Son of Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brad Hall, Henry Hall has shown tremendous talent in the Alternative/Indie music genre through his debut album Neato. Released on October 16th, the thirteen tracked album immediately caught the attention of listeners who were tired of hearing the same old song and dance. Consisting of falsetto vocals, humorous lyrics, and dynamic instrumental progression, Neato is gripping to say the least. Within the first track "John the Dog" listeners were exposed to Hall's unique style of vocals, and by the fifth song "Guy" listeners were singing along to the chorus, "I would appreciate some kind of apology/ 'Cause I feel so bad for making you feel bad, honey/I'd never do that on purpose, I'm nice and I'm funny/I'm a guy, guy, guy, guy." These lyrics also helped to establish how confident Hall is with his musical ability, and personality.
Earlier this week I sat down with Hall and he spoke about the creation of Neato, and what fans can expect from him in the near future. He also revealed some neat merch and music videos that are on the way. Continue reading for the complete interview, and be sure to check out Neato now streaming on all platforms.
How do you feel about Neato now that it's released?
"Good man, I think the response I've gotten is great. I've had a lot of support from fans, and from people discovering my music for the first time. People seem to be tapping into the sentiments that I wanted to have portrayed by the record. So, I'm pretty happy with it so far."
When did you start making music?
"Gosh, I've been making music pretty much my whole life. I didn't come out of the womb singing, but as close as you could get to that. I think I wrote my first song when I was five or six years old. I've played in bands my whole life, I started playing piano and taking lessons in first grade, and then played guitar when I was eight or nine. My first band was called Bedhead in fifth or sixth grade, and we played Bar Mitzvahs. We had some insider connections."
What made you want to start making music?
"My family is pretty musical; my dad is an amazing musician. He introduced me to pretty much all the music I know and love today. We had a Smiths compilation in the car, and Simon & Garfunkel compilation that we would listen to constantly. A lot of time was spent in the car because I'm from LA. It felt natural, I think. I remember I had some kind of OCD tendencies when I was a kid, and it would make me feel better if I heard a noise outside, or something in the world. In my head that would be a call and then I'd do a little response back in my head. Like if a car honked, I would honk back in a different rhythm. I think it's a psychological defect that it boils down to."
Where did you live before you lived in LA?
"I'm from LA and I live here now, but I lived on the East Coast for almost a decade. I went to college in the Northeast, and then moved to New York for a little while."
Who are some of your musical inspirations?
"I love Animal Collective, Panda Bear, I love old Country music like Loretta Lynn, and Kitty Wells, and Patsy Cline. I love '50s and '60s Bubble-Gum Pop, mostly female led music from back then."
You've been compared to Father John Misty, how do you feel about that comparison?
"To be honest, I haven't dug too deep into his stuff. I went to a show of his at the Hollywood Bowl, which was amazing. I went with a friend who was already a fan of his. He is an unbelievably talented guy; I'm honored to be compared to him."
You have a very unique singing voice, when did you learn to sing with such falsetto?
"I'm not trained vocally; I've only taken two or three vocal lessons. But even they focused on warm up techniques. I've never dealt with any hoarseness, knock on wood, but I knew that if I kept singing at the top of my lungs, multiple days a week, for like two hours, I would damage my voice. So logically I was like, 'I'm gonna use some common sense and take some lessons.' I've always considered myself a guitar player so to speak. That's what I studied, and took lessons in, and really practiced my whole life. Singing came naturally and went along with the guitar playing. My dad is a great singer, so he was the one of the influences in that area. With the falsetto stuff, I feel the most fulfilled artistically, and the most cathartic from a creative standpoint, I get the biggest endorphin rush and the most euphoric feeling from when I'm singing in a falsetto. It's how I express myself and its just naturally what comes. It comes with practice and I do a lot of singing in the car. That might be why as well, like why I'm able to do some of those higher notes. I like to sing in that harmony, and I listen to a lot of female singers. So maybe that has something to do with it."
What is your personal favorite song from the new record?
"It's funny, it changes every day. I've been sitting with these songs for so long now, I think that's a good sign thought that it changes. It was really hard to pick the singles for the album. There were two or three singles, but up until the very last minute I was questioning myself. When I step back, it means that you're happy with how the album came out, and that any song from the album could have been a single. But to answer your question, I like 'Nervous Cousin' right now. I think it's the arrangement I like. It's a nice blend. For the record, I listen to a lot of music that has acoustic arrangements, and electronic instruments featured as well. When a song can blend the two, I find myself being very impressed and happy with the sound. Its hard to do because it can be corny if you don't do it in the right way. But I feel like 'Nervous Cousin' hits the mark. The drum pattern is on a loop and its sampled kind of, but it also sounds real at the same time. The bass is a synth, but then there's also a real bass, and some effect on some background vocals. It's a nice mix of different elements that I like from an arrangement perspective."
