For those who have yet to hear of this upcoming producer and engineer, KELLR is in a creative league of his own. The Nashville based talent brings to life fresh and unique instrumentals, as his tracks don’t stray far from traditional old school hip-hop; however, incorporate a future-sounding electronic with the perfect amount of R&B flare. CelebMix recently spoke with KELLR to discuss the creation of his debut single “Faded,” the track’s enriched collaborations and what to expect from his upcoming EP, slated for a summer release.
CelebMix: When did you first establish a desire for producing?
KELLR: I’ve been creating my own music since I was 11. It’s been a hobby of mine since then, but my interest really picked up in college when I had access to a real studio and could learn more about the technical side of music. When I graduated, I was of the mindset that I had to get a “real job,” so music took a backseat until it couldn’t be in the backseat anymore. I made the move to being a full-time producer three years ago.
CelebMix: Who were your musical influences growing up?
KELLR: I listened to Michael Jackson a lot growing up. My pre-school was half an hour away from our house, so I must have listened to “Bad” 50 times over. He’s still one of my favorite artists of all time, and think his influence on modern pop music is bigger than anyone else’s. His producer Quincy Jones is also a huge influence on me.
CelebMix: When did you realize you wanted to pursue music full time?
KELLR: I think I’ve known since college that I wanted to be a full-time musician – I just never gave it a shot until recently. Three years ago I made the move from California, where I was working an IT job, back to my home town of Nashville to pursue music. I’ve never regretted it and am grateful to be able to make a living doing what I love!
CelebMix: How did the collaborations on “Faded” come about? Tell us about the process.
KELLR: “Faded” is one of those tracks that just wanted to be made. I think it speaks to the challenges many people face in relationships, but could also represent challenges at a job or life in general. To me, there’s optimism in the song in the fact that despite dire circumstances, we all can choose to see things differently at any time.
The instrumental for “Faded” was actually one of the oldest ones I was considering for my EP – I produced it about two years ago. It had gotten to the point where I wasn’t even sending it out to writers anymore because I thought my newer stuff was better. In reality, it just needed the right lyric and artist combination to become a great song. Davis Mallory (Real World Denver), a co-writer on “Faded,” had a bunch of my instrumentals and was playing some for Matt in a co-write. I think they were both just messing around with the chorus idea for “Faded,” but then realized that it could actually be a cool track. We all sat down and finished up the lyrics, then cut the vocals shortly afterwards. I’ve been friends with Alex (July 3-0) for a long time and knew he would be perfect for an additional feature on the track. I lived in California for 6 years before moving to Nashville and have a buddy with a studio out there, so I flew out, got Alex’s verse, then mixed the whole song back at my studio in Nashville. After I had all the vocals, I changed up the arrangement a bit and mixed things differently from the original instrumental. Something I think is important about collaborating with other artists is to always think of the track as a whole. In this case, that meant rearranging and re-mixing the track a bit to accommodate what Matt and Alex did.
CelebMix: How was it working with Matt and July 3-0?
KELLR: Davis Mallory, who co-wrote “Faded,” introduced me to Matt. Everything clicked between us, and the music really shows that. Matt couldn’t have been easier to work with and is super talented. July 3-0 has been a friend of mine for many years. I produce most of his music, so we’ve established a great working relationship. I usually know what type of tracks he’ll like, and I definitely wanted him to be involved with “Faded” once I heard how it was coming together. He also has a solo track on my forthcoming EP.
CelebMix: You’re gearing up for the release of your debut EP, can you share anything about it?
KELLR: I set the goal of completing this EP over 2 years ago, and to see it all coming together this way is exciting. Looking back, I think I didn’t have a clear direction of where I wanted to go with my music before I made the move back to Nashville, but with my EP I’m establishing my sound and starting a new chapter.
As for the EP itself, it’s a combination of full songs with vocals and 2 instrumentals. I’m heavily influenced by instrumental producers and like producing tracks that stand on their own in addition to tracks with recording artists, so there should be something for everyone. Most of the songs on the EP have been done for many months and some of the instrumentals (including “Faded”) were produced at least a year if not two years ago. I’m trying to be as meticulous with the release as I am with my production, which means I’m okay with not rushing to get it out, although I’m glad it’s getting close! I’m also developing a live show based around my EP and am looking forward to playing out some in 2017. I can’t wait to share more music with the world – Hear My Voice!