The most melancholy Lady of the Lowlands
Melodic melancholy is what Antwerp-born and Netherlands based singer-songwriter Elly Kellner serves up. Her lyrics feel like a soft, warm whisper in your ear but are radically honest at the same time. On a guitar with just four strings she occupies a unique piece of territory somewhere between jazz and folk.
Elly previously worked with Grammy Award-winning producer Larry Klein (Joni Mitchel, Tracy Chapman, Bob Dylan), Iain Matthews (Fairport Convention, Matthews Southern Comfort) and was awarded with the Tamoil Culture Prize for the Arts & Literature.
“Elly Kellner’s melodic sad songs have a way of disturbing and comforting the listener all at the same time.” With her lyrics Elly tries to go beyond existing taboo, into the core of her inner world, with the firm belief that there must be others who’ll recognize the mutual experience and hopefully feel less alone as a result.
On her latest EP The Right Tools (2021) she sings about the ways we try to understand, help or comfort ourselves. Whether it’s through someone else’s embrace (Come in the morning), the question of trust (Won’t Mine Kill Yours), using the right tool in every situation (The Right Tools) or the knowing that home should be a safe haven (Come Home). Late Bloomer, the closing track, is a duet with Iain Matthews (UK). Together they sing about how a late bloomer can accept the delay whilst standing still. Kane Mathis (USA) plays the Kora in Late Bloomer; a West African harp with 21 strings. The EP was produced by Elly Kellner with the indispensable assistance of BJ Baartmans.
I Could Have Made a Child (2020) first released as an EP and was later upgraded to an album in 2021, consisting of 11 songs. Vulnerability was the main subject for the lyrics. Songs about fear and protection (Sharp Corners), loss and the art of letting go (I Will Start Over). The title track I Could Have Made a Child is a song for anyone whose heart suffers because of childlessness, no matter the story, causes or reasons behind it.
On this album Elly is joined by musicians from Armenia, Cameroon, Congo, Denmark, Iraq, United Kingdom, United States of America, Russia and Switzerland. Andreas Bernitt arranged and performed strings for the song My Roots which is Elly’s thank you song to Beyond Music for sparking her joy for music again. The album concludes with Mountains of Men, featuring Sandro Friedrich on bansuri flute, Sasha Shlain on piano/synthesizer and John Lumpkin on drums. It is a meditative song that indirectly questions wether we want to follow the well trodden path, leaders who claim to know best or will we listen to our gut and choose the road less traveled.
A complete overview of all releases can be found via the music page. There you can find the story behind each album, songlyrics and videos.
Matthews Southern Comfort
At the Pastorale Au Parvis festival in Nisse (2007) Elly met Iain Matthews. Shorty after, he invited her to play at his Common Grounds concert series. From 2011 she performed with Iain and his Matthews Southern Comfort band with BJ Baartmans & Bart de Win. They recorded ‘Kind of Live’ and she joined the band on the road for a number of years bringing beautiful harmonies to the people of the United Kingdom, The Netherlands and Italy.
At the end of 2019 singer-songwriter Elly was awarded the Tamoil Culture Award for the Arts & Literature. Excerpt from the Jury’s speech: “Elly is able to write about what is sharp and painful in a way that makes it slightly muffled and vague and therefore easier to digest and look at. At the same time she knows how to make the vague visible with exactly the right words and has thus far written over a 1000 songs.”
In 2019 Elly was invited to join the BEYOND Music Foundation. Through their online platform she was able to connect with musicians from around the world. She collaborated on five songs and her co-write ‘Different, You and I’ with Heather Bond from Nashville (USA) earned them both a spot on Beyond Music’s first album Same Sky.
Under the guidance of Grammy-winning producer Larry Klein (USA) Elly, Heather and 19 other artists recorded the album in Studios La Fabrique (France). Elly also made vlogs during the recording proces. A nice insight into her personal experience those two weeks.
In 2020 Elly took part again and worked on 16 songs, collaborating with 32 people from 21 countries. The song Si Ghan (a co-write with Dyllann from Cameroon) won them an award.
Elly first met Canadian troubadour Shannon Lyon in 2011 after she saw him performing in her hometown. The story goes that she was so touched by his music that she cried and immediately offered to sing backingvocals for him. Together they recorded the beautiful and melancholy album ‘Broken Things’. Elly sang backing vocals to many songs after that and joined Shannon live on tour in 2015. This was the first time she started vlogging, so the entire experience, from her point of view, is still available on Elly’s YouTube channel.
Four strings and the love for England
Strumming the guitar and singing from when she was 9 years old, music was always her greatest source of joy and comfort. Not long after she picked up the guitar she started writing her own songs. These musings were first heard in a time when fantasy was a much needed escape from reality. Besides fantasy, music always remained the one steady factor in her life. Something she could depend on and find solace in.
As a teenager and young adult Elly put all her emotions and sometimes anger into playing loudly on her Western guitar. This resulted in the two thinnest strings breaking quite often so by the year 1998 she gave up and bid them farewell. With a special tuning this made for a unique sound. Most of Elly’s songs are now still written and performed on her 4-string guitar. It is her preferred instrument.
Elly Kellner started performing live from age 18. Between 1999 and 2003 she formed an Acoustic-Noise-Duo Keshri with multi-instrumentalist Andra Veraart. Uptil 2011 Elly has formed bands under the name Keshri, everytime with different bandmembers. This early version of 'Keshri' stopped due to Elly moving country in 2003.
Love called her to move to the United Kingdom. Walking the English soil for a couple of years she enjoyed the spotlight at Open Mic Nights and performances in the London area. Very happy to now be back in the Netherlands, her love for England still remains.