Getting “Classic” with MKTO
by Sami Speiss and Ali Speiss
Doing the thing you love most together with your best friend sounds like a dream come true, right? That’s exactly how the last few years have been for BFF’s Malcolm D. Kelley and Tony Oller, the members of the sensational pop duo MKTO.
Kelley and Oller have released three singles “Thank You,” “Classic” and “God Only Knows,” since starting on this journey together in 2012. Their music offers an interesting combination of pop, rap, hip-hop and R&B. Their songs are edgy and fun and “Classic,” their biggest hit to date, continues to get airplay around the world over six months after its release.
As if they weren’t busy enough, the guys of MKTO have continued to write and record music while heading out on the road to open for fellow Columbia artists Emblem3, for two tours in a row. The travel has been great for their career, as their loyal fans can’t get enough of them on the road or through social media. Currently, fans are eagerly awaiting the release of their self-titled first album in late March.
Recently we sat down with Kelley an Oller before opened the Philly stop of the #bandlife tour with Emblem3. We loved hearing about where they came from and where they’re headed. We also shared some good laughs with two really cool guys who make up MKTO.
How did you guys meet?
Tony Oller: We met on a Teen Nick show called Gigantic. We became best friends off camera and started writing music, which was another passion of ours. It led to putting stuff up on YouTube and getting some great responses. Then it just went from there. It led us to where we are today.
How long ago was that?
Malcolm Kelley: Probably about going on two-and-a-half years now.
Tony Oller: That is since we’ve been signed. Since we’ve started…
Malcolm Kelley: Yeah, we got signed to Columbia Records. We’ve been working over a year on our album. It finally went on pre-order and it’s coming out April 1st.
Tony Oller: Yeah, we’ve been doing this for about six years now.
Is that when you realized that you wanted to be doing what you’re doing now, together?
Malcolm Kelley: Since the TV show.
Tony Oller: Yeah, absolutely. I think the important thing is that we enjoyed just hanging out with each other, so to be able to travel the world and get to play at all these places, it’s a blast! We’re best friends, so yeah!
Do you have friends that come on tour with you sometimes?
Tony Oller: Our group pretty much… like our tour manager or band is, pretty much our family on the road. We all are like brothers. We all look out for each other.
Malcolm Kelley: Yeah, and Emblem3 is cool.
Do you guys hang out?
Tony Oller: Yeah they’re awesome!
Malcolm Kelley: And we have Jackson [Guthrie] on this tour. It’s pretty cool. We’re friends with them too.
Do you think one day you’ll maybe want to do a song with Emblem3?
Tony Oller: Absolutely.
Malcolm Kelley: Yeah, we’ve talked about it. Might be in the planning at a show or two.
Is there anybody you guys would want to collab with, other than Emblem3?
Tony Oller: I would love to collab with anybody who wants to collab with us. I would say it’s the weirdest choices that would be the coolest, you know? It’s going to be crazy out there for you to do heavy metal with jazz. I just think crazy collab’s like that. But, right now I love Lorde.
I know that MKTO stands for your names but also “Misfit Kids” and “Total Outcasts.” Is there anything you could tell us about that, and why you chose that?
Tony Oller: It’s just a way to relate to our fans on a certain level. Growing up we both had different upbringings. But in a sense, we relate to other people with the bullying and stuff. Going to high school and wanting to do acting. I was on a Disney show, but if you didn’t play sports you weren’t “the cool guy.” You got plenty of hate, plenty of people booing and whatever. Just to show them that you can get through that stuff… I know it sucks when it’s happening, but it’s just one of those things. If you really want to do something, just do it! Follow your heart!
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