If Lady Gaga, Tori Amos, Enrique Iglesias and Ed Sheeran had a love child somehow, the result would no doubt be Cape Town’s Kellan (34), who encompasses not only these artists’ talent, but without a doubt their most unique characteristics that make them stand out from the rest of the crowd.
And with an imaginary gene pool like that, you just know that he will have to be gay, and unashamedly so. “No shame at all! Out and proud! I look up to artists such as Elton John, Sam Sparrow, Mika, Rufus Wainwright and especially Troye Sivan for his ‘in your face’ approach. I hope to inspire other members of the LGBT community to come forth and showcase their talents and art forms,” Kellan boldly states.
Following the internationally acclaimed I’ll Be, Kellan is back with a brand new follow-up single, Lost With You, set to become a firm favourite on everyone’s playlist and dominating pop charts.
Kellan chuckles slightly as he talks about his latest release: “Oh boy, Lost With You has taken me on a rollercoaster ride the last couple of months. It took tons of planning, including drawing sounds and influences from the international scene to make the song as current as possible. I wanted a ‘straight to the point’ type of song; a single that could be summarised in one sentence if asked about its meaning. And the answer to that is to ‘get lost in love’ – as simple as that.”
Although a prolific songwriter in his own right, Kellan says that a dear friend of his, Jak Brits, wrote Lost With You. “I chose the song out of a selection of demos that Jak sent me. To me personally it is about a relationship where both parties realised that it was a far from perfect partnership, almost toxic. Yet, despite this, they still yearn for each other although they went their separate ways. And then the main message – break through your walls when it comes to matters of the heart and let go! Get lost in the moment and forget about everything else. Let love win.”
Kellan describes his style of music as a mix of piano-driven pop, woven carefully with synthesizers and layered soundscapes – keeping it vocally interesting and haunting.
Apart from being a singer, Kellan is also a seasoned actor and dancer, having performed in numerous musical and other stage productions.
Kellan’s early days
Kellan was born (17 December 1983) as Kallie Kotze in the Wynberg Military Hospital while his father was pursuing his big passion – the air force. His mom was a brilliant homemaker, and according to Kellan, also a “very creative soul”. Together with his two “precious” younger brothers, Wynand and Jaco, he was raised in Cape Town until the age of six when his dad started working for a construction company as an engineer. The result? The family relocated to Umtata in the Transkei, with Kellan adding that, “I can vividly recall some of my fondest childhood memories in the Transkei”. During this time his mom managed a clothing and textile factory there. It was back to Cape Town for Kellan and family when he was eleven, but the Eastern Cape beckoned them when he was thirteen and they resided in East London. Finally, at age seventeen, they returned to Cape Town where Kellan has lived ever since, now residing in Brackenfell.
Tragedy struck the family in 2001 when Kellan’s father unexpectedly passed away from a sudden brain aneurysm. Wynand, now 32, followed in his father’s footsteps as a civil engineering site manager, while Jaco (30) works in the shipping industry. Until a couple of years ago, Kellan’s mom worked for a décor and events infrastructure company.
Although the talented Kellan started performing at age 11, he says that being an artist was always apart of him. “Apparently, at the age of 3, I was already ‘performing’ Perfect by Fairground Attraction. Initially I wanted to be a pianist. For my 10th birthday, I got my first keyboard and since then, music has just always been with me. A friend of the family invited us to watch their son sing at a local singing competition. When I saw him on stage – a boy close to my age – I knew I wanted to sing. A week later, my mom had me booked for my very first vocal assessment. The rest is history. I’ve performed locally and abroad and believe there’s no better place than being on stage and telling an audience your story. My family supported me from day one. I think in my entire career my mom only missed about 3 or 4 of my performances.”
Apart from being a singer, Kellan is also a sought-after vocal coach. He states: “I discovered I had a talent for teaching people to believe in themselves and bringing out the best in their voices. I love teaching and mentoring other artists.” Over and above this, Kellan is also one of a select few that were chosen to study Advance Music Production at the prestigious Berklee College of Music (Boston, USA), via long distance learning, which he is still currently busy with.
