Interview: Kit Ebersbach

Exploring Sound with Kit Ebersbach: From Jazz Clubs to Exotica Revival to Field Recordings to Finding Purpose, Humility and Place in Contemporary Hawaii

Interview: Kit Ebersbach

Kit Ebersbach, a multifaceted musician and arranger, shares his extensive journey through Hawaii's vibrant music scene in this personal interview. Recorded in his Honolulu studio, Kit reflects on his 30-plus years at Pacific Music Productions.

I hope most of you will enjoy the interview. This is a free flowing conversation. Just let it wash over you like you are hanging out with Kit in the studio. Kit’s passion for Hawaii, music and creative curiosity is shared.

Kit began his musical journey in the jazz clubs and R&B groups of 1960s and 1970s Hawaii. His earliest recordings were with legends like Gordon Broad, Lemuria, and Babadu. In the following decade, Kit co-founded Hawaii’s first new wave band, The Squids, whose ethos of “best quality under the circumstances” resonated deeply with the youth of the time. They were passionate, tongue-in-cheek, and constantly searching for something different.

The 1980s saw Kit and his left-field collaborators Robert ÆOLUS Myers, Nelson Hiu, and Frank Orrall pushing the boundaries of music and performance art with the highly experimental group Gain Dangerous Visions. They experimented with performance art, technology, and improvisation to create truly mind-bending experiences.

In the 1990s, Kit teamed up with advertising executive Lloyd Kandell to recreate the sound of exotica with Don Tiki. This group was one of the first to reignite the world's fascination with the pseudo-Polynesian lounge music of the 1950s.

These days, Kit lends his talent to some of Hawaii’s greatest singers, including Starr Kalahiki and Teresa Bright. His approach as an arranger and accompanist is playfully calculated and carefully exacting, bringing out the best in every performance.

Kit discusses the evolution of Hawaii's music scene from pre-tourism days, its role as a Vietnam War R&R destination, and the diverse musical opportunities it provided. He reflects on the cultural humility required to thrive in Hawaii and the profound influence of Hawaiian culture and its resistance to external pressures, such as the proposed Mauna Kea telescope project.

Kit's dedication to both commercial and non-commercial music is evident in his field recordings and his experimental projects. He emphasizes authenticity and the joy of creating music for personal fulfillment rather than commercial success. His work with the Aloha Got Soul record label and ongoing exploration of sound highlight his continued passion and innovation in music.

Kit walks us through some recent songs and closes with some notes and personal reflections on the power of Hawaii, place and finding his creative inspiration in it.

Some highlights that I enjoyed:

On Finding Everything Interesting / On Being Authentic / On Finding Value
On the essence of mana / On the spirit of Hawaii

I hope most of you will enjoy the interview. This is a free flowing conversation. Just let it wash over you like you are hanging out with Kit in the studio.

Time Stamps

  • (00:00:00) Introduction - Opening Clip from Gene Artery
  • (00:04:00) Kit’s background: Growing up in New Jersey, moving to Hawaii
  • (00:06:00) Music scene in 1960s Hawaii and avoidance of the draft
  • (00:08:00) First experiences with psychedelics
  • (00:09:00) Balancing commercial and experimental music, formation of The Squids
  • (00:10:00) Involvement in the Renaissance of Hawaiian culture
  • (00:11:00) Realization of the need for humility in Hawaii
  • (00:12:00) Collaboration with Starr Kalahiki and cultural connection
  • (00:18:00) Early field recording experiences
  • (00:24:00) Collaboration with Hawaiian Airlines for in-flight music
  • (00:28:00) Thoughts on AI in music
  • (00:29:00) Advice for other musicians
  • (00:30:00) Reflection on other musicians’ talent
  • (00:31:00) Being humbled by music and life experiences
  • (00:33:00) Participatory nature of music performance
  • (00:35:00) Views on direct-to-fan relationships
  • (00:38:00) The enduring presence of Hawaiian culture
  • (00:44:00) Sharing recent compositions and projects
  • (00:47:00) Detailed discussion on recent album projects
  • (00:48:00) Description of specific projects and methodologies
  • (00:51:00) Philosophical thoughts on local identity and creation
  • (00:52:00) Insights into the spiritual aspects of living in Hawaii
  • (00:54:00) Kit's overall experience and the essence of living in Hawaii / “Beeg Mahalos”

Other Notes:

Gene Artery — opening song of the 2020 album Itchi Lee Presents the Dalai Lawnmower, Kit’s first covid-sequester musical endeavor. This, along with all subsequent album releases, was constructed entirely inside a digital-audio workstation, using software plugins and synthesizers, found internet audio material, and an archived collection of audio files which had aroused his interest in the past.

Other samples from

Kīpuka and Stopover(Closing Track) are from the album Buoy

More information @

Kit Ebersbach @ Aloha Got Soul

Kit Ebersbach Band Camp

So Kit, I really appreciate your time today and thank you for bringing me to your studio. Before we start, why don't you just [00:01:00] tell us where we are and how long you've been here.

Kit Ebersbach:
We're, we're in the back room of a recording studio, my family has owned for 30 something years now. That's where we are.

This is, it's called Pacific Music Productions and it's in Honolulu, downtown Honolulu.

And what's the history of this building?

Kit Ebersbach:
This building was the originally, Japanese language newspaper building. And I actually have a friend whose uncle used to be involved in that.

And it was taken over in the eighties. By an artist, excuse me, an architect named Norm Lacayo, who as I, I assume just kind of gutted the thing and then built it under his own specs. And he was kind of playful about it. And when, my original partner and I were looking for a place to build, build out a studio.

