Since releasing his vibey single “Fake Words” last week, Henry Hall ’14, of Grand Cousin fame, has been on the move navigating the New York music scene and post-grad life. I chatted with Hall to discuss his solo career, the Wesleyan music scene, and his day job as a CIA agent. Check it out after the jump.
Since leaving Wesleyan and the dissolution of Grand Cousin, how has your musical style changed or progressed?
Well, I’ve fully Benjamin Button’d since graduation and am now a wise yet grumpy toddler, which is kind of strange. Other than that though, my new stuff features a lot more vocal work (harmonies, etc.) and some synth additions too. I love the Grand Cousin stuff and I’d say my new music is kind of an extension of that, moving in a direction that’s more personal to me with lyrics and instrumentation.
In your experience, what have been some of the key differences of navigating post-grad life as a musician in New York, as opposed to advancing through the music scene at Wes?
It’s a lot different playing shows and getting out there as a musician in New York City versus Wesleyan, as you can imagine. I do definitely miss just writing a new song and being able to play it immediately that weekend at a sort of informal show with not too much pressure. That’s such an awesome element of the Wes music scene. Things are always relaxed and fun. There’s a lot more planning and variables that you have to take into account here. Honestly, though, it’s just really hard to find a good Usdan brunch in New York City. That’s the main difference.
What were some of your favorite musical experiences you had at Wesleyan and how have they influenced or informed your career so far?
I played so many great shows at Wesleyan with Grand Cousin— every one was special its own way. I always loved playing shows at Earth House and at Music House (R.I.P. Music House). We had a lot of fun doing those shows. Very crowded and sweaty. One time Daniel Ramos ’16 was at one of our shows which was extremely profound. I’ll never forget that. I got a lot of experience playing live at Wesleyan and I feel like I have everyone who was involved with putting on those shows to thank for facilitating that.
What was the process of creating “Fake Words” like? You mentioned that some Wes-alums were involved. Is there a “Wesleyan Mafia” in the Brooklyn alt scene, as Village Voice once claimed?
“Fake Words” I just wrote all alone in my room, which is how I write pretty much all of my songs— that sounds extremely depressing. I put together a demo for it and then pretty soon after, we recorded the studio version and made a music video. Tons of Wesleyan kids live in New York and I definitely feel like there is a recognized post-grad Wes community here. Everyone is very supportive and down to help out with each other’s creative projects. Everyone who worked on the “Fake Words” music video was either a Wesleyan student or a Wesleyan grad. Even the little kids who star in the video are current CSS majors.
On that subject, has it been tougher to build buzz for yourself now that you aren’t a part of a small community like Wesleyan? How do you strategize to market yourself and increase your exposure?
I’m just beginning to start that strategizing now. There are so many different ways to get your music out there nowadays, what with all the morse code and pigeon carriers, so I’m so thankful I get to be a Wesleyan affiliate moving forward in the music scene here in NYC. The association with the small community of Wes definitely helps to make things feel more manageable. Thanks y’all.
Since you have released a single, “Fake Words,” what is the next move for Henry Hall?
Well, I have another music video and single coming out in the next couple of weeks, an EP coming out in mid-March, and then I’ll probably continue my assassin work with the CIA. I mean, my managerial job at a local sports bar. Stay tuned!