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PROVO — There’s plenty to like about Provo band Oli K — the laid-back singer/songwriter vibe, the understated danceability, the heart-on-sleeve lyrics. But the biggest draw is the frontman’s voice.
“The feedback that we always get is that our music is ‘fresh, new, or innovative,’” singer Oliver (Oli) Kersey said. “Although, to be frank, the American girls tend to fancy my accent quite a lot.”
Though his vocal style is all his own, Kersey has England to thank for the accent. He and his cousin, Oli K guitarist Jed Bradshaw, both grew up in London before finding their way to Utah County. Once in Provo, they teamed up with bassist Gabriel Gledhill and drummer Derek Smith.
Two parts British and two parts American, the four-piece act draws on influences ranging from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Coldplay on its debut EP, Roots.
“Because of these different influences from our home countries, when we play our instruments, we play them differently,” Kersey said. “For instance, the same guitar played by me, Jed, or Gabe never sounds the same. You can close your eyes and hear their influences coming through the music.”
The result is a sound that is connecting with fans on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In the U.K., Oli K is earning airtime on BBC radio. In the U.S., the band has landed festival gigs playing alongside artists ranging from singer Andy Grammer to autotune aficionado T-Pain.
“We believe that because our music is genre-bending, we can play in any setting,” Kersey said. “When we have to label our music for Spotify or Apple Music, it’s always somewhere in the singer/songwriter or alternative genre. But we don’t believe that correctly defines us. We frankly tell our fans that we can’t define our music and challenge them to do so. So far, no one has given us a defined answer and we’re proud of that.”
“We take the approach in songwriting of letting the story of the song define the sound of the song,” Kersey added. “We don’t want to ever limit our creativity, so we never write music aimed for a specific genre. That’s why if you come to hear us live, no two songs will sound the same.”
Despite growing up in different countries, the band — and its fans — find common ground in the music.
“It’s cliche, but music is the universal language,” Kersey said. “It’s remarkable, the messages we’ve had about how our music helped someone with depression or some other personal challenge. We want to provide that same influence to as many people as possible.”