'Drawing on her unique upbringing and often inspired by the kids and animals in her life, Kelli Welli’s wide-ranging and award-winning songwriting is smart, fun, often hilarious, sometimes reflective and deeply sweet. Always genuine. Her original songs and lullabies weave wonderful tales, celebrate love, nature, different languages, and honor all the details that come with raising these amazing little people in our lives.'
Kelli Welli has a unique and creative way of telling stories. Her ideas are intelligent, clever, and confident. When I hit play, I'm completely captivated. Her music is so good it can stand on its own, but then you pair it with these carefully crafted lyrics, and it's next-level amazing. Kelli Welli is the full-meal deal. Everything she makes, from her songs and books to her videos and performances, is exceptional. It's no surprise that she has received so many accolades. I'm a huge fan, and I have no doubt that once you listen to her repertoire, you will be too.
Congratulations on a very successful year! Your 2022 album, Robots Don't Tell Jokes, has made some very big waves! What was the biggest highlight for you this past year and what are you looking forward to most in 2023?
Hi! Thank you so much and congratulations to you, as well, for all the amazing work and recognition you've had recently too!
The biggest highlights in the past year have been releasing that album with 8 Pound Gorilla Records, the recognition we've gotten for the album, as well as the "Robots Don't Tell Jokes" music video getting into some wonderful film festivals. It's going to play at Comic Con in San Diego this month! And then also having a couple of songs play on SiriusXM Kids Place Live -- that feels like the biggest news and progress on the business front. Really grateful for that!
In 2023, I'm just really excited to have released the next album -- and I decided to make an accompanying comic book to the title track. Dusted off my Master of Publishing degree from Simon Fraser to make that, along with a very talented local Oregon illustrator, Belén Toscano. And I released this album independently again, because 8 Pound is currently in flux, just waiting to hear what their next chapter will be.
Your new project, Baby Ninja, just dropped last month! I love the album! Your 16 fun, unique, interactive songs are now all stuck in my head. This is your 4th album in as many years. How do you find the energy to keep releasing fresh, fun, family-friendly albums year after year?
Haha! I'm not sure how we all find the energy, juggling all the things and wearing all the hats we do as small business people. I have had a definite goal, however, to put out as much music as I could asap, since I've been a newer artist in the kindie music community. I have been trying to put out one album per year since my first compilation to just get more music out. So my producer and I have had a standing weekly recording session for the last year and a half, trying to stay on track, even when it's hard to stay on track. We're working on the next album right now and then after that, or maybe concurrently, I may start focusing on singles more.
What inspired you to become a children's artist and entertainer? Can you share a little bit about your journey and how you discovered your passion for entertaining kids?
I have been writing songs since college. I did write a couple of children's songs early in my experimenting process, trying the songwriting thing out, but it wasn't until I had my twins -- whoa! 10 years ago now! -- that I really focused on writing for kids. It came from making up songs for and with them. I feel like I've found my place, though, because I remember a lot from my childhood, what it's like to be a kid and how I saw things and my curiosities. I also had a difficult childhood, so have come to recognize how music and comedy were friends through difficult times, and that's what drives me the most... to make music that I hope reaches kids and their grownups wherever they are and maybe when they need a friend or reliable adult reaching out to make them feel loved.
In your opinion what is the best part and the worst part of being a children's artist?
I think the best part is witnessing the kids' and parents' responses to the songs. I think the worst part is trying to pay for the music we're recording when streaming services and our current system doesn't pay very well. So... it's definitely a labor of love. And just when you're feeling like, "Ugh, is this worth it?" when you're trying to make the business pencil out, that's when you see a child loving your songs or parents and grandparents actually singing along to them live in a show and that feels amazing.
If you had an unlimited budget and access to unlimited resources, what would your next project look like?
Oh goodness! I would hire 10 amazing producers, hopefully as good as the one I'm working with now, Bryan Daste... or hire him 10 assistants, and we would just pump out songs. I have a long list of songs I'm just trying to get done and new ones come up all the time. Would love to collab more or just have other people record some songs, if they're looking for material. And I would start my own children's book publishing company to do accompanying books or just other children's books.
I also think it would be fun to do a showcase album of the local talent in children's independent music in Portland, OR, because I know not everyone can afford to put out their own albums. We have a lot of very talented folks here. I've considered doing that right now, but realized I have to pick and choose how I spend my time and money. You can only do so much.
Right now we're working on the next album, an album for DOGS and the people who love them. It's really an album for dog parents that will include some songs we've released already and some new songs. I'm also a dog mom. And a cat mom. No longer a hamster mom... er, I guess I was technically a hamster grandma... but ehh... I'm also a plant mom, but regularly failing at that anymore. The plants don't come in and stare at me while I'm going to the bathroom. Maybe they should... it would get them more regular attention.
If you could perform a concert on the moon, which Kelli Welli songs do you think would be popular with any aliens in the audience?
Definitely "Stinky Shoe"... and now we have "Dirty Socks" on this new album, a song written by my dog Piper Peach. I think those two songs would give the aliens so much joy, if they feel joy, but also important information about our species to take back to their home planet(s). Also "Tinkle Tinkle Toot" for similar universal relations reasons.