Perseverance– the word that comes to mind when describing producer, Kyle Featherstone. Tthe local music scene may recognize him as a previous member of familiar local bands, however, the world is quickly rediscovering him through a new name, now known by his moniker, Feather.
A Hudson Native and current St. Paul resident, Feather has been deeply submerged in music since grade school. After years of hard work, he and his late bandmates managed to achieve regional success as they toured the midwest in a repurposed white FedEx van. However, as Feather grew as a musician, so did his musical taste and his desire for a new direction.
A love for Top 40 and EDM had begun to replace his high school crush on pop/punk tunes. In 2016, Feather made the decision to begin his endeavors as a producer, experimenting with electronic sounds and rearranging tracks from other artist’s compositions. Fast forward two years, and here we are–one of his first publicly released remixes, “I Like Me Better” (originally by Lauv) is approaching one million plays in less than two weeks since being uploaded to Youtube.
The average EDM fan may believe Feather came out of nowhere, but his musical journey is the perfect example of the infamous quote, “It takes 10 years to become an overnight success”. Today, we pay homage to Feather’s tireless efforts on the unforgiving road to success as a musician as we interview him on the thoughts, feelings, and progress that occurred during those two years.
MIM: The Lauv remix is the first measurable success from a piece of your work since going solo. With hundreds of positive comments rolling in, explain how it feels for your work to be recognized on a large scale?
Feather: It’s definitely hard to measure success as that definition can be so subjective. In terms of numbers though, it’s definitely the most exposure a song I’ve worked on has ever had. It’s still pretty surreal especially as we grow closer to that one million plays mark. It really makes me cautious about what my next steps will be. I don’t want to rush into something just to quickly follow up now that (arguably) a million people have heard my track. There’s definitely some inherent pressure that comes from that large of a debut release.
MIM: For a while, you were isolating yourself; woodshedding– as a student to a completely new style of music with different rules (or lack thereof), spending countless hours alone gaining experience in the studio. When did you finally decide to become public with your efforts?
Feather: The public release was sort of a perfect storm of opportunity that showed up. I had been remixing tracks quietly on my own undercover to try and familiarize myself with a totally new style of production and writing, so I had a few tracks done from stems I had found online.
One of those was the Lauv track, and I sent it to his management just on a whim and they enjoyed it, giving me permission to release it. From there it just snowballed and suddenly the track was out. It still doesn’t feel real. I didn’t know it was going to happen so soon, I have so much more work to do!
MIM: You’ve spent the better part of your teen years and young adult life navigating the world of pop/punk music. When did the shift in musical taste begin to travel to electronic music?
Feather: Within the last few years, I started to dabble in the world of general pop music. Mostly top 40 stuff. Ellie Goulding was my queen and her electronic background really started to grow on me. When I visited my first music festival I saw The Chainsmokers and my world exploded. I had never experienced the dance/ festival community like that and I was immediately intrigued.
I began dabbling and researching and listening to gradual amounts of EDM, and at the same time, the genre started to fuse with modern pop which was really cool, so my worlds collided. From that point on I fell in love and really started to love the process of writing music that was inspired by those types of sounds.
MIM: Explain the pros and cons of being in a band versus being a solo artist.
Feather: Before I started my first band I was a solo acoustic artist in the Myspace days. I wanted to play in a band so badly. I was lonely, writing the songs and performing and I wanted desperately to share that experience with other people – particularly my friends. Eventually forming a band I was able to experience that, however, it came at a whole new dynamic massively defined by compromise. It’s great being in a group with other people but it doesn’t always mean that having more is better.
Bands are constantly plagued by the struggle of getting everybody on the same page. There is a constant give and take needed to share the dream with multiple people and you often need to sacrifice some of your personal ideas for the greater good of the group so that progress can happen. However, In the times where a band is operating strongest, the workload is split, the finances are split, the creative energies are shared, and everyone pushes forward at the same momentum, often leading to success.
