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NAS 10 Questions with Kele Fleming

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

This time, we get to know Kele Fleming, a singer-songwriter based in Canada. She's a powerful vocalist with hard-hitting and thought provoking lyrics. Her music is similar to the likes of female powerhouses such as Neko Case, Lucinda Williams & Kate Bush yet her sound is entirely fresh. Kele's songwriting and creativity really shines, and her latest release is a really fantastic, if you haven't heard it yet check it out!

The track "Vanishing of Bees (Atlas to Earth Synthwave Remix)" is featured in the New Artist Spotlight Family of Playlists.

Link To New Artist Spotlight Playlists:

1. Tell us a little about where you are from and what you are currently doing.

Hello! I’m Kele (pronounced Kelly) Fleming. I’m a singer-songwriter living in Victoria, BC. My music explores some interconnected themes in my world...the climate emergency, my settler Canadian learning about reconciliation and coming of age as a queer person. I love writing lyrics and poetry and exploring ideas. Many of my songs spring from ideas, verses, observations, musings scribbled in my journals and on scraps of paper. I believe that the power of a striking melody married with impactful words has the ability to move the human heart and change minds. I live in Victoria, BC at the southern most tip of Vancouver Island on Canada's west coast. My Dad was in the Air Force so we moved around quite a bit before settling on the west coast, and I've stayed out here. I love the wild ocean, the mountains and the miles upon miles of forests. I've been a performing and producing musician in various incarnations for over 3 decades now. I'm currently working on my 5th solo album and I'm hoping to release it in early 2023.

2. What inspired you to start playing and making music?

I'm not sure one specific thing inspired me...I've always had music in me and have wanted to express myself through music. I think everything has inspired me and does inspire me to make music that I hope captures the wonder and beauty of our world.

I'm grateful to my parents for steering me towards opportunities to learn musical instruments when I was young (first the recorder, then the ukelele, the guitar, violin, piano and finally french horn) that helped me form and channel my musical voice.

𝟯. Who are your biggest influences?

So many! I loved pop music when I was young...ABBA was a fave for sure.

Canadian singer-songwriter Jane Siberry is one of my biggest influences. I love her 1987 album, 'The Walking.' It's a brilliant album...Big, orchestral, narrative songs that explore love, loss and the power of following your muse. The songwriting is brilliant and deconstructs the popular song formula and takes the listener on an amazing journey. This album was a huge influence on me as a songwriter and an artist. The key thing this album taught me was to tune out the noise and let the song take me to where it needs to go.

Other faves include Patti Smith (huge influence on my lyric writing!), Kate Bush, Radiohead, Henson Cargill and Florence + the Machine.

4. What are your goals in the music industry?

To create music and make a contribution to the craft of songwriting, while making a living wage as a musician. I also love collaborating with other songwriters, so that's a big goal this year, to do more of that!

5. Tell us about your creative process when you make new music.

I don't have a specific formula for writing songs...Sometimes a new song starts with the lyrics and other times it starts with a chord progression. I love writing and find myself scribbling ideas and snippets of lyrics anywhere, anytime...on napkins, dictated into my phone, in my writing books (so many stashed in various parts of my house).

I love collaborating with others, and have been doing that a lot lately. My last 2 single releases have been remixes and I've been so energized by the new life and ideas that the remixers have breathed into the songs. And, I'm doing a few songwriting collaborations right now and learning so much about myself as a creator in the process.

6. What is your all-time favorite song?

This is a hard question to answer because I think my favourite songs have changed over the years. So, I'll pick one of my most recent fave songs...'South London Forever' by Florence + the Machine because it is simple and complex, profound and commonplace, heartbreaking and inspiring all at the same time. Musically, the chamber pop arrangement is stunning and the lyrics are a compelling narrative leaving me wanting more.

7. What is the best advice or council you have either given or received in terms of music?

The best advice I've received came from a former producer at CBC Radio (Canada's national radio) in Vancouver. I was in the station's recording studio with my band recording a session for a radio broadcast. I was young and excited about the possibilities and the opportunities this session could bring. The producer I was working with was very encouraging and he told me what I was doing was great. That in and of itself was heartening to hear, but then he added that I should follow my muse. Don't get waylaid or distracted by the noise and to follow what felt true to me. That advice has stayed with me to this day and I still hear his voice in my head at pivotal moments. And, in turn, I pass this advice on to others because it has served me well!

8. Proudest accomplishment?

April 2019 - I had the great honour of opening for my musical idol and mentor, Jane Siberry, at a sold out concert at a concert hall in Vancouver. What a fantastic experience that was. And, Jane was so kind and fun and gracious to share to the stage with.

9. What is something about you that might surprise someone who knows you the best?

I'm a closet mixologist! I love making cocktails. I have a very well-stocked liquor cabinet as a result. It's so creative and super fun to come up with amazingly tasty and visually stunning cocktails. I say it's surprising because most people know me as a tea totaller who is under the table after half a glass of wine. :)

𝟭0. Tell us about your highest and lowest points in music so far.

My lowest point came a number of years ago while performing at a campus club in a university town in Canada. The place was packed, the crowd was very drunk and my band was on a bill with 3 other bands. At the end of the night, a few of the very drunk fellas from the crowd thought it would be fun to harass the lead singer (me) for being queer. Luckily, I had my band mates there to stand in solidarity with me against the homophobic shenanigans and the situation didn't escalate beyond verbal taunting.

This low point is connected to my high point... In the earlier days of my music career, the music industry was much less inclusive than it is now. Events like the one I describe above were pretty common for me and others. I'm not saying things are great now, but change is happening and artists with diverse identities are being welcomed more intentionally into festivals, businesses and other spaces in the business. Seeing things changing, slowly, while I'm still a performing and producing musician is definitely a high point!

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