We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Kelly Robison. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Kelly below.
Alright, Kelly thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Are you happier as a creative? Do you sometimes think about what it would be like to just have a regular job? Can you talk to us about how you think through these emotions?
This is so great because I literally have this conversation with myself more times than I could tell you.. and it’s such a funny place to exist. For as long as I can remember I’ve known I wanted to create. I went through so many different mediums from a young age. I loved drawing, painting, dance, charcoals, writing, poetry, learning instruments, different forms of performance… the list goes on. I was always afraid to openly pursue these things and had a lot of learned external pressure of following a more ~conventional~ career. Very soon I learned that that was absolutely not going to be the lifestyle I would find fulfilling. I think it’s important to remember that it is OKAY to have a “day job” to support creative endeavors. It takes a certain type of hustle to really go after a full-time career as a creative (my eventual, ideal end goal), and I think in the periods of time I was doing music full time, I found that my stress levels were at an all time high, and my creativity was at times, at an all time low. I just didn’t have the traction or support financially I really needed. I was DJing 4-5 nights a week and didn’t have time to really work on the part of the art I really wanted to do : creating and producing my own music. So now I do have a day job (one that I love) and I find an excellent balance, as well as consistent income to invest further into my budding creative career. The vulnerability required to be an artist, the absolutely unfiltered fear of putting that vulnerability in front of others, and the constant uncertainty and lack of a clear path really makes a creative career so emotionally exhausting at times, and also emotionally fulfilling. It’s riding the highs and lows and ebbs and flows of life to the most extreme degree. And there are SO. MANY. TIMES. I’m screaming into the void begging to be neurotypical and begging to simply WANT to do nothing but a regular job and have a regular life. But the idea of that absolutely makes my bones itch. I want to want it at times, simply because the oscillation of my emotions in this sort of work can be entirely overwhelming.
But I always draw it back to the same question I ask myself in multiple areas of my life/brain: would I give up my ability to touch the sky if it meant not feeling the crushing weight of the ocean floor?
At times, I beg myself to say yes, but the highs and rides of being emotionally and unstoppably creative is absolutely worth the deepest struggles that come with the territory.
Kelly, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
I’m Kelly Romo – DJ, producer, artist, budding audio engineer, and professional self-deprecator. I began my creative career as a DJ, with the intention of producing dance music. As I started to play more and more, I attempted producing different genres based off of my favorite things to DJ. I ran into a lot of soft rejections that basically all ran the same undertone: this is cool, but it’s too different. I found the dance music genre restrictions limiting, and coloring within the lines was just something I did not enjoy. I branched into some intense synth-production type stuff with my initial solo releases, and recently with spending more time with live instruments, I currently find my sound shifting so much, and into something that I finally can listen to without wanting to permanently remove my vocal chords and delete Ableton from my computer forever.
I like to create emotional music, and honest music. I like to play on the darker themes, as a career sad girl. But what’s really important to me is the vulnerability, because the more authentic of a place I create from, the more intentional emotion I can bring to the experience. I find music and art to be one of the most intimate ways to connect with other humans, and I feel like I get the opportunity to form more of these connections through my music. I’m most proud of this vulnerability and honesty, even when it paints me in a not-so-great light. I’ve met and connected with so many incredible people through this, and I hope to continue to create even more art that becomes more and more aligned with who I am. I think that’s the coolest part of being a creative… as you grow, learn, and change, your work grows with you. And as you allow that process to continue, your work only becomes more and more YOURS. It can be nothing else than what it is. And that is so incredibly unique.
What’s a lesson you had to unlearn and what’s the backstory?
YOU, DO. NOT. HAVE. TO. DO. EVERYTHING. ON. YOUR. OWN!!!!
When I started out, I knew nobody who could produce music, nobody who even knew was a DAW was, and no idea what the h*ll i was doing. I spent soooo much time on youtube, looking up articles/videos/ANYTHING that would help me hone in on this craft. I developed such a severe “do it yourself” mentality that once I had more knowledge, more creative music friends, etc I still had such a hard time allowing myself to get help. I spent so much time learning to mix/master, trying to write songs start to finish on my own, and learning to track and process my own vocals that I lost the fun in creating.
It was monumental for me when one of my favorite mentors basically said: “If you have the capabilities to outsource, DO IT!”
It took a bit, but I managed to cave and get my songs processed/mixed/mastered externally. It wasn’t that I wasn’t capable of doing it, but I couldn’t be objective with my own voice, and having the product perfectly mixed was always my biggest stressor. I now work for an incredible artist/producer/engineer with Nature Boy Studios who is teaching me so much more about the process. I now collaborate constantly in every avenue of my creative work (i almost never wanna make anything start to finish on my own again)
This is the biggest improvement that occurred for me to this day in terms of my creative journey. The process became less stressful, and I found JOY in creating again. There are ALWAYS people in your corner, and every human brings so much to the table when you’re creating in any medium. Art is about CONNECTION! And learning to allow those connections in all the diverse areas of music making really leveled up my internal actualization and growth as an artist.
For you, what’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative?
The connection!! It’s still so wild to me that there are people I’ve never met who reach out to me to say my music impacted them in some way. Like that’s insane to me… these thoughts and experiences I have that I put into the world resonated with somebody and drew them closer to me. That’s so wild?? Art is so uniquely human that the relationships and connections created through it are more intimate and authentic than most others, at least in my experience. And those bonds are so special, so fulfilling, and so grounding. We all are just existing ironically at the same time and space on a floating rock, and to have these intimate means of connection creates so many meaningful relationships in a vastly meaningless universe
- Website: go.kellyromomusic.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/kellyromo
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/kellyromo8
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfxYpSJb2ZffgEbAf8ci6rQ
- Other: Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1SjJwlcaWALPYa4otTm6uh Linktree: https://linktr.ee/KellyRomo
Julianna Freed, Kaileb Flowers