Californian duo Malcom Kelley and Tony Oller, also known as dynamic duo, MKTO, will be visiting Australia for the first time in March as part of a promotional visit in support of their current Top 20 single “Thank You”.
Recently signed to Columbia Records, MKTO offer a vibrant mix of pop, hip-hop and R&B, crafted in an undeniably organic way, which makes the music sound as fun to the listener as it was for the two to make–but there’s an edge to it, too. It’s something that will be evident on their upcoming debut album, Role Models, due for release later this year, as well as their lead single, “Thank You.”
Both accomplished adolescent actors (Oller’s credits include starring in the Disney Series As The Bell Rings as well as the movie Beneath The Darkness, while Kelley had major roles on ABC’s hit Lost as well as in the film Antwone Fisher), the two first met while filming Gigantic, in 2010, in which they played best friends. It was there that they first bonded and realized their shared love of music.
Before long, the savvy upstarts uploaded a handful of videos to YouTube, displaying the unique flavor they offered by rerecording other artists’ hits and giving them a fresh spin. With songs like “Made In America,” “Just The Way You Are,” and “Champion,” they’d post videos of themselves recording the cuts, with Oller’s vocals easily distinguishable from the original and Kelley’s rapped verses adding an otherwise unexpected but fitting twist.
In early 2012, MKTO signed to a new partnership between longtime musical collaborators Emanuel “Eman” Kiriakou and Evan “Kidd” Bogart. The two, who stumbled upon the guys’ video for “Champion” online, have been responsible for hits from Beyonce, Rihanna, Selena Gomez, Hot Chelle Rae, Sean Kingston, Jason Derulo and many more. MKTO felt that this formidable creative partnership was the perfect hit song breeding ground for their diverse song style.
Shortly after they initially linked up, the foursome headed to New York and took meetings with every major label, as MKTO wowed execs with their total package. In March, they signed with Columbia Records. “They showed us longevity in their artists,” Kelley compliments.
“When we worked on Gigantic, we always talked about what it would be like to do a show,” Oller reflects. “We had songs that we did and we’d sit in our trailers and have the mirror up and be like, ‘Dude, what if we walked out on stage and everyone started screaming?’ Everything we hoped for—three years later, here we are. It’s really just a dream come true for us.”