Declan Kelly

Declan Kelly


Audio / Video


Artist Bio

Declan Kelly was born in Sydney, Australia to an Irish father and Maori mother. Having two strong ancestral ties made it no wonder that creativity and music was running through his blood. His mother Salley, a singer also exposed Declan to the life of a musician and instruments from an early age where he took to the drums and guitar, singing to come later in his life.

During his high school years he grew up in Sydney’s Balmain where live music was abundant and a thriving scene made this village alive and a great place to grow up for a budding musician. Here he met Alex Lloyd and other musicians to form his first band The Beefs, which went on to play in bars underage and also win a number of band competitions as they had a uniqueness in playing rhythm and blues which most teenagers were unfamiliar with and performing music that was current. When Kelly finished school he was headhunted by one of the hardest working rhythm and blues bands The Bondi Cigars and immediately began touring rigorously, really honing his craft as a musician and then songwriting. He recorded an album with them before parting ways four years later in his early 20’s to form other bands and eventually pen his own tunes.

Having been the drummer for a number of great artists, Kelly learnt the craft of good songwriting, recording authentically and the mastery of studio production, as well as the delivery and fronting of a rockin’ live show. This lead to his very own debut album Tales from the Neighbourhood back in 2005. Andy Glitre, a well known JJJ disc jockey saw great potential in Declan and helped him fund Tales... and through his label saw him receive solid airplay through a changing format of radio. Declan’s live show was picked up by many festivals throughout Australia due to his  authentic roots flavour that was blossoming in Australia at the time. His love of roots reggae and Polynesian harmony won the respect of many of his peers. His second album Adrift, saw Declan’s songwriting mature to become deeply moving and personal. His production skills moved up a few gears to produce an authentic, quality album of well crafted songs. Two songs from the album, Far and Away and Hold the Light were featured in the BBC series Top of the Lake, directed by Jane Campion.

The latest production from Declan is a collaborative effort on an awareness and fundraising album called Diesel n’Dub, a collection of reggae and dub versions of Midnight Oil songs featuring a stellar cast including Katie Noonan, Alex Lloyd, Emma Donovan and Radical Son to name a few. Proceeds go to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Declan Kelly helms the Diesel n’Dub band on drums and backing vocals. He also sings the lead vocals on his haunting version of Truganini. Diesel n’Dub is the latest addition to a growing body of work by Kelly, a respected and hard-working artist. Firmly established and highly regarded as a musician and producer, Kelly plays regularly across Australia and abroad, at the world’s biggest roots and world music festivals as a solo artist, with his trio The Rising Sun, or as a special guest. Across the industry he is sought after for his drumkit skills resulting in tours and recordings with international artists the likes of Passenger (UK), Spearhead (US), Stranger Cole (Jamaica), and Eugene Hideaway Bridges (Texas, US). Locally he has collaborated with artists Alex Lloyd, Katie Noonan, Karise Eden, OKA and KingTide.



Declan Kelly presents Dieseln’Dub
(Diaspora Music | MGM )

(Vitamin Records)

Tales from the Neighborhood


Career Highlights

Australian Music Week, Sydney NSW Nov 2015 (Declan Kelly & The Rising Sun)

Caloundra Festival, Sunshine Coast QLD – October 2015 (Declan Kelly presents Dieseln’Dub)

Mahibilil Festival, Arnhem Land NT – September 2015  (Declan Kelly presents Dieseln’Dub)

Bluesfest, Byron Bay NSW – April 2015 (Declan Kelly presents Dieseln’Dub)

Spirit Festival, Adelaide SA- March 2015 (Declan Kelly presents Dieseln’Dub)

The Enmore Theatre, Sydney NSW – November 2014 (Declan Kelly presents Dieseln’Dub)

AWME Showcase – November 2014 (Declan Kelly presents Dieseln’Dub)

The Factory Theatre, Sydney NSW – October 2014 (Declan Kelly presents Dieseln’Dub)



“The deep dub that Declan Kelly has cooked up works better than you can imagine.” Double J

