Half Pint is the musical group made up of Pine Plains, NY, locals Joe Cort, Kaylie Jackson, and Gary Gent. They recently performed during Pine Plains Community Day on September 9 and are currently working on new music. Read on to learn about how each member of Half Pint got into music, who their biggest inspirations are, and what artist they would collaborate with given the chance.
Joe initially got into music through his father. He grew up listening to his dad play saxophone in a band and listened to a lot of the Beatles and “Golden Oldies” on both cassettes and vinyl. “My favorite song growing up was ‘Rocky Raccoon,’” Joe muses.
His friend Sven, who has unfortunately since passed, encouraged Joe to make music and put himself out there. “He was the one who got me from just playing music by myself to playing in front of and with other people,” Joe says. “I know he is looking down and jamming with me with a big smile.”
Joe’s first time playing in front of people was during an open mic show in New Paltz back in 2012. The song he performed? ‘Rocky Raccoon,’ of course.
Some of his biggest musical influences range across the board from Dave Grohl to the Beatles, Grateful Dead, and Ween.
As for Joe’s creative process, he says there isn’t one specific way that he creates a song. Typically, he grabs his guitar or gets on his keyboard and starts playing. “Sometimes I’ll hear a melody in my head and hum it into my phone. Other times, I’ll just start playing random chords or riffs until something comes together.”
Joe has written a few songs with previous bandmates that they’ve played in a few different settings and shows, but his all time favorite song to perform is “Peaches” by the Presidents of the United States of America. “It’s such a fun song to play,” he says.
Joe believes that the most important thing for a musician to remember is to just have fun. “Don’t worry about what others may think or say. You’re playing music because you enjoy it. Just go out there and be you!”
Joe says that if he could collaborate with any artist, living or dead, it would be Dave Grohl. “That’s a no brainer.”
A fun question to ask musicians: If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only bring one album with you, what would it be? Joe says it would undoubtedly be Billy Joel’s “The Stranger:” “It’s a perfect album!”
Looking ahead, Joe is looking forward to creating new music with Half Pint. “Kaylie is a super talented writer and her songs are amazing. It’s been a lot of fun so far.”
Kaylie can’t remember a time in her life when she didn’t love music, so it’s hard for her to remember where it started.
“It’s so special when you find a song that expresses exactly what you’re going through or sounds how you feel inside, and I think having Joey as an older cousin was a big influence, too. I would watch him play piano or guitar, or see him sing with a band and be so amazed,” she says.
She’s not sure if there’s a particular person that inspired her to make music. “There’s a Joni Mitchell quote where she says something like, ‘I’m not a musician, I’m a painter whose life was derailed by circumstance.’ I feel like that. I’m not really a singer, but rather a writer who’s using music as another way to tell stories.”
As for influences, she cites songwriters Sufjan Stevents, Elliott Smith, and Adrianne Lenker as big ones.
Kaylie writes a lot of her own music and shares that she leans towards the folk and alternative genres, and occasionally country as well and notes that her creative process is different for each song.
“Some songs I draw really heavily from the past and my own life, others are completely fictional. Sometimes I’ll use film or plays as a source of inspiration – it really depends.”
One of Kaylie’s favorite songs ever, and one of her favorites to play, is “Change” by indie-folk band Big Thief.
If she had one piece of advice for other musicians, it would be to “do your own thing and trust your own voice.”
Kaylie says that if she could collaborate with one artist, she would want to work with David Bowie. Her deserted album would be the score from Interstellar: “It’s such an annoying answer, but I love Hans Zimmer.”
Going forward, Kaylie shares that she’s “Writing a concept album about a cult! Woohoo!”
Similar to Joe, Gary first got into music through his dad. “He had records that I would listen to constantly. He would get a new one every month or so, and I didn’t leave the record player alone.”
His dad was also a drummer, so naturally, he was Gary’s biggest inspiration for playing music. “As a little kid, it looked so cool and sounded awesome. I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
He credits KISS as his first big influence. “They were true entertainers and I couldn’t get enough of watching and listening to them.”
Other influences he credits are Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Alice in Chains, and Deftones, but says that there are too many to list.
“One of my biggest inspirations is watching everyday people in a bar, on the street, or on a stage put themselves out there and let the public listen to what they have created. That is truly inspirational,” he says.
Gary explains that he used to write quite a bit of music when he was with some older bands that he used to play with. He notes that he was “never a great lyricist,” but that he loves writing catchy riffs.
In being creative with other musicians, Gary likes to listen to their ideas and get a sense of what the mood of the song is, and then try some things that he feels may work.
“There are certainly times when it doesn’t quite work, but when it does, it can be pretty great,” he says. “When you look at everyone you are playing with and everyone has the same ‘that’s it!’ look on their face, it’s a really great feeling.”
Gary believes that the most important thing for a musician to remember is to enjoy the moment and have fun with it. “There’s no certainty on how long you will be able to enjoy such a great, memorable experience.”
He also believes that the state of music today is a bit “stale,” and that is contributing to older eras of music being listened to more frequently. “It’s interesting to think about where music will go, as so much great music has already been written. Between technology and humans always looking for the next unique thing, I believe the sky’s the limit.”
Gary says that if he could collaborate with one artist, he’d want to be the fifth member of KISS in the 1970s. “I’d want my own makeup and costume and play guitar alongside Ace Frehley. That would be outrageous.”
Gary’s deserted island album? Van Halen’s “Fair Warning,” released in 1981.
Looking ahead, Gary echoes much of Joe and Kaylie’s sentiments, as he plans to continue to create “some cool stuff” with Half Pint.
“Kaylie is a young, gifted singer and songwriter with huge potential. Her original songs are really great. I’ve been playing with Joe for a while now, and we have some awesome chemistry together. It’s exciting to think about what could come out of it.”