During the entire twenty-seven minute interview with Connor Kelly, one word kept popping into my head: charisma. As defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘charisma’ is, “compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others”. Now although proper journalism, most of which I’ve abandoned, forbids me to comment on the first half, I can confirm that Kelly has a charm unlike any other artist I’ve spoken to. This charm is what carried his hit song, “Things To Lose” straight to the top of my Discover Weekly and many others. Since its release date in September, “Things To Lose” has reached over 168,000 plays on Spotify, a remarkable feat for a new artist’s first stand-alone song. But that’s not where the magic stops.
Kelly is seventeen. You heard me. Seventeen. He was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, which holds a gem of a music scene that is slightly more conservative in its location, making artists like Kelly focus more on the craft of songwriting rather than straight performances like the scene in Nashville. Having grown up with a father who played drums in a fraternity-organized band in college, Kelly was raised on rock ‘n roll, and the vibrance of that style is shown in every song Kelly has produced thus far. Connor writes and produces with his older brother Benjamin who left to L.A. for a while before returning in a hurry once hearing “Things To Lose”.
The two, using audio interfaces ordered off of Ebay, pieced together the single from thousands of miles away, although you’d never notice it. The silky sound with electrifying sculpt a refreshing tune of Kelly’s abandonment of unnecessary distractions in his life. Kelly says, “I have to separate myself from things and people that will take me off of my path,” this path being the road of creation. Whether this road is songwriting, guitar playing, or producing, Kelly will gladly ride along with it, despite the rockiness of his path. It is this determination that makes Kelly such a promising, upcoming figure in today’s music scene.
Which scene to be exact? I can’t tell you and neither can Kelly, as he describes his sound as “too many genres with one overall tone”. On his upcoming album coming late summer, early fall, Kelly says that each song is a different feeling and vibe. Ranging from reggae to pop, the album encompasses a variety of sounds that no other, new artist compiles as deftly as Kelly does. His idol is John Mayer, who also has this versatility in his sound and can make pop music for heartbroken teenagers or rock on with Grateful Dead (Grateful & Company). Striving to achieve Mayer’s success is one goal, but Kelly takes note of his style and ability to reach a variety of audiences as far more appealing.
Connor Kelly is an absolute pleasure to work with and is equally as enjoyable to listen to. Keep an eye out for his upcoming album as well as a few singles that might drop in the meantime.
Until next time, Rocka out.