Keep Shelly in Athens
Keep Shelly in Athens actually hail from Athens, Greece. This much we do know. But very little else has been said about the enigmatic duo, who seemingly snuck onto the music scene with last year’s debut EP Our Own Dream.
Over album’s six tracks, vocalist Sarah P and one-named songwriter/producer RΠЯ combine the haunted ambience of Still Corners, Euro-pop sensibilities of Sally Shapiro, and mid-1990s morose club beats of Portishead. The result is a melancholy take on dance music—one that airs on the side of dreamy rather than full-out mope.
Under the Radar sat down with Sarah at Coachella to learn about the band’s origins, moving from the theater to concert venues, and what the ethereal-voiced vocalist “really” does at night. Draped in her grandmother’s shawl—even in the early afternoon heat—Sarah playfully answered our questions in halting, but deliberate English.
Laura Studarus (Under the Radar): We don’t hear a lot about bands from Greece.
Sarah P: Yes, it’s sort of unusual. I mean, we come from a little country. It takes us too long to come over here. It’s a long flight and all of that. We want to come back soon.
Being from such a small country, is there that culture of “I can make music a career, I can be popular outside of the country?”
It’s really difficult. We got the advantage of the Internet. This is a powerful thing. You can communicate your music to everywhere. Anyone can listen to your music, even if he is from India, or from New York, or, I don’t know. It’s amazing what the Internet can do. It’s the only thing to help us out. We wouldn’t have the chance to be here, right now. We are so excited to be here. If there weren’t internet and all those platforms, Myspace, Soundcloud, it’s amazing.
So I guess in that sense you’re a very modern band.
[Laughs] Yeah! Well, kind of.
How did you and RΠЯ start making music together?
He had the whole idea of this project, Keep Shelly in Athens. He wanted it to be a duet—a girl and a boy. We didn’t know each other. A friend did the whole introduction. He uploaded three tracks on his Myspace page that hadn’t had a vocalist yet.
After things started to get more serious, he had to find a vocalist that he wanted, because it was a duo from Athens, called Keep Shelly in Athens. We met, we started working together, and here we are!
Like magic! I mean, we are so lucky. So lucky!
How long ago did you start working together?
Almost two years.
Has a friendship developed out of your working relationship?
Definitely. We wouldn’t keep on working if we didn’t have the same attitude. It’s not like working in an office—it’s making music. Making music is the best thing for us. Music is our lifestyle. The whole of us is music. I cannot explain it any better, all that it means to us. After sharing such a big thing, yes, we are like family. We’ve been enjoying together how we’ve been on the road for a while.
I understand in university you studied acting. Do you feel like that is a road you could have gone down had you not gotten involved with Keep Shelly in Athens?
Probably. Here comes the famous cliché: you will never know. I don’t know what would have happened if we had never met. But I feel so pleased to be here, right now, at this moment, focusing totally on Keep Shelly in Athens.
When you were acting, did you find yourself attracted the same emotions that now come out in your music?
Yes. Obviously I am the same person. I am the same person doing acting and the same person singing. It’s the same emotions and feelings that can come up. Acting helped me to deal with all them.
With the title of your EP, do you have an interested in dreams?
The whole atmosphere we want to create is something dreamy. That feeling when you are waking up from a dream—it could be nice or it could be a nightmare. That thing that you feel when you’re awake. I don’t know, it’s sort of dreamy.
Do you have any weird or reoccurring dreams?
That’s a good question. I’m full of anxiety and stress most of the time. I usually have nightmares that wake me up. I’m falling, and I don’t know where I’m falling. Or there’s something pulling me up. Those are my dreams. Not as good as what I’m living right now! This is me!
Some of the sounds on your record seem to recall an early Portishead. Is there an era or a decade you wish you could make music in?
Yes! Then 90s. We are very influenced by the 90s.