Tracey K, or Tracey Kelliher to give her her full name, is best known as the vocalist and songwriter on Fish Go Deep's chart-busting 'The Cure & The Cause'. It should be noted, however, that Ms Kelliher is not just a Fish Go Deep collaborator, but also an artist in her own right. Born in the town of Tralee in County Kerry, Ireland, Tracey says she's been singing "as long as she can remember" and recalls writing her first song with a friend when she was just five years old. Although she sang solo in the school choir, it wasn't until she went to Galway University to study English Literature, Sociology and Political Science that she felt confident enough to perform in public.
Here she teamed up with a DJ and another singer to form Dextris, a semi-live dance music act with the two girls harmonising over house and hip-hop beats spun by the DJ. Dextris became well-known on the Irish club scene and did live PAs at many of the country's leading clubs, initially doing covers of classic tracks but gradually introducing more and more of their own material. All good things must come to an end, however, and in 2002 Dextris disbanded. By this time, their sets were comprised entirely of their own material, and indeed, Tracey had a lot of material that they'd never even performed - material she felt was too good to let go to waste. "I already knew of Shane [Johnson] and Greg [Dowling] from Fish Go Deep," she says, "because they were big-name DJ/producers in Ireland, and I knew them through my boyfriend of the time, who was also a DJ. So I got in touch with them and their attitude was much the same as mine, which was, well, we might as well give it a go and see what happens!"
Accordingly, Tracey went along to Fish Go Deep's studio and the trio started work on a song of hers called 'Lil' Hand' (later to emerge as the title track on their debut long-player). However, says Tracey, things weren't really gelling musically, and the idea of the three working together was put back on the shelf. "Then about a year later,"
says Tracey, "Greg was playing at a club in Dublin called The Shelter.
It was my birthday so I was there with a gang of friends, and Greg came back to a party in mine with all of us." Tracey had recently left a relatively lucrative job to concentrate on her musical career. She'd set up a small Mac-based studio in her home and had been "messing about with Reason" making a few tracks on her own, in a Herbert-style orchestral, cinematic vein.
During the course of the above-mentioned birthday afterparty, Greg heard these tracks and was impressed, not least by the quality of the songwriting. At the time, Fish Go Deep were heavily immersed in the throes of overhauling their studio, so Tracey suggested that in the meantime, they should send her a track and she'd look at turning it into a song (it's worth noting that, for Tracey, her songwriting is just as important as, if not more important than, her singing - she's a keen writer of poetry and prose as well as song lyrics). The end result of this slightly random meeting was 'Nights Like These', which came out on the UK's Inspirit imprint in 2003, credited to Fish Go Deep with Tracey Kelliher. It was to mark the beginning of a long and illustrious musical relationship that would reach its pinnacle with the release of their 'Lil' Hand' album on Canada's Ultrasound Recordings in 2005. Or so they thought - nothing could have prepared them for the slow-burning but eventually enormous success of single 'The Cure & The Cause', which eventually peaked at No 23 in the UK charts. "The funny thing is that we weren't really aware of how big that tune had become," says Tracey.
"Being in Ireland, we were a
bit removed from it all. It only sunk in when I did a PA at Turnmills early last summer. I couldn't believe the response. I couldn't hear myself sing because the crowd were all singing back so loudly!" Tracey is currently busy working on a new album with new Fish Go Deep for Defected, and will then be touring to promote the album (she'd like to develop a fully live act, she says, though there are no firm plans as yet). But Fish Go Deep are not the only fruit, to coin a phrase.
"Eventually, I'll to go back to doing some more of my own production,"
she says, "but that'll have to wait until I've got a bit more time.
Right now, as well as the Fish Go Deep stuff, I've been working on a track with King Britt. And I'm supposed to be working with one or two other producers as well, but they haven't sent me the music yet so I don't want to say who in case I jinx it!" With a Top 30 hit already under her belt, the forthcoming album on Defected and, by the sounds of it, plenty of other projects in the pipeline, recent Connected Talent signing Tracey is clearly one special K.