Born from heartwrenching melodies comes the kick-ons anthem that will soundtrack the rest of Summer. Meet Keli Holiday.
After a two-month North American tour, Peking Duk’s Adam Hyde was blessed with some time off. Wait, scratch that. Instead of holidaying, the sleepless musician dusted off the old guitar and got to work. In a beer-fueled songwriting spree, he cooked up 12 originals in just four weeks, then showed his demos to Thomas Stell of Golden Features. The demos then found their way to the ears of Kim of The Presets, who Hyde is admittedly a big fan of. Together, Kim and Hyde polished up the tracks and Keli Holiday was born.
This project brings bright synths, boppy drumming, and huge vocals to the table, crafting kick-ons anthems beyond your wildest dreams. We sat down with Hyde to talk about the new project; from the recording process to the future.
HAPPY: Congrats on this new project, you must be so excited!
ADAM: Thank you! Thank you so much! It’s just a piece of me so it feels good to share it with people, for sure. The whole journey of it has just been pure joy and fun. Not a second of it has felt like really striving to create something. It just kind of pours out in the best way. Working with people like Kim from The Presets and Johnny Took from DMA’s, Nicky Vancy and Alex Lahey. There’s lots of dope people on it and kind of grabbing from influences I grew up on like The Velvet Underground, Joy Division, and New Order and shit like that and then kind of mixing it with a rough, jagged, bombastic drum sound with it. It’s kind of just been fun, just really, really fucking fun.
HAPPY: Did that all happen while you were overseas?
ADAM: Well actually the flower started blooming in Sydney. I just got off a tour with Peking Duk. It was a big one across the states, but we were based in New York and I spent a lot of time listening to New Order and Joy Division on our days off in New York, just walking around. Hearing those synths and that music that my father would play for me a lot when I was a kid but I didn’t really fuck with it like I do now back then. It kind of sparked something in me and when I got home everyone had time off and it was like well, you should go on holiday or something, and I was like I just got this shitty guitar. Actually, I have the guitar right here. It’s actually not that shitty, I shouldn’t say that. It’s little, it’s like a mini acoustic guitar *shows guitar*.
HAPPY: Oh my god, that’s beautiful!
ADAM: It’s so beautiful and it’s so fun. Because it’s so little you can just rip on it, so fun. I just started jamming on it and then singing shit on it and programming drums and literally just fucking around on my end. But then I went over to Tom, Golden Features, who’s a very close friend, went to his house and he was playing me music and I was playing him some music and I was like, I’ll play this shit that I’ve just been fucking around with. He was like, “dude this is actually really good!” I was so embarrassed to show it to him. I trust his ears a lot because he’s very hard on himself. He wouldn’t lie to me like that.
ADAM: I like them as well, that’s why obviously, I guess I showed it to him sheepishly as it might’ve been. He said to me, “you should give this to Kim, try and work with Kim on this because he just did the DMA’s record.” I was like, “oh dude, I don’t know Kim, I’d love to have a chat with him.” He linked us up and then the next day, me and Kim met up for coffee and talked about the demos and then we got in the studio and tried to polish the turds as best we could *laughs*.
HAPPY: Was there a large demoing process before everything came together?
ADAM: Kind of, yes, but not much changed from the demos. Everything I had written didn’t change. It was more re-recording the synths, re-recording the guitars, re-recording the vocals, re-recording the drums just making everything sound way better because the way that I had done it was literally just recorded on my iPhone and this microphone right here actually. It’s funny, I’m saying all this shit with this microphone. It was all just having fun with it, keeping it bedroom vibes, and then we made it sound really big. From there, we were like, “this is hot, this sounds good.” Now I have a full record coming this year, which is exciting.
HAPPY: That’s always good to hear because, with a solo project, some people just get so stressed and so anxious about putting it out. But it’s so good you had fun with it.