As Kellan was raised in a fully bilingual family, he says that fans should not be too surprised if he decided to release an Afrikaans single in the future. In fact, he has already recorded one and is contemplating its release. But time will tell…
“I’ll Be” exactly who I am – gay and proud of myself
Lost With You is however not the first time that Kellan will be making his mark in the music industry. He previously released a self-penned single, I’ll Be, which made it to number 13 on the local iTunes charts, apart from receiving significant radio play. “The song just came out of nowhere. I wrote it one Friday evening, pitched it to a producer and within weeks it was charting on Internet stations across the globe! The enormity of I’ll Be even shocked me,” he says.
With I’ll Be, Kellan then partnered with award-winning director, Desmond Denton, for the music video in which the cruelty of corrective rape in South Africa is portrayed. Kellan wanted to give back and partnered with the Pride Shelter in Cape Town, whereby all proceeds of the song are donated to them. “They were the obvious choice as they do incredible work for gay individuals during stressful and dark times in their lives,” he says.
The music video for I’ll Be can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qL23vA_onR8.
About being gay, Kellan adds: “I came out to my mom when I was 17. My family was very accepting and never had any real issues with it. I think South Africa as a whole has moved forward so much concerning the stigmatism attached to being gay. Thus far, I’ve maybe had one or two hate mails that made their way to my Facebook inbox.”
Getting to know the real Kellan
Kellan describes himself as philosophical, yet quirky; sensitive, but feisty; and above all, humble and sympathetic. He adds that he is a total daydreamer and “still believe in fairytales and happily ever after”.
“My philosophy in life is ‘ask, believe and receive’. I try to repeat affirmations daily as a way to stay focused and relaxed so the hustle and bustle of every day life doesn’t affect me negatively. My motto is: ‘Of course you can, Kellan’ – I tend to question every decision I make,” he shares.
Fun facts about Kellan include that he loves travelling, he absolutely adores basset hounds and have two of his own (Amelié and Callithump), he collects unicorn souvenirs (“don’t judge me”) and playing cards, he loves piercings, as well as bonsai trees, and enjoys a good old sokkie, sokkie dance.
In his free time he either binge watches a series on Netflix or spends time with his family and friends whenever he can. “I have a very strange obsession for cleaning,” Kellan reveals. “I find myself spring-cleaning as often as I can. I’m also a graphic designer and still toy around with logo designs, vector graphics and more. My other passion is definitely photography.” Furthermore, he shares that he always wanted to write a novel or some kind of self-help book, and one of his biggest dreams is to own a theatre to promote upcoming artists.
Kellan’s musical influences include Lady Gaga, Troye Sivan, Andrew Bell, Years & Years and Ed Sheeran. Lyrically, he draws inspiration from artists such as Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan and Coldplay. “I try and write songs that has meaning to me and something that people can relate to,” he says.
So is Kellan planning on releasing an album soon? “I much rather like the idea of releasing singles every so often, but it’s not like I’m completely opposed to producing an album in the near future,” he states.
Kellan shares that apart from the loss of his father, the biggest obstacle he had to face in life was losing his best friend to suicide. “Her death propelled me into depths so deep I thought I was dying myself. She was my soulmate and I get teary just thinking about it. One doesn’t just get over something like that. Time heals yes, but the scars always remain. I try to remind myself daily how grateful I should be for waking up and being able to live another day.”
He concludes: “Naturally the big dream for me is success – whether that be world dominance or touching people through my music. Mostly, I want people to respect my musical choices, artistic expression and appreciate the work I put into my craft as an artist, while still enjoying ‘the vibe’ with me.”
Kellan’s music, including Lost With You, is available on most digital platforms, such as iTunes and Google Play.
For more of Kellan, visit www.kellan.hearnow.com.
Also join the conversation with him on social media – Facebook (Kellan Official) and Instagram (@KellanOfficial).