Featured Guest is the section of my website where I interview musicians, actors, film makers, photographers and various cool individuals from all walks of life. Tonight we had the opportunity to connect with great singer/guitarist the notorious Kyle Stratton of the popular California based group Atala. Atala recently had a massively successful performance at Roadburn and have been gathering much acclaim in underground music. I talked to respected musician/tattoo artist Kyle about his life history, music, art, music and inspiration and more in this very cool interview. Great to speak with Kyle today and enjoy our conversation on many subjects. - G


1.Kyle how are you doing today man? Good to speak with you.



KYLE: 1. I am well, here in the now. Hope you are also well.



2. Thank you man. Yes all is well here. Tell us a little about your background, you grew up in Hawaii?



KYLE: My mother is Hawaiian, although I did not grow up there. It's a lost part of myself. Being Hawaiian, I regrettably have never been exposed to their true culture.



3. What inspired you to sing and play guitar in rock groups and what was your history leading up to Atala?



KYLE: Well, I was always a loud kid forcing my way to being the center of attention. I was dressing different and getting kicked out of schools for rebelling against everything. It was poetry that first drew me, in you see. I spent a lot of time alone, reading and thinking. It was Walt Whitman or Edgar Allan Poe that first inspired me to write poetry. In my early band's, I only sang. But I seemed to have problems with other members. They always wanted me to sing like this person or that person - basically copying other people's styles, sounds and lyrics. I was also very political and this created division within the band(s). It wasn't until my early twenties that I picked up a guitar. I decided I would play guitar and only form three-piece bands.  My first attempt at this was Domiculumn. We got weird in this band and very experimental. I always felt we were on to something but it never came to fruition. Later, I formed Rise of the Willing. ROTW was intense as hell and raw. That brought me closer to where I am now. Atala is my master piece. I wanted to do something different. I feel we have achieved that.



4.Did you have any favorite albums or groups that inspired you during your early years?



KYLE: Man, I love music. There were so many. My favorite has always been Nirvana. I also loved older stuff like Black Sabbath, The Doors, Cream, Deep Purple, Vanilla Fudge and Pink Floyd.  At the same time, I was getting into hardcore punk like Black Flag, Minor Threat, DRI,  7 seconds, (early) Bad Brains. Then I found more mainstream stuff like Tool, Deftones, and Pantera,  I had listened to extreme metal too like Cannibal Corpse, and Deicide but I knew I didn't want to play anything like that. I also listened to a lot of hip hop which really turned me on to the low end - things Dr. Dre produced especially. He had a great way of packaging a raw product. Oh let's not forget the Melvins, the Melvins, the Melvins!!! Nuff said.





5.Great, all great. I know one of the biggest events in recent years was your appearance at Roadburn. Tell us about the show and how did it lead up to your appearance there?



KYLE: Ah man. I would be full of shit if I didn't admit that was my biggest show ever.  To be honest, I am not sure how it happened. All I know is Scott Harrington at 313 and Salt of the Earth Records introduced us to Walter. He is the artistic director of the festival and invited us to play. We had 7 weeks to prepare with a new bass player. We did it - we got an hour set together in 7 weeks and jumped on an airplane. We went, we slayed, and we let the rock and roll world know we are a force to be reckoned with. I know that sounds a bit cocky, but Atala is the real deal. This gave us the opportunity to prove that. It was great. Holland was great.



6.That’s fantastic. How do you feel the European music fans differ from American crowds?



KYLE: Always searching for new music, they seem to go out of their way for new bands. Not to be a dick, the music scene in the U.S has an elitist feel. It's like they want you to sound like this thing or that. People here they only know the mainstream music that gets air play, If you aren't SlipKnot, Five Finger Death Punch, or Nickelback, they are not interested. Where as, the Europeans are looking for what is next. They have their eyes opened wide searching the underground for something new and different. At least, this is what I see from my perspective.



7. You’re also a tattoo artist is that correct? How long have you been tattooing and tell us about your background in the art.



KYLE: I have been tattooing for 22 years. I do it all - as long as it is my designs or portraits. I can't get into tracing other people's designs. I spray paint. I paint with oils and watercolors. I do graphic art. I also do all the art for Atala myself. Art is another huge part of self-expression for me.



8. Of course yeah, very cool. What do you hope to accomplish in the near future with your music?



KYLE: World Domination! We are leading up to our release of "Labyrinth of Ashmedai" on Salt of the Earth Records. It is due out Friday, October 13th 2017. It looks like we are being considered as support on a tour with two band's I really look up too. A lot of this is out of my hands. I am still getting used to letting others handle things for us. It's really weird for me to  not know what's going on. But, I assure you we will come out and surprise people.



9.Outside of music talk, What life skill do you feel everyone should have?


KYLE: It's different for everyone, but what I am working on is learning to be a more compassionate person. We need less fighting, arguing, and separation.  We need to end wars soon, and learn to see ourselves as humans. Until then, we can't work towards fixing global issues that affect us all. Compassion, tolerance, understanding and acceptance is what we should all strive to learn.



10. What do you feel were some of your mistakes in your life and some of your best choices?



KYLE: Man, it's hard to say. Some of my biggest mistakes have been my best choices. No regrets.



11. Right on. What do you feel best embodies strength in a musician and freedom in music?



KYLE: I think strength in all art is being unafraid to openly express yourself. If you do speak your mind, regardless of consequence, this is the only true freedom any human has - the freedom to speak your mind. Yes, you will be punished, judged, and misunderstood. Unwavering self-expression is the only way to feel some sort of freedom in this world of rules and laws. I say break them, or you will forever be chained, telling people how free you are. Never knowing what freedom truly is. Blah, blah, blah. What do I know anyway?



12.What advice would you give to a younger artist starting out today?



KYLE: Be authentic. The world is full of fake people and they are boring.


13.What mistakes do most bands make in your experience as an artist and how would you encourage them to avoid the issues?



KYLE: They tend to copy what is popular. If you are doing something that doesn't fit in, it will catch on and grow over time. If you jump on the bandwagon, you will fade away just like every other band. They should remember that our lives are short, but our art is timeless.



14. Totally agreed and well said man. In what ways has your perspective shifted about underground music scenes since you began playing?



KYLE: I'm not sure. I have always been drawn to the underground. To be honest, I have never really liked mainstream shows. The underground and I have a long time romance. I will take a sweaty, smelly club packed with real people and real art over standing next to a soccer mom and her husband (who is in the middle of a midlife crisis) at a fucking Nickelback show with Godsmack. I just dry heaved picturing that.




15.Do you have other creative interests outside of music and your artwork?



KYLE: A whole lot. I want to produce music, make movies, write books, and pursue my activism.



16. Awesome brother.  Any last words for your fans?


KYLE: Thank you to each and every one of you. May you find some sort of escape in this life of pain. Peace and love, Kyle.


Right on man. Thanks to you Kyle for the great interview and keep us updated on your news, rock on bro. - G




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