Last week I posted a preview of an awesome upcoming interview that I was going to be doing with singer/songwriter Kelley James, but you have probably noticed that you have yet to see anything from that…until now!
I apologize for the suspense, but I was working really hard to make this post especially great for all of you. Great work takes time, right?
To catch you up to speed, I traveled downtown to interview Kelley and it went really well! He’s very down to earth and does a great job in an interview. He really has a vision for his music and he likes to be as creative as possible with his songs which makes him very unique.
So without further ado, check out my interview with Kelley!
My friend Courtney came with me and helped me film the interview and my friend Joel helped me produce the video. Please give them a shout out for being a big help in putting this together!
Also, thanks again to everyone at SLE Entertainment, Red Bull, Kelley James, the Kelley James Team and Indianapolis Bloggers for the interview and entrance to the Moto GP After Party to watch Kelley perform.
If you would like to read the full interview, I have included it below. Enjoy!
Kelley: Whats up Team! We’re here in Indianapolis, one of my favorite places to come roll through. I’m a big Midwest fan, but I grew up in California so I had to take a 5:50am flight to make it out here but the weather’s beautiful, watching a little sunset here in the background and I’m going to answer some questions for you!
How did you get your start in music?
Kelley: I started playing music when I was 12. I got a guitar, but it wasn’t necessarily a focus, it was more of a passion or pastime kind of hobby. For me, I always knew what I wanted to do. I had this gut feeling that’s what I was meant to do, and I was able to figure it out and was able to do it once I got to college and just worked to make it happen. I’m still trying to make it happen.
What was the very first venue you played in?
Kelley: My very first show, like when I was in high school? My first show was when I was 15, it was a battle of the bands in high school. In the gym, the old gymnasium (joking). My band then was called “Lime Strike” and we definitely thought we were going to take over the world, not even a question.
Did you win?
Kelley: I think we did win, yeah we were pretty good! (In terms of 15 year old crappy garage bands go)
In listening to your music, you have a very unique sound! Who are some of your musical influences?
Kelley: I grew up listening to grunge music, that’s the music that I discovered on my own. Nirvana, Sound Garden, Stone Temple Pilots, STP, Pearl Jam, the list goes on. For me, it was that music that really sparked my interest to what music was and what it meant. The singer/songwriters really were a big influence. Then it was everyone from Sublime, Ben Harper, Jason Mraz, John Mayer to Dave Matthews Band, OAR, Dispatch were huge for me. Those guys showed me that you can sing, play guitar, and write your own music, tour, do it all, and you could be the entity that pushed out creativity on a consistent level.
You’re also unique in that you rap. Where did that part of your music come from?
Kelley: I grew up in California, so hip hop music was always there. For me, it was something I just listened to. I play guitar and I sang so I always wondered, and still do wonder what the ultimate (quote end quote) mash up of those two styles is and where it connects on the most powerful meeting point. So I freestyle, I rap and mash up old school rap songs with other covers and my songs so I think it was a natural progression to get to that Summertime on my mind rap style verses.
What is your favorite song to perform?
Kelley: Good question. I really like the song I have called standing on a rooftop. It has a reggae feel and the chorus is a little more rock. The way it feels when we play it on stage is my favorite. Favorite cover would probably be ‘what I got” by Sublime. Everyone knows that song and it crosses so many different genres of music. There’s a little bit of reggae in there, a little bit of hip hop, they always add punk elements to what they did, but it’s kind of a pop song. So if you’re a hip hop guy, or a rap guy, or a punk guy at the core, you just have to relate to it.
You said you were a Midwest fan, where have you performed in the Midwest and what was your favorite Midwest spot to play so far?
Kelley: I’ve played all over. When I graduated college we started what we called “The Fraternity & Sorority Tour” so we played private shows at sorority houses bringing the sound system just playing these 80-100 person shows, and then played fraternity shows on the weekends. So I’ve played at a lot of schools around the Midwest. I love Indiana; I’ve played DePauw a lot, Indiana University quite a few times and Purdue a few times. I also love Chicago, and I’ve had great show sin Missouri, but Indiana’s been great – really, really great!
As I was looking at your website, I saw that you are involved with a very cool organization called “Strikeouts For Troops”. Tell us more about the organization and how you are involved.
Kelley: A good friend of mine pitches for the San Francisco Giants, his name is Barry Zito, and he’s really passionate about giving back to the military. There are two things I’m really passionate about: one would be the military (my father was in the army) and kids. So I love anything from Ronald McDonald house, children’s hospital, anything involving kids – sports programs, anything for the development of kids is so important. So Strikeouts for Troops for me is just a great organization. Its 100% of every dollar goes back directly to the cause. And he personally funds so many little things that aren’t publicized, just making families comfortable while one of their loved ones is in the hospital, after coming back from being shipped out somewhere. And I get to do so much in my life, so many amazing things, it’s really not possible without the military. They protect us, they give us this freedom. It’s because of them that I can stand here, do an interview and go play a show tonight. So many people have given their lives so that we can have such a wonderful, wonderful existence. They sacrifice everything for that, so the military to me is very, very important.
Strikeouts For Troops does everything you could imagine. They host baseball games and bring families out to games, give them tickets. Now we’re looking into doing live shows so we’ll bring in military. He’s doing a huge event in San Diego this November that I’m going to pay. It’s on the USS Midway, that big ship where they play the college basketball games. They’re just working on, number one, just spreading the word and making sure that certain families and certain military persons in situations have the means to deal with any hardships that might be happening in their lives.
Let’s switch gears back to your music – In your video, “Summertime on My Mind” you were surfing and playing volleyball. Are those some of your favorite hobbies?
Kelley: Surfing for sure, I surf every day when I’m home. Volleyball – every once in a while. I’m not a crazy beach volleyball person but I love it, I’m just not that good But that video is sort of what I do in the summer. Hang out at the beach and with buddies at their houses. My studio is in Santa Monica so it revolves around that summer-y beach vibe.
Ok, now this is a little bit off the wall, but name one thing on your bucket list! One can be for your music career, and one just for life in general:
Kelley: Hmm… I want to think of something good!
For my music career, would be to play the Fillmore in San Francisco. It’s just a legendary venue, not a big venue, 1,000 people. I’ve played so many other venues around the nation, but that venue to me was where I was 16 years old and I just knew that was what I wanted to do. I sort of looked up at the stage and was like “I want to be that guy! I want to do what he’s doing!”
For life, it would have to be something to do with travel. I really want to go to Africa, I want to do the whole safari vibe. And maybe surf a legendary wave somewhere; I don’t have anything specific for that, but something with travel.
You have two albums so far, so what can we expect from you in the future? What can we expect to see coming down the pipe?
Kelley: I have a couple songs that we’re going to release pretty soon. We’re just figuring out different creative ways to get them out there. Probably shoot some more videos. The next song that’s going to come out is called “California” – It’s just my little ode to California.
Where can people buy your music or find out more about you?
Kelley: All my stuff is on iTunes. And obviously I’m on Facebook and Twitter, but KelleyJames.com links to everything so check it out.