Emery Kelly has come a long way from his audition on X-Factor back in 2013, as a 15-year-old who boldly sang his heart out in front of elite judges Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato. Resulting from that, the young singer, songwriter, actor, producer, and overall lover of life became a member of boy band Forever In My Mind (FIYM) alongside Ricky Garcia and Liam Attridge.
Now, the 23-year-old is shifting his focus to his solo music career, with his debut single “The Answers” featured in the motion picture movie Max Winslow and the House of Secrets, which he stars as Aiden Ross. Combining the worlds of music and film, Kelly went on to sing the theme song with FIYM for Disney Channel’s hit series Best Friends Whenever, was a series regular in Netflix’s 2x Emmy-nominated series Alexa & Katie, and most recently landed a starring role in Disney+’s dramedy series Big Shot.
When he’s not shooting, the recording artist still spends his waking hours in the studio, exuding nothing but positivity and good vibrations any chance he can. Describing his sound as “sonically different and very sonically introspective,” Kelly teases fans with his forthcoming single titled “Gotta Know,” to be found on his new debut album, Some Of My Emotions (S.O.M.E.).
Flaunt caught up with Emery via Instagram Live, who was posted in the car on his way to the beach. Read below as we discuss his roots in New York, time on X-Factor, joining the boy band, fondest memories, transitioning to his solo artistry, the independent grind, inspo behind Some Of My Emotions, new single “Gotta Know,” goals, and more!
What was it like growing up in New York?
New York was definitely an experience, living in Long Island and going to the city a lot as a kid. As a kid I’d always go around, skate the city, listen to music on my old little box that you play cassette tapes on. When I was younger, I’d ride to Central Park. Good vibes sometimes, but now I’m in LA. I love it out here. This is the place to be right now for my vision of music and what I want to do.
You’ve been in LA for 10 years now, moving at 15 years old. How was that whole experience on X-Factor?
It was definitely an experience, that’s for sure. I had a lot of fun, definitely a lot of fun.
Were you nervous to be on television like that?
Yeah, of course. I was a 15-year-old kid performing in front of 5,000 people. That was my first time performing in front of a huge crowd like that, I was scared shitless. But hey, I had to put my foot down and do what I can.
Did you think you’d end up in a boy band?
No. Honestly I didn’t think I’d end up in a boy band from the beginning of X-Factor, but since that happened I’m truly grateful. I learned a lot from being with them.
What did you learn?
How to understand the music business a little more, understand what you want to do with your sound as an artist. That boy band gave me the experiences I needed to have to know what I wanted to do with my music.
Fondest memories with the band?
Going on tour. Whenever we’d go to shows, we could see other people perform, then we’d go hang out with them at the after parties.
Is there an afterparty that stands out over the rest?
Mmm, maybe. I might not remember it. [laughs] I’m 23 years old you know, I party when I party. But I don’t really show it to the world.
How is it transitioning into your solo artistry now?
The transition for me has been smooth and rough at the same time. I’m doing all this independently so I’m handling all of it: doing all the emails, talking to people, connecting with people. My manager’s doing his part, but we’re building this from the ground up. Definitely the music, having a good time. The rough part is the business part of it.
What’s the reality of the grind? Versus the boy band who was signed.
I’m putting in so much time. Even when I was in the boy band for the last year and a half, I started working on my solo album. From that point on to this day, I had to create a couple different versions of the album to figure out what’s my sound and what’s the message that I wanted to show to people.
What can we expect from your forthcoming album, S.O.M.E., Some of my Emotions?
Something completely different, that’s for sure. Something different, something cool, something vibey. Be on the lookout for it because it’s definitely going to come out very soon. I’m definitely dropping the single very soon. I’m really excited for it to come out because I’ve been jamming out to it for so long, and the friends I’ve played it to jam out with me.
What’s the significance in the title?
Some Of My Emotions stands for S.O.M.E. It’s about being who you are, being comfortable with every emotion you have. Trying your best to understand how to be okay with anything that goes on. Even if it’s good or bad, you gotta go through it and deal with it. At the same time, Some Of My Emotions is a really cool, comforting sound too where you don’t have to think anything about your life. It makes you think about things that make you feel different. My friends tell me whenever they listen to it, it’s different and makes them think about stuff.
How would you describe your sound now?
Sonically different and very sonically introspective. I’ve thought about it very much.
Talk about your new single, “Gotta Know”. What are you most excited for?
Super excited for it to come out, that’s for sure. I wrote that song in January 2020 with my good friend Alex Wilke and Stefan Crane, we had a really good jam out session. It’s such a really feel-good, positive driven song that people are really going to like. It’s one of the only pop-type songs on the album because the album’s very versatile.
What are the other vibes?
I’m not trying to say this in any weird shape, way or form, but there’s all vibes. You can find all different vibes, all different types of genres.
Why is now the time to drop?
