“So what do you want to do when you grow up, Kyle?”
Young boy Kyle thinks and replies,
"I want to save the tigers!"
What is a belief? Something we just accept as truth? A thought we think over and over that was somehow planted or jolted in to our brain's for whatever reason?
Do you know what your current beliefs are around the subject of eating for health and joy? Do you know how your own beliefs got there? How are your current beliefs on food serving you? (no pun intended!) If it's all working out for you then GREAT! If you are unsure or unsatisfied with you own current beliefs, never worry! There is so much great info and so many great options available to us right now. I believe with my whole heart that we each deserve to FEEL great inside and out!
With our eyes are closed, we might stick with doing things the old way, standing firmly (even to the point of rage) in support of an old way - whether it's good for us or not. And we know that everyone’s individual opinion is correct. The question again: How is it serving us?
I’m really excited about this interview with musician Kyle Vincent! He’ll be taking us through the process from when he was a youngster living in a meat eating environment, to where he is now.
I hope you enjoy this co-created interview!
Elsie: Good Day, Kyle!!! So what tour are you packing for today?
Kyle: I'm perpetually packing. Sometimes I pack even when I have nothing planned, just in case. I have a suitcase always sitting open on my living room floor. I just walk by and toss things into it. I think I'm off to Asia for a long trip.
Elsie: Well, thank you so much for taking the time out for me to get to chat with you! So I myself, have been a vegetarian for a while now...well, I've been a vegetarian off and on for most of my life. I still struggle with wanting to do what everyone else is doing and to do the “right” thing. I'm very interested in your Vegan lifestyle. How long have you been a vegan for?
Kyle: Well, I don’t usually use the “V” word because I feel it’s just too limiting. It’s an opening for people to attack, question and challenge. An example would be something like, “Well, you drive a car, but I bet there are NON vegan parts of the car…and…you probably kill bugs when you walk down the road sometimes too, so you can’t be a vegan!” It can get really ridiculous. So I prefer to say that I eat a plant-based diet and I try to lead a compassionate life as much as I can. I'm far from perfect, whatever one may consider perfect, but anytime I have a choice, I make the choice to allow something else to live …well, with one exception... I mean, if a mosquito lands on me and tries to sting me, I’ll wack him. So does that make me a Vegan? I don’t know. But um…(laughs) cows have never attacked me. They’ve never tried to sting me or bite me… so I’ve got nothing against ‘em! If someone wants to put a label on that, then of course they may do so.
Elsie: Haha, yes! I totally get that! When I did my January 2015 detox, I was learning so much about so many diets…plans…lifestyles…everything seems to have a name or label and yet I had a really hard time following just one of them. I think many of us are still in the process of what works best for us-at least, those of us who aren’t following a plant-based diet. I mean, I LOVE the idea of a plant based diet, but I still just love my refined carbs…sigh. Anyway, so let’s start at the beginning with your plant based life-style. What started it all?
Kyle: Well when I was in 4th grade at school, our class was asked to keep a diary every day. One day, we had to watch some film about hunting, and we were supposed to write our thoughts on it. I wrote that if I ever saw somebody shoot a deer or any animal, I would shoot that person! When the teacher read what I wrote I got called to the principal’s office and they asked me, “Is everything okay at home?” (laughs) Next they asked, “Well, do you really think it would be right to shoot somebody because you saw them shoot an animal?” And I innocently replied, “Well, why not? They shot the animal…so they should be shot.” I didn't grow up around guns, in fact I've never even held one, but that was my thinking! I was a non-violent, peaceful kid, but that was logical to my young mind. The principle finally just kind of gave in, determined I wasn't really a threat to hunters and said, “Hmmm…well…okay.” And that was that.
(Kyle and Elsie both laughing!)
Kyle: Then my mother asked me, “So what do you want to do when you grow up?” Without missing a beat, I told her that I wanted to save the tigers. I remember that exact conversation. I mean, I don’t know why, but as a kid I’d always questioned where the food…the meat was coming from. I just had this innate love of animals at a young age. I’d wonder, “Why are we eating animals?” I loved our cat, but we didn't eat him. He got to sleep with me at night. Again, young simple logic. But when we’re kids, we are not in control of what our parents are giving to us, and of course, our parents are just doing their best.
