Kris Kelly, a Brooklyn-based queer artist and musician, traveled for five years through South America with only a suitcase and a guitar. During this time, he wrote the songs at the core of his debut album, “Runaways.”
On Kelly’s record, listeners will find a journey of self-discovery that includes love, loss and hope — plus a chronicle of the relationship with his Argentinian then-boyfriend, now-husband.
So far, Kelly has released two songs from the album, “Birthplace” and “We Flew,” which he described as relatively lighter songs.
“I was writing [the album] during a very intense time of my life, and chronicling my life in Argentina,” Kelly said. “I was also writing about my relationship with my husband and growing as a person, reassessing my relationship with myself and how I treat people.”
A challenging trajectory, Kelly said the album follows the same pattern. It begins delicately before entering a place with depth and darkness, and then resurfaces, allowing for, at least some, hope.
“It’s really a coming-of age-album,” Kelly said. “I called it ‘Runaways’ because in the first six months of my traveling, I was around a lot of others who were in the same position, traveling for months and months, and it seemed like everyone was running away from something. These were people who were trying to discover something about themselves or piece together something they’d lost before.”
Kelly loved the freedom from responsibility that travel offered — no friends who know your past, no attachments, the ability to be present in each moment — found in the lyrics of his upcoming album. But the music alos expresses a tension between this freedom and a yearning for those things that are grounding.
The next song from the album, to be released in early June, “Cracked Porcelain” as Kelly said, “deals with a difficult time with my partner when we had opened the relationship, and the song is basically about an open relationship gone wrong.”
He elaborated, “As queer people, we have so much freedom to define what our relationship is, but it comes with a lot of responsibility. It’s about being conscious and aware of what you’re doing.”
“Another tension,” Kelly said.
Having studied music composition at New York University, Kelly’s grappling with these tensions is expertly handled, and his album is nuanced and honest. n