Keeping Shelly in focus11/25/2015
Keep Shelly in Athens, the chillwave two-piece whose name is a play on the Kypseli neighborhood of Athens, Greece, that they call home, is really the brainchild of mercurial producer known as RΠü. He is the man who creates the songs, establishes the group’s sound and, ultimately, picked its voice. But up until recently, many casual fans would never have known it.
When KSiA was first presented to the world, RΠü was the nearly invisible man behind the equipment, while his handpicked vocalist, Sarah P, gave the band a face.
“When I started KSiA in 2010, in the first six months I had no vocals,” he explained. “I was alone, but I had uploaded three tracks that contained female samples in the tracks. So when some music sites started to talk about the tracks, the band was already being visualized as the boy behind the gear and the girl with the vocals.”
Talk to RΠü for any length of time, and it becomes obvious that he is not a man who rushes to the spotlight. So Sarah P handled the interviews and sang the songs. Small wonder then that many people wondered if KSiA was finished when Sarah P announced she was leaving the band at the beginning of 2014. Enter Myrtha.
“We had some difficulties at first,” he said of the change in vocalists. “Sarah P was the face of the band. I realized that wasn’t so right, because sometimes when there is just one face in front of a crowd, people often see that one face as The Band.
“But it was my decision to do that. It was obviously not the right decision. But when I made the change in singers, there were people who thought that Keep Shelly in Athens was just Sarah P.”
Hired two short months after Sarah P’s exit, Myrtha brings a different dimension to the songs than her predecessor. She keeps the ethereal essence of the songs largely intact, but she is a more dynamic stage performer and understands her role in the band.
“I was searching for a singer who could obviously sing the kind of stuff that we release,” RΠü said. “But we also wanted to upgrade the vocals in terms of live performances. We wanted something to be an upgrade for the band.”
Thus far, RΠü is happy with KSiA’s established, artistic aesthetic. He appreciates the counterpoint that a female vocalist brings to his songs, but he says he never writes with that dynamic in mind.
“We’re always going to have a female singer, but that won’t change how I work or put down my music,” he said. “When I start working on a song, I’m working on the music, then I’m starting to think how the vocal lines should be. Then, I’m working with Myrtha to see how she can understand my vision of the track.”
RΠü is also doing what he can to make sure people do not start thinking of KSiA as just Myrtha. That means coming out from behind the hoodies and mixing gear and talking more about what he does so people remember why KSiA exists in the first place.
“The band is always going to have that front woman face,” he said. “But lately I’ve started to give more interviews myself. At this point, I want there to be more of a balance between us, so people know that this is a duo. My intentions are not to be more in the front; I just want to have the whole focus on making music.” CV