Thursday, August 17, 2006

Josh Kelley's in control

Josh Kelley may be a bit of an aggressive driver.

“You just have to figure out a way to balance your life ... and I can’t believe this guy isn’t turning!,” said the 24-year-old singer, briefly interrupted by the infamous Los Angeles traffic.

It’s just a regular day for Kelley, running errands on a warm California afternoon, but the singer is eager to talk about his latest album, Just Say the Word, which was released on his own record label in July.

“I just basically wanted to take control on this record, take control of my career,” said Kelley, who left Hollywood Records, where he released two previous albums, and set out on his own.

But not only did Kelly release The Word, a soul-infused pop-rock blend, on his own label, he produced the entire album himself, mixed and engineered the songs and played most of the instruments, making him a one-man-show of sorts.

“To tell you the truth, I’m a little bit of a control freak,” Kelley said.

But he said the beauty of that control is absolute freedom.

“I can produce any style I want,” he said. “When there’s too many cooks in the kitchen it can kind of taint your project. It’s how I wanted to do it and the response has been unbelievable.”

Kelley started writing his own music as a young teenager, branching out from conventional pop and rock instruments and experimenting with the banjo, mandolin and dobro.

“I wanted to learn,” he said. “When you really want something and you’re passionate about it, you’ve gotta figure out how to do it.”

While studying at the University of Mississippi, the Augusta, Ga., native put some of his music up on Napster and began sending people messages about his music.

“Basically your guerrilla-style marketing,” Kelley said.

After sending out messages for about a month and a half, Kelley was discovered by an A&R representative at Hollywood Records.

As they say, the rest is history.

Now he’s living in the midst of “The Pop Game,” the topic of his first single of the same name.

“I’ve gotta admit/I’ve changed a bit/But what the public wants, the public gets,” Kelley wrote in the song’s lyrics.

The song allowed Kelley to lightheartedly comment on the world he lives in and his place in it.

“I understand how necessary it is,” he said of the “game” of celebrity culture. “If it was gone there would be some really freaking boring days. The pop game is a fuel that keeps the business going.”

Being engaged to Katherine Heigl, one of the stars of “Grey’s Anatomy,” Kelley knows all about the business of Hollywood.

“It’s pretty weird,” Kelley said of his relationship being the focus of some of his press. “We’re actually against it. ... In the press world, if you open your relationship up to other people, all of a sudden there’s a little bit of your life that’s less sacred.”

Kelley will perform at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre at Regency Park in Cary on Wednesday, Aug. 23. Proceeds from the show will benefit the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

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