We originally built it on the first floor. It was just a raw space, good, good high ceilings, good for a studio. So we went ahead and, went and rented and, and went ahead and built a studio. [00:02:00] We designed our business around servicing the advertising industry and that sort of thing.

And most of them were downtown, so it was within walking distance.

And then, when did you start, you've also worked with artists, and when did you really start focusing on the creative aspects too, or what's the current status, all advertising customers, or mostly creatives?

Kit Ebersbach:

Most of our base is as, is advertising, we've been doing audiobooks now for about five years, so we're kind of, So go to people around here, at least in my mind, it feels that way. I have had a career, before as, as a pianist, which I still do. I still work as a pianist and my wife said, well, this was in the eighties, right? And at that time I was in my thirties.

She said, You know, when you start getting older, would, are you going to wind up being a piano bar pianist? Uh, no. Piano bar pianists tend to be like bartenders. [00:03:00] You know, they, they have, they have a routine, right? To develop their own, their own following. And I'm, I'm not interested in that sort of thing.

So anyway, we had the opportunity to, to,, develop something that would last,. which was the recording studio.

And then I think you grew up in the East coast, right? So tell me about that and what brought you to Hawaii and how long you've been here.

Kit Ebersbach:
I did. Yes.

I grew up in New Jersey. In North Jersey. I, was. Pretty good in high school. I got into Yale. I, I graduated Yale. I wasn't a good student, but I couldn't find anything that interested me all that much. But, but sort of, linguistics was kind of interesting. So, I thought I'd get a, a higher degree in linguistics and, my advisor said, why don't you go to University of Hawaii?

The Chairman of the Yale Linguistics Department had been over here for a year organizing the Linguistics Department here, so it was kind of up and coming. I was right after statehood, right about ten years after statehood, so I came [00:04:00] over. I said, sure. I had an NDFL grant, which, National Defense Foreign Languages grant.

But it wasn't enough here. This is an expensive place as it still is to live and so I started playing piano to supplement and you know, I mean to be totally honest This was 1967 1968 and I started taking psychedelic drugs and it caused me to Rethink what I wanted to do with my life which wasn't to be a linguist or whatever that would be, or a teacher of linguistics.

I wanted to play music.

What was the defense aspect of that grant? Was it to study foreign languages?

Kit Ebersbach: To study, yeah, study foreign languages. I had majored in Japanese. So this is just kind of a follow up for that. But, uh, I didn't even get past one semester because I wasn't really all that on fire with, with linguistics where I was constantly on [00:05:00] fire with music and, and the, soul searching that happens, when you take LSD to some people, helped me understand myself a whole lot better.

What was the scene like here in the 60s, in that late 60s?

Kit Ebersbach:
When I came over, it was, it was pre big tourism, it was mostly American tourists and, I worked in Waikiki, in an open air club. The music was everywhere because it was Vietnam war.

And this was a big, R and R, which is rest and recreation, for the, for the guys that were over in Vietnam. And there's, I mean, every, military base had three, four, five. Venues for musicians to play and it was a it was a very, very nice time here.

Leafbox: And you didn't get drafted, or you did?

Kit Ebersbach:
I, asked, I, I went to a psychiatrist and said, I don't, I don't want to take a piss in front of somebody else.

I have problems with that, so therefore I'm crazy. It was enough for [00:06:00] them. For them to go, yeah. Yeah. Okay. You're all right. Okay. That was, that solved that, you know, I didn't, I didn't really want to, I started off just playing, a band that can be, it came a little, a combination that came in from the Philippines , it was all pop music and that sort of thing, and the pop music scene was exploding as well, right.

At that time. So I'd like after the, the seminal Beatles recordings, right. And everything changed everything. So it was, so it was a good learning experience to do, interesting pop music, I have wound up, quickly, wanting to, to. play some more jazz. So I formed a little band with people that, the few people I knew, and played that for a while. I’d been playing in bands and doing, doing a little musical arrangements bit of professional playing while I was at Yale, not much, got a job as as a piano bar player in, in,, New Hampshire.

Before I came over here. So that's why I [00:07:00] thought, well, you know, if they hired me there, maybe they'll hire me here and they did. And then all of that, mind opening of what music is, what possibilities of music, was, which was happening everywhere in every aspect

I got really interested in, I got interested in, ethnic music and, modern classical, you might call music like John Cage and Morton Feldman and, and, those guys and what were they were doing, sort of like trying to figure out Picasso and then at last understanding what he was about.

Same thing with the music at that time, right? It was, it was just all different kinds of music and I wanted to explore it and I didn't know how, but I just went ahead and,, made it several false starts. But, eventually I did kind of what I wanted to do with it.

And then what was the, your first psychedelic experiences like that? Was that on acid or?

Kit Ebersbach:
Yeah. Acid, you know, and that was about it, you know, I didn't, I didn't, the other drug students didn't. The thing about acid is that it makes [00:08:00] you, it makes you be honest with yourself, right? You're kind of vulnerable and, and you see yourself for how other people see you and all of that, right?

And it was, just a maturing thing that might have happened without it, but it was an accelerant for me.

And then how was that playing, I mean, when you're playing piano at bars and hotels and you're playing kind of the tiki, Waikiki style or whatever. How's that conflicting with what you're trying to explore and more your experimental, like, how do you branch the two?

Kit Ebersbach:
Well, you don't, right? I mean, for one thing, it's all interesting. So it's not that it's more like what time and, and how much, how much you want to devote your, your time to certain things. So I, I wound up doing, things that, that made, enough money to survive. But I also wound up trying to form my own groups to explore stuff.

The main thing that got me, doing it, so that I [00:09:00] could combine the two was, doing, New Wave Punk Rock, which was good because, I used that because I needed to kind of have, an environment that was, non professional and from the ground up where, where I could just kind of, you know, write songs and have sympathetic people that were writing their songs and that we got together and we formed a good group.

