Exclusive Interview With One-To-Watch Talent Jack Kelly
At just 21 years old, there’s a sound beyond the years of a Jack Kelly production. Futuristic and extremely polished, the Belfast-born producer is one-to-watch, tipped by BBC Introducing in the UK, supported by Nicky Romero and R3HAB, and snapped up by leading indie label and management agency, Perfect Havoc.
We thought now was the time to chat to the budding talent before he blows up big time. And what a pleasure it was too. Here Jack talks to us about how it all started, transitioning from musician to electronic music producer, and inspirations to life goals. Enjoy.
Hi Jack, how you doing? Where are you in the world today?
I’m better than ever, thanks for asking! Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland but now based in London full time.
Congratulations on the release of Backwards and receiving your first play on Radio 1 on BBC Introducing. We hear it was written entirely on Zoom. Tell us about that experience and working with Bertie Scott and Lauren L’aimant.
This was a very special moment for me. I grew up listening to Radio 1, it was a massive part of my musical upbringing. Mum always had it on in the car, we’ve shared so many memorable car journeys together whether that was on the school run or a road trip. Ever since then it’s been a massive goal of mine to have one of my tracks played on air so when it happened it felt like a full circle moment for me and my family.
I met Lauren and Bertie on an online Zoom writing camp in April 2022. We all shared similar views on what we wanted to create that day and ‘Backwards’ was the product of that session. Both Lauren and Bertie are amazing vocalists, writers, and even better people, so it was a privilege to work with them.
After the day on Zoom I knew it was going to be a special record. I spent the next couple of months producing the track in several different directions, but eventually settled on a vibe that I and the guys were happy with. The track was completed with the help of my management at Perfect Havoc and the amazing Tom Griffith’s (ICARUS), who mixed the record, putting us in a position where we were all happy to release it.
You learned to play several instruments from an early age. What did you play? And was playing an instrument encouraged by your family or was it something you just naturally wanted to do?
My musical journey began back in primary school. I began playing the Clarinet when I was 8, quickly followed by the Saxophone when I was 10. I continued to play these all through my 7 years in secondary school and was fortunate to be part of my school’s orchestra which wasn’t like any other school orchestra, performing to thousands of people each year at our concerts.
This was another key part of my musical growth and gave me the confidence to perform live, so I owe a lot to my music teachers in school for the opportunity.
I think I always knew I was somewhat musical, so when I was given the chance to trial the Clarinet, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue myself. Mum and Dad have been really encouraging since day 1, but never pressured me into anything.
They enabled me to go down whatever path I felt like, but always encouraged me to stick with the music and continue to support me at every move, so big up Mum and Dad for the platform!
Now, I make my music primarily on my laptop, but nothing will ever beat real world instruments for me. The saxophone is such a versatile instrument and one you can be sure to hear in my music down the line.
At what point did you make the transition to electronic music? What producers were you listening to that inspired you, or club nights you were going out to?
A friend of mine at school Robbie (AKA Reger) asked me to come along to a music production class held at Queens University on Fridays after school when we were both 14. It was here where we discovered our love for electronic music and the young success of the likes of Martin Garrix inspired us massively. The course taught us how to use the basis of Ableton Live to program music, and as you can imagine our 14-year-old brains were mind blown by the capabilities this had, creatively.
As soon as Robbie and I were old enough, we both dove headfirst into the local club scene in Belfast, going to and playing at as many nights as we could. Robbie’s just landed himself a Boiler Room set at AVA this summer so it’s nice to see both of us doing what we started together!
In terms of producers, I’ve always been heavily influenced and inspired by the music of Elderbrook, Ben Böhmer, Barry Can’t Swim and KC Lights to name a few. When listening to these artists I feel something different to any other music and I have a real connection to their sound, something I try reflecting in my own music.
There’s a real futuristic sound to your production as also heard on your single ‘Driving’ which Nicky Romero and R3HAB both supported. Can we expect more similar sounds in releases yet to come? What else do you have lined up this year?
This was another crazy moment. Nicky, again, was someone I grew up listening to, so it’s super cool for him to be playing my records. I made Driving with Thijs (AKA Julius IV), someone I met on my first week after moving to London, and now a very good friend and someone I make music with all the time.
