keli holiday interview
photo: David Higgs / EUPH.

Keli Holiday

Creative Direction & Photography
David Higgs
Ali Mullin
Colleen Gurzinki
Brendan Dillon / Mend Media

Whatever you’re packing this summer, be sure to leave space in your cooler for Keli Holiday. One half of Australia’s chart-topping, award-winning, 10 times platinum-selling eclectic electronic duo Peking Duk, Adam Hyde put his holiday leave to good use after an extensive US tour back in 2019. Armed with a dusty old guitar in his bedroom, Adam smashed out 12 tracks in 4 weeks. He then didn’t let 2020 and it’s you-know-what stop him, teaming up with super producer and long-time idol, Kim Moyes from the iconic duo The Presets, the pair refined and defined his first solo album as Keli Holiday.

The curly-haired, Van Wilder-esque thunder from down under has just released his second single, Where You Feel, which is jam-packed with all the good vibes we are craving in the world right now. As the sun was setting at the top of the Hollywood Hills, I had a quick chat with Adam just before he jumped on a plane to Australia to start playing live shows again.

keli holiday interview
Look: Dulce Bestia | Sunglasses: Akila

Was there a holiday where Keli was born?
I do believe it was over a mezcalita, but not on a traditional holiday. It was when I was writing music and everyone else was on holiday, after a long tour with Peking Duk, and the songs came out of me.  I guess it was my kind of holiday, creating this music.

Even though you were in LA and touring around the world, was making this an all Aussie affair still?
Yes. Well, actually I have been working with a lot of people out in California too. Like Nathaniel Motte, Tyler Spry, Killdave, Tim Randolph, and quite a few others. But Kim from The Presets produced the album alongside me, and Alex Lahey has jumped on board with some writing, and Johnny Took, from DMA’s, has played some guitar on it. It’s a bit of an all Aussie affair for sure.

Working on this album, was it harder or easier being in lockdown and separated from everyone?
I actually pretty much wrote it all and got in with Kim prior to the pandemic swinging. It was funny because then in lockdown I really got to finesse it all and then was like “alright I think it’s time to release it.”

keli holiday interview
Look: Charles and Ron | Shoes: Jean-Baptiste Rautureau | Sunglasses: Akila

Did you embrace the live streaming side of things?
Yeah, dude, I mean doing Zoom sessions is a pretty weird thing, we lose a lot of our human connection that I think is part of the magic of creating, but you’ve got to adapt with the times. Did a few brand partnerships things where we made beats, like live-streaming them, that was fun. But I just want to get back to normal whatever normal is now.

What are you missing the most from your “normal” world?
Probably just less fear in the air. That creates a weird vibe that’s spooky. I just want people happy, having fun, enjoying themselves, having a fucking holiday. Get back to it.

Your new single Where You Feel, describe it through the five human senses, starting with taste, what would it taste like?
Sweet Mexican cola.

What would it smell like?
Marijuana smoke on a summer evening in Tijuana.

keli holiday interview
Look: Denimcratic | Shoes: The Straye | Sunglasses: Akila

keli holiday interview

If someone hasn’t heard the track, describe how it sounds?
Sounds like a bender in Los Angeles. Guitars on acid, drums on cocaine, and vocals on ecstasy. And they aren’t drug references, by the way, that’s just like the words. It’s all words.

And then what does it look like?
It looks like the sun and moon getting married together and finally being harmonious.

It’s funny you say that because when I imagine what it looks like, I can see you and Venice Beach, taking a big sip of cola…
That’s exactly what it is! The video was directed by Taylor Bonin who does all The Growler’s creative stuff, he’s dope. We shot it on Venice Beach and it’s me dancing down the boardwalk, making an absolute dick of myself, in front of many unassuming people. Lots of tourists, you see them staring at me in the video going: “woah, what a creep.” But one girl asked for my number so I was doing something right. And a few people joined in, it was great.

Were you quietly lip-syncing or playing the song loud?
Loud! Through a huge speaker so people would join in and get the vibe.

It’s a summery banger so is it too bad so sad for the Aussies heading into winter?
I feel like it’s summer all year long, and Aussies carry that mentality. The song itself is super summery which is funny because a lot of the other songs on the Keli Holiday album which is coming out are super sad songs that are all about heartbreak and your friends dying and shit like that. I’m kind of introducing it with a lot of sunshine, but there’s also a bit of darkness in there, some rainy days, which is good. I think you need the yin and the yang.

keli holiday interview
Top: Jiri Kalfar | Bottoms: Denimcratic | Shoes: Unknown Articles | Sunglasses: Akila

What came first when you were writing it?
The “sad” came first. I was just dealing with a heavy break up and it was after this long tour in the states with Peking Duk, and I was just tired and run down, but I had this shitty little guitar that I wanted to record on, and I was like “ah, let’s just write some stuff.” I didn’t want to share it with anyone, then I went over to my boy Tom Still’s house, from Golden Features and played some of the stuff for him and he was like “oh you should give it to Kim to work on, he just did the DMA’s record,” and then he linked us up, and the rest is history I guess.

How did you go when you had to tell your work husband (Ruben, other half of Peking Duk) that you want to go solo for a while?
It was a pretty big deal man, I was kind of like: oh shit I don’t want to break his heart. But I know that he’ll be happy because he has a lot of ideas he wants to explore as well. So I spoke to him, and he lit up with excitement and said: “Dude fuck yeah let’s do it, I’ve got ideas too”… and boom. That was it.

What does the Keli part in Keli Holiday mean?
Keli is the name of a man who hasn’t slept for a long time. I don’t know, I guess I thought of it like, what would a really twisted holiday be like? Imagine the Kelly family from the Ned Kelly Gang (Notorious Australian gang in the late 1800s)  just twisted. It’s up to your imagination where that holiday will lead you.

keli holiday interview

Where would you call home, Australia, or LA?
It’s funny because now LA feels like home. I’ve kind of made it my home, I love it here, I really do. I’ve met so many weird fuckers here.

What would you say Australians do better, and what do Americans do better for you when you’re making music?
Americans just ham everything up more, they zhuzh it up, they make everything larger than life which is great. Also, I’ve noticed Americans really big you up here, they are like: “yeah man you can do it, you can do it!” and that’s dope. I think that’s a good mentality to have. I feel like it’s quite different in Australia but it might push you to work harder maybe. There’s a lot of disbelief, that love it or hate it, it’s definitely there.

Mate your abs, you’re looking very ripped at the moment have you been working out in your downtime?
This is post food poisoning Adam. If anyone wants to get ripped, just eat some tacos in Mexico City off the street… you’ll be looking pretty sexy!

What are your grand plans for the rest of 2021?
A lot more music is coming, dropping an album, more visuals, and bringing the Keli Holiday live show to the world once it’s all opened up again. I just did a gig in Mexico and hope I can do more around the place because it was fun fun fun.

For new American fans, if they want to find you at your local watering hole (bar) where will they find you?
Hinano (cafe Venice). Chowing on a burger, smoking a spliff. Come and have a yarn (chat).

Stay tuned for Keli Holiday’s forthcoming album due out later this year.