And this is the Tourists ?

1979 Era Kit Ebersbach / Publicity pic circa 1979 of The Squids, the punk rock band that enabled my musical compositions to be performed in the proper spirit, Iʻm grabbing my wife, was the Squids’ bassist. Weʻre still married 45 years later.

Kit Ebersbach:
The Squids, actually. The Tourists I was in before the Squids and was an attempt at doing New Wave Music, with the professional musicians of the day. We took, but it was like, it was kind of like an oxymoron, a new wave cover band, right? When I went to try to do my own stuff, I wasn't, I wasn't at the level , of understanding, how to go about writing original music.

That paralleled and it also paralleled what they call the [00:10:00] Renaissance, right? Of Hawaiian culture, which didn't really affect me all that much, except, you know, I would play with musicians of all different kinds.

That Hawaii was, everybody who's here, all you, all you have to do is be humble, you know, and just, and then, and people accept you for what you are and then there, there's not a lot of, a lot of competition, nonsense and all of that. And, uh, I didn't, uh, involve myself in Hawaiian music, until the eighties.

I was with kind of a Hawaiian pop group called Nalu. They did Hawaiian music, but they also did contemporary music that they wanted to do. So it was, they liked, how I played keyboard. So, you know, it was not, not really essential for Hawaiian music, but,, I just tried to fit in.

And then you just said something very important. I think you said when you were in Hawaii, you should have to be humble. Do you think that's still the case today? Or was that you coming in as a foreigner? Like a haole into Hawaii? When did you start realizing that?

Kit Ebersbach:
Yeah, well, [00:11:00] I quickly got disabused of the idea that my college degree would mean a damn thing.

Because, It's like what you do here, not what you bring, right? And,, I had, some serious, consequences ,, of , my attitude, which turned out to be mainland attitude, which turned out to be over the years, white male attitude. Right. And so I'm still working on it, still working on that kind of thing of trying to, trying not to, not to let that be a, a bad thing, you know, or that, that take over my, my, my way of living.

And, more recently, I've been working with, Starr Kalahiki, who came via Tunui Tully, who was the choreographer for Magic of Polynesia. And we met there because I was doing the soundtrack for that, that show in the early 2000s. And he, was wondering who this guy, who [00:12:00] Don Tiki was right at that time, at that time, cause he liked that kind of music.

So he brought up the whole show that was Don Tiki and all, all the wonderful dancers and everything. And also several kind of feature artists. So, he, told Starr to look me up and that sort of thing. And she is, About half my age at that time and, was coming of age and being, you know, kind of, I'd say almost 40 years old, something like that, of what, how she was of her “Hawaiian-ness”, she's an unusual, very unusual person, even for a Hawaiian person, very, very unusual, very intelligent.

And, I've been, I've been kind of like her, a bit of a confidant, as she became more, connected to the culture, to that renaissance, [00:13:00] and it culminated in, in going up on the Mauna and,, not allowing the, the giant stadium sized telescope to be built. And that was, that was my, as an observer and kind of like, of the way that the, the culture worked was very, very interesting the way, the way they're human beings, but there's, there's something happening there.

And then that became, a real, education for me, in my late years of, what Hawaiian culture is, and what the essence of all of this.

So you were saying there's something there. What, what are you referring to?

Kit Ebersbach:
The way,, the culture works and, you know, I'm, and again, I'm an outsider, so I don't really know, but, but ultimately it's why people are the way they are here, and that's a very much of accepting of people as they are,, and , not, not,.

Anything else and not only that, but, but, but cherishing,, people [00:14:00] that, it's kind of a mutual thing, right? And, it's kind of hard to describe, but like Starr found her voice because the kupuna That, that those are the elders, on the big island didn't want that to be built. The reason why is I've Made up my own story about that because they never spoke it to it too much, but that it's sacred.

It's sacred It's like a church. It's sacred. So they didn't want And the, the history of it of is just as same as the history of the military over here. They come over, they do stuff. They walk, they walk away from it even if they promised that they're gonna clean up, they never do. .

And the astronomers were the same way. They built stuff up there and they had some pretty toxic things to, to stabilize their, their mirror telescope, mirrors and stuff like that. And they never cleaned up. Now they want to build something that's the size of Aloha Stadium up there [00:15:00] because, they can look a little further and into something that has no relevance to survival on earth anymore.

And anyway, she was wound up being The, this, she would sing in back of the chant and back of the, these kupuna that are elderly and didn't really have much of a voice, but they just had a determination. And,, in that act, she connected, she found herself, her, purpose. And all of this is really interesting that all of this is going on.

I think for listeners who aren't from Hawaii, if you just give me a one sentence summary of Mauna Kea .

Kit Ebersbach:
I always say, well, a couple of things. On the negative thing, comparative thing, it's like, okay, aliens come down, and they decide for whatever purpose they have, which you don't really know, or you do know, that they decide that the ideal location would be Notre Dame Cathedral.

Okay, they're going to tear down the [00:16:00] cathedral and build something else, right? That's the sacred place, right, for people. Okay. Mauna Kea to me is, must be a sacred place because I just think about how is it discovered? How did they know it? Well, you know, they always talk about the wave patterns, but I'm thinking Mauna Kea was in the winter time, would be, you would see the shine of the, the sun on the, the snow that's up there, right?

So, so far away, you'd see that sort of like Mauna Loa when it's erupting, you would see the red of the, of the volcano erupting and know that that was there from far, far away. So that. Probably was those two mountains were the ones were the beacons for saving the population that got kicked out for whatever reason from, from the South Pacific, and they, they found [00:17:00] this giant land and survived and built.

