When Brogan Kelby was 16 years old, he wanted to start a career in music so badly that he made the decision to finish high school online.
He enrolled at Salt Lake Community College, but even that was too slow for him, so he dropped out.
Now 18, the Farmington singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is about to release a new EP, “Breathe in Color,” after releasing “Mirrors & Masks” in 2012 and “Sky Lights” in 2011.
The EP shows off Kelby’s nearly unfathomable talent. He writes and records every instrument on the EP, and produces every song himself. He has been able to find fans in not only the pop world with his edge, but also rock fans after landing a prime spot at rock station X96’s Big Ass Show, and in the latter he filled in for the ailing lead singer of Panic! at the Disco for a song. He also performed alongside Switchfoot.
Kelby answered questions posed by The Tribune about where he first learned how to play music, why he remains in Utah, and what he remembers about his first performance.
How did you learn to play music?
I’m self-taught, mostly. I took some lessons at School Of Rock in Salt Lake City when I was 11 for a few months and played a David Bowie cover concert. But I decided I wanted to get into my own style of music instead of just playing covers. So, I started teaching myself and picked up any instrument I could. I currently study voice with Dean Kaelin —David Archuleta’s vocal coach — and have been since I was about 14 years old.
Why stay in Utah?
I was born and raised here and I love to build a strong local following and hope to eventually expand elsewhere when the opportunity presents itself. But for now, this is home.
What did you want to achieve with your new music?
My goal is to impact as many people as I can with my music and story to hopefully get a positive message out there to help people follow their dreams and pick themselves up from difficult times. I know what music has done for me, and I’d love to do the same for other people. My new music is very feel-good pop and uplifting. I want to encourage people to lose their insecurities.
Do you have any upcoming shows or notable past performances?
I’ve performed at X96’s Big Ass Show and Mix 107.9’s EarthFest. I had the rare opportunity to perform on stage with Switchfoot and sing in place of an ailing Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco. I’ve also been fortunate enough to open for Thirty Seconds To Mars, The Wanted, iYaz, All Time Low, Cobra Starship, OK GO, Shontelle, Anberlin, Neon Trees and many others. I’ve got upcoming shows in the works for summer that I’m excited to hopefully announce soon. But I will be performing in Park City for the July 4 festival.
Does being in Utah help or hinder a music career?
I think it’s both. Utah has its advantages with having a strong underground along with loyal fans. But I feel Utah’s surface is more binding and holds back quite a few opportunities for edgy artists like myself.
What do you remember about your first performance?
Being completely terrified and shaking nonstop. I used to have the worst stage fright that took me years to get over. I eventually just realized people want you to do your best at a performance.
Describe a perfect day.
Wake up, eat breakfast, go to the gym and do yoga, drive my Corvette in the beautiful sunshine with the top off, have a nice nap with my dog, eat Olive Garden, start getting ready for a show, spend the night having a wonderful performance in front of a crowd singing along with every lyric, then a midnight dinner with my band at Denny’s and randomly bumping into Adam Levine [and] becoming best friends. Big fan. That would easily put me in the best mood possible.
What did you learn from playing with Switchfoot and Panic! at the Disco?
A lot. Switchfoot has always been a huge inspiration to me and their song “Dare You To Move” got me through many difficult and dark times. Performing with them really showed me that you can truly have a huge impact on people and possibly save a life. I’d love to be able to do the same for someone else someday. I felt completely blessed to meet a band I’ve always looked up to when they don’t even really have to care, but they went above and beyond to make me feel welcome and like I mattered to them. A moment I’ll never forget. Panic! taught me how to pull a performance together at the last second. I was blown away that they still performed even without Brendon, and nailed it. They’re great guys and it motivated me that much more to be singing in front of a crowd like that.
Would you rather go to a metal show or see the Symphony perform?
Both of them together. One of my favorite bands, RED, pretty much does that exact thing. My mood is always different and I never really know what taste of music I’ll have a certain day. I’ve got music ADD.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
All my band members are actually my best friends. We have a great time together and we start out every show backstage telling stories and trying to get each other in a great mood to create a strong and positive brother-like energy that we hope to bring out on stage. We’re basically just the average guys messing around backstage before any great show.
All of Brogan Kelby’s music is available on iTunes, Rhapsody, Spotify and Amazon.