Michael Kelly used to lead a band, but is now branching out on his own. drawing on his personal experiences, he is upbeat but edgy music that often has lyrics at odds with the catchy melody. His latest release ‘Heaven’ is a perfect example of his solo music. We sat down with Michael Kelly (MK) to talk about the single, his music, future plans and much more!
OSR: Have you always been interested in music or was there a moment that made you think: ‘Wow, I want to do that’’?
MK: I’ve always been into music and have been playing the guitar since I was about 11. I‘ve led various bands since middle school and started writing original music in high school.
OSR: What is an average day like for you?
MK: I have two kids, with a third on the way, so my days are pretty busy being a dad. I haven’t had a ton of time for writing and recording until quarantine hit, where I could finish writing a few songs. ‘Heaven’ was the first song I recorded during quarantine, but there are a few more in the works. During quarantine, I’ve spent time most days writing and recording, mostly at night, after the kids go to sleep.
OSR: Is there a backstory to your single ‘Heaven’?
MK: I’ve always been agnostic, so the song is a natural creation of the kinds of things I think about. However, from a lyrical standpoint, it’s fun to write a song about the topic because many powerful words and images can be used, which people connect with emotionally. Believe, ghost, gates of heaven, death, are all emotionally charged.
OSR: Why release this single and why now?
MK: It was honestly a matter of having the time to finish writing, recording, and doing the work to release the song, the art and video. Many of the songs I write have timeless themes, which can feel topical for various reasons. Obviously, ‘Heaven’ could be interpreted this way as well, but to be honest, I started writing this song long before the virus and lockdowns.
OSR: How different was it working as a solo artist compared to being in a band?
MK: It’s very different. There is a comfort I have when working in a band. I can bounce ideas off of other members and we can distribute the work of sending emails, etc. There is a period of time when I am recording a song as a solo musician, where I ask myself, “Is this the biggest piece of garbage song I’ve ever written? Will the recording sound good to anyone else?” I actually send the recording to my former bandmates and ask them for help fine-tuning the mix.
OSR: What does your music say about you?
MK: I’m not sure what it says about me. It’s impossible to hear your music the way others do. When I’m uploading my song to a site and the site asks, “What other bands does you music sound like?”, I have to ask my wife what the song sounds like. I think its kind of a blind spot for me.
OSR: If ‘Heaven’ was an animal, what would it be and why?
MK: It has a moderate tempo and combines darker, pensive lyrics with more upbeat, driving music, so I’d say the song is a platypus. It kind of looks like an amalgam of a bunch of different animals and it can be dangerous. The song is catchy (I hope), but if you dig into the lyrics, they are asking some deeper, uncomfortable questions.
OSR: Do you sing in the shower? What songs?
MK: Sure! Any songs that are stuck in my head. Songs from the radio or a playlist. Sometimes I work on lyrics to my own songs in the shower. I wrote the bridge for ‘Heaven’ in the shower.
OSR: What can we expect from you for the next 6 months?
MK: I’m very close to releasing another song, called ‘Change’. I’d like to record a few more and release them. Hopefully, one or more can gain a little traction and get some radio play. More importantly, my wife is having a baby in September, so I will be very busy being a dad of three!
OSR: What is the one message you would give your fans?
MK: My three fans? (laughs). The virus, and lockdowns, and quarantine teaches me that none of the comforts of modern life is guaranteed, so don’t put off the things you want to do in life.