Man with a Message: Ian Kelly

December 20, 2013 9:30 am Views: 70

Speaking from a table at Ottawa’s Peace Garden (the all-vegetarian, organic coffee shop in the Market), singer/songwriter Ian Kelly talks about his penchant for great vegetarian dishes and how the music from his fourth album translates into building optimism for a better world.

“If you’re like everyone I know, most people are depressed and tend to not to do much aside from working all day, watching the latest TV series and then heading to bed,” he explains. “But if you’re happier, then you want to get up in the morning and change the world, even make the slightest difference and music helps with that. I wanted to make an album that was more uplifting and motivated people.”

Kelly says he finds inspiration through his young son and daughter. He likes to get up with them in the mornings and play before they leave for school.

“When you have a kid, it changes your whole perspective,” he said. “I started to think about what I should be doing, how I wanted this world to be for my kids, what things I could change and what we need to collectively change. It sounds depressing when we think about how we prioritize the economy over the environment, but I choose to be happy and positive because it’s all for them.”


While a bit ambiguous, the title, All These Lines, is about people finding meaning for themselves. The cover art of buildings and crates could insinuate a cityscape, trees, melodies or even the lines of an aged face. Kelly says there’s no wrong way to interpret his intention or his music, as long as people are moved by it.

“A good song should be about the emotion and feelings you get from listening to it,” he added. “I’ve had people come up to me and tell me a certain song reminded them of a similar experience they had but in my head, I think that’s not what the song was really about for me. It doesn’t matter though, because I’m just glad they found that meaning and that’s the real power of music.”

In addition to his music messages, Kelly also tries to live a mindful life. After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma and watching various documentaries on industrial meat processes, he steered towards more vegetarian dishes. When visiting Ottawa, he’ll often visit The Green Door or consult the vegetarian app on his phone to locate new restaurants.

“Whether I was in Germany or Texas, I always found these gems of a vegetarian paradise,” Kelly said. “I’m not a strict vegetarian and I don’t judge people. I mean I did eat chicken two nights ago, but I think we all just eat too much meat. It’s unnecessary, given what we need nutritionally. I always opt for any kind of meat that’s local and organic.”

Kelly’s performance at this year’s Bluesfest showcased his incredible talent of marrying folk melodies with a pop twist. He has made a name for himself in his home province of Quebec, but he hopes with his new tour, he will increase his fan base. In September, Kelly traveled to Europe to play in France, Belgium, Holland and Scotland.

“I’m excited for the show in March,” he said. “It’s my birthday month and I hope a lot of people come from Ontario and Quebec. I have a really talented band and visually, we have a great set. It’s going to be really uplifting with upbeat songs and just a really cool show.”

Kelly will perform at the Shenkman Arts Centre on March 28.

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Photo credit: Martin Girard.


Photo credit: Martin Girard


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