A lush and luminous journey draped in bittersweet warmth, the debut single Paradise from emerging Sydney singer-songwriter Kel is a feast for the senses and the soul. Accompanied by a self-directed music video also out today, Paradise marks a sublime introduction into Kel’s musical world, with the track set to launch tonight live in action at The Great Club (Marrickville) in Sydney.

An emotive, rock-inspired ballad, inspired equally by the soulful flavours of Finneas and Conan Gray and even Taylor Swift, Paradise was written and arranged entirely by Kel, with production courtesy of the legendary John Castle, whose previous work includes Vance Joy’s Riptide as well as work with Megan Washington, Angus & Julia Stone, and Cub Sport. Swelling between a softly euphoric ballad and a driving, dreamy anthem, Paradise also tugs at the heartstrings via Kel’s emphatic narrative surrounding lost love, as he elaborates, Paradise is a song about a break-up. It’s a metaphor about losing something special about a place you might’ve shared with someone else, and how places and feelings change sometimes. It was inspired by a trip with my friends to a beach on the South Coast NSW. I wanted to write a song that felt like that place”.  

With Kel impressively conjuring his debut track with John Castle remotely via phone calls and Zoom sessions, Paradise was then mastered at Studios 301 in Sydney by Steve Smart. But the track’s accompanying music video was ultimately a DIY and family affair, with Kel making the poignant music video for his first sonic release during a family holiday. “The music video was made by myself and some family on a holiday,” shares Kel. “As a current film student, I was keen to direct and film my own video. When I was writing the song, the opening lyrics stuck out to me. Sunrise and long hikes. So, I knew I wanted the main visuals to be central around a beach. The song is about a favourite place that doesn’t belong to you anymore. I’ve found that often we connect certain places with people, and when that connection’s lost, the place is not the same”.

Hailing from a musical family, Kel began playing multiple instruments and singing while in high school, going on to pen his first original compositions in year 12. After producing some videos of himself, Kel’s search began for a producer in earnest, ultimately resulting in his discovery of John Castle and falling in love with the talented producer, engineer and multi-instrumentalist’s sound and catalogue. From sending his videos to John, the two immediately began working together. While Paradise may mark the first single unleashed into the wild for Kel, the future looks bright for this talented up-and-comer currently working towards his debut EP. And if you’re lucky enough to be in Sydney tonight, you may very well catch some of Kel’s unreleased material this evening alongside his brand new single at the Paradise single launch at The Great Club (Marrickville). You can expect a large variety of different songs,” reveals Kel of the musical treasures lying in wait for his upcoming performance tonight. “A lot of the time when I’m writing, I pull inspiration from other genres, so my live shows are a mixture of exciting and vibrant songs with a huge band, as well as some slower songs where it’s just me playing and singing with a piano. It’s a mix of ballads, rock driven sounds, and acoustic storytelling”.

Paradise is out today, Thursday April 13.

Tell us about your new single Paradise?

Paradise was a song I wrote - produced by John Castle - about the changes and breakdowns in relationships and how it can tarnish places or emotions you shared with a person. It’s definitely a story about someone moving on from you and trying to figure out where it leaves you emotionally. I had heaps of fun making it with John, especially since most of it was recorded during lockdowns and it was really fulfilling to pour everything into this song.

What’s the creative process like for you?

My creative process is a bit of everything, I’ve noticed it’s always different when I write a new song. Sometimes I have this melody or set of chords that pop into my head at some random point in the day and I have to pull out my phone to record it before I forget, or sometimes I have a story or an emotion or message that I spend a long while trying to articulate, so it’s always new. 

If you could change something about the music industry what would change?

As a songwriter myself, I feel really connected to songs I write about my own life, so I’m always really impressed when a songwriter can write a song for someone else or pass their music to another person and almost reimagine their work through another artist. So, if I had to change anything maybe it would be to give some more recognition for songwriters who sometimes can write huge hits for another artist and maybe not a lot of people would know they wrote it. 

What do you think life would be like for you if you didn’t have music/visual art as an outlet?

Probably very bland - since music has always been a way for me to communicate or to let someone in to how I’m feeling or my perspective, maybe without it I would feel at a bit of a loss about how to communicate and share myself with others.

Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with?

I would love to work with Finneas. I’ve seen him live twice but even listening to his music he has such a creative and new approach to experimental recording that is still foundationally alternative or pop coded. I think he’s very talented and ingenious with his approach to music making. 

What’s your advice to young people who want to make a career for themselves in the industry ?

Spend some time writing and making as much music as you can to work out what works and what doesn’t work for you. I found songwriting really hard when I started out as I didn’t have much of an idea where to start or what style or genre felt comfortable for me to write to.  Giving yourself some space to learn what your strengths are is something I didn’t learn until I wrote enough songs and worked out what I liked and what I didn’t.

What’s your favourite song to perform?

At my last show - I performed a lot of unreleased music along with Paradise, and I loved it because hearing those songs live inspired me so much about how they would take shape on a recorded track. However, I think I’ll go with Paradise as my favourite song to perform because it took a while to create and playing it live for a crowd is always so fulfilling.

Got any secret hobbies that we might be surprised by?

I’m also a passionate film maker! For the last couple of years, I’ve studied film through high school and am about to finish it up at University next year - but I love making films, scoring films, editing films - all of it. I think storytelling is a big part of the creative processes that I have so having music and film as two of my main interests seems fitting.