“I been singing since I could talk” states talented UK soul singer Kelly Erez. The 29-year-old Londoner is inspired by musical greats such as Maxwell and Boyz II Men and has released an album titled ‘Come to Me’. We catch up with the star to record an exclusive acoustic session and she fills us in onwhat life is like trying to make it in the music business as well as what the wildest thing is that she has ever done.
When and where did your love of music begin?
I’ve been singing since I could talk and wrote my first song at the piano when I was 7. My sister Natalie was my first musical inspiration and taught me to write songs. She used to call me into her room when she was writing and ask me to sing harmonies so she could work out what to record. For the ‘Come To Me’ album, we both wanted to create music that we liked to listen to.
What’s Kelly Erez about?
My aspiration is to make music that is soulful, evergreen, and relatable and can help people through situations they find themselves in. I am a strong believer in being positive and focusing on the bright side of life.
Where do you want to go?
I would like to be a household name contributing to representing real music from the UK. I would love to collaborate with other artists such as Brian McKnight, Maxwell, Boyz II Men – all the amazing singers I’ve grown up with (on my headphones!)
Tell me about your journey how did you get to your current position?
I’ve written many songs over the years in different styles and worked with some very talented people. This album is special because it’s a collection of my real life experiences and co-written and produced by my sister Natalie Erez. I have a team of people I work with who are incredible – really passionate about helping me achieve my dream and helping to get my music heard.
What do you love most about what you do?
Being able to inspire listeners with my lyrics or touch them in a way that music has the ability to.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Recording my album and getting airplay and interviews across the BBC network!
What motivates you?
The feeling I get when I sing a self-written song and then hearing people sing it back to me or write me messages to say how it’s helped them get through something. For example, Letters, the opening song on my album, describes the process of needing to let go of the physical things connected to a physical relationship because it’s my belief that everything has energy and it’s good to make a clean break where needed.
What 5 songs a you listening to at the moment?
This Is How I Feel (Tank)
Sayido (Musiq Soulchild)
Small Bump (Ed Sheeran)
This Woman’s Work (Maxwell)
Xtra (Kelly Erez!)
Image is important in this industry what do you think is your best feature and why?
I always think a nice smile is a winner – because it makes others feel happy! (Debatable to some when squashed on the morning underground rush…)
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far in your career?
I think the biggest challenge is building an audience – it takes years of commitment and dedication. I’m delighted that the reaction to my album has been incredible and so many people have been great supporters.
Who is your music inspiration?
Early Mariah Carey was a huge inspiration to me – songs like If It’s Over, with a gorgeous gospel feel made me want to sing for hours on end every single day! Much of my inspiration comes from 90’s R&B and also singers like Donny Hathaway, Rachelle Ferrell and of course, Natalie Erez 😉
Tell me about your album Come To Me? Why that title? And why should people listen to it?
Come To Me is a soulful R&B album with a mellow feel – great for relaxing to in the evenings or playing whilst driving. There are songs on there mostly about relationships and the different stages we go through during them. I was going to call it ‘Buy Me’ but I thought that was a bit forward!! I’ve also included a bonus track called Trust In Me which describes how I feel about my younger sister Daniella being autistic and my belief that everything happens for a reason and I just have to trust that it’s meant to be this way even though I can’t understand it.
What’s it like working with your sister? Do you ever fight or have creative differences?
Hmm!! Well, at the beginning it was very ‘trial and error’ in the way we worked. For example, I make all sorts of loud noises when warming up, which can be very annoying to a big sister! So I’d stand out in the garden while Natalie set up, annoying the neighbours instead. There were intense moments, especially as we are both perfectionists and aren’t afraid to shout out our thoughts in a very direct manner. But ultimately, after adjusting we found it was the best collaboration we’ve both ever had. We connect in a way without even needing words to communicate sometimes. I start singing – Natalie plays beautifully – just the way I imagined the music to be. We bonded whilst producing this album and learned a lot about each other. So many emotions and topics were covered during the project – I think we know each other inside out now!
Who else have you worked with on the album?
Ian Carter co-wrote and produced We Got It All and Xtra. During the recording process I worked with some other great people such as Steve Bush (Stereophonics, Corinne Bailey-Rae) and Aubrey Nunn (Faithless, Dido). It features an amazing pianist from the London Community Gospel Choir for my song Trust In Me!
Some people would say sex sells in the rnb music industry. Would you wear revealing clothes and sing sexy songs to get ahead?
I think music should come first. There’s so far I would go – I think you can be sensual without being sexual. That’s what my song Xtra is about – not wanting to make those image compromises just to make it in the industry – “I thought this was supposed to be about music, did I get the wrong picture – do you really Xtra? Did I leave out the main thing cos you’re not salivating? All I wanna do is sing’” [lyric extract from Kelly Erez’s Xtra]
If you was to create a super group of five members, who would be your first choices? Dead or alive.
Wanya Morris (from Boyz II Men), Maxwell, Donny Hathaway, early Mariah Carey and Rachelle Ferrell.
How important do you think looks and image are in the music industry today?
Unfortunately, more important than they should be.
Have you met anyone famous, who has left you completely star struck?
I did meet Mariah once; it was a standout moment for me!
What’s the best piece of advice you received since entering the industry?
Don’t give up.
Quick fire questions
What was the first record you ever brought?
Bon Jovi’s – Keep The Faith
What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?
Dress up in my mum’s wedding dress and get the train to Covent Garden with my best friend as my bridesmaid (it was a good while ago, and there was no groom – strictly for fun!)
You never leave home without…Telling everyone in it that I love them
If you were in charge for one day, you would….Demand world peace. And sell everyone a mandatory copy of Come To Me…?? And an optional one for the car.
The future is….Bright. And full of hope. Even if it isn’t true in all areas, maybe if we believe that then a change is gonna come….