You just released a music video for the track "13 Besties" what was it like creating that video?
"Well I had to clone myself, legally I can't really discuss certain things that happened along the way with the cloning machine, but maybe in a couple years once a few things go through. That was a really, really fun one to make honestly. I haven't done a performance-based video in a while, or I should say, one that reflects a musical performance. So, it was cool to play guitar, and play bass, and play drums and stuff in the video, so that was fun to do. It always feels kind of naughty to have your instruments outside and in the grass and stuff. I'm very careful with my musical toys, it was crazy, I was like, 'I can't believe I'm outside with my bass right now!'"
I imagine it took a few takes to do and create, did you have the idea for the video before you went in?
"Oh, so the clones really followed instruction quite well – so it was all in one take. No, yeah, so we blocked off some shots so that I would do the full performance with each instrument with the camera in the exact same spot. Then you crop it and transform the different shots so that it looks like one."
You've also made music videos for other songs on the album including "Guy," and "Not in My House," what other songs on this album do you plan on making music videos for?
"Yeah I do. I'm in the process of making one for 'John the Dog,' an 'Alive, Annoyed' one, and one for 'Tattoo.' Those are the one that are in the works right now. I don't know when they'll come out or anything. I would suggest towards December."
Do you think you will actually get a tattoo during the "Tattoo" music video?
"I think I'll have to keep with the song and be too afraid. Because I am too indecisive to get a tattoo. I've heard a good trick, or a good thing to do is to get the art that you want on a piece of paper and hang it in your bathroom, so you look at it every single day for a year. If you aren't sick of it by that time, you should get it."
Earlier this week you mentioned via your Instagram story that you'll be releasing merch for Neato, can you tell me a little more about what will be released and when?
"You can expect some merch to be seen next week my friend. The store will be launched and we're gonna have a number of different things you can purchase."
During that Instagram story you also mentioned that there will be a vinyl release, what details can you tell me about it?
"Disclaimer though, that will take a little bit longer. It's gonna have in the middle, the track listing and be yellow and blue, kind of flipped so the background of the cover will be the blue type, and the yellow will be the type font that Neato is in. The whole record will be the blue the of the album."
You also mentioned that you worked on Neato for about a year and a half, what was the creation process for the album like?
"It was unbelievably fun. That's really what I'm in it for so to speak. Releasing the music fulfills me less, the actual process of making the record is really what I enjoy the most. I love going to the studio, and the feeling of leaving the studio after a great day of recording is the best feeling in the world. I worked with my good friend and extremely talented producer, Dylan Bostick. He produced Questions, Comments, Concerns as well. We went to College together, so we're buddies. We had never worked creatively before, and we established a really nice flow on Questions, Comments, Concerns and then I was like 'I have a lot of other songs if you want to make an album' and he was like, 'Yeah, sure, definitely.' So we locked ourselves in the studio for 18 months-ish and came out with a record. I had the demos of all of these songs, with the arrangements laid out for the most part. And then Dylan is an engineering tone, guitar, mixer wiz. So he helped bring those demos to life, without sacrificing the quality of the song. He's a real master of getting the best out of every single sound. So I'm lucky to work with him for sure. He is an extremely talented producer, and we are really on the same page I feel like. I think he's like this with all the people he works with, because he's just so talented. I'd be like, 'Ahh, I think this needs a –' and then he'd like finish my sentence and be like, 'The bass needs more high end!' and I'd be like 'Yes!' That happened like every day, so it was a super nice collaborative experience with Dylan."
I assume that you have a lot of other stuff in the vault as well, do you think you will be working with him on the next project?
"Yeah, definitely. We sort of have a few things in the works already. Dylan will definitely be the producer on the next album for sure."
How did you come up with the title for the album?
"Unfortunately, I don't have a cool story about how it came about. I'm always thinking about album titles and the order of songs on albums. Neato was just a word that I had floating around in my head for a long time and I wanted to name an album Neato for years. When I finally made an album I was like, 'I want to name it Neato!' I think it has a old fashioned, and innocent, but also campy and funny feel to it. There's something sort of melancholy about as well. Like its something your grandpa would say, so that makes me think of my dead grandpa. For how silly of a word it is, it actually holds a lot of meaning. I feel like it's a weird way a metaphor for some of my music. On the surface, there's obviously a humors element to it, but if you look a little bit deeper you notice that there's more depth."
Sort of like a tongue-in-cheek way.
"Yes exactly. Its like tongue-in-cheek but there are layers of introspection and serious."
Speaking of tongue-in-cheek, in track 12 "Football Now" you sing the refrain, "Every genre of music bores me/I only care about Football now." Would you describe this song as being tongue-in-cheek, or do you seriously feel passionate about Football?