In the last year I’ve spent a lot of time working on my own unique sound, something that sticks out. I’m really pushing this sound for my artist project, and you can expect this vibe for my upcoming releases.
I have a numerous exciting collaborations in the works, as well as a heap of my own solo work, which a mixture of both will be coming to your ears very soon! The goal for my sound is for people to hear my music and instantly recognize it as mine, something the late, great Avicii did so well. This will take time to craft but it’s something I’m very passionate in constantly working on and improving.
You’re still so young at 21. What life goals do you want to achieve next?
I don’t like to think too far ahead, I take every day as it comes, and I feel very lucky to be in the position I am at 21. There are so many changing factors in the music industry and new opportunities arise when you are least expecting them, so I am open to change and to anything that comes my way. I’m trying to enjoy life to the full and take all opportunities when they present themselves.
I love travelling so I guess a big goal of mine is to perform my music across the world and be booked as Jack Kelly, not just a DJ. I want to live in different cities across the world while I’m still young to experience different ways of life, putting my foot in as many doors as possible and building up a network of likeminded people.
Forgive us but we’ve not been lucky enough – yet – to catch you DJing. What does a Jack Kelly DJ set sound like?
It always depends on the night / venue, but wherever I’m playing I like to bring fresh sounds to my audience no matter how big or small. I know it sounds cliché, but I want my audience to live in the moment and experience the music I’m playing the way I first experienced the records, something I think is so important especially in today’s world. I try to curate my sets to be as euphoric, deep and melodic as possible, similar to the way I make my music.
You played at ADE last year at the Perfect Havoc x Loudkult event. What did you make of ADE – was it your first time at the conference / in Amsterdam?
ADE was incredible. I had a ball with the whole Perfect Havoc family the whole weekend and made a lot of valuable friendships / relationships. Obviously, the Perfect Havoc x Loudkult event was the highlight, playing to a packed Maia at peak time was very special.
I’d visited Amsterdam with my Mum when I was 15 and wanted to go back ever since, so when I was asked to play, I jumped at the opportunity. It was my first time attending the conference and it’s going to be in my calendar year on year from now on.
Where can people catch you playing this year?
Funnily enough, my next show is at a student festival in the Netherlands on 18th May called Us Leef Vruike AKA ULV where I’ll be going b2b with Thijs (Julius IV) to brings those sounds I mentioned to our audience and road test some of our own original music. Aside from that you can catch me playing numerous sets in London and my hometown, Belfast, across the summer. Be sure to check my socials for updates on when and where I’m performing!
Finally, what three tracks are guaranteed to be on rotation in your sets this summer?
I’m looking forward to playing Nu Aspect, Jamis and Poppy Baskcomb’s ‘Miss You’, a track that perfectly encapsulates my vibe. As well as this, ‘No Sympathy’ by Nimino is a guaranteed moment for my sets, and of course it’s going to be nice to play Backwards out too!
Massive luck with what’s to come, Jack. Thanks for speaking with us.
Thank you, guys, for the support! Speak soon <3
Soundrive Music has earned a reputation as the foremost global hub for all things EDM. With a presence in over 125 countries, it has swiftly become a trusted and esteemed source for electronic dance music news, reviews, interviews, and features catering to DJs, artists, and labels alike.
Beyond its extensive coverage of the EDM scene, Soundrive Music provides a platform for aspiring DJs and artists to showcase their talents. Through a diverse range of events and collaborations with leading industry players, it creates opportunities for emerging talent to gain exposure and advance their careers.
From breaking news and cutting-edge music releases to in-depth interviews with industry titans, Soundrive Music is committed to delivering the most up-to-date and comprehensive information on the world of electronic dance music.
Soundrive Music’s headquarters are located in London, United Kingdom, founded on April 19 of 2016 in Helsingborg, Sweden by Jacques Maurice Julie and Darren Johnathan Bezuidenhout and originally known as UFO Network with record label UFO Recordz.
The company was acquired by Soundrive Music LTD in early 2023 and have rebranded since. Soundrive Music LTD or better known as Soundrive HQ is not to be confused and is not associated with Soundrive Music Festival or Soundrive Records.
Jack Kelly x Bertie Scott x Lauren L’Aimant ‘Backwards’ is out now via Perfect Havoc
Connect with Jack Kelly