Singer, songwriter and performer Kelsey Michael began her singing career in theatre and dance work, with many different companies and individuals both nationally and internationally.
Kelsey has sung live and on recordings with Sean O'Hagan's High Llamas, featuring on albums: Hawaii, Cold and Bouncy, Beet Maize and Corn Buzzlebee and most recently Radum calls, Radum calls. She sings on Jocelyn Pook's soundtrack for Stanley Kubrick's film Eyes Wide Shut, and on Jocelyn's 1999 album for Virgin records The Flood. In 1988 Kelsey toured Scandinavia, Holland and Germany with pop group The The performing in Oslo, Stockholm, Berlin, Copenghagen and Utrecht.
By definition a jazz singer, Kelsey sang jazz pianist and composer Liam Noble's settings of Haiku's with Christine Tobin for a commission performed live at CSB0 in Birmingham in 2003. She guested a number of times with anarchic Scottish big band The Tom Bancroft Orchestra during the 1990s at venues including Purcell rooms London, Queens hall Edinburgh and Bath jazz Festival.
In 1997 Kelsey formed Minnow an eight piece band comprising players she had heard on the free-improvising circuit in London. Working with these phenomenally creative musicians allowed her to compose intricate arrangements but still keep a raw spontaneity in the music. Gigs were dynamic and full of improvisation. Minnow's line up included Mark Sanders on drums, John Edwards on accoustic bass, Liam Noble piano/ organ, Dean Brodrick piano/accordian/organ, Gail Brand on trombone, John Telfer sax/flute, Kay Charlton trumpet/flugel, Richard Sanderson electronics/bon tempi/toys.
Minnow recorded live EP Minnow in 2000 which Kelsey released on her own label Oddo. This was followed by Out of the woods in 2002, released on Sterolab's label Duophonic Super 45s with Dean Brodrick as a major contributor on piano, vox organ and accordian. Reviews of Minnow releases here.
During the same period Kelsey was part of improvising ensemble Ticklish with bassist Kev Hopper ( formerly of Stump ), violinist Phil Durrant and toys and electronics played by Richard Sanderson. Ticklish played live on the experimental and free improvisation scene in London.
THEATRE AND DANCE
After a theatre studies degree at Lancaster University and postgraduate study at Laban Centre of Movement and Dance, Kelsey became a core member of Insomniac Productions, contributing to the company from 1988 to 1995 as a deviser, performer and bringing her dynamic vocal range and theatrical sensibility to composer Jocelyn Pook's adventurous music. Insomniac's director Pete Brooks was previously a member of the seminal Impact Theatre Co-operative and continued to make stunning world class visual/physical performance: Shows included 1989 The Fall of Lucas Fortune The Place theatre, London, Festival of Live art at Glasgow Third Eye centre and national tour. L'Ascensore (The Lift) Polverigi Festival commission performed in Italy, UK, France, Belgium, Holland and at Hong Kong and Perth festivals. A Cursed Place was an adaption of Buchner's Woyzek for nine women at the ICA London. In 1995 Blood, saw the company undertake a collaborative production in Santiago de Chile with Kelsey singing music by Jeremy Peyton Jones. For Insomniac's Clair de Luz she composed and sang 'Crane song' for the soundtrack. Other credits as a performer and singer in theatre include in 1995 work for Canadian Dance Company O Vertigo performing and singing in Deluge at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank, music by Jocelyn Pook, in 1997 Christine Entwisle's Missing Jesus at Old Vic Studio Theatre London and Arnolfini Bristol. In 2003 Kelsey composed the music for Hoodwink's theatre piece An adventure in time, and performed in this site specific piece commissioned by Poole Arts Centre
During this period Kelsey also produced performance work in her own right crossing mediums and using her skills as a singer, theatre maker and dancer.
Life on the Planet Surface was a collaborative performance project led by Kelsey and jazz drummer and composer Tom Bancroft exploring music and dance relationships between jazz musicians and dancers through free improvisation with humour, beauty and lots of rhythm. Performances happened at Chisenhale Dance Space, Glasgow jazz festival, ICA London, and Edinburgh Jazz Festival with a bold cast of performers including on different occasions Oren Marshall (tuba), John Telfer (sax), Rick taylor (trombone), dancers Kate Brown, Maria Palmieri, Caroline Pegg, and Martin Coles and surprise guest appearances from the theatre world from Pete Courtie, Ursula Martinez, Mark Whitelaw and Christine Entwisle. Life on the Planet Surface also saw Kelsey create two solo pieces Theory of loose parts featuring live vocal and dance improvisation with four track tape recorder showcased at Chisenhale Dance Space and Dead Singer the latter also performed at London ICA.
Since being in Cornwall Kelsey has combined motherhood with creativity. In 2011 she and her partner set designer Neil Robson created Dusk to Dark a contemporary musical theatre show telling the story of feuding neighbours whose hatred turns to love over the washing line. Performed outside over the dusk hour and seen through a velvet curtained proscenium arch framing the dramatic locations of Bosavern Community Farm, Botallack and Sennen Village Hall, Lands End. it was a piece of work dedicated to marrying the magic of theatrical illusion with the awe inspiring natural change of light from blue twilight to grey dusk and finally darkness. Kelsey composed new songs for Dusk to Dark which formed part of an ambient soundtrack chiming in with the live sounds of the night and the local wildlife.
In the community of Penwith, near Cornwall's Lands End, Kelsey is a regular performer at Penzance's Golowan and Montol Festivals, and Lafrowda Festival in St Just all of which draw revellers from across the country. She leads community choir Land and Sea Singers and dances and sings with Shindig Cloggers. Curator of the sellout Fruit Tree Songwriters' Nights at Penzance's Acorn Theatre, she has done much to stimulate new risk-taking songwriting in her community.