ADAM: Yeah, totally! It’s funny because I wondered if I’d be like, “oh shit, what are people going to think or how is it going to be received.” Hand on heart, I already received the best moments out of it, as cliché as it sounds, in the actual creation of it. I get that with Peking Duk as well, but this is different because it really is a part of me. You can hear it on that first single, We Don’t Have To Know. I’m ad-libbing on the track. This is me and the homies fucking around in the studio, pretty much partying whilst making music. If I could show you the stems right now, in the drum track I was playing the drums on it and you could hear us all laughing. It’s kind of wildstyle.
ADAM: I think that shows through in it. It’s a very fun song and I think that’s what this project is about. I think that’s why I chose that as the first taste because it’s like this is a holiday. It’s about fun and having a good time. There are some really heartbreaking songs on there that I wrote from the bottom of my heart. It’s really me, not venting, but singing what was in my heart at that time. I think that the next song coming out on March 26th, it’s called Way You Feel. I actually just shot the video for that last weekend with Taylor Bonin, he’s really dope. That’s kind of in the same world of We Don’t Have To Know.
ADAM: It’s sunny but over the top. It’s real fun. Then I’ve also got some more melancholic kind of stuff I guess which is also nice. That’s what it initially started as. It was more Joy Division, New Order-y kind of melancholic. I was just writing about a really bad break up, which I guess is cliché as fuck. That’s what spurred me to write all this stuff. I was also like, “oh I can also write these kinds of tunes and that co-exists in the same world,” and then Keli Holiday was born, I guess.
HAPPY: That’s so interesting. I remember reading, I don’t know if it was in your presser or in an article or somewhere, that this project was basically fat kick-ons anthems and I was like, “fuck yeah.” It’s so interesting that this came from really sad songs.
ADAM: Yeah, totally! It’s funny like that too because in those sad songs, a lot of the synths are bright, pretty, and glittery but the lyrics are really sad. It’s also empowering as well to both people, both seeing what I’ve been through and both to that person. I think people can relate to that, for sure. Nobody’s ever perfect. People always want to get shit off their chest. I guess it was kind of cathartic in a way just writing about it literally on paper and turning it into songs. That’s kind of like therapy I guess to a degree. In that way, it was a cleansing experience and then I was like, now let me have some fun as well. Initially, the first eight tracks were pretty melancholic from the heart and then the remainder are real boppy, fun party anthems *laughs*.
HAPPY: Well, you said that you were writing about a breakup at the start. Is music for you something that comes in the heat of the moment or is more of a reflection on things that have passed?
ADAM: That’s a really good question. It changes. Sometimes, before I go into the studio, I’m like I need to write about this today or this is where I want to take it today. Normally when that’s the vibe, when I know what’s in my line. I’m like okay I want to do this, it got to sound like this, I want it sound mixes up to sound like that, the drums should sound like that, I can map out my ideas before I actually do them which is great. It’s a really good thing but that doesn’t happen all the time. Sometimes I’m literally just pissing in the wind waiting, just playing the drums and something will come.
ADAM: But one thing I found is I should never try and force writing lyrics when I’m not feeling it because then it’s just whack. It’s definitely a spur of the moment thing with lyrics. I’ve got to be feeling it. With production some of the stuff I think I like the most that I’ve done, a lot of the time it’s come from happy accidents, like weird little mistakes. Like a synth bloop and then you fuck that up in Ableton and then you go crazy with it. it’s different every time, to be honest.
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HAPPY: Has the change of scenery between Australia and LA had any impact on your music-making?
ADAM: I think definitely. More so, it’s had an impact on me as a person, as a human being. I really came out here on my own and got amongst it and really pushed myself out of my comfort zone and through that I’ve met so many fucking wild, whacky, weird, beautiful people that I never would’ve dreamed of meeting. It’s such a weird thing because LA is this really dirty, sad city but it’s also a really beautiful part of the world with really nice people.
ADAM: It’s such a weird mix in that sense. I think living in that environment just got me getting amongst shit a bit more. Like, don’t say no to stuff. If someone’s like, “oh come to this or you should have a jam with this person,” I feel like it’s opened up my senses a bit more. I’m more open to stuff now and I think from that, stuff is bound to happen and from those experiences, you then have an outlook to a degree. I would say it’s definitely changed me, for sure, for the better.
HAPPY: Was that your first time living overseas?