"Well it's both. I love Football in real life. I'm obsessed with the National Football League, but I also love music. Its similar to my track 'Proverbial Ice.' This idea, or feeling that I get when I'm in my car and I'm about to get off an exit that is part of my life and routine. And this thought pops in my head where I think, 'I could keep driving. I could ditch everything that I know and start over. Have a totally new life.' 'Football Now' is a version of that feeling, because I'm like fuck music. Just fuck it. Like I only want to focus on Football, something frivolous, or something that doesn't have actual significance. It's not something that I have anything invested in. I think that's a healthy impulse. I find comfort in knowing that I could ditch everything, it is possible to leave that safety net, but having that safety net is some solace."
You've released a few EP's in your musical career such as Henry Hall in 2015, My Friends Don't Like Me in 2016, Questions, Comments, Concerns in 2019, and Quarantine Covers for Black Lives Matter earlier this year. How do you feel that Neato compares to your past work?
"I think it's the best thing that I've ever put out for sure. I do feel like I'm moving in a linear trajectory. Each project that I release is better than the one that comes before it. When I release the latest thing and look back on the old thing, I'm like 'Oh my god, what was I thinking!' But Neato feels very complete to me. I could get into the problems I have with Neato but I feel like that's a healthy thing. I know what needs to be made better for sure, but that's not to say I'm not proud of Neato. I think lyrically there's not a moment on the record that I didn't invest, or put forth my best effort at the time into thinking of each and every lyric. When I go back in my first EP I can point out the moments where I'm just talking about nothing, and I didn't put anything into it at all. So this one I think lyrically I was the most thoughtful I've ever been. And musically too. I hope people think the songs are catchy and give you that good feeling."
Neato displays different concepts and ideas that make up you as a person. What do you think your next album's topic will be about?
"I couldn't tell you, I think you're gonna have to wait and see. Even I don't really know. I think that with Neato, I didn't know what the theme so to speak would be. I'm still figuring out what they are now when I listen back to it. I think those things come naturally, unless you make a concept album where the songs flow into each other. This was not thought of in a holistic way, but it's come to fruition that there are themes, and that there is a thesis to it. Once I start digging into the recording process of the next album, it'll become clear what the thesis of that one will be."
Are you planning on releasing any more music before the end of 2020?
"Probably. I don't know honestly. I'm working on a couple of collaborative things. Maybe a song or two there, who knows? I'm Neato focused though. I want to put out some music videos, and live stream performances of the album."
Do you have any live-stream events planned in the near future?
"I do, and that will be announced very soon. I think I'll have one in the beginning of December. It's gonna be a mix of full band, acoustic, a little stuff with tracks."
In 2018 you played at the Jam In The Van, what have been some of your favorite venues/events to play at?
"I love the Bootleg Theatre here in LA. That's one of my favorites. The sound is excellent, the location is really great. It's a little off the beaten path, but the space is really big for a Rock club. People are really nice, and they get really great acts. I love playing there, and I also go there to see music myself. Not right now of course, but once things get back to normal, I'll be a regular there again."
Do you think you are going to put on a tour for the album at any point?
"I would love to; I don't have a plan to do that as of now. But I definitely want to tour, but Mongolia only. I haven't checked the streaming numbers in Mongolia, but I would assume they're really good."
During the first track on the album you sing that your mom, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, wouldn't let you and your brother have a dog. Have you since gotten a dog?
"Yeah, we eventually got a dog, but it took a while. My mom is not really a dog person, but as a little kid I was like, 'I want a dog so badly!' I wanted nothing more than a dog. Little kids love dogs. But yeah when I was like five, we were not allowed to have a dog. But when I was 10, we got a labradoodle and named her Buttercup."
The song "Son" wraps up Neato with you singing, "I'll never be open to the idea of my son being left out." Is there a specific experience where you felt left out?
"It is for sure. It's definitely a projection of what I felt often as a little kid. But it's also a song that looks toward the future and sort of a light of positivity to end the record. The other tunes are either in the present tense, or past tense, so I thought there was something to sing about the future."
What if you have a daughter?
"That's a great question. I'm sure can figure lyrics out."
If you were stuck on a desert island and could only listen to one album, what would you pick?
"That's a great question. I think I'd pick Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective that would be my desert island album. But I would NOT take the band, no offense to them. I like their other music for sure, but that album is a masterpiece. It's probably my favorite album."
As this interview wraps up, do you have anything to announce or anyone you would like to shout out?
"I hope everyone keeps listening to the record. Shout out to Dylan Bostick who co-produced the album with me, shout out to Golden Mastering who mastered the album. Shout out to Al Carlson who engineered 'Thirteen Besties' and shout out to MC Ride from Death Grips."