“Kainalu” is Hawaiian lingo for “ocean wave”. The band, Kainalu, springs from the mind of Trent Pall who enjoyed the sand and surf of Hawaii when he spent summers there with his grandparents. He now resides in the much chillier, palm-tree-less land of Wisconsin. Despite the vast temperature and style differential, Pall and his free flowing band’s music definitely embody soothing Hawaiian ambiance.
The multi-instrumentalist seamlessly blends aspects of psychedelia and non-intrusive funk into his recording project, having all the time in the world to get the sounds down since he currently lives in a studio he’s built over the past decade where he writes, records, and produces all of the music. Kainalu’s music draws from classic psych rock, dance elements, and non-Buffet tropical environments to form a genre dubbed “Hawaii-fi” in celebration of Pall’s Hawaiian roots.
Indeed, Pall is one of the few masters of the smooth synth groove, and where most music creators tend toward coldness when laying down those Korg keys, he brings a “last days of summer” shimmer that glows much more sincere than your average yacht rock pretender.
The eight tracks on Lotus Gate are early ’80s misplaced rhythmic phantasmal righteousness, with songs like “Kamikaze Mushroom Palace” rendering categorization attempts utterly useless. “Folds like Origami” would border on silly if it weren’t so cinematic, floating on some of the airiest keys this side of…Air (the French duo, not the stuff we breath). It’s rare to find electro-based music with such a genuinely earthy feel, especially on richly produced jam “Finding Peace of Mind” which works in guitar stabs intertwined with joyful synth stabs and brittle percussion to create
Feel I touch u I’m the breeze
Your senses intertwine
Fold to the silence in your brain
Thoughts you get to gain
Still finding peace of minnnnddddddd.
Fortunately for us, this mixing and producing master, Mr. Trent pall himself, answered some of our questions.
Tell Me about your musical journey.
I spend a lot of time on lyrics, most of my inspiration comes from books on eastern philosophy like taoism and buddhism. I like to write words that calm the mind. I tend to be an over thinker so the poetry I try to write is really self medication. Plus, I enjoy the juxtaposition of high energy funk music with meditative lyricism. I think it fits together oddly well. In terms of sound, I am a studio junkie so most of my time is spent in the studio playing with tape and old synthesizers. I listened to a lot of earth wind and fire growing up so groove music has always spoke to me. My parents like to tell me the story of when I was in the womb they would put headphones on my mother’s stomach and play Mozart, Vivaldi, and Earth Wind & Fire. Funny because I went to classical music school and write groove music now. Thanks mom and dad.
How did living in Hawaii influence your musical style?
I’m not actually living in Hawaii right now but I spent most summers of my life there with my grandparents. I moved around a lot growing up so Hawaii has oddly been the only stable “home” I’ve had through my entire life. There’s a certain peacefulness and nostalgia involved with Hawaii that I try to communicate through the music. If you feel the sun on your face while listening, I did my job. Hawaii is a really unique place culturally and I get some inspiration from that. It’s really the mixing pot between the eastern and western worlds. Hawaiian culture, to me, is an amalgamation of Japanese and American traditions. I’m bi-racial myself and so I’ve always assimilated to that identity. Here in the mainland, there really isn’t a bi-racial culture that gets ascribed to you, I’ve only ever been seen as Asian by my peers but in Hawaii, half American half Hawaiian people are really common, there’s even a term for it: “Hapa.” I think my music really draws from this idea by combining elements of Japanese-Hawaiian and Western psychedelia imagery/sound/etc.
What are your other interests?
I am a nerdy scientist at my core, I’m really into reading about infectious disease research.
What is your favorite instrument to play?
Bass guitar is easily my favorite instrument. I began music by playing classical piano but shortly after picked up a bass. I never played bass in any of my childhood punk bands sadly, I remember thinking that bass players never got any love… how very vein and wrong I was haha. I had this old beat up fender p bass that I scored at a garage sale when I was a kid… I used that bass for so long. Sadly, the last song I used it on was finding peace of mind because it was so warped it started looking like a bow. I’m pretty sure you could fire an arrow from it now haha. I think the ability of music to move people really comes completely from the bass, especially the tone of it. I easily spend the most time working on bass lines and tone when I’m composing and mixing.
Tell me something about you, unrelated to music.
I am a geneticist and have published a couple of papers in scientific journals hahah. It’s a really odd combination
It isn’t that odd, Trent. Thanks for taking our questions and best of luck with everything.