Kelli Ali was the face of the Sneaker Pimps and ultimately it was this success that led to her being forced out of the band. With hindsight it was easy to see the cracks which often resulted in Kelli being left high and dry in hotel lobbies while the rest of the band went out on the tiles. Now back solo and stronger for it, Kelli Ali has just completed her debut album and a tour supporting Garbage throughout the UK. We caught up with her at the Manchester date to discover her journey of self discovery.
Q: Taking it back to the end of the Sneaker Pimps /
beginning of your solo career. To fill our readers in with basics - the
guys basically suggested that it would be better for the band if you left.
Looking back were there signs that not all was well or was it case of one
day it was fine / the next day you were out?
A: I think everything happens over time. But at what I thought was a meeting about the next album was actually a meeting to ask me to leave...so it was quite a surprise. I knew that we'd had different directions and a few misunderstandings on the tour, but I never realized it was that deep to them. The thing to me is that in hindsight it all makes perfect sense.
I will never truly be able to answer that question because
its hard to imagine what was going through there heads. I think jealousy
did play a part in it, but I know that Chris (the guitarist) really wanted
Q: You had toured round the world with them and then
this happened. There must have been that sense of betrayal?
A: I felt a bit non-plussed to tell you the truth. Like I say, looking back in hindsight it does make a lot of sense. All those times I'd go down to the lobby thinking we'd go for dinner and they'd all gone.
Q: What were the first 6 / 12 months like after the
split. Was it a sense of what do I do with my life now?
A: No, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. And that was an exciting time because I started writing an album...but it was a little bit scary at the same because nobody contacted me to see how I was doing. I'd say about 2 years after I did start getting a little bit worried - nobody was knocking my door down shouting when are we gonna see you again.
It got to the point where I thought people don't even care what I'm doing now or are not actually even interested...which to some extent was true. All the record companies were looking to sign Britney lookalikes, but luckily One Little Indian took notice and they're my saving grace.
Q: So while you were at home working on your own album
did you hear the Sneaker Pimps second album? Was it eerie listening to
this band that wasn't your own anymore?
A: It wasn't. I was curious to listen to what they were gonna do. I just listening to it as I would listen to anyone else really.
Q: For you, things didn't fall into place until you
decamped to the LA and started working with Rick Knowles (Madonna, Dido)
and Marius De Vries (Moulin Rouge). It must have been an inspiration that
these producers wanted to work with you?
A: The one song called Tigermouth which I wrote on a little synth in London....that was when I knew. I'd had no experience of computers or sequencers and one of the first thing I did, because I knew money would run out as I signed a shoddy deal with them, so I bought an electronic piano and a sequencer.
I was doing Kung Fu at the time and my teacher said this point here (Ed: Between your thumb and your index finger) is an energy point and its called your Tigermouth - if you're feeling sort of low you just press it. The word to me and the whole imagery of it just touched me very deeply. And it made me think of me with my mouth and being very outspoken and making people shy away.
That was the turning point for me when I met Rick. And
musically I'd met somebody who I just see as a true partner. I spent and
year and a half in LA writing the album and it also shaped me as a person.
I fell in love with LA...just the nature and the beauty of it...and so
to fall in love with a place and to be writing an album is just very lucky.
Q: It must have felt good to have people around you
that actually believed in you?
A: Its just so beautiful to work with people, especially people like Rick Knowles, who believe in your writing abilities. It was almost like the anti-thesis of what i'd been doing - it was like being with people who didn't believe in me very much and probably thought I wasn't very good at it....to working with people that say I love the way you write. I was almost in tears the first time I met Rick because he was the first person in a long while who simply said "I love what you're doing".
Q: Finally, tell us a little bit about the idea behind
your debut single "Inferno High Love"
A: Its very ritualistic and about the telepathy of people in a relationship. When you write a song I won't let it go unless it really moves me and the album is really eclectic. Sometime you wake up and you just want to write a song and other days you'll want to write a piece of music.
"Inferno High Love" is out 3rd June on One Little Indian
"Tigermouth" follows on 17th June
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