Elsie: I agree. I’m glad you said that.
Kyle: But my lifestyle of eating was a process. I can trace it back to when I was about 15 or 16 years old. That’s when I started reading about nutrition. I didn’t know why, although my mother was into nutrition…maybe that was the basis of it. She did the best with the knowledge she had back then, like providing 3 meals a day, using the 4 food groups…. we never had soda or chips or fast food at my house. It was very rare. My mother was always reading about nutrition and what was thought to be healthy recipes. My father was really into recycling and composting, and this was WAY before it was common. So I was lucky in that sense. Then my first girlfriend was allergic to so many foods, So out of comradery with her to not eat things she was allergic to, (which happened to be a lot of things that would be really bad for you), I was inspired to pick up a book called, “Sugar Blues”, continuing my interest in learning about nutrition. And then when I was 19, my father died of a heart attack. He was too young. Very young. This is when I REALLY started studying nutrition. I’ve probably read articles, books, studies on the latest nutritional finds, every single day since I was a teenager 'til now. I think I read some new article every single day. I don’t know why, but I’m just heavily into it, whether it’s for longevity, environmental reasons, vitamin supplements or the latest studies…I just crave information on nutrition.
Kyle: Then when I was old enough to have control over what I was eating, I thought, “You know, I don’t need hamburgers anymore.” And so I cut them out. Next was chicken and turkey, then cheese and milk…dairy. But yes it was a process. Like every 4-6 months I’d change something else in my diet, usually based on something I had read, and a conclusion I had come to on my own. By the time I was about 23 or 24, I was pretty much a vegetarian. By the time I was 27…28, I’d pretty much stopped consuming all animal products.
Elsie: So, are most of your friends …uh….
Kyle: What, vegan? (laughs)
Elsie: Hehe, uh yes. Sorry, now I’m more sensitive to labels, since I’ve been chatting with you! Haha!
Kyle: Nope. Not at all. But it's pretty nice to know that I've at least made an impact on some of my friends' eating habits.
Elsie: Okay, so this is really just a personal choice and not a, “I only hang out with people like me” kind of thing. But don’t you sometimes feel like an outsider, because of your eating lifestyle?
Kyle: Oh yes. Very much so, especially when I’m out on the road –especially around the south of the U.S. That can be a bit challenging, and certain foreign countries….although, it’s MUCH better than it used to be! The word vegan itself is now the cute Hollywood thing in movies and TV shows, not usually in a good light unfortunately. It's like the go-to joke when they want to paint someone as a weirdo. But at least they're saying the word! And yes, there is still a lot of pressure to conform, like if you are in a foreign country at someone’s house, you don’t want to offend anyone, but I can’t go against my moral or dietary beliefs. I don't want to cause pain to an animal or be a part of damaging the environment just to conform. So I don't.
Even at family gatherings, I’ll get the, “Oh! That’s right. You don’t eat turkey. But can you have pumpkin pie? Oh…oh no, you can’t. I usually respond, "Oh, I COULD have turkey, but I CHOOSE to eat something else." It can get pretty exhausting, but I keep smiling through it. Or sometimes I’ll just lie and say I’m not hungry.
Or if I’m on an airplane and I’ve ordered a special meal in advance, someone will look at it and question why I'm eating it.
And what’s funny is that if I said it was for religious purposes, then that would be the end of it. No further discussion. Or if I said I had a medical condition. But if I say, “I’m vegan. I don’t eat animal products.” They’ll say, “Well…why?” And the judgmental junk begins. It's exhausting at times.
With religious purposes, you get total respect, everything’s fine, but for some reason if I have chosen to eat a certain diet for moral and health reasons, or god forbid because I actually give a hoot about our environment, well then my food choices are ripe for a challenge. Odd. To me it’s the only diet that makes sense for the environment, my body, and for the animals, but f I say that, it just opens up a flood gate to all sorts of arguments. Things like, “Well…don’t vegetables have feelings too?” Agggg!
