Artist Spotlight: Chris Kelly & Nicole Gibson

The duo have brought their desire to inspire from Montreal to Vancouver

Nicole Gibson (left) and Chris Kelly (right) recently moved to Vancouver to share their first collection of original music. (Alyssa Laube)

After a year spent producing YouTube covers in Montreal, indie duo Chris Kelly and Nicole Gibson have brought their music to Vancouver, and for the first time, it’s original.

Following an EP of cover songs, the band recently released four singles that they wrote themselves—”Dream Out Loud”, “Can’t Stop Me Now”, “Ghost of You”, and “Out of the Dark”. Because of the variation between singing other artists’ work and creating their own, Kelly and Gibson have been struggling with what they call a stylistic “identity crisis.” However, one theme has remained constant throughout their musical partnership: encouraging self-love and motivation.

“You’re here for such a short time. Why would you not do what you love?” says Gibson. “Really, the worst thing that can happen is that you fail, and if you fail, you will have met a lot of really great and interesting people.”

She and Kelly weave that ideology into everything they create; it’s obvious not only in their upbeat lyrics but also in their joyous, sticky-sweet sound. With their indie-folk songwriting presented under shiny pop production, Chris Kelly & Nicole Gibson bear a resemblance to quintessential indie darlings like Angus & Julia Stone and Said the Whale.

Streaks of rock influences can be picked out of their guitars and vocals—possibly symptoms from the duo’s previous experiences with performing in the genre—but generally, they sound like a band that could be heard on your average alternative radio station. And if they keep moving forward at the pace that they have been since 2016, they soon may be.

“When we started [our Youtube channel], we were like, ‘Oh my god. We’re going to get terrible comments. People are going to hate us,’ but everyone was so kind to us and it was such a nice community,” says Gibson. “We still do YouTube covers every week, but we have to branch into our own material because obviously people are really liking how we sound.”

“I don’t really like doing covers. It was practice. It was a challenge,” says Kelly. “I just wanted to do it because we’ve been releasing one per week over the last year and we haven’t really skipped a week,” he says. “But I always had it in the back of my mind that I was going to do my own songs because that’s what I’ve been doing for so long.”

The band’s newest single, “Dream Out Loud”, was written last fall and recently re-recorded in order to produce a higher quality track. The song is a piano ballad with a similar tone to one of their other new releases, “Can’t Stop Me Now”—a sound that the pair plans to stick with well into the future. The music video, which will soon be released on social media, will see Kelly and Gibson leaving white balloons adorned with messages and hashtags around Vancouver.

On choosing to move to the city from their home in Montreal, Gibson says that “change is really important as an artist, because it makes you uncomfortable. It makes you grow a lot and it makes you really interesting, which makes your music and art come out.”

“And I think we’re really West Coast people,” he adds. “We really love it.”

As proud cat people, Chris Kelly and Nicole Gibson dedicate the majority of the proceeds from their music to charities for their feline friends. To learn more about them, visit https://kellyandgibson.com/.

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