Disaster Inspires Dream-Pop on New Single from Keep Shelly in Athens (KEXP Premiere)

KEXP Premiere
Zach Frimmel
photo by Niki Topouslidou

Sometimes life isn’t a chillwave of joy. Sometimes it’s a deadly sweep of fire as Keep Shelly in Athens' singer Jessica Bell experienced in July 2018 when she was writing lyrics by the sea and, within hours, was almost engulfed by the Kineta Fires, which were some of Greece’s most fatal to date. This story underscores a new dimension to the dynamic that the Greek-Australian dream-pop duo’s music makes people enjoy feeling sad. 

Sometimes the world of needs is blurry and binary, comprised of experiences, consumer goods, emotions, people, and struggles – some that we definitively need and some we decipherably don’t need. After Marie Kondo – the goddess of tidying up – awestruck us with the lightning-bolt question, “Does it spark joy?” the world ransacked their closets and corners, did a little mental ping-pong, and conversing with their stuff by either assuredly exclaiming “yes, you spark joy!” or conclusively confessing “I don’t need you.” However, this clutter-reducing call-to-action didn’t just apply to tangible items, it took on an emotional, experiential, and interpersonal pointedness as well. One that allowed us to reflect on who or what we need and who or what we don’t need in our lives. 

And in the case for Keep Shelly in Athens, it seems that founding member/producer RPR (RΠЯ) and award-winning author Jessica Bell are conclusively confessing to us in their new single “I Don’t Need You (feat. Ocean Hope).” And don’t worry, sometimes life is a chillwave of joy as evinced by this hard-hitting slow-jammer that brings a euphoria definitely worth keeping around for joy-sparking years to come. Plus, having formed in 2010 and previously released three full-length and three EPs they clearly have staying power.

Debuting today as their first single from their upcoming Sunny Day EP, “I Don’t Need You (feat. Ocean Hope)” radiates the down-tempo trance and Aphrodite-shaped beauty of Keep Shelly in Athens’s musicianship. Like soft rays of sonic-hovering light from the heavens, there’s a synth-basking warmth and alpenglow that washes over the consumer, which is infectiously too good to be kept in Greece and needs to be shared with the rest of the world. 

We caught up with the duo so they could shed some light on their upcoming Sunny Day EP and how their collaboration with Ocean Hope developed.

“Our upcoming Sunny Day EP is set to be released next month. It's going to have five songs and will also include the singles “I Don't Need You” and “California Tears.” The Sunny Day EP showcasing our dream-pop side a bit more if we compare it with our previous – more electronic – work. Of course, we don't stop here because we have new stuff coming out during summer, too! We think that continuity is the key in our musical journey after eight and a half years now.

As for our new single, “I Don't Need You”, we chose to work with our fellow friends Ocean Hope again, firstly, because we have a mutual respect in each other's work, but, also, because we so badly wanted to include Angeliki's angelic voice in one of our melancholic ballads. And judging from the result, I think we've done the right thing!”

Indeed, they did the right thing, and have been for a while as both Keep Shelly in Athens and Ocean Hope are no strangers to KEXP. Keep Shelly in Athens stopped by back in 2011 for an in-studio with John Richards, and their song “Seattle” was on our Song of the Day podcast back in 2017. Ocean Hope has previous connections, as well, as KEXP premiered their 2018 debut LP Rolling Days and it was also released on Seattle’s Hush Hush Records. 

As far as we’re concerned, the world needs more joy and thankfully Keep Shelly in Athens continues to deliver. 

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