By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Aug 08, 2010 at 9:06 AM

Singer and songwriter Kyle Feerick has been performing around Milwaukee for nearly a decade, performing first with his band Momentary and, later, as a solo performer.

Last year, he went into Shane Hochstetler's Howl Street Recordings in Bay View in summer to record an EP. He returned with a different group in December, recording some of the same songs.

When it came time to assemble the results of the sessions into a single CD, Feerick came up with the idea of releasing the songs as two separate EPs, packaged together.

The result is "The Change / The Balance."

The former is a more streamlined, pop rock-ier session and the latter -- with guest rapper MC Oneself -- has a different flavor, with a lighter, jazzier vibe.

Both feature Feerick's unusual voice, which falls somewhere between Terry Callier's and Edwyn Collins'.

We asked Feerick about making the record(s) and the idea of putting them together yet -- at the same time -- keeping them separate. Can you tell me about how you came to the unusual idea of packaging two EPs together?

Kyle Feerick: I recorded the first EP, "The Change," and a few months later recorded the second one, "The Balance." Initially I was going to try and put all the songs on a full-length disc. However, once I was done with the two recording sessions it occurred to me that each session was its own entity.

My original idea was then to put both EPs on one vinyl record, so when you flip the record over it's a separate "work." However, like many art based organizations, I suffered from my own personal budget-cuts and instead the two EPs went onto CD.

OMC: Why the overlapping songs?

KF: The overlap in songs happened for a couple reasons. For a long time I had wanted to collaborate with another vocalist so that I could just sing the hooks in my songs. Aaron Smith, aka MC Oneself, provided me with that opportunity. I have also been interested in taking my songs, picking them apart and rearranging them.

Playing live with many different artists challenges you on the spot to do just that, so I wanted to show what I was able to do with "the same song." The recording session for The Balance gave me a chance to do just that.

OMC: How does each EP -- which sound quite different -- reflect a side of you as a performer and, perhaps, as a songwriter?

KF: As a songwriter I strive to do as many different things with music as I can. I am constantly striving to evolve and grow as a songwriter and musician. Playing live shows with various musicians pushes me to come up with new arrangements for my songs on the spot.

This has been my biggest source of growth. With the two EPs, I wanted to show that I was able to take a song I had written, "flip it upside down" and do something completely different with it.

OMC: Tell me a bit about the musicians you used. I see there is also overlap there with Matt Turner and Ted Fleming appearing on both EPs.

KF: The only musicians that were used on both the EPs were Matt Turner and Ted Fleming; the rhythm section. All of the musicians I used are musicians I have performed live with and continue to perform with, some more than others. Milwaukee has a wealth of great musicians of all backgrounds and styles of music. My goal is to try and play with as many as I can.

OMC: How do you approach these songs when playing live? Does "In the City," for example, sound more like it does on "The Balance" or on "The Change" or maybe different than either version?

KF: At a live performance, the sound of my songs all depends on the musicians that are accompanying me. That's the best part of performing live for me; each show is truly a new experience!

OMC: You have a unique vocal style. From whom do you draw vocal inspiration?

KF: When I first started singing and writing songs, my inspiration came from the indie-emo scene in Milwaukee. I looked up to singers like Davey Von Bohlen of The Promise Ring. Other vocalists I tried to emulate were Jeremy Enigk of Sunny Day Real Estate and Doug Martsch of Built to Spill. However, like most artists, my inspiration is always changing.

Over the last three or four years I have been collecting vinyl records (which I spin out in Milwaukee a couple times a month). There are so many vocalists from the '40s through the '70s that have now inspired me. Ray Charles, Taj Mahal, Billie Holiday, Curtis Mayfield, and many world vocalists that I now listen to have become my new inspiration. The one thing that is a constant and I am always seeking to improve is control. Absolute control over my instrument: my voice.

OMC: Why did it take so long for you to make your recorded debut?

KF: I lead a group called Momentary from 2003 to 2006. I produced an album of songs for the group, but by the time it was ready to be put out I had already started playing out on my own, featuring different musicians at each show.

So from 2006 to 2009 I focused on playing out a lot and gaining new experiences. Then last year I felt as though I was ready to record again. Both EPs were recorded live in the studio to capture the live energy that I have been striving toward with each of my performances.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.