Because now’s the time where the music I’m putting out is most of who I am and I want to portray myself as, as an artist, as a person. When you’re on a TV show, in a boy band or a record label, there are certain things you have to do and certain ways you have to act. Certain ways you have to be to uphold a good reputation and keep connections, all that shit. With this music, it really shows the other side of that. The side of me that I don’t really tell people about, the side of me I don’t really post about on social media. It’s the realest that I’ve ever been, and I want people to connect with that.
How do you feel about social media? Do you feel pressure? You’ve got a big following.
I know I have a big following, I don’t really think about it essentially. I have major love, appreciation, respect, and am super grateful for every single person that follows me—supports my cause and supports my journey, without question. I try my best to not let it take up my time, take up my day. There was a moment in time where social media was bad for my mental health, but I’m good now. Chillin’ like a villain.
You mention mental health, what are some things you do for self-care?
I try my best to wake up, tell myself to have a good day. Do the best that you can. Take a cold shower and wake your body up. I’m telling you this, if you’re ever waking up groggy or feeling like shit, take a cold shower. The first 5 seconds are going to be really annoying, really annoyed of the cold water, but you take a second and you’ll be so rejuvenated. It restarts your whole entire nervous system. That’s one thing that I do because it really does help.
How much sleep do you get?
I work a lot when it comes to music so there are times when I don’t sleep. I choose not to sleep because I’m passionate about it. I try to get 8 hours.
Favorite person to follow on IG?
I love watching Tory Lanez’ quarantine show. Probably Tyler the Creator, he’s got an interesting aesthetic. Colorful and what not.
Shifting to your acting career, how was it starring in Alexa & Katie?
It was awesome, a dream come true. I got the opportunity to play a series regular for 40 episodes of TV on Netflix. That’s surreal to think about anytime, any moment. Even thinking about it now, I can’t believe I did that. It’s wild. It’s really wild. I’m super grateful, super happy. All love to all the cast and production.
How did it feel to get nominated for Emmys twice?
It got nominated for two Emmys, we just won a Kid’s Choice Award this year. It’s insane to see how a TV show that ended about a year ago, still has the recognition of people still watching it. People still showing support and love is really touching to the heart, because everybody did work hard on that set.
What do you feel when you act?
It honestly depends on the role, depends on the part. Depends on the person the writers want you to portray. With acting, you’re a part of yourself. At the same time, you have to go out of your boundaries and play around a bit to where you can play a character.
Someone said “been here since X-Factor.” How does it feel to have day ones with you on this journey?
I got day one people, that’s for sure. Day one people that are still around and I’m super appreciative about it.
Talk about your role in Max Winslow and the House of Secrets, and having your song “The Answers” on there as well.
That’s the first movie I got to do ever in my life, so super grateful about that. Shout out, Johnny Remo, Sean Olson, Joe Donaldson, a whole bunch of other people for doing that movie and letting me be a part of it. I auditioned for a different role in the movie. They offered me the part Aiden to be more of a mean, jerk type vibe. It was really cool because it was the first time I got to be in a role where it wasn’t a nice character, or a happy, charismatic character. It was really cool to do that.
The fact I was able to create a song for a soundtrack movie, that’s cool in itself. Making music for movies, that’s fun. I’m super grateful I got to make that song with really awesome people: Jeremy Ryan and Cooper Anderson. It’s so cool to be around people that make good music, at the same time we’re also working in film to where everything works together. It’s super good. It got considered for an Oscar, which blows my mind. Out of the thousands and thousands and thousands of people that submitted, only 105 were picked. Which is still a lot, but the fact that my song was picked out of that 105 speaks levels to me. I gotta keep doing it.
What was your reaction when you found out about the potential Oscar nom?
I was psyched out. “Really?! Whoa! How? How did I do that?” [laughs] Because it’s a song that’s not huge with a bunch of streams to where it’s everywhere out there. It’s really cool to see it’s still recognized for what it is, I’m super grateful for that.
Talk about your role in Big Shot on Disney+.
That’s with legendary John Stamos who’s a brilliant actor, hilarious guy, and a super cool human being. Working on that show, I got to meet awesome people, really awesome cast, crew, production. Everyone was so cool and so chill. For me, my character, I don’t really want to say that much about it because I want people to watch the show. I will say I’m a basketball player, I shoot hoops.
You nice with the hoops?
Yeah, I play. I played shooting guard and point guard.
3 things you need in the studio?
A microphone, an audio interface, and a computer. That’s all you need. Water, air, maybe my phone or my Xbox. But then I don’t have a TV, so that’s more things. Good people.
Talk about all the instruments you play as well.
I play guitar, piano, and saxophone. I play a little bass because you know, guitar. I can play the drums, just a little bit. You’ll hear it in my music, 100%.
How would you describe your fashion?
I’m a lover of fashion. I’ll wear anything. I don’t really care, anything. I like the vibe that Tyer the Creator has, Harry Styles has, Frank Ocean has, Jaden Smith. Those kinds of vibes.
Any goals for yourself at this point in your career?
Yeah, I’ve got a lot of goals. The main goal is to get this album out and for people to hear it, for people to listen to it. That’s my main goal right now, everything else can wait.