Greek Duo Keep Shelly In Athens Talk Maintaining Mystery and Recording Their Debut Album ‘At Home’
Ever since Keep Shelly in Athens' music first appeared on the influential Gorilla vs. Bear blog back in 2010, taste-makers have been singing their praises. The Greek duo weaves an elegant blend of creamy synths, atmospheric soundscapes and lush vocals, and despite the critical love, they've maintained what journalists have described as a “mysterious” air.
“From the very first moment we started this, we decided that we wanted our music to speak out for us and not our image," songwriter/producer RΠЯ told Diffuser.fm during a recent chat. "That is why we do not do so many interviews and photo shoots."
The other half of the "we" he refers to is singer Sarah P, and as he lays down the gorgeous instrumentation, she provides vocals that are sultry one moment and completely vulnerable the next. Music journalists have dubbed their music everything from “Balearic” to “downtempo” and even used the dreaded “chillwave” tag, but RΠЯ says he isn’t too worried about labels.
“It is how it is," he says. "I mean, music is music, but people have to be more specific and maybe by using weird genre labels, people get intrigued. Worry? No, not at all. It is part of the adventure, part of the game.”
Listening to ‘At Home,’ KSIA’s upcoming debut album, it's no stretch to picture the sun-kissed beaches of their native Athens -- and that's no accident.
“Greece is a country with a variety of landscapes, beautiful beaches, and gorgeous mountain tops, but what never misses is the sunshine. This affects our music,” said RΠЯ. “Sarah and I were both born and raised in Athens. There’s a very specific urban character and a really interesting lifestyle there. The city is the inspiration, and that’s why we’ve got such an Athenian band name.”
‘At Home’ starts off with the epic, slow-burning ‘Time Exists Only to Betray Us,’ a track that feels more like an album closer than anything else. While RΠЯ admits that he and Sarah might have positioned 'Time' at the end of the disc, he says the sequencing fits with the theme of the record.
"It was way more interesting to start with this one, and it is a statement, anyway," he says. "The entire album is dealing with the subject of time. Also, we like that this song is getting you in that weird vibe where you don’t know what is coming up next.”
Outside of a few other dark moments (‘Higher,’ ‘Knife’), the rest of ‘At Home’ is more in line with the sensual sonic textures KSIA are known for. The album’s warm yet expansive sound betrays the way in which it was recorded, as ‘At Home’ was literally recorded at home, on RΠЯ’s bedroom setup.
“We only recorded Sarah’s vocals at a studio," he says. "We only use a computer and synths. That is the instrument/recording setup. The means are the same, but this time, yes, it all sounds a little brighter and bigger. OK, maybe not brighter, but definitely wider, which was the point since this is our first album.”
With their ‘Recollection’ single (stream it below) currently available on iTunes, ‘At Home’ arriving in stores on Sept. 17 and a U.S. tour in the works for the fall, Keep Shelly in Athens have a lot to be excited about. The same goes for fans of ethereal pop music, who are bound to like RΠЯ's answer to our final question.
Asked to name the album he's listened to the most throughout his life, he responds, “Well, probably ‘Blue Bell Knoll’ from Cocteau Twins.”