What they knew from other, being in other places, built a viable way of living that gave people, a nice reason to live, right? A nice, a nice continuing thing, working with, you know, developing systems of, food.

It was an interesting time at the Mauna Kea because people, there was a lot of Hawaiians also for it because of the, the navigational history and the pro science, especially the monarchy was very into science.

So that was an interesting, did you go, you were up there on the mountain?

Kit Ebersbach:
No, I didn't. I didn't go, I was invited, but I, I didn't really go. I've been invited to some other things where I did go and I kind of had my mind blown. But that's, you know, I don't want to go into that too much right now, but it's, yeah, I mean, I love, one of the things I loved to do when I was a kid was astronomy.

I always loved [00:18:00] astronomy. That's got me thinking about, about, okay, if we're, we, as a species, are going to, going to survive, we got to start taking care of natural places and not just constantly going over them and destroying them and in their own way.

And that would take, to me, that takes precedence over trying to figure out, The Big Bang or whatever, anything else like that, because all of that's just pure science, which is fascinating, but really it doesn't have any relevance , to anything we do here. And all it does is show us that it's impossible for us to leave.

So when you, when you're, the Mauna Kea and the political movement and starting to realize this Hawaiian spirit and the land. Is that when you started doing these field recordings, or is that when you started?

Kit Ebersbach:
No, that was, I did that a lot earlier. I just, one of the, the thing that, you know, when you, when a place like, comes from northern New Jersey, right next to New York City, you come over here and it's kind of small and kind of dinky and, you know, it's, [00:19:00] it's a little bit, it's nice, it's interesting, but it's like I don't know if I could live here, you know, that kind of thing.

“Āhuimanu loop trail on the windward side of Oʻahu. This trail has been the source of many of my nicest ambient-audio location recordings, and is drop-dead beautiful when the sun is out.”

But when I started hiking I realized how big it is and how, how hiking itself is, can, is open ended, right? You, you can, you're always finding new places and, and you know, it's, it's something that you, it's never gonna, never gonna be enclosed as like an island being, being closed, limited information.

So when, DATs that's a digital audio tapes, portable, that's started being, made available. , I would just go out with the, with the DATs and record just because I liked the sound. At that time I was doing yoga and stuff like that, I would play the, play the things, come back and play the things, while I'm doing yoga and all that sort of thing.

So that lasted, that was from also just before 2000 and I just built up a, a whole bunch of stuff and Roger got [00:20:00] interested in it and said, let's, let's Make it available.

And, and who's Roger? ?

Kit Ebersbach:
Uh, Roger Bong from Aloha Got Soul. we figured we could, he knew how much stuff I had that, that I could probably do 12, LPs and, and, you know, not duplicate anything.

How did you go about editing those? Or what's your process for field recording? I mean, you just find a stream or walk me through.

Kit Ebersbach:
It's all passive. I just, yeah, I bring, this is the way, the way things are now. It's very compact, but back in those days it was a little bit more burdensome, but just get somewhere.

And it sounds interesting. Set up my recorder. walk away from it because I don't want to, because I'm, been hiking, so I'm going to draw flies and stuff like that. Just stay away from it and try to record as much as I could that had no human interference. So if a plane went over, I , I would think, well, I want to get 10 minutes worth of,, this forest or whatever.

And if a plane went over, okay, well there [00:21:00] goes five minutes, I've got to make it 15 minutes now, that sort of thing. Come back here, go to a workstation, edit, things like, if there's, if I could do it by EQing, by equalization, like losing rumble, that sort of thing, I would do that.

And just make it nice and clean. So that it's, it's something that you could do yoga to without being distraught, anything distracting happening.

Are you trying to take, what is the purpose of these recordings? Are you trying to just document a specific time? Are you trying to take people somewhere? Is there a composing aspect or how do you view the actual field?

Kit Ebersbach: That's just that, that, that it's so nice. , when I first came over here, I dated a girl, my senior year, and, that didn't last too long, but, she was from here. And so when I came over, I came over just entirely on my own, just nothing, just in. Here I am. And I got, I very quickly got [00:22:00] lonely.

And so I called up, Her dad and said, Hi, I dated your, your daughter, uh, last year and I just want to talk to somebody. So he invited me up, up to their house, right. And everything else I got fed me, fed me a nice meal, gave me bananas and you know, that sort of thing. And he said, uh, he was at the top of, Ke-eaumoku Street, and I was talking about the weather, you know, and how it's different, and he said, yeah, well, it's not only that, but it's different with you go, go to the next valley over, it's going to be different than, than what it, what it is here.

And, that, that was interesting that, you can go anywhere and it's going to sound a little different, even if the birds are the same, it's still going to sound different.

How has that affected your other music, like making these recordings?

Kit Ebersbach:
It's, well actually now, what I'm more interested in is,, I just figure it's time to, [00:23:00] for me to, to find something, I can explore , without having to feel like it's, it's necessary to, to perform or anything.

And so, this was COVID, right? I was here with my computer and I had those field recordings and I had, you know, a lot of experience with synthesizers and whatnot, plug ins started, started becoming very interesting. On a practical level, for, for Hawaiian Air, we, we did this, an in flight program called Soothing Sounds, and so I had to find,, content for that, and there wasn't, I didn't have all that much at that time, so I, I just set, made some on my own and threw it on.

Leafbox: So walk me back a step. Did you, was that something you approached Hawaiian Airlines with, or how did that relationship?

Kit Ebersbach:
That was because, One of the guys that was doing, doing video for Hawaiian Air, recommended us to do their audio programming, because what they had done was they had tried to They decided to make themselves over, and this is late, late 90s, [00:24:00] into like a boutique airline with a Hawaiian feeling so that the meals were different and that they didn't just accept somebody's, way that the music is, right?

