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Kelly Kellam lives for music. As a DJ & Producer Kellam uses music as a primary tool in cultivating experiences that allow people to let go and tune into the moment. He got his start in New York City where he quickly became a fixture in the underground dance music scene and has rapidly gained acclaim across North America. His positive energy and knack for weaving together deep melodic tracks has made him a rising star in the dance music world which has landed him bookings at many of the top dance music clubs and events across the United States. Kellam’s dynamic sound ranges from warm sunrise sessions with a deep melodic groove, to dark funky grooved deep tech house. He has a incredible ability to set and build an atmosphere with his particularly dynamic track selection and sequencing. Whether it be a sunset on the beach, 3am deep driving beats in a warehouse, or a mellow sunrise, he will have you tuned into the moment with special selection of tunes that will capture and direct the vibe appropriately, but always with a deep melodic groove.
In the last year alone he has shared the decks with many of the top tier DJs and producers including: Damian Lazarus, Seth Troxler, Eric Morillo, DJ Tennis, Behrouz, Claptone, Thugfucker, No Regular Play, Mark Farina, Miguel Migs, Rony Seikly, Phonique, Johnny Cruz, Bob Moses, Naveen G, Tara Brooks, Anthony Attalla, Swamy & Dill, and many others.
He became entranced with DJing following a funk set he experienced at Burning Man several years ago. He has since become and avid Burner and even runs one of the largest dance music amps on the Playa. He is now booked at many of the most popular and respected sound camps such as: Pink Mammoth, Distrikt, The Kasbah, Heart Phoenix and Trifucta where he shares many incredible line ups with, to name a few: Lee Burridge, DJ Tennis, Thugfucker & Carl Craig to name only a few. Kellam is also the music director at Camp Trifucta where he books and manages a line up of over 70 DJs each year.
Although Kellam has only recently stepped into the arena of the underground dance music scene in the past 5 years, he is no stranger to music. He toured for several years as a singer / songwriter, playing venues such as the famous House of Blues many times, in addition to countless bars, festivals and concert venues across the country. This has served him incredibly well in his transition to being a DJ. He has an truly polished ability to read and feed off the audience and really capture and shape the vibe of where ever he is DJing. This is part of the reason why his popularity amongst crowds and dance floors has exploded. At one point Kellam was DJing events and parties up to 6 nights a week around the North East. He has since scaled that back enormously to allow for more international bookings. He is still a regular at notable venues in NYC such as Marquee, and underground venues like New York’s infamous “Beef Cuts” playing along side DJs that include, DJ Tennis, Mano Le Tough, Matthias Meyer, Thugfucker, Corey Baker, Gregorythyme, Bedouin, Signal Flow, and many more.
Where are you from and what are your musical upbringings?
I’m not entirely sure how to answer this anymore… I’d call myself a world citizen- However, I’m originally a boy from Texas. Since I left Texas, I’ve been in and out of the military and several other random adventures, I ended up in New York City jn 2008 and have never felt more at home. I grew up listening to a pretty wide range of commercial music, acoustic folk music, jazz and old school rock and roll. My dad always had music playing- whether it was an old Rolling Stones album, Nirvana, and even stuff like Bobby Brown & Eminem too. I started playing music at a young age too… Guitar and percussion were my thing, I started writing music and every attempt at singing too- although I was quite terrible for several years, I just really loved it. It was who I was. A musician and I knew that almost immediately- so I did it cause I loved it.
Can you tell us how you got mixed up in this crazy world of electronic music?
Well I ended up at Burning Man in 2010 and actually took my guitar along, sang and played at center camp and some other live music spots- on the second or third day I ended up at a party with a dj playing some amazing funk music, MC Pryme of the rootsellers, and it just twisted my mind for the level of creative freedom DJs had. Before this I always thought there wasn’t much to djing- a glorified dancing playlist of sorts… That same trip to Burning Man I found my self gravitating to massive rumbling sound systems playing various sub genres of dance music; from NuFunk and Future funk (the pretty lights/gramatik sound) to House, and Deep House at camps like Nexus, Opulent Temp and of course Robot Heart … When I returned to NY I kept talking at no end about djing and dance music and the same friend that had originally invited me to Burning man in the first place invited me to come to his club on an off night and give DJing a try… So I did, and within 2 or 3 months I was djing 4-5 nights a week 10pm-4am sets… At this point I was playing more open genre dance music, a lot of mashups, Edm and etc- and progressively moved more and more towards house music. I am regularly blown away by the vast sea of music that is out there and the amazing global community surrounding it.