Elsie: I’m sure it can also get a bit exhausting if your diet is the topic of conversation all the time…
Kyle: Well, I’m totally happy to discuss it in a POSITIVE way. But a lot of times, people will try and coax you into an argument or challenge you as if what I choose to eat or not eat defines me as a whole and puts me into a hole. I'm a twig-eatin' hippy barefooted vEEEEguhn! Add to that my multi-racial make-up and being born in Berkeley and they start salivating! On the other hand I welcome the conversation if it will positively affect change in someone - if they are genuinely interested in it, and I DO find that a lot, which is great! I LOVE talking nutrition, environment, and of course about the critters. Just love it.
Elsie: What are your go to foods?
Kyle: There is SO MUCH great food out there! When you just pay attention to what you eat, your body rewards you and it tells you when you are lacking something. Like, I don’t ever crave hamburger. I don’t crave salty…or crunchy. But since I’ve adapted this plant-based diet, I sometimes crave greens. You establish a running tally in your head where you know you are short a green or an apple…it’s tends to aid you in helping you eat healthy.
Everything I consume should have some nutritional benefit-with the exception the occasional soy ice cream!
Another reason I don’t use the word vegan is because being a vegan doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. It may mean healthier for the planet, and it’s certainly healthier for animals (because they don’t get wacked) –it’s healthy from that stand point, but if you don’t do it properly, supplement correctly, not getting quality whole food products and densely packed nutrition, then you’re doing a disservice to your body. There’s a right way and a wrong way. You can be what I call a "Bagel vegan", and just eat bagels and potato chips all day…but is that good for you? Probably not.
Like I used to go to this vegetarian summer fest every year, where all your meals are part of the price of admission. Great vegan and raw foods prepared by a gourmet chef. Yet the line that was the longest was always the line for the desserts! (Laughing). Just a bunch of crazed sweet junkie vegans and I’m sitting there thinking, um…you know that ain’t healthy for you, right? Just because no animal got hurt doesn't mean it's great for you. And you know what? Actually, one animal IS getting hurt (laughing), and that animal is YOU! I also find many, if not most, new so-called vegan pre-packaged products and desserts that contain palm oil. The harvesting and manufacturing of palm oil is destroying the orangutan habitat at an alarming rate. So we can have fake butter? No thanks. And coconut oil is touted as the cure-all. Well I've seen the harvesting and production of coconut oil up close. I've met with and stayed with coconut farmers in the Philippines. It's about as close to slavery as you can imagine. They are nearly starving and have short life expectancies due to all the smoke and dangerous labor involved. I don't consider that a vegan product.
Elsie: I feel that some of us still find this eating lifestyle a bit complicated. Can you elaborate on why it is not?
Kyle: That is a great question. For me, I’ve educated myself so much over the years, my brother, who is a medical doctor, he always calls ME for nutrition questions-which is really kinda funny to me, but they don't study it much in medical school. So it may seem daunting at first, if you do it all at once, absolutely. But since I did it in pieces, it didn’t seem so difficult.
If you look at it as a “restricting diet” you are setting yourself up for failure and misery. When people say, "Oh that's right, you can't eat that", I just say, “Oh I CAN eat that. I’m totally capable. I just CHOOSE not to.” And it isn’t that I WENT on a diet. This IS my diet. I just changed the way I looked at food and nutrition. I always tell people that f you go ON a diet, you can always go OFF a diet. Don't go ON any diet, CHANGE your diet! And have fun with it. Discovering new food is so cool. One of my fave things is discovering new fruit in other countries.
So look at it as this wonderful puzzle of life, all these great new foods you’re going to be experiencing! Imagine going outside and picking your own apple and eating it. It may sound SO BORING, but if you changed your diet from over processed, salty, over fake spiced food with artificial flavor enhancement and things, you’ll realize the joy of just eating whole fresh real food from nature.
