Detroit Lakes singer-songwriter to appear on 'Prairie Musicians' TV show
Kyle Colby, a Detroit Lakes native who has been making music most of his adult life, will be featured Feb. 2 on the Prairie Public Television show that puts a spotlight on regional artists.
DETROIT LAKES — Though he's been making music most of his adult life, both with a band and solo, Kyle Colby says his upcoming appearance on Prairie Public Television's "Prairie Musicians" will be his first TV gig as a solo artist.
"I'm pretty nervous about it," the Detroit Lakes native admitted in a Wednesday, Jan. 11 interview. "But it should be exciting."
The show will air Thursday, Feb. 2 at 9 p.m. on the Fargo-based public television station's broadcast and streaming channels.
A 2009 graduate of Detroit Lakes High School, Colby writes and performs his own songs, in the vein of the man he cites as his favorite artist, Ed Sheeran .
He got to meet his musical idol by chance when his band was in Austin, Texas, for a gig at the South by Southwest Festival, and he happened to see on the schedule that the artist whose music he had just discovered on YouTube was playing at the same festival that day. So he went back across town to catch Sheeran's set.
As he sang along with all of the songs, word for word, Colby could see the English singer-songwriter's manager at the side of the stage, trying to figure out how he knew the music so well; the artist's album was only officially available in the United Kingdom at that time, but Colby sheepishly admitted that he had illegally downloaded it from the web.
After Sheeran's 30-minute set was finished, he said he'd be over at the side of the stage for a while to meet with his fans. "So I went over and said hi," Colby said. "I followed him on Twitter at the time, and he had tweeted like a week or so before, 'Oh, I just sold a million units' ... so I went over and said hi, and 'Congratulations on selling a million units in the UK,' and he said, 'Actually, it's two million as of today.' And I'm like, 'Oh, my god.' Since then he's just exploded.
"He's always been my favorite," Colby said, but that doesn't mean he doesn't love other kinds of music, or other artists. In fact, he said, he can find songs he likes in most genres of music, and has a "soft spot" for country music, in particular, because he grew up listening to it at his family's home on Little Detroit Lake (i.e., near WE Fest).
"Good music is good music," he says. "There's a place in my heart for all of it. If it's good, I'm into it."
He's particularly drawn to the singer-songwriter genre, however, because of artists like Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, who were "writing a song 50 years ago that's still absolutely incredible today. A song that's just timeless.
"Music has always been in the forefront of my mind," Colby said. "That's just how I'm programmed, I guess. My dad's just a huge music fan, and there's always been music in the house. Same thing with my mom. They're both very musical people, so music's always just been a part of life, I guess."
He started learning how to play guitar at the age of 12, listening to albums and practicing "pop-punk riffs" and learning the craft from other songwriters. He added that he also learned a lot from writing "100 garbage songs that nobody in the world would ever want to hear," before finishing one and saying to himself, "Hey, maybe this is OK" — then writing another hundred garbage songs before deciding that there was another one worth performing in public.
After graduating from Detroit Lakes High School in 2009, Colby went to college at Minnesota State University Moorhead, but was lured away from academia after just one semester.
"I was in a band ( These Hearts ) at the time, and we had just gotten signed (to independent music label Victory Records )," Colby said. "So we all dropped out of our colleges and just kind of started playing music full time, touring the East Coast, West Coast, living in a van like animals."
These Hearts stayed together for about four years after that, before officially disbanding in late 2013. Rather than joining another band, Colby decided to try going solo.
"I've always been very interested in, infatuated by how a solo singer-songwriter guy, with just his voice and a guitar, can kind of captivate a room of people and they can all be in that moment," he said. "I always wanted to do it, so I just thought, 'You know, I'm going to give 'er my best shot,' and I've been doing it ever since."
Though he has released three EPs (i.e., mini-albums) as a solo artist, with about seven songs on each, and performed regularly at venues around the region, it was only about a year ago that Colby decided to quit his regular, nine-to-five job and pursue music full time once again — with the full support of his wife, Ali, whom he married 10 years ago.
"She's from Perham," he said. "When we met we were both over in Fargo, at college ... she would come to shows that my band was playing, and we had all these mutual friends. She's a huge supporter of me doing music and chasing the whole dream."
In fact, it was Ali who encouraged him to quit his nine-to-five job and pursue music full-time, despite the fact that their daughter, Indy, was still a newborn — she's now 14 months old, Colby said, and their family is doing quite well.
"It's been the best year of my life," Colby said, adding that he loves being able to do "daddy day care things" with his daughter when he's between gigs — though that isn't too often right now, as he has shows booked "all the way to Dec. 29."
Upcoming shows in this area include a Jan. 31 performance at the Silver Dollar Bar in West Fargo; a shared gig with fellow Detroit Lakes artist Rachael Ianiro at Detroit Mountain Recreation Area on Feb. 10, as part of the Mountain's "Burgers, Brews and Bands" concert series; and a Feb. 18 show at 1894 in Perham.
Though his mother still lives in Detroit Lakes, Colby's dad and stepmother now make their home in Perham, and he has a younger brother who also lives in Detroit Lakes with his family.
How to watch 'Prairie Musicians'
Prairie Public Television's "Prairie Musicians" series can be viewed each week on its local broadcast TV channel, as well as streamed directly from the website, pbs.org, or via the PBS app, available on most smart TVs, phones and tablets. It airs every Thursday through Feb. 23, starting at 9 p.m. For more information, visit video.prairiepublic.org/show/prairie-musicians .
Also featured on "Prairie Musicians" this season is another Detroit Lakes-based band, Rootz Within , which will appear on the Jan. 26 episode.