2017 Artist Survey: Jessica Bell and RPR of Keep Shelly in Athens

Bell and RPR on 2017's Best Albums, #MeToo and Sexual Harassment, and Too Many Music Festivals

Feb 01, 2018 Web Exclusive
Bookmark and Share


Find It At: AMAZON

For Under the Radar's 15th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the last year. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2017 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Greek duo Keep Shelly in Athens (aka vocalist Jessica Bell and the producer who goes by the mysterious name of RPR). They released their latest album, Philokalia, in 2017 via their own Athenian Aura Recordings label.

For our annual Artist Surveys we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about the various sexual harassment and assault allegations, the "Me Too" movement, the chaotic first year of Donald Trump's presidency, the Charlottesville alt-right rally and racism in America, embarrassing moments, professional regrets, which Breakfast Club character they are most like, the end of the world, and much more.

Top 10 Albums of 2017 

1. BRUNO: I Said NoVery intense and beautiful album!
2. DIANA: Familiar TouchAn album we adore and that's perfect to listen to while on tour. 
3. Slow Magic: FloatAmazing and intense. Makes you want to dance.
4. Indian Wells: Where the World EndsExtraordinary electronic music, perhaps Wells' best album to date.
5. Hazel English: Just Give In / Never Going HomeBeautifully crafted melodies. Amazing!
6. Teen Daze: Themes For a New EarthWherever you hear this album it manages to take you to the most beautiful landscapes you have ever lived!
7. Noble Oak: Collapsing TogetherMakes you travel without moving at all.
8. Magic Island: Like WaterA great pop album!
9. Lapalux: RuinismA well-worked musical and productive album. Excellent job.
10. Bibio: Phantom BrickworksA more ambient dive into our musical subconscious. Wonderful album.

What was the highlight of 2017 for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

Highlight: The release of our latest album, Philokalia.

Low: Challenges with setting up our own label (which is also, in fact, a high).
 
2017 saw sexual harassment and assault allegations against many men in the music industry, film industry, journalism, politics, and elsewhere (including Harvey Weinstein, Matt Mondanile of Ducktails and Real Estate, Brand New's Jesse Lacey, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Charlie Rose, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, Democratic Senator Al Franken, and others). Why do you think the floodgates opened in 2017 and do you think any meaningful change will come from it or will sexual harassment and assaults continue to be prevalent in certain industries?

Jessica Bell: People are becoming less scared to speak up. But I don't think there will be any change soon. We live in a jungle. Lion grabs zebra, lion eats zebra.

In 2017 the "Me Too" and "It Was Me" social media hashtags further brought sexual assault and harassment to light. Have you ever been the victim of harassment or assault, or witnessed such behavior, or been the perpetrator? And what concrete steps can be taken to combat sexual harassment and assault in the music industry and make it a more welcoming place for women?

Jessica: I have been the victim of harassment and assault, but I'm not any wiser as to how we can combat this behaviour. As I said above, we live in a jungle. And it's survival of the fittest.

It has been said that 2016 was the year your favorite artist died, and, because of the litany of sex scandals, 2017 is the year that your favorite artist became dead to you. Which artist did you stop being a fan of this year? Which public person would you be most devastated to learn had a history of abusive or predatory behavior? 

RPR: Kevin Spacey. Remarkable actor. I was disappointed.

Should we be able to separate an artist's work from his or her actions? Or should an artist's negative behaviors completely negate the quality of his or her work? 

Jessica: Yes, I think they should definitely be separated. I would not want someone to judge my art based on a mistake I made in my personal life.

The first year of the Trump administration has been chaotic to say the least. What has President Donald Trump done so far that most concerns or angers you? Is there anything President Trump has done, proposed, or said that you actually agree with? Why do you think his base continues to support him?

Jessica: We are not big followers of U.S. politics, and so this question is not "easy" to answer. But we are quite gobsmacked by his character. We also don't feel he should be getting any encouragement and press, so why talk about him at all?

Many predicted President Donald Trump wouldn't last long in the White House and yet he's still there. At this point how hopeful are you that he'll be impeached? Barring that, how optimistic are you that he won't win reelection? And although it's still very early, is there already a potential candidate you would most like to see run for president in 2020?

Jessica: Unable to answer this knowledgeably.

The alt-right/neo-Nazi/KKK rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the ensuing violence, and President Trump's reluctance to condemn such hate groups further showed that racism is alive and well in America. What concrete steps can we take to improve race relations in America and the world at large?

Jessica: We haven't reached a stage yet where we think this can happen. Firstly, kids need to stop being exposed to racism so that it doesn't even exist in their life. Kids embrace everyone when they are young. It's us who destroy their views and values.

2017 saw several music festivals cancelled due to low ticket sales (not to mention the Fyre Festival debacle in the Bahamas). Are there too many music festivals right now? 

RPR: I think we need to support music festivals as much as possible. But I think people are hungry for a bigger variety of acts. Perhaps the lack of diversity is a factor in low sales.

What's your biggest professional regret?

RPR: I trusted people too easily.


If you heard that the world was ending in one week who would be the first person you'd call and what are some of the things you'd do in that week?


RPR: I would not call anyone. I would pray day and night to stay strong.

Jessica: Boyfriend. Spend lots of money. Book a trip with Virgin Galactic on the last day.

Would you be open to having your phone and other technology implanted into your body in the future?

RPR: Not even for a joke.

If you could time travel what advice would you give to your childhood or teenage self?

RPR: Courage.

A 2017 Wall Street Journal article pointed out that music critics have been giving less and less full on negative reviews of late. In the era of streaming when almost any album can be easily accessed, do you still find value in music criticism and have music critics gotten too soft?

RPR: Fortunately, the influence of reviews in general has now passed. However, there is still a tendency to direct the public through positive or negative criticism more as marketing than a genuine point of view. However, it can become irreparable damage to some bands from negative reviews especially if they do not have a strong label behind them.

Tell us about your worst/most disastrous show as a performer. And what about your best show?

RPR: Our most devastating live show was 2011 at Fun Fun Fun Festival in Austin, Texas, where we went to play having slept about two hours after 27 hours of flying and driving. Our best was at the BottleRock Festival in Napa, California, in 2015.

Who most influenced your musical tastes as a child and teenager (be it a family member, friend, teacher, etc.) and what do they think of the music you make now?

RPR: I would say mostly childhood friends. Now they're feeling proud (I think...)

www.keepshellyinathens.com

 

 

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.



Comments

Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published

URL

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Tesha
February 22nd 2018
8:24am

She’s my favorites. I do keep with all her songs. For a free mp3 songs, music lovers should go here: https://mp3musicdownloaders.com/