My favorite thing to do in the summer is to go out to my raised vegetable beds and just eat my lunch out there. Literally. I’ll stand in the middle and pick a tomato and eat that…pull up some lettuce, then eat that…a hunk of celery, and eat that…I’ll pull up a carrot and eat that…pull up a beet and eat that…and that’s lunch….or a snack, at the least! (Laughing!)
Kyle: …but that’s kind of to the extreme…probably sounds SOOOO boring! You can lose people so quickly, if they thought that’s what eating this way would be like! I can just hear it now, “Are you kidding me? I go out and pick a carrot ….” (Laughing) But I mean, I eat like a king. Well, at least a king in my own mind. I eat these wonderful rich pastas, veggies…and there are plenty of protein sources that don’t involve the over processed fake meat that’s available out there. And of course not everyone has access to or the time to grow their own food, but we are so fortunate in this country to have access to fresh fruits and veggies any day of the year at any grocery store. Many people in the world do not.
Kyle: I think part of it is, when you’re asking people to think about the food they are consuming, and the impact it has on themselves and the environment, and the animals, you are fighting tradition. You know, it’s tradition to have turkey, it’s tradition to have certain desserts, cultural, religious anything passed down through generations…and that’s really hitting a point inside of people that’s very sensitive. But I think we need to have that “discussion” now because of where we are now….how many people there are in the world right now, and the impact it’s having.
Elsie: That’s really cool and makes me think about this vegetarian magazine I was looking through, a few months back that showed a Thanksgiving gathering with friends. They were simply reinventing the traditional Thanksgiving menu with vegetarian friendly recipes, but not one thing had represented anything that looked like the typical traditional dishes, LOL! The table was set so beautifully and everyone looked so happy just being with each other. It was really inspiring. But I think it’s really hard to break things like certain smells bringing back certain memories. There’s a sense of belonging in it. Like...when you aren’t doing the “traditional thing” then you aren’t family…or maybe it might bring a sense of feeling left out or alone.
Kyle: You are totally right! I agree completely. Our earliest feeling of security and nourishment is from our mother. That bonding is so strong, and it carries on from childhood through adulthood. My mother would make corn fritters on a Sunday morning, you’d read the paper, you’re in your pajamas till 2 in the afternoon. I'd pour fake maple syrup on them! But there is really something comforting about food. It’s been our whole life, what we eat. And when you experience these great memories from childhood, you want to keep reliving them. Especially when stressful adulthood kicks in. We want to go back to our happy food of yore. That's a very tough thing to change in people. So you have to tread lightly and explain that we want them around longer, healthy and it’s for their own good, and their children’s good. You have to find whatever motivation trigger you can find. Whether it’s their own health, or just caring about the environment.
BALANCE AND BEING IN THE MOMENT
Elsie: So along with your beautiful plant based diet, what else balances you as a human being? That would be earthly, spiritual, and mental balance. Especially when you are on tour, what is your go to for balance?
Kyle: I try to tweak myself every day in some way. I’m very hard on myself, to a fault. The focusing, the being in the moment…my brain is always firing so fast! I can never sit there and do nothing, or do just one thing at a time. The good part of this is I get so many things done, but the curse of that is that it’s very hard for me to wind down and to just be relaxed and in the moment. It’s a big change I need to make in myself. Maybe.
Elsie: What about meditation?
Kyle. The closest thing to meditation for me is sitting there in the garden and planting. My best friend in the world is 93 years old, and until about a month ago, he was completely vibrant and had all his senses. About a year ago, I was on my bike and saw he was there working in his barn laying down floorboards, so I stopped to talk with him and asked, “So what do you think about when you’re laying down these boards?” and in a deadpan, without thinking much, he said, “Well, I think about the board I’m nailing in. And I think about where the next one is going to go and how it will fit….” (Kyle laughs) It was just all so basic and simple! And there I was thinking to myself, Well, you know if I were doing this I’m sure I’d be thinking about what happened in Bolivia today and ... about things from 30 years ago in my life…my mind would be ANYWHERE but on the board I was nailing in! Which is probably why I hammer nails into my hand whenever I do home carpentry!! haha
So I got back on my bike and really tried to focus. Focus on the tires…focus on the chicken over there, look at the train track over there through the trees. I really try to practice this. But you know, I've come to the conclusion that this may just be the way MY brain works. Maybe this is how I need to function to get things done. My ADDDDHHHDDDDD probably serves me well. Now what were we talking about? I got distracted by this roof I'm installing.