But they, they wanted Hawaiian music in and stuff like that, so. It was a wonderful thing to do, and I love doing it, so. But anyway, that's, the thing is, with nature, I mean, you can go somewhere and just listen. You sit there and just listen, right, while you're waiting away from your mic. You're just listening for certain things, but you're also just listening for the pleasure of listening to it.

Stuff I'm doing now, is like, okay. There's two factors here that, I'm trying to have, have fun with just playing around with. One is noise and one is non noise. It's like, music, but with notes and stuff like that. Rhythms. And, to try to make, make the two of them work together and still be, be listenable.[00:25:00]

I'm not trying to shock anybody or try to, you know, I just, I just want to listen to it the way I listened to, nature, that kind of thing. And that's what I'm doing now. It's a long process, involving close listening and, and going, well, this is not what I want. It's just, you know, there's still a lot of action.

Even though when you listen to it, it sounds like, well, it's just a couple of sounds. But that's kind of the way it is in nature, right? There's the wind and there's the birds and, you know, maybe rain, a few things.

Do you have a meditative practice? Yeah. A lot of the songs have kind of like the Dalai Lama, or I believe there's kind of like a Buddhist stream through it.

Kit Ebersbach:
Not trying to, consciously do that. I did do, one thing for, to help people sleep. Then these are like long compositions, long, long, non really evolving, just kind of slightly changing compositions that, that, you know, if somebody wants to sleep to music, they could do [00:26:00] it.

And how has been the feedback from people, I mean, for the field recordings for your other music?

Kit Ebersbach:
My weird, musician friends like it, that's, that's, yeah, some of them, but, you know, some of them are like, you know, I gave it to one of my, my favorite guys that are in the advertising industry and he quoted something that at that time I was doing stuff with spoken word and stuff like that. , One of the things I had was a quote from a movie that said, So that's what you're up to.

So that's what he said. So that's what you're up to. That was his entire critique of the thing, so.

So it seems like most of your projects are just self motivated then in terms of like, where do you find that creative energy from? Just from yourself?

Kit Ebersbach:
There's, I have a friend who's kind of doing the same thing in San Francisco and , He, he finds stuff and I find stuff and, you know, and try to, try to help each other out.

[00:27:00] It's just kind of the way, what things are on, you can grab from the internet or what you can, how you can manipulate. So it's all entirely in, you know, digital, I mean, it's, it's like hardly, I hardly ever play anything. I can get on the piano and play a riff or something like that. But I've, I have a lot of songs and I've song starting stuff that, you know, I, I go back to maybe one out of every 20 has something that I feel I can develop more.

And most of those other ones are, sound like pop tunes, kind of demented pop tunes, I guess.

And then what's your relationship, you seem pretty pro digital, but do you have any concerns or thoughts on AI and those kind of things, those tools?

Kit Ebersbach:
I don't, I, you know, they, they are another tool. They [00:28:00] you know on the level of what we do professionally here, they can be helpful.

They're not creative. I don't think they'll ever be creative. To the point where, where they, they can, they can, kind of combine a couple of different things and mash things together, but in terms of doing something completely different,, it's, it's not going to affect me. I don't think they're going to be able to do what I do.

, because it, it, it involves thinking,, and considering not, not matching together and not, not having a few words that, that kind of give you a starter. The starting is more diffused and it's going to take a long time for them to do that.

Most of your music is very, I would say is non commercial.

So having the studio is kind of giving you some of that freedom and flexibility. What do you recommend for other artists or kind of, what do other musicians need to do? I mean, you had your experience playing, I guess, bar piano as well, kind of that [00:29:00] grind and, but what do you recommend other pianists or other artists do?

Kit Ebersbach:
Whatever, whatever satisfies them. If it's pop music, it's fine. If it's, if it's, if it's this, if it's that, it doesn't matter. It's a, it's, it's a, we have, a lot of respect for, talent and the talent can be, I mean, for instance, this is just, you know, come growing up. I grew up in the era of Chubby Checker. You know that, exploitative pop music, simple pop music. And,, so I had kind of an attitude about them. You know, it's like, you know, well, you know, I like Bill Evans, and Bill Evans is, you know, fantastic piano player that, that changed piano playing and in jazz. And, but he was definitely, when he was starting out, I was a teenager. But I went through that whole thing, not just listening to Bill Evans, but listening to gamelan and so on and so forth. it was like an [00:30:00] explosion in my mind of what music was. So I was, but I was still working and I got hired by Uncle Tom Moffitt for one of his, rock and roll oldies concerts where they brought in some of these older groups.

And I think it was Martha and the Vandellas or some group like that, that I played for. And it struck me that these guys are, they found something that worked, right? They're musicians of this much talent and they use about this much of the talent, but this much of the talent pays their mortgages and they're living lives that I have no idea what their childhood was like, or what the circumstances were, but they found something that gave them a good life.

And there, and, but their talent, when you're, when you're behind it and you're, and you're rehearsing with them, the talent, you can see how great the talent is. And, and I was thinking, Oh yeah. [00:31:00] Okay. Well, I was wrong again, in my attitude, my, my naivety, right. So, that's how I just feel like, that's, they're doing what they like.

They're enjoying them. They're enjoying their lives. And what's wrong with that?

Yeah. It seems like you're always being humbled either by their people or by place or by songs or drugs or experience in life.

Kit Ebersbach:
Yeah. Yeah. It's all just, just, music is a great, uh, thing about music is like, you really do. , your heart is open because, you're just putting it out there in that language.

And there's no, cause it's like you're naked in a way, right? And , and it's, it's humbling itself just to do that.

How do you, how do you build up that courage then to be naked in front of everyone?

