As Kevin Moultrie began to play his guitar under the glare of the spotlight at Spring Sing 2011, he realized he had forgotten something important. He had forgotten to plug his guitar into his amp.
Another performer might have lost his nerve. But Moultrie did not.
According to Moultrie, a recently graduated alum, “I just played it off as a joke. And nobody knew the difference.”
This year, Moultrie was a Spring Sing participant and one of the founding members of the musical collective The Ten Thousand. Along with the roots-based music featured at Spring Sing, Moultrie also raps and produces electronic music.
Moultrie, who performs under the name Kevin Daye, in honor of his father’s last name, composes and performs his own music both individually and The Ten Thousand.
Moultrie is a UCLA Renaissance man; he is interested in fields from philosophy and music to writing and architecture.
According to third-year psychology student and member of The Ten Thousand Dylan Robin, Moultrie’s approach to music both in production and performance embraces this same engaging and multi-faceted dynamism.
“He’s got an incredible sense of melody, (he is) a terrific lyricist and (has) killer innate stage presence. He’s prolific. His songs stay with you,” Robin said.
Moultrie did not start college with much musical experience. Since he had only ever participated in high school musicals, he quickly made up for lost time by teaching himself how to sing and play guitar throughout his college career.
He said that Kings of Leon, Charles Mingus, Brandon Flowers from The Killers and ’70s soul jam, among other artists, are his musical inspirations. Overall, however, Moultrie said that jazz music and hip-hop are instrumental in his music composition.
“Jazz is the pinnacle of all art forms. It’s spontaneous compositions, which I think is amazing. But I put songs together like hip-hop. They’re layered and use loops,” Moultrie said.
Moultrie also said he believes this combination of influences and techniques has aided in creating a distinctive sound.
“My guitar and singing sound is roots-based rock music. It’s not (The) Black Keys, but more like if The Black Keys had sex with the Silversun Pickups,” Moultrie said.
Moultrie also said he draws from the diversity of his experiences to create his music and lyrics.
He was born in New Jersey, moved to Northern California, attended University of California, Merced, studied abroad in Bristol, England for a year and then moved to Los Angeles.
“His songs have stories to tell. He really knows who he is. You hear a song from him and you just know it’s him,” said James Bunning, a recently graduated alum and former copy editor at the Daily Bruin.
At Spring Sing, where he played his original composition “Knave,” Moultrie met his idol Brian Wilson, as well as Bunning, who would become one of the founding members of The Ten Thousand. Moultrie, Bunning, Robin and drummer Garrett Harney, a third-year psychology student, founded The Ten Thousand as a musical collective soon after the close of Spring Sing.
Even though Moultrie plans to take this next year to continue pursuing The Ten Thousand and his own solo career as a musician, he said he refuses to limit his career options.
“You need to develop a sense of who you are, and I don’t want to commit myself to something until I’m sure,” Moultrie said,
Moultrie, who plans to take architecture classes this summer, said he believes college has been an opportunity to embrace proactivity and the opportunities available to students.
“There are so many opportunities and so many people let them slip by. College is not your schoolwork. Most people don’t realize what college is: it’s a tool ““ you have to use it,” Moultrie said.