Kellie Knight and her seven-piece jazz / funk ensemble are totally owning the neo-soul genre. Their 2015 debut EP Twisted won awards for three of its five tracks at the Dolphin Awards and they’ve won over audiences at events like Bluesfest, Woodford Folk Festival and the Adelaide Fringe.
Miami Marketta is next and a new single is due for release in June. Samantha Morris caught up with Kellie Knight herself with the first question being ‘what the hell is neo-soul?’
“It’s derived from old-school soul music from the 50s-60s like the Motown label but with the added flavours of jazz, funk, pop, electronic,” Kellie explained adding artists like D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill and Hiatus Kyote to the list of descriptors.
It seems Kellie is pretty passionate about the genre. Taking that passion from the stage to the screen as the brains behind the portal neosoul.com.au. She says she saw a need for a place where people could find out about venues, festivals, bands and radio stations that support the growing genre.
“I put my research into one website to help other musos and fans alike,” she said. “It’s a work in progress, but if anyone would like to contribute hit me up.”
Kellie studied at the Northern Rivers Conservatorium of Music and was approached, alongside Nattali Rize (Blue King Brown) to be the face of the Conservatorium’s silver jubilee campaign. She speaks highly of the conservatorium.
“It was a fantastic musical experience for me to learn about jazz, play with talented musicians and hang out in the beautiful historic buildings they reside in,” she said. “They had dance and drama too, so it was like entering into the set of FAME. As soon as I landed here from Melbourne I knew I belonged.”
Kellie’s connection to the northern rivers was further bolstered when her last EP won Dolphin awards for best jazz song, best urban / funk song and best world / reggae song.
Northern River’s Dolphin Awards have grown into an important program of awards for northern NSW over the past 25 years. Kellie says there’s a hotspot of talent between Tweed and Grafton and thousands of musicians enter each year.
“It’s such an honour to be a finalist or win one of these awards. It’s also almost a relief to attend because you get to catch up with other musicians and Industry people you haven’t seen because we are all busy gigging, and talk to peers about how they are going, what their inspirations, ups and downs have been during the year. It’s really encouraging.”
“This year we were finalists in best production too (Govinda Doyle, Producer),” she said, adding that the Awards also used her song Everything is One in their television campaign.
Travelling beyond our shores has had a big impact on Kellie’s music. She’s stood in amongst a whole town in the Carribean singing along to Bob Marley tunes on his birthday, had vocal lessons in India and been visited by famous composers reciting their compositions for the first time.
“I’ve taken death defying bus rides in Barbados where the calypso reggae is pumping from the sound system and I’ve met all walks of musicians and shared in their music,” she said. “They are all in my head and heart and imbue my inspiration for writing like a collective global muse.”
Her band, which comprises Matt Day (guitar), Angus Graham (Bass), Carl George (Drums), Dan Brown (Keys), Rebecca Ireland (Backing vocal) and Mark Heazlett (Backing Vocal) will be joining here when she hits Miami Marketta next month. She’ll also have special guest Wil Sargisson on keys and she’s got a new single due in June.
“I have an album in me,” Kellie said. “This single is called Refugee, I could tell you more but I would have to kill you, haha. Stay tuned in June 2017.”
In the meantime, catch Kellie Knight and the Daze at Miami Marketta on 17 February.