To people like myself, doing what you love keeps you sane and happy. You need to do this sh*t so that life doesn’t feel so… Useless. That’s why they call it “a calling” probably. That’s why David J. Kelley has been doing what he loves since 2001 and probably even sooner than that. You can’t really hate those people, you got to admire them. Doing something you love and then sharing it with anyone who will listen is like smiling at a homeless person, it’s the right thing to do.
David J. Kelley has always been enthusiastic about music. He refers to the thrill of making music for the first time as getting that “triple buzz”. “The first buzz is hearing something magical that you love (like ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit‘). The second is not just playing it from your tape deck (dating myself here), but playing it yourself on the guitar. The third buzz is, ‘whoa, I can create my own stuff.’” But even before making music, it has always been intrigued about creating his stuff.
His songwriting has always been inspired by the pressures of existential dread. “Haha. But yeah actually. I think that need, that pressure, is the biggest influence and also the fuel.” In other words, he wants his songs to have the biggest impact on his listeners and/or his imagination as if his life depended on that impact. This is one of many specific influences he has behind his music.
His fan base is made up of mostly his friends and family from New Zealand he says. Although, he does very much appreciate all of his loyal followers who have been listening to his music from the beginning, he released his first self-titled album in 2001.
“Plenty of what I write is just me dealing with stuff, cathartically barfing out the sickness of being inadequate, mortal, abandoned, self-loathing, questioning, whatever. There are thoughts and feelings too big for my brain and body and so I have to magic up a place in the world to hold them. I’m grateful to have music play that role.”– David J. Kelley (3/19/2020)
To begin with my opinion on 2am Orchestra’s music, does anyone else think of Thom Yorke (Radiohead) when listening to most of the Trading Graves?… Well hopefully now you do if you don’t! That’s basically all I could think of when listening to that album. That and how hard it is to think of any other musician who sounded like Thom. This is a huge compliment from me because I literally was and still kinda am obsessed with that man, he was beyond his time and I really love his songwriting as well. That being said, I admire David’s existential dread drive behind his music, it kind of reminds me of myself at times.
David has moved around wide and far by the way. “For a time I toured state fairs in a trash can drummer band. That was a bit random I guess. I can remember this gig in Kentucky where this one vendor gave us free food, but it was the same thing every day: fried green tomatoes and fried chicken burgers. I was so broke I ate it 9 days straight: Actually, I wasn’t broke so much as cheap – beer was the priority! My move from Los Angeles to Auckland was pretty spontaneous. I had a friend (Tim Bern, who played bass in the band from 2009 -2010) from New Zealand that was heading home and extended an invitation for me to follow him over. At that time I was burning out in LA pretty hard so it was a lovely change of pace. Figured I’d spend a few months bumming around New Zealand, then head home. 10 years later and here I am still in New Zealand” David says. ***Notice how all the links are from Google Earth, hope it shows how vast those locations are from each other!***
“When I was younger I went to China for a year. Played some regular gigs in Nanjing. Back then, being a white guy playing recognizable western tunes (cover songs) made me a sort of local celebrity. What a trip man – play “Hotel California” you’ll have a bar full of best friends. I took some requests for songs I didn’t even know the correct words to – no one noticed.”-David
At the moment, David is working on an untitled song about how people can go an entire lifetime being strangers to themselves. He says he’s very excited about that release. He isn’t sure what kind of direction he wants to take with his music in the future however. “I guess I want to go in the direction I’ve always gone: with the freedom to do what I want and change it up as I go,” he tells me.
He is exploring the idea of releasing more songs more often, and is considering releasing more singles like he did last year. “Also, if I can get the boys together I’ll try to put out another one of these casual video performances that we do soon. Those always make for a fun day” David says. I’ll keep everyone posted when I hear of future tracks, which hopefully won’t be long!!!