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:: Spotlight :: Kelli Ali - Not To Be Pinned Down

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

I have fond memories of a show that Sneaker Pimps performed at the Metro nightclub in Melbourne a few years ago. It was their only visit here before they sadly split with lead singer Kelli Dayton. Since then, Kelli (now Kelli Ali) released a solo album “Tigermouth” which was only released in the UK. Now, her next album “Psychic Cat” has been released this year through One Little Indian Records. She is looking to move into a new phase of her career, following the previous hiccup. Kelli also has fond memories of that one and only Melbourne show a few years ago and it was great to be able to reacquaint myself with her for a chat about life in 2004.

Q. We all lamented the demise of the Sneaker Pimps, so I must ask you for the interest of Australians, about the explanation given as to why the Sneaker Pimps split up…

A. After the US tour we did at the time, we had a meeting. I thought it was going to be about the next album. Basically, they said that Chris (Corner) wanted to sing. I was out. He did eventually sing under the new line-up but nothing ever came of it for them after that. It’s strange because everything had gone well after our American tour. For that to happen then, was a real big shock.

Q. What emotions were you feeling then?

A. I knew it was a release and probably one that I needed. I could have gone on for more albums, but I would have been totally linked to the Sneaker Pimps. This break gave me a chance to do my own music.

Q. What was the thing to drive you on after that setback?

A. I started writing. I sat and chilled for a while. We’d always been on the road and it was nice to sit in one place for a while. I really mellowed out and didn’t have much contact with anybody, other than family and friends.

Q. You started a solo career with “Tigermouth”, an album that Australians didn’t really get a taste for because of its non-official release. I understand that it incorporated dance beats and guitars. What are thoughts about it now?

A. Musically, I was happy with it. I wasn’t interested in replicating anything like the Sneaker Pimps. Some people were trying to get me to do that. I ended up making a pop-orientated album and I love it. For me it was a good start, but it was a shame that the bureaucracy decided not to release it outside Britain, so that was a bad thing.

Q. Tell us about the process of making “Psychic Cat” and the improvements you wanted to make after the previous album?

A. “Psychic Cat” is more electric. Guitars are more prominent in this album. It’s what I wanted to do at that time. Now, I’m looking at something different for the next one – to get a band together and work live much more. It’s taken a long time to get the sound that I want. We’ve had more time this year to experiment further and expand the sound.

Q. How has the album been received in the UK?

A. The album has been pretty quiet to be honest. Obviously, it would help to play live, otherwise it doesn’t feel connected to people. I understand that because there’s no way an album like this will be on the radio here. It’s a long road. Some people in Britain call it a musician’s album, or they don’t know where it fits in. Actually, I’m really glad that the record doesn’t fit in to a particular style. Certainly, in England, it’s important to have some sort of genre or identity to fill. That’s why it’s been slowly received.

QDo you feel as though you’ve found your own voice?

A.Not really. Hopefully, with the next album it will be written in a different way. Any album I make, it’s what it is then. I want to really start building up the live shows in the future and then the people will be able to understand the next album. That’s what it’s all about, not the press or the record company, but the listeners. It isn’t there yet, but I’m hopeful it will be.

Q.What inspires you musically?

A.Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Jimi Hendrix. I always loved his music but I’ve been watching old footage of him and studying him. He is awesome. Also, people like Air are very good. I listen to a lot of things but I don’t directly translate it because when you write songs you have to put much of your heart into it. My next album is likely to be more rock ‘n’ roll.

Q.You must be happy with the One Little Indian label…

A.Yes, I am very grateful to them. They give me free reign.

Q.How is life in London these days?

A.I am in a refurbished flat and I like living here. I spend my time playing guitar and writing music. I also go bike riding occasionally.

Q.Your last thought to your old Sneaker Pimps fans…

A.What we’re doing separately is better than what we’d have done together.

Kelli Ali UK Tour Dates

25 - Cartoon Club, Croydon
27 - Pink Flamingo, Winchester
28 - Junktion 7, Nottingham
29 - Victoria, Derby
30 - Town Mill, Mansfield

1 - The Charlotte, Leicester
8 - The Basement, Maidstone
15 - O'Neills, Leytonstone
16 - Brixton Telegraph, London

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