Elsie: I love this, Kyle! It really shows again, it’s a process. So when you are home, what grounds you? You mentioned gardening…I know there is music…
Kyle: Gardening, nature, birds, music -making music, being in the studio, performing…creating. Music is relaxing, but yet it’s still my job so there’s the business, financial, survival, aspects of it…it can really be a mess at times, but no one can mess with a hike in the woods, you know?
MUSIC: “Not being afraid of the detour”
Elsie: I LOVE LOVE LOVE your new album! I LOVED your recent amazing living room show in L.A., as well. That was a nice inspiring surprise! So in this current album, does it involve things taking place in your life right now?
Kyle: No. The album is called Detour. A couple years ago, I thought my life was on a certain path and everything was fine. Then BAM, something happened and I was forced to take a detour. But it turned out, the detour was better than the safe road I was on. Certainly I had regrets and concerns about missing the comfortable, familiar road, but this new path has been invigorating….a renaissance…I’ve been creating like crazy, singing better, meeting so many new interesting people all over the world, and performing better than I ever have. So I needed this jolt big time-I needed this detour. My music is a diary of everything going on in that moment, so you don’t want to wait too long to get the songs out, because they won’t really apply anymore. Although some songs are a mixture of different muses and stories, for the most part, it’s emotionally based on specific events with a universal message of hope and growth, and not being scared of the detour. That everything is going to be okay.
Elsie: Do you find it’s easy to connect with all those raw feelings and emotions when you’re recording or playing live?
Kyle: If you’ve ever seen me play live, it’s a very honest show. The same with recordings. I gave up trying to hide emotions and feelings long ago, I’ve never been good at that. So it comes out very clearly and openly. At least 2 of these songs were recorded smack dab in the depth of misery. And one song in particular from this album, as soon as the lights were out, the mic was on, I hit record, and I just started wailing this painful vocal….mistakes and all…..zero overdubs- I changed absolutely nothing…on purpose. The songs--the words and the melodies and the arrangements, all come from an honest place. They mean something deep, even the sillier songs have truth. So how can real emotions NOT come out of me during a show?
Elsie : So where do you feel your divine inspiration is coming from when you are writing?
Kyle: I have no idea. I don’t really believe in mystical magical things so much. I wasn't brought up that way. But there are times I question when I’m at the piano and seemingly out of nowhere a song will come to me, nearly complete. I have no idea where it comes from, but I gladly embrace it and give it a home.
Elsie: Your songs are personal-not just random stories written for an ocean.
Kyle: Well, like when I go to the gym, I’ll hear the worst crap on the radio. Songs that just don’t seem to be connecting with me. Like the songwriter just has nothing to write about…. Like maybe they just have this easy life…I mean, I don’t actually know this, but it just FEELS that way…like maybe they’ve married their high school sweetheart and everything has been so wonderful, and as a songwriter all they do is just make something up because there is just so little to write about. Like…what was it they played the other day…oh yea, “Mr. Roboto!” …like what…what the hell!??!?! That song STILL annoys the shit out of me!
Elsie (Laughing hysterically!!!)
Kyle: …but songs like that are just…nonsense songs …pointless…there’s just zero emotional pull on my heart in a song like that! And not every song has to be emotional like that or anything…there is just so much crap that’s played at my gym, (sigh). Where were we??
Elsie (Still laughing)
Kyle: I mean, you can sing about a car, and make it an emotional song. It can be a metaphor for the life they had in this inanimate object, not just an, “Oh girl, I miss you and love you please come back…” no no. It’s just that there is an honest way of writing.
