After several years of providing vocals and songwriting for club hits like Duke Dumont and Jax Jones’ “I Got U” and Second City’s “I Wanna Feel”, as well as backing vocals for A-listers like Adele and Leona Lewis, South London singer-songwriter Kelli-Leigh made the plunge into a solo career in 2018 with “Do You Wanna Be Loved Like This?”, a debut that painted the first brush strokes of her own identity while still keeping one foot in the world of dance music. A steady stream of singles followed, each helping her to carve a sound that was more her own.
Kelli-Leigh is clearly proud of those releases, as she should be, but with each new release it feels as if her music’s getting more personal—although the “anthemic pop” hooks are still front and centre. Her new drop, Can’t Get Enough, is her most personal yet. “The Can’t Get Enough EP is a journey of me sonically and, overall in the writing, a relationship journey,” she tells us. “Starting with the early moment of meeting someone in ‘Can’t Get Enough’ to ending with loss in ‘Without You’.” The five tracks have been written to form a cohesive whole, using moments from her own life to tell the story from beginning to end with a striking honesty and touching intimacy.
Here, Kelli-Leigh breaks down every track on the Can’t Get Enough EP, explaining more about the themes and how they play into each track. Take it in below and cop or stream the full album on iTunes or Spotify.
“Can’t Get Enough”
“‘Can’t Get Enough’ is me all over. It’s taken years for me to settle into my sound, my voice, my style, and this song is the epitome of that and also why it had to be the lead single for the EP. I wrote it on a PRS writing camp in Amsterdam in a four-hour session with Theo Douke, Conner Turner and Stevie Appleton, whom I had never written with before. As soon as we started playing with those first chords, the chorus came to me straight away which was unusual; I’m usually a verses, first, kind of writer. The music felt like it starts at 7am—early morning spring/summer, fresh love vibes—and I wanted to write about that feeling of being in the butterflies, where time moves differently, through day to night. Soulful chords and a big atmospheric drop on the chorus. Addictive and rolling.”
“‘Cotton Clouds’ is the next stage of being with someone new: you’ve settled in and you’re loving it and hate when one of you has to get up to leave for real life. Loved writing this with Kristine Bogan and Yoda Francesco, playing with the idea of bed sheets being clouds, the light streaming in and not wanting to move. If I could then I would wanna keep you here, the sun looks good on you… Combining my love of emotive chords and then percussive bounce in the pre, leading into sweet chorus proclaiming I’m-a lay with you and how that would feel musically, then ending with that climactic chorus with a gospel flex, I felt a lot of joy making this record.”
“‘Whiskey Midnight’ is an exploration into my moodier, darker, sexier side. My ‘Nothing More’, MK II. This song is all about self-love, thinking back to Tweet’s ‘Oops, Oh My’ and how sexually bold she was with her lyrics. I loved the idea of playing with being lyrically ambiguous, fusing double entendres and silky soulful melodies to pull you in. You’re thinking about someone, you’re a little tipsy and you have some fun. You’re a whiskey after midnight, two fingers straight up don’t need no ice… My other half is a whiskey fan so it was fun to use the knowledge I’ve learned from his love of single malt and how I translated that lyrically.”
“Just For One Day”
“I wrote ‘Just For One Day’ after turning up two hours late to my first session with producer Hoost. I had gone to the wrong studio in London, feeling stressed out and a bit fed up that I was busting my ass writing songs for other artists/producers and not giving myself enough time. I nearly cancelled the session as I wasn’t in the best of moods [laughs]. But Hoost was super lovely and we played through music we loved and I talked about just needing a day to myself. Sometimes we need that self-care, to say no to doing something and saying, ‘I’m gonna Netflix and chill and have some me time and come back with better focus and energy.’ I wrote this pre-pandemic, before we were all forced to literally Netflix and chill!”
“I had taken a trip to Fowey Cornwall and visited this tiny beach called Readymoney Cove. I decided to impress my boyfriend’s mum and go for a swim with his family, as that’s something they all do, but it was freezing! So cold, my skin turned hot, like it was burning. Not something a South Londoner like me had experienced before. I thought I was gonna get hypothermia! Aidan had to put me in a bath afterwards and it took me a good hour to stop shivering. Anyway, this led to me thinking about staring at the water, then slowly wading out past the rock edge to feel. I went into the studio with Bully and talked about the verse idea I had—Water’s cold, the thought makes me shiver / I feel it burning, I could drown in this river—and writing a song about loss. It could be interpreted as a relationship ending or someone actually passing away but, ultimately, I really enjoy exploring deeper lyrical content. Maybe an antidote to all my days writing dance music, where lyrically you don’t often get to go deeper or melancholy. Funnily enough, the Dissent dance remix of ‘Without You’ has done over two million streams, so maybe melancholy on dance does work. I felt ‘Without You’ was the perfect ending to the EP and the journey I’ve taken to find my self, my sound, and my style. I already have my next singles lined up but I wanted to drop the Can’t Get Enough EP as a body of work to say: this is me, this is my music, and this is my sound.”