Kelley James
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Kelley James

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF
Band Hip Hop Singer/Songwriter

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Maya Day and Nightclub has quickly made a splash in Scottsdale’s nightlife scene as the new go-to spot for epic pool parties that feature a string of DJ’s with beats that bring down the house. The club made a refreshing change of pace Thursday, June 6, by hosting a night of Yoga and musical performances that benefited ‘A Life Story Foundation,’ helping find a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Hundreds of yogis lined up their mats around Maya’s pool, creating a serene oasis of tranquility – with cocktails, of course. The evening opened with Anton Mackey and Desiree Lapre as they lead an hour-long yoga practice to the sounds of DJ H3LLA. Cali-native and local favorite, Kelley James, took the stage shortly after. The singer rapper-guitarist, who has become best known for his freestyle raps on topics of the audience’s choice (in this case yoga and beer) put on his usual stellar show that brought the audience off their mats and to their feet. The typical bearded, reggae, beat-boxer, Matisyahu, came on stage clean-shaven, looking like he just stepped off the set of a GQ shoot and gave an intimate, soul shaking acoustic performance that completed the night. If you’re wondering how yoga, cocktails, and music mesh together, look to the earto-ear grins that remain plastered on the attendees’ faces days after. That’s enough to rave success and all for a good cause.

We caught up with Kelley James after his set to talk music, life, and yoga. Here’s what he had to say.

AFM: You’re from Cali, what brought you to Phoenix?

Kelley: I’ve be here four years playing at the W hotel, they brought me in when I was in college and I started touring and playing for all these fraternities and sororities and this was my first regular thing where I could just route through Phoenix once a month. We got to play some of our most fun shows but the important part is I got to work on so much my live show over at the W. So it was this cool training ground where I could do back to back nights, two different sets and just work on my live show.

AFM: How does it feel to be the first live concert performer at Maya?

Kelley: Maya is obviously the same people as at the W, so it’s great. I’ve always been treated so well here.

AFM: When did you realize that you could rap?

Kelley: I grew up in Northern California, so hip-hop was always on the radio. As kids, we didn’t think of it as this new music, per say. We thought everybody listened to it. Looking back on it, it hadn’t really hit the Midwest yet and definitely not the south. So early 90s we were listening to hip hop music and the Bay area had this crazy scene with the syncopation of the words and everything is something that I always listened to but I also played guitar. So I’d have a Snoop Dog CD in then I’d put on Dave Matthews and that is what I thought was normal. Nirvana & NWA. So when I was in high school, I just started making up songs while playing guitar, you know, when I’d see a hot girl… Or when I was at a party, I’d play for all my boys.

AFM: Does that work on the ladies?

Kelley: Only once.

AFM: What did you sing her?

Kelley: Something like, “oh baby baby, oh” by Justin Bieber.

AFM: So you were the hit of most parties?

Kelley: The sad reality of it is I’m the one playing like this love song and all my boys are with the girls that when I’m finished playing, it’s like…. What! I get no love. It happened so much.

AFM: Speaking of love…?

Kelley: I’m married. I finally got love!

AFM: Congratulations! Do you remember your lyrics after a freestyle or… do you just blackout?

Kelley: Absolutely. My mind is going so fast that literally as soon as you say it, you push it out and it’s on to the next thing. People always make fun of me, like the Old School thing with Will Farrell, when he answers in the debate. All of a sudden he has this brilliant answer then, “what happened, I blacked out.” So for the most part, it is like a blackout situation.

AFM: Pertaining to Yoga, do you practice?

Kelley: When I’m home, in like my space of perfection: Wake up, surf in the morning, write music, eat vegan all day, do yoga and watch a movie at night. Like that is my end game. That will be my life at some point. So if I could do Yoga everyday, I would. It would be my only workout.

AFM: What’s your favorite pose?

Kelley: I like the hip opens a lot. They are just crazy. My buddy just opened a hot yoga studio in Hermosa and so I like Hot Yoga. I’ll put any fitness person up to a hot yoga session with a real instructor that will push you. I don’t know if anything is harder than that.

AFM: So let me put you on the spot. If you could make up your own yoga pose, what would you call it and can you demonstrate it for me?

Kelley: It would be the air guitar. Wait, no… actually ‘The Slash.’ Remember how Slash used to do his guitar solos?

AFM: I don’t…

Kelley: Well when you get back, you need to YouTube 1991 Guns and Roses and it would - Arizona Foothills


Discography

The Recent Future EP

1 Standing On A Rooftop
2 Be With You
3 Perfect To Me
4 Future Ex
5 Magic
6 Home Town

From The Sand EP

1 High Life
2 All My Life
3 Don't Want To Let You Go
4 So Good (Demo) (Featured in KFC's national commercial campaign)

Break Free

1 Wonderful Place (Live)
2 Friends With Benefits (Oh No!)
3 The Book
4 No Angel
5 Six Bottles
6 Falling For You
7 So Damn Hard
8 Victory Song (Wooo)
9 Pick Up The Pieces
10 Lose A Number
11 Someone New

The 15th St. EP

1 Once I Was Her Boy
2 The Last One
3 Secret Lover
4 Stalker (Original Demo)
5 Stalker (Acoustic)

In A City That Has No Name
1 In The Meantime
2 The Miracle
3 Making Me Love
4 Love Aint' Easy
5 So Divine
6 In Between
7 Lights Down Low
8 Breakdown
9 Leaving Me Out
10 Cannot See
11 Today

Photos

Bio

National recording artist Kelley James’s music is a fascinating collection of acoustic guitars, hip-hop beats, thoughtful lyrics and freestyle flows. He is currently working on a new album to be released in September 2013. His last single “Summertime On My Mind” became a summer anthem and has received recognition from several viral entertainment sites including BroBible, BuzzFeed, ClevverMusic, Mashable and Tone It Up.

James has built his career on the road playing over 750 shows in the past five years. As the creator of The Sorority and Fraternity Tour he played colleges nationwide and partnered with Oakley and Muscle Milk to sponsor the tour for himself and a few other artists he put out on the road. He has toured the nation with acts such as Mike Posner, O.A.R., Shwayze and Joshua Radin while opening for various other artists at venues from House of Blues Chicago to Red Rocks. In 2012 he had a weeklong residency at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas directly followed a headlining tour for Patagonia in Australia (marking his sixth tour of Australia to date). He has sold out shows at the Troubadour, Roxy and Key Club in Los Angeles and continues to excel in this difficult market. He is a regular performer at PGA Tour events including the Birds Nest at the WM Phoenix Open, Farmer’s Insurance Rock Ball in San Diego, HP Byron Nelson Pavilion After Dark in Dallas, The NetJets Masters party in Augusta and more. He has maintained a monthly residency at the W Hotel Scottsdale since 2009 garnering an extremely strong fan base in the local area.

He has attracted corporate partners such as Corona, DC Shoes, Honda, Muscle Milk, Oakley, Red Bull among others while playing events for premiere brands like Columbia, Ducati, Google, MySpace Music, NoHo, O Organics, the Phoenix Suns, Ryan Sheckler Foundation, Aflac Insurance, Discovery Land Properties, SPIN Magazine, The First Tee, Strikeouts For Troops, Ronald McDonald House and Zumiez.