Kit Ebersbach:
Well, you can develop attitudes, you know, like I had to have an attitude of like, well, I'm up here and they're there, right.

Or, uh, you know, or like [00:32:00] Devo said, teachers and scholars, I guess, all dance the poop. They talk about it, but they don't know how it is. And that's the whole thing. They don't know how it is. And, and when you're playing with other people and, and. Those there's those moments that it just transcends everybody. You're building, it’s like building a sound sculpture and everybody's just there and it's there's a mana that you feel that you don't feel in yourself that you need other people for that to happen so that is I'm so lucky that I can be alive and experience that Unexpected experience. And, uh, Yeah, that's, that's what music is, right?

The, the, the performance aspect of it. And I'm up here with these wonderful people. And [00:33:00] the, the people that are judging me are down there. If they are judging me at all. Most of them aren't judging, they're just enjoying it, right?

Yeah, but they're also participating in that sound sculpture too. And that magic.

Kit Ebersbach:
A little bit. Yeah, there's, there's always that. There's, there's always that, that tension that happens because, people are listening. Yeah. And, and then, so you don't want to fuck up, right. You don't want to fuck up. So, you know, that's a, that's a big motivator for me, at least.

So, Kit, what else are you working on right now?

What, what are you working on in the future? What are you aiming for?

Kit Ebersbach:
I'm just, carrying on there's, there's kind of the combination of, fusion or whatever of noise and, more traditional, ways of playing music or doing, doing music.

And , I'm enjoying that very, very much. And so I just keep pumping out. Stuff that Roger considers whether he is gonna put on his Aloha Got Soul, or not , but, but thing about it's all Bandcamp, right? Bandcamp you don't, [00:34:00] they're there's, you can just do it whatever you want. Just put any music on you want.

And you know it's out there if anybody wants to listen to it.

How do you think the record relationship, the middle manager, I mean now people are really going direct to their fans. If you're publishing on Bandcamp, you're really kind of. Going to the listener. There's not really a middleman. I mean, how do you feel that pro negative, you know, in terms of the past, it was more of an editor, like the manager who would kind of dictate what gets that relationship. . What do you prefer?

Kit Ebersbach:
Well, I prefer not to have those people and I prefer, to live, at that level of music, of the music that, that I'm just doing just for the pure pleasure of trying to do something and not thinking about who's going to buy it or anything else like that.

That's fun to do, right? So it's, it's, it's just what I want. And it's not, since it's not,, being watered down by somebody else that has another [00:35:00] idea, particularly, then, I like it that way, but I think it's much better, but you, you don't, you know, you're not going to get, get rich doing that, but you're not going to get rich the other way either.

Unless somebody really knows what they're doing on that side and knows how to get you connected and so on and so forth. And that usually means. , if you're not talented enough to like, to, to have a, to have a strong jazz statement, it usually means that somebody's going to be telling you, well, why don't you just do this?

And I really, I really don't want to do that. I mean, it's fun to a certain point, but, I don't really want to, not, not now. I don't want to do that. Yeah.

And how do you think people, other artists can maintain that? It's kind of like a driver of authenticity. And I mean, it seems like you really focus on just producing the things you want to produce. And what's your advice for other musicians and how to keep that authentic?

Kit Ebersbach:
I don't really have any advice for other people.
Just got to live their own lives, right? But, [00:36:00] but that music itself is, is, its own language and I'm sure if you're enjoying it and/or you're interested in it and whatever aspect of it is and then and you're not worried particularly about about money then you know maybe it's good to pursue. If you're interested in making money with music then there's avenues for that too so kind of just figure out what you want or let life tell you what what what would be best for you and as long as you're enjoying overall enjoying yourself i think that would be it

And then Kit, how can people find you or how can they follow up with your work and what's the best way Through Aloha Soul or,

Kit Ebersbach:
through, through Aloha Got Soul. Yeah. , and that's, on Bandcamp as a, as a label.

Maybe last question is, when the field recordings, there's a little bit of a creation and a curation, how do you differentiate the two?

I mean, making music, curating music, and then kind of producing.

Kit Ebersbach:
Well, it's curate curation is, has, [00:37:00] there's a taste factor and is also like for, For Hawaiian Air, there's themes on, on the, the programs so that people, if they want to listen to something mellow, they can do soothing sounds, we all listen, you know, Jawaiian, then we, we, I just do Jawaiian as best I can, right, and, and let that be the way, the way it is, right, don't do something else that's not Jawaiian on the Jawaiian station.

Okay, maybe my last question is talking about taste, how do people, how do you find their taste? How do you build that skill, you know?

Kit Ebersbach:
I mean, if they're at, at the level where they try to build a skill for that, right? If they, it's not really a level, but just a, if they feel like it's worth, worth their while on Earth to, to go to the art museum and take a look at pictures that take a look at installations, that challenged them there.

Why? It's to, why is this here? You know, that kind of thing. You assume somebody really believed that it belonged there. [00:38:00] And so you're looking at it, and you're trying to figure out what it is that I'm looking at, and why is it here? That kind of thing, right? And sometimes those questions are never answered, but it's like, it leads you down a little bit more of a, spiritual path.

Or something that's, that, that, fulfills your life a little bit better. It can be a novel, it can be, you know, anything. Anything like that.

And any other thoughts on Hawaii or just your place in it or, you know, how it is today?

Kit Ebersbach:
Yeah. Hawaii's like, uh, changed a lot since I've been here. This is 60 years here almost, but, but the, the overall feeling that the Hawaiian, the ethnic Hawaiian culture, is the ground state here and and that's not going to go away it's not going to be killed like Indian reservations or anything else like that it's it's [00:39:00] pervasive it enables you to to live here and uh have a very very pleasant relationship with people here and and also meet kinds of people who, who's, um, who's, upbringing is, is, is really diverse, probably more than any other place in America.

