Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in Tugan, QLD on the Gold Coast, but grew up in the small town of Lightning Ridge and the ‘country music capital’ of Tamworth in the North West of NSW. I now currently live back on the Gold Coast in Southport!
When did you first start playing music?
I started playing music when I was 5 years old. Mum signed me up for piano lessons in Lightning Ridge and I was so glad she did, because I had such a kind-hearted and wonderful piano teacher, her name was Mrs Reardon and she really has been a huge part of my life and me continuing to pursue music to this day. I started playing guitar when I was 13 and have been playing ever since.
Tell us a little about your process of writing music and what inspires you.
My writing process happens in the moment, if I play or hear a melody it sparks a lyric and the creation begins or it happens vice versa. As a musician I feel as though you are constantly being inspired, everyday I am inspired by little things, life’s beauty and treasures, my culture, my family, our trials and tribulations and the struggles that not only myself but other people have been through. It’s truly wonderful and I feel so blessed to have a gift that I can express myself through.
How has story telling had an impact on your life and music?
Growing up I was blessed to learn culture and was told many traditional dreamtime stories from my Nan and Pop, June and Roy Barker. Story telling has made a massive impact on my life and my music; it has shaped me as a person and has allowed me to express myself through this, I think it is a beautiful way to pass on stories and knowledge. Our country and the world is so lucky to have one of the oldest living cultures, so embedded on passing down important learnings, traditions, and knowledge through story-telling.
What’s the first song you remember hearing?
The first songs I think I distinctively remember hearing when I was young would have to be ‘I’ll be there’ - the Jackson Five, ‘Torn’ – Natalie Imbruglia and ‘Never Ever’ by All Saints.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I listen to so many different artists of many genres of music. Right now I’m listening to Brandi Carlile, Gregory Porter, Zac Brown Band, David Gray and Hozier.
Where can we see you perform?
You can watch performances of videos I upload to my Facebook Page ‘Kelsey Iris’ (https://www.facebook.com/KelseyIrisMusic) or on my YouTube Channel ‘Kelsey Iris’.
What has been the highlight of your musical career so far?
I have been given so many opportunities that I am truly thankful for! So far the Highlights of my musical career would have to be performing alongside Bernard Fanning and his band, and given the opportunity to perform at two of the biggest festivals in Australia last year ‘Splendour in the Grass’ and ‘The Falls Arts and Music Festival’ at Byron Bay.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am currently studying a Bachelor of Popular Music at Queensland Conservatorium. At the moment I am writing new songs and in the progress of recording and releasing an EP by the end of the year or start of next year.
Most valuable piece of advice you've been given.
Throughout my life I have been given some of the most valuable advice. My dad would have to be one person who has and he always says to me “When things get tough, you just have to keep persevering and keep pushing on.”
5 things you can’t live without.
The most obvious thing I can’t live without is MUSIC, my guitar (she’s my baby), chocolate, laughter and coffee fusions from Zarraffas.
If you could have a coffee with anyone in the world, who would that be?
Oh gees, this is a tough question! Hmmm… I think I would have to say Alicia Keys or Hunter Hayes. I think they are just two of the most beautiful and intellectual musicians and people. It would be a dream come true to sit down and drink coffee with one of them. Haha
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Advice I would love to give to aspiring artists would be to keep following and chasing your dreams and passion, if you work hard you can achieve anything. This industry is tough so take any opportunity that comes your way, be kind and grateful, believe in yourself and always stay true to you!
© Kelsey Iris