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Astra Kelly / Bio

PARLOR SONGS::LOVE and HEARTBREAK is a concept album of torch songs written around universal themes of love and heartbreak and fused with modern digital elements to create an original and trendsetting acoustic electro sound. Kelly had set out to write an acoustic singer/songwriter album for her next project but during a sonic epiphany one evening a whole different soundscape presented itself. Starting with just acoustic guitar and vocal tracks, she enlisted the help of DJ Coda Collins to create the electronic elements. Drawing upon influences such as Massive Attack, Portishead and Morcheeba, among others, and taking vocal inspiration from vintage singers such as Peggy Lee, Doris Day and harmonies like the Andrew Sisters, they produced a fine and apparent balance of electro and acoustic elements. The addition of live bass and drums gives even more depth to the songs.

Parlor Songs emerged during Kelly's own failing relationship and her daydream of a long forgotten romantic ideal. Not wanting to share just her stories alone, Kelly invited local San Diego songwriters Cathryn Beeks (KPRI), Carissa Schroeder (Emerald City, Sirens Crush), SABA, Sheila Sondergard, and Chris Wilson (Endoxi) to collaborate on the project and share in the raw and inspirational process of writing songs pulling from their personal experiences and emotions from falling in love to breaking-up, from being in an abusive relationship to learning to love again. Additionally there are nine original heart drawings that further represent each song.


Born in Marvel, Arkansas and delivered by Dr. Wise, Astra Kelly had an early interest in music fueled by family jams, school choirs and formal music studies. Her first touring gig began when she dropped out of college to play rhythm guitar and vocals in a jam rock band, The Junction. After touring nationally and sharing the stage with the likes of Widespread Panic and Marshall Tucker, the group went their own ways. She turned to the Chicago subways to hone her guitar skills. She quit her day job and began performing 20-30 hours a week. Soon she holed up in her apartment to make her first record “Stones, Bones, and Boxes” (1996) that featured a cast of star characters from the Chicago scene and led to her first solo performance to a sold out crowd at the famed Cubby Bear.
Kelly joined SUMO, a ten piece, talent packed acid jazz improv group. Never practicing in 3 ½ years they managed to pack houses every single week. She shared the stage with players who would later perform with Filter, The Goo Goo Dolls, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Macy Gray.
Her second record, “Subtown Rituals,” released in 1999 at a sold out show at Chicago’s, Martyr’s, showcased Astra with her band Far Rockaway. Then in June of ‘99, she knew it was time to leave and tour her solo act. She bought a conversion van and hit the road. Funding the tour primarily by busking (performing on the streets for cash) and selling CD’s out of her guitar case. While on the road, she released a solo/ acoustic live album, “Acoustic Soul Live” recorded at live shows in Colorado in 2000.
She completed a 2 year, 85,000 mile tour that ended when she skidded on some black ice on the way to a gig in Colorado. Her tour van rolled and she landed upside down on a set of train tracks. In the light of the full moon, she grabbed her guitar and got to safety just in time to watch a train charge down the tracks and crash into her tour van. This symbolic moment on her musical path launched her into a new wave of creativity.
Kelly landed in New Mexico, managed Stepbridge Studios (Santa Fe, NM), and began working on her 2004 Self-Titled EP with producer/composer, Bob DeMarco (primary writer for Paramount TV). During this period she was dividing her time between Santa Fe and Los Angeles to continue working on the record.
Her arrival in San Diego in 2006 became a huge step in the slow climb. She found a desk job at the AAA radio station 102.1 KPRI and was pegged as a voice talent by the owner who coached her into DJ’ing. She quickly moved from overnights to producing her own local music show, “The KPRI Homegrown Hour.”
In January 2010, she released the EP “Battling the Sun” with cover artwork by local San Diego artist Billy Martinez.
She was nominated five times for a San Diego Music Award including Best Acoustic Artist, Best Local Recording, and Best Rock Album, and her music video “All I Got” was showcased in the 2009 San Diego Film Festival.
She continued to perform opening for Collective Soul, Sara Bareilles, and Shawn Mullins, made the rounds through local media, found a killer band, toured the coast, and continued running recording studios: first Studiowest (San Diego, CA), and currently, Capricorn Studios (San Diego, CA), where she instructs, writes and produces music for other artists in addition to recording her sixth CD, “Timebomb” in July 2011. “Timebomb” contains five new band tracks, including a full band version of the title track from the “Battling the Sun” EP, plus three remixes from San Diego local DJ’s.
Kelly’s creative expressions and business savvy extend far beyond her musical talents. She recently revealed her Broken Record artwork, in which she breaks salvaged vinyl records to pieces and reassembles them in forms on canvas.
Kelly’s newest undertaking is developing and writing for a new band project called “Harlequin,” a borderline theatrical band performance that will include songs set and synched to film, a fashioned band look, and stories from hidden life - think rock meets retro meets indie meets sideshow carnival.
This is Astra Kelly: tremendous vocals, great guitar player, savvy business woman, creative spirit, and pure artist.

General Info

Band Members
Guitar and vox: Astra Kelly, Bass: Tony Swanson, Drums: Mike Monsiviaz, Guitars: Mike Chartrand
Artist Name
Astra Kelly
Home Page
Active Since
Rock / Electro Acoustic / Smart Rock

Contact Info

San Diego, CA

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