It's not I think that that makes it so interesting to live here. So, so wonderful to live here that still it's still there. It's, it's buried a little bit under high rises and people coming into to. to monetize the place, but, or whatever, but, it's still there and it's not going to go away. I did, I had one thing I did do one time, which to me is the essence of it all, is I went to, Starr took me to, Pohakuloa area on the Big Island because, Chris [00:40:00] Kuhunahuna was doing an installation.

He's a filmmaker. He's doing an installation that was a 360 degree of the lava fields. You're familiar with Pohakuloa? . Well, it's a giant lava field sitting between the two big mountains.

Okay, yeah, I think I know.

Kit Ebersbach:
Yeah, and you go through it on Saddle Road, but that's huge. So, and this is the thing that they showed me.

It was, right in the center of the physical center of Hawaii Island. And we went there, but, while that was a whole, that's a whole different story, what I was doing was basically recording the wind and the sounds from Chris there was a little ceremony there were people there at the, at the, the parking lot where we were going to go from, from which we were going to go and, There's something else going on.

There's a circle of Hawaiians. And I, they included me in it, even though I had [00:41:00] no idea of anything. The lady that was running, who was running it, I was familiar with as a DJ, Hawaiian DJ, from way back when. She remembered me. She, she stood next to me. We held hands, all that. And they're talking about the military, which has a big presence there right now, that wanted to build a very, very large military city on that island. And they're thinking, they're thinking this is just wasteland, right? It's just, it's just lava land, just wasteland. Nobody lives here. Well, we'll just build a nice big thing where the, you know, supermarkets, everybody lives there. They're all self contained and everything.

And this lady said, it's not going to happen. And. This is one lady and she's not going to happen. We're not going to let it happen. And I believed her. I [00:42:00] mean, just, just by the way she was. And that's what I mean. It's like the Hawaiian culture is not going to, not going to go away. So it's something that's, that is essential to hear.

And if you don't feel the, the waves or the ripples, when you first come over, it's there, but it's. You're not going to recognize it as such, but the ripples are there and the way people treat you here are there and through all of whatever else, all of the noise of that, you can feel that thing. If you don't, you don't want to live here.

People don't recognize it and they leave. So that's good too. So but the people that don't do recognize it that are like, you know, like me just came over here. They stay and the longer they stay, the more they love it. And I think that's, that's, that's what's so [00:43:00] beautiful about living here beyond the beautiful people, beyond the beautiful scenery, beyond, yeah, beyond all, all of that is just the spirit of living here.

And I just consider myself very blessed or very, very lucky, very fortunate to have been kind of cast up here. , and, and that I managed to last as long doing what I want and being honest to myself.

Great. I think we'll end on that point. That's a great highlight. Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.

Kit Ebersbach:
Okay. Well, let me play you a couple of things. Do you, are you familiar with Don Tiki ? When I did DonTiki, I thought, well, okay.

This is as popular music as I can get. It's brilliant. I love doing it. You know, but eventually I ran out of ideas.

Don Tiki Track - 04 Maidenhair Fern


So this is something, um, Let me play you,

A little something that's, that's,, I'm gonna have a new album pretty soon.

This more in line [00:48:00] with the, Your recent projects like Untilities,

Kit Ebersbach:
Untilities. Was kind of my first, you know, deep dive into, into the world of what do you do? What do you want to talk about?

You know, all that kind of stuff. What resources do I have to make it happen and not really having a feeling for it. Now I'm kind of, I'm getting to, here's, here's, this is what I mean. Here's, um, just to play a little bit of these things so you can get an idea, but this is was taken based on a field recording by somebody in Japan.

That found some kind of, like, fence that was, was making noise in the wind.


The noise.

Kit Ebersbach:
The other thing is, is [00:49:00] going and listening to a recording, a natural recording. And so, I'm feeling like, if you approach it that way, with not expecting a development, a theme and development climax, anything thatʻs like that, and just allow it to be, then, then you can enjoy it. You know, stuff that you can drive around, you know, and establish. So that's, That's what that, there's one like that.

I see what you mean now, but you have the base recording, the feel, and then you're trying to merge it with what you're creating, kind of get those two waves in sync.

Kit Ebersbach:


Kit Ebersbach:

Yeah. So this started, um, last one, and this one is out. I'm not sure if Roger put it out yet, but, let's see if I can find it.

So this one was, I, hiked, there's a there's a trail coincidentally from Saddle Road that goes into the lava land, but it's, this is an older lava, so there's an overlay of, of, [00:50:00] uh, growth on it. And it was a remnant of an old cattle droving trail from Manua Kea around the other side of Hawaii Island to a place near, Ka’u area.

And it took the, this was like the early 19th century, it took these guys like three months to, to drive all these cattle across the way, ship them away, ship them away. So, it's, it goes through what's called kīpuka, which are these, these areas of where the lava didn't hit, but went around and made a little island of non-lava.


And it kept going through like seven or six or seven of them. Each one's a little bit different. So it's like a very, very unique environment.

This one,


This is a field recording, or this is like a composition?

Kit Ebersbach:
This is a composition based on, I recorded the birds there and that's what this [00:51:00] is.

But what happens is I made them all, everything just done about two minutes in. It's all a, a certain, um, uh, modality like. A-dorian or something, something like that, or like a certain scale, right? Everything is, as much as I can make it into a scale, including the birds singing.

You can hear the, the birds are singing in tune to a, to a, they're all singing, uh, into a certain scale. So that's, when that was able, I was able to do that, that's when. The thing started to gel.

What song is that? What is the title of that piece?