ADAM: Yeah, that I can remember. When I was a tiny, tiny kid I lived in Bordeaux, France.
HAPPY: Oh, fuck yeah!
ADAM: Yeah, my first language is French actually. My first word was Chocolat.
HAPPY: Oh my god, that’s fucking sick!
ADAM: I know! Apparently, I could speak French, but I can’t remember any of it.
HAPPY: *Laughs* That’s fucking mad!
ADAM: I know, I know! Now I need to get back on my French shit.
HAPPY: Have you been back since? Maybe it’ll just come to you.
ADAM: Yeah, I’ve been to Paris quite a bit. I don’t feel that affinity with the country like I thought I might have, for some reason. Who knows, maybe it’ll come back one day. It’s never too late.
HAPPY: What does a typical studio set up for you? Could you paint us a picture of what you’ve got going on, your essentials?
ADAM: It’s funny because I just moved. This is where I’m working from right now, this is my bedroom. I was sharing a studio with KUČKA, also an Aussie, legend. Her and I were sharing a spot-on Melrose and we had to move out of there because it was getting real sketchy over there *laughs*. Thankfully I use… actually, I’ll show you I’ve got it here. So, this guy has been real good to me *flashes synth*, a proper REV2.
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ADAM: Yeah, stunning! Just such warm, juicy, lush, velvety, beautiful sounds that come out of it. Then I just use a MIDI keyboard with that. The main thing lately is just electric guitar, microphone, synth. I sample drums and just crunch them or I go to my homies spot and record them live and just crunch it up. I don’t need too much. It’s funny, I went on a spree of getting into hardware stuff heaps and then I noticed I wasn’t using it as much as I thought I would. It costs a lot of money too. I was kind of like, I don’t want it to sit there and gather dust. I just stick to what I know and that’s a lot of VST’s, software synths, and stuff like that in Ableton. I’m always open to trying new things too. When I go over to Tom, Golden Features’, crib, he’s got a spaceship of modular synths that climb the walls and, ahh, it’s so beautiful. It’s hard not to look at that and be like, damn I want all that shit. But at the end of the day, I like to keep it somewhat simple.
HAPPY: That’s always good. Your bank account thanks you for it in the end.
ADAM: Definitely, definitely!
HAPPY: *Laughs* Well has it been hard having to balance this solo project plus your work with Peking Duk and having to figure out what goes with where and what you’re going to focus your time on?
ADAM: Not at all, actually. It’s been quite the opposite funnily enough. It’s funny too because Peking Duk releases two songs a year, it feels like. This year, we have a lot more music coming, shout out to Covid for that. No, it’s actually made it a lot more refreshing working on the Peking Duk stuff. I think a big part of it was taking kind of a step back for a second. Every day, I was going to the studio and writing new stuff for Peking Duk and I like to tackle the creative process from a different angle and see where it takes me. That’s the road that Keli Holiday was, going down there.
ADAM: Through some of those sessions, I would have a tune that would end up being a Peking Duk song, which is quite funny. It’s easy to separate the two. I think, work-wise, it’s great. I’ve got the Keli Holiday album coming and we also have over an album worth of stuff that’s mixed and mastered now for Peking Duk as well. Yeah, it’s been good. I was wondering that for a bit when I kind of got into the Keli Holiday world, “is this going to consume too much?” It actually did the opposite, and I was way more hungry to write more music after feeling that breath of fresh air, if you will. It’s quite interesting. It’s weird but that’s the way that went down.
HAPPY: You’ve got the new single at the end of this month and then you’ve got the album. Is there anything else on the cards for you at the moment?
ADAM: Right now, just writing more and more. I’ve got the tune and the video dropping on March 26th, called Where You Feel. We have a new Peking Duk single coming in like a month and a half. Yeah, waiting for the world to open back up again so the blood can start flowing and people can be merry, or merrier, than they are right now. That’s what I’m hoping is on the horizon.
HAPPY: Thanks so much for the chat!
ADAM: Thank you! You’re a legend!
We Don’t Have To Know is out now on all platforms. Grab your copy here.
Intro by Manning Patston