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Declan Kelly – Heart, Musicality, Oneness

By Dan Hutton on September 29, 2016 in Arts

Photo: Alex Lloyd

Photo: Alex Lloyd

Declan Kelly was born in Sydney to an Irish father and a Maori mother. His mother was a singer and exposed Declan to the life of a musician from an early age and he took to the drums and guitar, singing to come later in his life.

Kelly grew up playing in bands around the Balmain area with musicians including Alex Lloyd, was headhunted by the Bondi Cigars after finishing school, and has gone on to release two solo albums, Tales from the Neighbourhood and Adrift.

His most recent work is a collaborative effort on an awareness and fundraising album called Dieseln’Dub, a collection of reggae and dub versions of Midnight Oil songs featuring a stellar cast including Katie Noonan, Alex Lloyd, Emma Donovan and Radical Son, proceeds of which go to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

Kelly will be taking to the stage at the upcoming Eastside Global Rhythms festival where he will present Dieseln’Dub live.

The Beast caught up with him during the month…

My first memory of music is… hearing ‘Mull of Kintyre’ by Wings at a family party when I was around the age of three.

Growing up my parents listened to… an eclectic mix of music. My mother liked to listen to Stevie Wonder, Barbara Streisand, and some musicals like Chorus Line and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Dad was mad for anything that reminded him of home in Ireland.

My dream gig… would be playing with some of my great mentors past and present.

If you come to see me play, you can expect… heart, musicality, rhythmic tapestry and oneness.

There was one time when I was starting out… with my first ever band, The Beefs (with Alex Lloyd), and we would put all our musical equipment in Woolies shopping trolleys to walk to our gigs in the neighbourhood of Balmain and play in bars. Under age we were…

If I could have chosen one song to have written it would have to be… ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’ by Michael Jackson – a dance floor classic, super production and it made a bunch of money!

My favourite song to perform would have to be… my latest creation to find its heart.

The best thing about the local music scene is… the awesome community of musicians, who I consider family.

One person I’d still really like to record with is… my little boy Otis, who has a beautiful voice and plays piano.

My biggest fan has got be…

I’ll know I have made it when… I’m still making music till my dying days.

I’m looking forward to Eastside Global Rhythms because… it will showcase Sydney’s vibrant musical and artistic community outside under Sydney skies.

To find out more about Declan Kelly, go to For tickets and information about Eastside Global Rhythms, go to