“Diesel n’Dub is an infectious collection which is guaranteed stay in your head for a long time.” Steve Moffat, The Daily Telegraph / News Ltd

“They are joined by singer-songwriter Frank Yamma for the iconic Beds Are Burning, which has people gently swaying with their eyes wide shut as they soak in the wonderful Aussie aura.”  The Music

“An indigenous Australian collective performing the songs of Midnight Oil reggae style…and yes, it was as cool as it sounds!!” Thirty Summers

“A dub style experience raising spirits and awareness featuring some of Australia’s best singers … still very relevant and important insights of these Midnight Oil songs presented in a whole new genre” Life Music Media

“Kelly’s extraordinary musical direction honours the spirit and legacy of the Oils and many of their most important, sock-it-to-me songs.” Brad Syke (Syke on Stage)

“The tracks are reimagined with an authenticity that honours the integrity of the original pieces. Kelly’s reggae pedigree is beyond doubt and he has pulled together a killer band who understand the genre.” Matt Wakeling @ Cyclic Defrost

“Diesel n’Dub is easily one of the most dope collaborations in Australian music this year! The album will go down in history, mark my words. I can’t tell you what has me more captivated: the impressive line-up of our best Indigenous artists, the reggae remixes of Midnight Oil’s classic tunes, or the nobility of the project.” Sin Mariani, Yes Maam Blog

“The launch proper opened with The Dead Heart & the inestimable Emma Donovan on vocals. You might be quite surprised just how well the mid-eighties sociopolitical audacity of Hirst-Moginie-Garrett-Rotsey-Gifford transcribes to a hardcore reggae rhythm. If anything, it tends to underscore the severity of the lyric, an earnest, whitefella stab at encapsulating the emphatic sentiment of indigenes: don’t serve your country; don’t serve your king. Kelly lays down a kickarse, solid beat, while Ross Fotheringham backs it with sharp syncopation on rhythm guitar. The sound is spare, which serves to underline the song’s tough poetry: white man came, took everyone. The fact you can dance to it doesn’t detract: if anything it helps one focus on the potency of the lines.” Syke on Stage


Guest Artist Bios

Bernard Fanning

Bernard Fanning is an Australian musician and singer-songwriter, best known as the lead singer and frontman of Australian band Powderfinger from its formation in 1989 to 2010, and as a solo artist from 2011 to the present day. With Powderfinger he released five studio albums in fifteen years and achieved mainstream success in Australia. During Powderfinger’s hiatus in 2005, Fanning began his solo music career with the studio album Tea & Sympathy. Powderfinger then reunited in 2007 and released two more albums before disbanding in late 2010. Powderfinger’s style focused on alternative rock, but Fanning’s solo music is generally described as a mixture of blues and acoustic folk. Fanning plays guitar, piano, keyboards and harmonica. In 2013 Fanning released the album Departures and in May 2016, completed his newest release “Civil Dusk”.

Nick Didia

Nick Didia is a multiple Grammy and Aria Award winning American record producer, engineer and mixer currently residing in Australia. He has lived and worked in Los Angeles and Atlanta before moving to Byron Bay, Australia. Since the early 1990s, he has amassed over 40 million in sales with a variety of artists including Bruce Springsteen and Rage Against the Machine. His selected discography includes Bruce Springsteen – The Rising, Devil’s and Dust, Magic, Live in Barcelona, Working on A Dream and High Hopes; Pearl Jam – Vrs, Vitalogy, Yield, No Code, Backspacer qne Lightning Bolt; PowderfingerInternationalist, Odyssey Number 5, Vulture Street, Fingerprints (Greatest Hits), Golden Rule; Incubus – A Crow Left of the Murder, Light Grenades, Live at Red Rocks; Rage Against The Machine – Evil Empire, The Battle of Los Angeles; Karnivool – Asymmetry; Stone Temple Pilots – Core, Purple, Tiny Music, No 4, ShangriLaDeDa; Katie Noonan – Emperor’s Box; The Offspring – Conspiracy of One, Splinter; The Living End – The Ending is Just the Beginning Repeating and Kasey ChambersBittersweet.