Kyle: …(chuckles) Poor Mr. Roboto! I’m sorry. There were so many other songs I could have picked on…that’s just the one that keeps playing at my gym. And for all I know the songwriter had a deep meaningful relationship with someone named Roboto. Could be. I suppose.
(Kyle and Elsie laughing)
Elsie: What is your favorite part about being an entertainer and why did you choose this as your profession.
Kyle: I didn’t choose it, it chose me. I played sax in elementary and high school jazz band and then bass in a punk band before being asked to sing lead in a friend’s band in L.A., that became Candy. I never planned any of it. It's very difficult to survive doing this nowadays, but somehow I've found a my own cult following in different parts of the world. I adore my fans.
Elsie: It’s a shame it’s such a hard career to have...we will always need artists like you, Kyle. Well then, what is it you love about your profession?
Kyle: No better feeling in the world than being on stage and seeing your performance have an effect on others.
Elsie: How do you plan on expanding your current place in your career?
Kyle; More touring in new territories for new markets. More worldwide exposure would be nice. I LOVE being the artist but out of necessity, I also have to run my own career as my own manager, my own touring manager, booking agent, record label, publicist, website updater, farmer, centerfielder …I have to wear all those hats…but I DO have help in certain areas, that I’m VERY grateful for…but at the end of the day, it’s all on me. And there aren’t a lot of avenues to survive in this business anymore. It’s more difficult than ever. But I keep going and I AM growing my fan base. I've always been a super late bloomer so maybe I'll have my first hit in my 70s or 80s.
Elsie: Do you ever feel vulnerable when you are entertaining?
Kyle: Always. I sometimes think that maybe I’m too honest and maybe should hold back. There needs to be a wall between artist and audience. The internet can make that difficult. I love my privacy. So on stage, I feel I may need to be more guarded. The songs can be so revealing that I think my songs (by being so open and vulnerable), leave people to believe they know me and have access to me personally. But really, it shouldn’t go any more beyond the songs. It doesn’t mean the song reveals all that there is of me. Sometimes it makes me want to hide. Maybe if I wrote a few Mr. Roboto’s …..
(Kyle and Elsie laughing!)
Elsie: What is your favorite subject to write about and why?
Kyle: It’s not the subject, it’s saying something in a new way that might inspire people to think or feel differently about a certain topic. As long as I’m inspired and that it will affect someone, I’ll keep going.
Elsie: What is the best way musically, to get to Kyle…like if a girl where to make you mix tape or something….
Kyle: A mix tape….hmmm….classic, old school. Sadly, I'm not sure a girl has ever made me a mix tape. How tragic is THAT?! But if they did I’d have to say that I’d love to get private backward messages to me in between the songs. (I’m not revealing what he said here!-EM). Oh, music wise you mean? Anything that has sweet melodies and nice orchestrations and a singer that I believe and feel what they are singing about.
Elsie: Where would your favorite place be to record?
Kyle: I record anywhere from home, to Los Angeles to Sacramento….but ideally, if someone were to just hand me a check I would probably go to a mountain chalet studio or a beautiful Caribbean island…but honestly, once the studio door closes, it’s all about creating. I could live in a recording studio. As long as there were some fruit trees, and animals running around. Oh, and dancing hula girls can be inspiring as well.
And as we say goodbye, Kyle still questions why he chose Mr. Roboto! In fact he’d even stated, “I wish them all well…really!” J
Kyle calls himself a blind optimist but I see him as a beautiful muse feeding the world with something real. Yes, it’s a hard business to be in, especially when you are doing everything yourself, but I really admire the many creative people just giving it everything they have, even when the old machine that once carried the “big break” seems like its passed them by. Honestly, we need these pioneers more than anything because without their authenticity, the world would only have more room for the non-authentic and with that ...our world would surely collapse.
Thank you so much for reading, and I really hope you have enjoyed our co-created interview!
To find out more about Kyle Vincent, you may visit his Facebook page at: facebook.com/kylevincent
To hear and buy his music, please visit his website at: kylevincent.com
MP3’s available at CD Baby / Amazon