Tue, 28 May 2013 06:19:06
"It's like we've got our own little lane," says Malcolm Kelley of MKTO.
However, the Los Angeles duo's sound is so big it's more like their own highway. Kelley and his musical other half Tony Oller drum up a slick, sunny, and soaring combo of hip-hop and pop on their new single "Thank You". Their seamless alchemy makes for a track that's as unforgettable as it is unique. It's also the perfect summer anthem…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller of MKTO talk "Thank You", their forthcoming album, influences, movies, and more.
Is it important for you to mix up genres?
Malcolm Kelly: I really can't wait for people to hear the rest of the album. "Thank You" is the most political song. We're thinking about stuff everybody is going through. It mixes the rap and the singing, and it sounds really cool.
Is "Thank You" a proper introduction to the album?
Malcolm Kelly: I think it is. It's perfect for what's going on right now with the new election and the current time in Australia. They're dealing with that new Prime Minister. It's a great song to start with. Our second single is going to be called "Classic". Now, that's a little something for the ladies. We've got something with Ne-Yo on the way too. We're hitting the right avenues. You can enjoy the album and grow with us.
What does "Thank You" mean to you?
Malcolm Kelly: We're preparing for a new election. Then, there are some things going on with schools. They're getting ready to cut classes. My sister was going through that. Of course, there's also the whole economic crisis we're in right now and trying to figure out. We're saying we're still going to get through everything we've been put through. Even in the toughest times, everyone will still get through so we're saying, "Thank you". There's nothing left to lose so we're going to go to the top.
How do songs usually start?
Malcolm Kelly: Sometimes, you might start with a melody. With "Thank You", we were five songs-deep into the album. When we wrote it, one of our buddies was strumming on the guitar. The melody was really good, and we added a vocal line. Next thing you know, we've made our single.
Is it important for you to tell stories and paint pictures with the songs?
Malcolm Kelly: Most definitely! It's about keeping it real. We've got a bunch of artistry, and we're telling stories. That's how people relate. I think listeners can relate to the songs, and it feels good at the same time. You can bob your head to it. The record is just like that.
What fosters that?
Malcolm Kelly: It can be movies, books, everything on television, and life in general. Tony and I are both actors. We have that background in the business. Traveling, you get to see a lot, and many things happen you can put into the music. You just find a way to say it.
Do acting and music come from different creative places?
Malcolm Kelly: When you're acting, you're playing a character with a different background and story. It's about trying to find different emotions. When you're on stage, you want to get certain emotions across. You're in the moment and getting the energy from the fans right then and there. With acting, you get to do it over and over.
Tony Oller: The cool thing about acting is you get a hundred takes. With music and live performances, it's about being in the moment. That's something we both enjoy. There's a contrast with acting.
If you're album were a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Tony Oller: Maybe, it'd be The Sandlot.
Malcolm Kelly: The Sandlot would be dope. I used to love that movie.
Tony Oller: It's good and enjoyable. It's a growing up album for us. A lot of the things we've written are taken from personal experience. We didn't always do the cool thing or follow the trends. The album is such a diverse record. We're outcasts, and you can feel that in the songs.
Have you heard MKTO?