Kit Ebersbach: [00:52:00] It's called kīpuka. It's on the album Buoy.

And those are all in piano synthesizer?

Kit Ebersbach:
The rest of it is mostly just, found music. Some of it is synthesized. Some of it isn't. So if I need something to, I make it something missing or something, I feel like there needs to be something else. Sometimes I'll use the synthesizer or if I want something, I'll glue it together, that kind of thing.

So that whole album Buoy starts with mostly, mostly, tonal. And it gets deeper and deeper into noise and then comes out with this. And at the end, it's a, it's a, uh, um, I, I did a, uh, a free jazz kind of thing. Well, it's not really jazz, but it's like a free music kind of thing with a couple of my friends.

This [00:53:00] is, we just recorded in the air. I used some wind that was knocking out the, the, uh, thing to give, to give it some grit. So this is myself on piano. Um, a lady named, uh, Elena Botts was visiting. She is a poet, um, singing. And, uh, Gustavo D'Amico and Rafael Amaral, who are at the UH music department.

Stopover from the album Buoy


Brazilian guys that are very open, open ended musicians. And this was just, just start playing. Whatever happened.

This is where you talk about the sound structure.

Kit Ebersbach:
A little bit of decay, just to, to help it out. It's her singing, I'd never heard her sing before.

Is that her in there?

Kit Ebersbach:
That's her, yeah. It was like a total surprise. And she was right there with everything, right? And really reacting to everybody.

The wind is interesting, how it just kind of [00:54:00] keeps you, rooting you.

Kit Ebersbach:
The wind, Mananā Trail, which is the, uh, the end of Komo Mai Drive, Pacific Palisades.

And is she singing in English or what?

Kit Ebersbach:
It’s a very popular trail, but there's, there's a side trail that I, that I found out about. And so I, I brought my stuff, you know, to try to stay away from, from the hikers.

But it was so windy that it was, a lot of it was just, I couldn't use, but I could use it for this, right? Because it just felt good to have it underneath.[00:55:00]

Vocalizations. The guys are listening and every so often they're going, Okay, okay, okay. They're good guys very talented musicians. They, Gustavo particularly is, is a great jazz soloist. Plays tenor sax.

There's a, you're hearing the guitar and then he's Some notes here and there.

So this is kind of fun too, that kind of thing. In the 80s I did a lot of,, what would be called like, uh, performance art or whatever, with like minded people, not necessarily musicians, but dancers, and [00:56:00] other people. And this is kind of leftover from, from, from that kind of approach to to playing music.

No, I think it's great. I think, I, I love hearing you just walk through, walk us through some of the process and the history of making the song.

Yeah. Any other, one last song you want to share or anything? Any other piece maybe that's, you're developing or currently working on?

Kit Ebersbach:
Well, this, this is one that's about to. be foisted upon the public. This was, I'm trying to hear interference, you know, like, waves, waves that cancel each other out on occasion and that sort of thing. So I started with one as pure a tone as I could. That didn't work. So I got something that was a little bit rougher, but I played it and then, and then I used,, Fibonacci numbers to choose what, where the next, next notes were [00:57:00] going to be.

So they started off really close and I, I alternated top and bottom. I got to be like, you know, And then I ran out of ability to do it because it was, you know, I can't do 0. 1 Hertz and expect anybody to hear it and so on and so forth. So, so this is the start of that.

This is more in line with the way, the way, uh, uh, academic, uh, musicians, um, were experimenting in the, in the 60s, early 70s. See, you can hear the things waving a little bit. These are just mono signals. So they're in a stereo field because they're interacting with each other. Adding a third one makes a little bit of a different [00:58:00] interference pattern.

So that thread just gets more knotty and knotty. The more you put in, eventually t's going to spread out where you're going to hear another note, right? But it's actually, this is maybe five notes just close together. It's called a chorus effect. It's like, why, why choirs sound the way they do? And, you know, that kind of thing.

It just goes on for about seven and a half minutes. [00:59:00]

You can hear it start, you know, breaking apart. So this is more experimental kind of noise making.

Kit Ebersbach:
Yeah, I, I used to go down to the record store in Ala Moana and just buy the weirdest records that they had, which were always, and, and just try to make sense of them. And, uh, one of them that was really good was like a, kind of an overview of things that were happening in academia, in the music departments in that era, late 60s.

There it goes, right, like this. And you can start hearing it, yeah.

Kit Ebersbach:
But I'll just send it to you, you can, you can listen to it if you want.

How do you contextualize this music in terms of what, I mean, you've been here 60 years, do you think you're local yet, or? Like, is this Hawaii?

Kit Ebersbach:
I don't, I don't, [01:00:00] I, uh, I don't even think that way anymore. It's just, you know, I'm living here.

This is what I'm making of it. There's people I love here, people love me. People don't like me here. I don't like certain people. So it's all like, you know, here I am. I don't, I went back a couple of times and I couldn't wait to get back. Actually, this was in the seventies. And when I was thinking it was, Oh man, such as kind of tiny place, maybe I'd better get a degree in music or something, you know, you know, do something, you know, but get, get back to where, where there's more action This is kind of a spiritual end of things.

Is, no matter what I did, nothing worked. And, what I did do worked to give me just enough money to get back here. And, when I got back here, this was for a second time, when I got back here a second time, I'm going, I'm not leaving, I'm not leaving, I'm so lucky I got back, [01:01:00] and when I got back, I was welcomed by people, you know, oh yeah, okay, cool, you know, how you doing, you know, here, smoke it, and all that kind of thing, and it was just, I don't know, it just got better and better, you know, just, just, just, and the most recent thing - in the past, like, decade or so is, is seeing the inner workings of of Hawaiian culture being, being there.

Yeah. So. This is so good. This place is so good.

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