Can you tell us a little about the city you live in now and the scene there?
NYC. Where do I start. In the past 5 years the music scene here has more than exploded. Barely 4 years ago when I started to really become involved in the scene there tended to be a few good parties a month… Mostly underground with promoters like Blkmarket and Resolut and the occasional awesome line up at more major clubs – it is entirely different scene now. On any given night there may be 4-6 parties with amazingly stacked underground deep house, house, and techno DJs- some “off the radar” hidden warehouses, others with productions in the $100,000+ range- this doesn’t even include the nightly parties at OUTPUT, Verboten, Friday’s at marquee, space… I would never suggest that there is too much going on, but it is difficult sometime to choose which event(s) to go to or how to wrangle groups of friends between events. The local talent in NYC is astounding as well. Guys like Ray Zuniga (Signal Flow) Jonny Cruz, Corey Baker (wildkats/pattern Drama) Michael Tello(pillow talk/SignalFlow), Thugfucker, Taimur & Fahad, Lovecraft, Bedouin, Naveen G, Mike Khoury… I could go on for another 30+ local artists but you get the point… It’s hard to even spend time behind the decks playing because you constantly wanna go and support other amazing DJs/shows… That’s not even to mention how often at smaller underground parties other industry legends like Seth Troxler, Bill Patrick, Mano Le tough, DJ tennis may just pop in and hop on the decks and play b2b for 6+ hours.
What do you think it is about New York that makes it the #1 city for dance music in America?
NYC is a place that many of the worlds top DJs come and choose play at venues or parties for their authenticity, not for an inflated paycheck. This only happens because the vibe, the parties, the people here are all about the music- that’s why one of the best underground dance music clubs in the world here is called “output”. While there is “spectacle” built into the production of some of the events it all boils down to superior sound, raw environments, and music that will surprise you.
We hear you are moving to Thailand to start a new residency. Can you tell us a little about that?
Well I couldn’t be more excited! I haven’t been to Asia yet, so it made sense to just move there for a year! On a serious note though, it is an incredible opportunity to be the “director of atmosphere” with the W resort in Koh Samui- basically where I will be the resident Dj and responsible for building a bit of a scene down there- which I am trilled about because this means I can start booking and bringing some of my incredibly talented friends over like Silky, Low Tide, Tara Brooks, Jamie Schwabl, Jon Charnis, Kris Muniz… Best of both worlds djing all the time around SE Asia as well as supporting my friends…we are all in this together. I must mention how much I appreciate an excellent dj and good friend of mine, Scarlett Etienne, for kind of turning me on to this opportunity.
What advice would you give to aspiring DJs?
Play play play play play. But then take a step back and support support support… It’s when you are out supporting the scene that you really learn about the music industry, the happiness and the hardships. Then remember to create your own buzz by doing your own parties, having something to offer other than the burden of being “another dj”. Everyone wants to be booked. You will be booked only after you build your own following, gain respect from being consistent and show support… Then remember to take risks with your Music too. Don’t put your self in a box. Play time/vibe appropriate music. Don’t play your banging tracks when you are opening for someone else in hopes that they will hear how good your tunes are and book you at better time slots later. That actually works opposite. Shows your inexperience and will less list be booked again. There is no magic mix or secret step. Just time and investment of more time… Be patient and do it for the music.
Who are some of your favorite producers/labels right now?
Artists: Tara Brooks, Canson, Jamie Schwabl, Matthias Meyer, Mano Le tough, Naveen G, Bedouin, Kris Muniz, Martin Buttrich, Corey Baker, Kevin Anderson, Three, Adriatique, John digweed
Labels: Motek, Touch of Class, Wulfpack, Faceless, Desert Hearts, Cityfox, Incorrect Music, My Favorite Robot, Get Physical
Can you tell us s little about this mix?
This set is actually from an event I played Halloween weekend in Brooklyn. As such it builds into deep grooves and spacey melodies… I like to play tracks with some funky syncopation and driving bass lines. A sound somewhat inspired by the mind against/take of us vibe with a cool flowing melodic flow. All my mixes that I post are recorded live, I hope you enjoy this one!