‘Not much is known at the moment about the obtusely named, mysterious new duo Keep Shelly in Athens’, starts the blurb for their forthcoming debut UK single. ‘Which, appropriately enough, is just the way they like it.’
The duo, which consists of Sarah P on vocals and RPR creating the music, are, somewhat unsurprisingly, from Athens. They’ve been making music for a year or so, and you might just be familiar with a song they had kicking about at the end of 2010:
Keep Shelly in Athens - Running Out Of You by Keep Shelly in Athens
In preparation for the release of their new double A-Side ‘Hauntin’ Me’ / ‘Song To Cheer You Up’ at the end of February, we have a chat with RPR to see if we can’t just squeeze a little more information out of him.
Hello RPR, how are you?
So, there are two of you in the band and you’re both from Athens?
Indeed, there are two of us in the band, both from Athens. However, the line-up for live performances will consist of four people.
Is that a good place to be a band? Are there many bands coming out of the area?
Not really. There are many difficulties for a modern band or a solo artist who wants to be heard outside the country, even though there are many talented people. There is, literally, only a handful of good independent labels, while the Greek branches of major international labels are only active in the local market - even for English-speaking bands - and their presence abroad is virtually non-existent. In my country the rule is: if you want something done properly, do it yourself.
What about as a music fan? Do you get many bands visiting for shows?
In the last few years the situation has improved a lot, both in terms of venues and in terms of artists visiting Athens.
How did the two of you start making music together? Is this your first musical project, or have there been others before?
I had initially recorded a few songs myself, but at the same time I was looking for a voice to match the musical style and mood of the tracks. It was not long before I found Sarah – and Sarah found me. It was exactly what I wanted for the project. As RΠЯ, I just finished remixing an entire 13-track album by the Scottish folk artist Iain Morrison. It was exciting to transform 13 folk songs into something entirely different than what was there before. It was a challenge, but at the same time great fun!
For those who won’t have heard you yet, how would you describe your music?
The descriptions by Gorilla Vs Bear, the Guardian, and Pitchfork, I believe, say it better than I could. But for your readers, in a sentence, I would say that it is a mostly electronic, down tempo music, that wants to take you on a trip – or is ideal to listen to when you are on one.
Your new single ‘Hauntin’ Me’ / ‘Song To Cheer You Up’ is out in February. How did you hook up with Transparent Records?
From what we learned afterwards, they really liked our EP that came out from Forest Family and they got in touch right away for a collaboration. It was amazing for us, since we were already great fans of Transparent’s releases!
Are you prolific musicians? Did you have many songs to choose from when picking which to release?
Hmm, I wouldn’t say so… Because everything has happened so fast (we are still in our first year as a band), we never had the chance to pick-and-choose among many different songs before one of our releases; in fact almost everything we have written has already been released!
Do you have any other releases in the pipeline? What are you up to in other release territories?
After the 7’ release, a collection of tracks from our previous releases, along with a new track, will come out in Japan, on cassette, around mid-March. In the meantime, we are now concentrating on the preparation of our live performances.
And finally: If Keep Shelly in Athens had a mission statement, what would it be?
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at… the dusk (with apologies to Oscar).
‘Hauntin’ Me’ / ‘Song to Cheer You Up’ will be released on 21st February on limited edition 7’ vinyl through Transparent Records.
Keep Shelly in Athens - Hauntin’ Me by Keep Shelly in Athens