“There’s nothing worth talking about
Nothing I couldn’t live without
That can’t be said in three minutes flat
Of vinyl spinning on a rubber mat.”
Between 1986-1994, I was lead singer and songwriter with The Fat Lady Sings. After putting out four well-received independent singles ourselves, we signed with and released two albums on East West / Atlantic – “Twist” (1991) and “Johnson” (1993). We enjoyed a lot of chart success in my native Ireland, a little in the UK (where we based ourselves), occasional smatterings in the US and elsewhere around the world. We also spent the guts of 5 years touring the planet, building up a large and disarmingly loyal fanbase.
In 1994, I realised I’d had enough of an existence which, while always artistically fulfilling, had become increasingly harder for me to enjoy as an overall lifestyle. I split the band and moved back to Dublin.
A couple of years passed before I dipped my toe back into water, albeit in a rather different part of the stream.
In 1997 I released my first solo album “Between Trapezes” on my own Self Possessed Records label, the initial pressing funded by an appeal to fans and friends. The critical and public reaction to both the music and the then highly unusual model used to release it was very heartening to me. I received three nominations at the Heineken / Hot Press Irish Music Critics Awards for that year, and won the accolade of Best Solo Male Artist.
Thereafter, life and other pursuits (see elsewhere on this site) intervened.
It was not until 2005 that I finally got around to releasing my second solo album “Running Dog”. Once again self-released and fan-funded, I was delighted that it made the nominations for Irish Album of The Year at the inaugural Choice Music Prize.
Also in 2005, East West / Atlantic released “The Fat Lady Singles (& Opera Obscura)”, a retrospective double album featuring my old band’s 10 singles, plus a selection of videos, B-Sides, live tracks and rarities, which provided us all with the perfect excuse to perform together onstage for the first time in over a decade at a brace of live shows in Dublin and London.
In 2007 I embarked on a new clandestine musical experiment by releasing three radio singles under the alter ego Alien Envoy. “Cast Adrift (Without A Compass)”, “45” and “Christmas In The City (Orla’s Song)” gained me plays in unexpected places, and gave me the opportunity to move outside my own comfort zone and other people’s expectations of what a Nick Kelly record might sound like.
In 2009 I expanded upon the Alien Envoy concept by setting up the GESTATION project, a nine-month process which combined live performance and online sharing. I began by posting a clutch of raw demos on a WordPress site. Then each month between September 2009 and May 2010 I gathered a different group of musicians together to perform a show upstairs in Dublin venue Whelans where we would experiment with alternative approaches to the new songs. Every gig was recorded and after each one I would post those new versions which seemed particularly interesting on the blog site, asking the public for feedback and even inviting them to submit original images inspired by the songs for consideration as album artwork.
In 2010 I released the initial fruits of this experiment, “Nine Lives”, an album featuring the best of those live recordings – and including a bunch of beautiful fan-generated images – once again under the alias Alien Envoy.
The GESTATION process and the album it spawned received glowing media coverage – but the promotional campaign around the release was somewhat overshadowed by the unexpected success of my third short film “Shoe” which was shortlisted for an Oscar the same month as “Nine Lives” came out.
In 2011, as a part-attempt to pull together and explain the logic behind my seemingly higgledy-piggeldy creative life, I created a new stage show SEE:HEAR which interweaves a live performance of songs from across my musical career, a screening of three short films written and directed by me, and a philosophical (but I hope also entertaining) dissertation on the many links that I see between music and film and how they cross-pollinate in my own creative life. I’ve performed SEE:HEAR at various arts centres and festivals to gratifyingly warm reaction.
In 2012, The Fat Lady Sings were asked to reform for a one-off live performance at Ireland’s premier music and arts festival The Electric Picnic, a triumphant and most enjoyable event for us all.
In November 2014, I released Loads, my first studio album as Alien Envoy. Anthony Gibney recorded and co-produced, and I was lucky enough to be able to work with an array of my favourite musicians. I was particularly pleased with the critical response to this collection of songs:
“The most visual songwriter Ireland has ever produced…stunning (9/10)” – Hot Press
“Ireland’s most philosophical songsmith” – Sunday Independent.
“One of the songwriting greats” – Hissyfit (UK)
“One of the most focused and soulfully precise writers in modern music” – Stereo Embers Magazine (USA)
2016 has seen me playing the occasional solo SONGBOOK show around Ireland, drawing from across my back catalogue; looking into a possible physical re-release of the two original and currently unavailable albums by The Fat Lady Sings; and gearing up to perform SEE:HEAR at film festivals in 2017.…