All About Kelsey Lu

All About Kelsey Lu

All About our V117 cover-star, Kelsey Lu: the genre-defying cellist on the horizons of celebrity.

All About our V117 cover-star, Kelsey Lu: the genre-defying cellist on the horizons of celebrity.

Text: Zoe Elefterin

Kelsey Lu is a name you need to know. She’s a spirit as fierce as wildfire, but practice caution listening to her music as it bares ability to lift you into the clouds. Calling Los Angeles home at the moment, Lu was brought up in the South. With a composed demeanor, she belts with a maturity seemingly informed by years of both wisdom and anguish; a voice as soft as it is soulful and passionate as it is mysterious. Trained classically as a cellist, she now defies the mold that introduced her to music, playing her cello over urban beats. Defying genre, she breaks into the pop music scene with her acoustic strings and non-conforming attitude. Lu's music videos, better described as artfully-produced films simultaneously grounded and psychedelic, recall on aesthetics similar to those of Solange and Florence Welch. Aptly, the young artist has received acclaim from both of these influences, a true declaration to the brewing stardom of Kelsey Lu.

Lu is part of a crop of three musicians covering our Discovery Issue, V117, all of whom represent intelligence and innovation in music right now. Read on and get to know Lu a little bit better.

She was raised really religious.

Lu grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, and central to her strict upbringing was a deep understanding of the Bible. Fortunately, both her parents were musicians; her mother played piano and her father was a percussionist. "My life completely revolved around my community," she told i-D. "Music was my escape."

Her debut EP, Church, was recorded in one take.

Lu recorded the whole 6-track EP live in Brooklyn at Williamsburg's Holy Family Roman Catholic Church. Before recording, she explained that she’d always wished to record in a church because of the beautiful, haunting, acoustics. Ironically, as a Jehovah’s Witness, Lu never attended church unless there was a funeral outside of her congregation. She regards them as extremely emotional spaces.

She goes by “Lu”.

Photo by Laura Jane Coulson via Pitchfork

She never related to her real name, Kelsey McJunkins. “Lu” was her childhood nickname, a moniker she relates to because it’s more androgynous.

She’s performed with some of the biggest names in the business.

Lu and Florence Welch

Lu has opened up for Florence + The Machine at the Barclay’s center, performed with Sampha on The Late Late Show with James Corden, and recently, opened for one of her good friends, Dev Hynes of Blood Orange whom interviewed Lu for our V117 cover-story. Thankfully, she’s starting to headline some of her own shows, with a gig at III Points Festival in Miami this February and a show at the Roundhouse in London in March.

She’s teasing an upcoming album release. 

Her dreamy style is perfectly reflected in her latest singles. “Shades of Blue” and “Due West”, which were both released in 2018 are hopefully a prelude to a 2019 album release; she’s said that the album is to be named Blood. V definitely see a fast-track to international triumph, so we’re here for whatever she serves us in 2019.

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