Arts News

Young Brogan Kelby breeds maturity through music

Bringing a maturity and high-quality sound to his craft, Brogan Kelby is full of surprises. At 17 years old, the Utah native already has an impressive resume. He’s opened for 30 Seconds to Mars, performed with Switchfoot and been a pinch-hit singer for Panic! At The Disco at the X96 Big Ass Show last month.

But it’s his original work that stands out more than his list of friends and musical experience. His debut album, Sky Lights, is astoundingly well-produced and features a mix of styles and genres. While staying within the alternative labels, Kelby manages to make a roller-coaster experience out of his music. His first single, “Who Cares,” is a perfect example of a rock-anthem.

“Music is everything. It’s my life. It’s what I think about when I wake up and what I think about when I am falling asleep,” Kelby said.

He’s been playing music since he was 11 years old and got his start with the School of Rock in Sandy, Utah. But after growing tired of playing covers, he put pen to paper and began writing and performing his own work.

“Finding a place to play my stuff was one of the biggest challenges. I am too young to be in bars, so that made it tough,” Kelby said. “But I would take whatever gig I could get.”

While performing and perfecting his music, Kelby sent demos to producers, radio DJs and basically anyone who would take a listen.

“When I heard the first song he sent me, I thought either this kid is lying and he didn’t write this or his dad is doing everything for him and his dad is in Rancid or something,” said Todd ‘Nuke ‘Em’ Noker, program director at X96. “It was too mature and the songs were too good. I didn’t think it could possibly come from a local kid.”

Kelby sent Noker more demos and pushed for more airplay, which he got. His songs have been some of the most popular on X96 recently and he’s quickly becoming a local favorite, Noker, who later became his father, said.

“His music is so much deeper than what you’re hearing from other young musicians. It’s not all about breakups and high school drama. There’s so much substance to his stuff. You just can’t believe it comes from such a young guy when you hear it,” Noker said.

While intentionally mixing lyrics that could be interpreted as relationship music, Kelby masters a much more mature and substantive look, feel and sound. His lyrics explore deep, almost existential, personal and reflective issues. His sound has resonated and he’s building a loyal following.

Kelby began working his way through the local scene and started opening for bands like 30 Seconds to Mars, OK Go, Hollywood Undead and All Time Low.

“I always try to keep things personal. I want to interact with my fans and I always make myself part of the crowd and when people message me online, I always respond,” Kelby said.

He cites a wide range of musical influences, including Yellow Card, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha and Katy Perry.

“I want to make my music an experience. I don’t want all my songs to sound the same and so I try to use all the influences I can,” Kelby said.

He’ll be performing at the X96 Nightmare Before Xmas show at Saltair on Dec. 13. Other performers include Cake and The Naked and Famous. For tickets and information, go to His album is available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and at Graywhale locations. To stay up to date on concert and other information, find the Brogan Kelby Facebook Page or follow him on Twitter @BroganKelby.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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