. “It’s just like OK, I made these chairs, and someday somebody will sit in them. If I feel like it’s a good enough chair, move on, make another chair.”

While he isn’t seeking out Beyoncé-esque notoriety, he has stepped into the world of social media—thanks to Merle Haggard.

“In an interview, someone asked, ‘Now Merle, you’re on all the social media platforms?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I’m on all those.’ But then he was like, ‘Well, my son does all that. I don’t actually know anything about it.’ And I thought OK, if Merle Haggard’s son set up an Instagram account for him and Merle thought it was OK, then that’s good enough for me.” Field said, laughing.

Field uses social media primarily to notify people of upcoming shows, collaborations, new paintings and illustrations or the occasional funny picture of Tom Hanks. He explained that prior to Facebook or Instagram, he’d hang a show flyer at a club or coffee shop and would often encounter people weeks later, disappointed they’d missed the tangible notification.

“You mean people don’t walk down the streets looking at flyers like in the ‘90s anymore?” he asked with a laugh.

When Field isn’t spending time on his own laundry list of creative endeavors or surfing, he’s happy to immerse himself in the creative works of others.

“I’ll watch movies over and over again because if I like them, I know I’ll like them again,” Field said. “It feels like a creative church—I feel really good about investing my energy into other people’s works, you know?”

He mentions a new movie “Beach Bum” and manages to condemn and compliment the film in a single pass—“It’s atrocious, it’s vaudeville, it’s villainous—it’s potentially, purposely a waste of your time.”

Another recent film interest of Field’s is “Casablanca,” not so much for the movie itself but for an infamous song performed by the movie’s beloved piano player, Sam (Dooley Wilson).

“I’ve been so into ‘As Time Goes By’ recently,” Field noted. “And I’m trying to cover it. I’m learning it right now—it’s just the best.”

He recites the lyrics in a falsetto lullaby, “You must remember this/ A kiss is just a kiss/A sigh is just a sigh/The fundamental things apply, as time goes by.”

“I really do think it’s an amazing commotion—music with words that we understand and lyrics that we can sing back along to—it’s so involving, you know? And enveloping,” Field said. “To come back to a song that you’ve known for so long, I don’t know why, but it does bring you back to a romantic human place of just being alive.”

Little Wings
WHAT: Little Wings with Austin Leonard Jones, Kent Stanton and Stijl Calhoun
WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday, May 9
WHERE: chizuko, 506 W. Belmont St.
COST: Suggested donation of $10