From my experience, this perfect storm is rare – and because of that lead me back to being a solo endeavor where I knew I could rely on myself. This is still definitely hard when it comes to writing and generating creative ideas for your brand, but these days I choose to surround myself with positive passionate individuals that I know will push me to create the best thing possible and believe in my vision the very same way a great bandmate would.
MIM: Let’s talk about the potentially crushing doubt that many creatives deal with. How have you been able to combat the fear of failure, and can you share some techniques in order for others to avoid those pitfalls?
Feather: I really struggle with the fear of failure every day. Not only in music but with many things in life. The biggest thing that I’ve noticed is the more I work and work hard at whatever I’m striving for, the more empowered I feel. It’s very easy to get trapped in self-doubt when you’re sitting still and not working at something.
I’ve had those moments and they’re incredibly difficult to break out of. That’s why I’ve adopted the mentality that I am completely in control of my destiny so long as I work to make that a reality. And the more you work, the more you start to notice little small changes and progress, and that more than anything is encouraging and empowering to combat the fear.
I really believe a supportive environment is crucial to anyone that is in a solo endeavor. Not only is this important to have for your creative team, but personally having positive surroundings can really make a difference on those days where you’re struggling to believe and keep pushing forward. You also really take on the qualities of the closest people to you more than one might realize. That’s why its really important to make sure those people you hang out with are contributing a lot of compassionate positive energy to your life.
MIM: Did you attend college for stage management at UW Eau Claire? With a recently growing controversial conversation on the importance and cost of education, what mindset on public education did you come out with?
Feather: My degree was technically in “Performance Studies” – a degree I designed for myself because I was trying to figure out how to stay in school while playing in a band. Fortunately, it was easy for me, however, through that process it really made me realize that college definitely isn’t for everyone.
While I do think higher education is an institution that will drastically dwindle in our near future, I’m not exactly anti-college. I’m more an advocate for just doing what’s right for you. And only YOU know what’s best for you. If that’s going to school, great. If it’s not, great! Nobody should make you feel guilty for that.
Obviously, that’s something easier preached than implementing yourself, but it’s really the truth. Your parents and friends will always have your best interests in mind, but they still aren’t you and they don’t know what exactly is going on in your head. I knew college wasn’t right for me but I did it because I was insecure about feeling left out and felt a bit of pressure from a parental side too.
I’m still paying off thousands of dollars of debt from my experience, and honestly, there’s not that much information I can spit back out from all my classes. The things that I do know and know with a passion were all learned about the things I am truly passionate about, and most of those things lied outside of school.
MIM: You work closely in the music industry for numerous production companies at local Minnesota venues such as Xcel Center and Myth. In fact, you recently worked load in /load out for KDWB’s Star Party, which Lauv performed at. Did you have a chance to speak with him backstage?
Feather: I didn’t unfortunately. He wasn’t around too much, although his band was around for a bit and they were really nice so we got to chat casually.
MIM: What artist inspires you most?
Feather: The Chainsmokers are a really special group to me. They blend the electronic roots with modern pop, and after seeing their recent headlining tour I really respect how they try to push their own limits.
Odesza is a new found love of mind and they’ve really changed my perspective on what it means to make dance music, and lately, I’ve enjoyed bringing some of that vibey sound into my own music. I’ll also never not love Coldplay. They’re my favorite band and coming from my background I still consistently pull elements from their music that make me feel alive.
Feather: Because the culture and sounds of the electronic realm are still so new to me I definitely can’t get enough experiencing it. Everything is so new and interesting and I’ve noticed a huge amount of sonic exploration from these artists that it always gives me something different I wasn’t ready for.
At this point I’m really enjoying being a tourist in a world I’m not native to. The festival culture has really shown me nothing but positivity and friendship and that is really encouraging to bring back home and apply to your personal life.
MIM: Is there a last message you would like to leave with our readers?
Feather: At this point I am just a huge proponent of telling anyone that if there’s something they want, go out and get it. Work for it. Believe in what you want to create, and manifest that into your own life. Once you start to embrace that mentality, everything changes. Additionally, I am truly humbled by the people that support me every single day. Thank you.