by Steve Mathieson

Ex-Pat Files: Kelly Sherrod

by Steve Mathieson

Ex-Pat Files: Kelly Sherrod

Proteins Of Magic is Kelly Sherrod — a New Zealand born multi-instrumentalist and multi-format artist. Swapping out ocean breeze and volcanic sand beneath her feet for intense summer heat, snakes, squirrels and deer, Kelly now calls Nashville one of her homes. Kelly has impeccable style, an amazing voice and an ethereal dreaminess quality to her songs, that make her stand out from the herd of cookie-cutter music saturation. An article by Steve Mathieson [Collapsing Cities, Lunavela

kelly sherrod

A winner of Rockquests award as ‘Most Promising Female Musician’ while in high school, Kelly Sherrod went on to study at Auckland’s Elam art school. From there she made her adult debut into the NZ music scene, fronting Punches with James Duncan (2003-09) and playing bass with Dimmer (2007-09), which experience also included touring America with The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

More recently she played bass and toured across Europe and America with Grammy- and Academy Award-winner Ryan Bingham. In 2009 Kelly moved to Nashville, Tennessee, there devoting herself to painting, recording in her home studio and touring. Soon after giving birth to a son Kelly says she found her personal drive renewed, and the artistic ammunition to express her stories with music and visual art. 

She’s been back here in NZ with her son since mid-pandemic, but theoretically is splitting her time between Auckland and Nashville. Under the artist billing Proteins Of Magic, Kelly is gearing up to release her Nashville home studio-recorded debut album mid-August. The music comes with genre badges that include contemporary and avant-garde, art punk and electronica. So far two singles have been released, the first of which showcases her creativity with her claymation skills in a beautifully demented video for One More Thing

Tell us about your studio in Nashville.

It’s an amazing place to jam! There are lots of instruments to play with from all over the world, my husband Matt [ex-Crowded House, Beck] has collected many on his travels. I’ve contributed some gems too, incl. an old Terada guitar that has a beautiful sound, but only works in the summer!

matt sherrod

Kelly’s husband Matt

It’s a digital-analogue hybrid studio with a good selection of outboard gear and computer software. We try to run everything from ProTools through something analogue. We have some vintage mic pre’s and compressors.

A special favourite of mine is an old German V72 mic pre from the Cold War era that used to be used for broadcasting. It gives a special warm, silky quality to vocals. It’s nice to have a place right downstairs in the house too! There are lots of other places in the open plan area of the house including outside on the porch where we can record and look beyond into the woods.

How do you find Nashville compared to other places you’ve lived?

I think compared to NZ one of the first things I noticed is the intense tragedy you see on a daily basis, you just sort of shuffle around yourself trying to maintain and pursue what you feel you were born to do, and try to offer all the kindness you can in the meantime.

Compared to Los Angeles it’s a way more laid back lifestyle, traffic is manageable, the cost of living is feasible for artists, though it is starting to get more expensive. There is an influx of new galleries and bars to play and show art, there are so many great musicians in Nashville, so the resources for touring, gear, and community is easily found. Mostly everyone I know is a musician, it’s everyone’s first or second job there!

kelly sherrod

A green backyard.

You met your husband while touring America with Dimmer in 2008 right?

It was just one of those connections from the get-go. It is a good combination, even though we were living in different countries at the time, we were going to make it work.

[Countless musical jams later, as well as gathering a rescue herd of two pigs, three dogs and five cats, they now have a creative hub in Nashville with art filling up every free piece of wall space.]

We live on 22 acres of wooded forest. It’s still only about 20 minutes from Nashville city central, but it feels far removed. It’s cool like that, we can choose to be isolated, or amongst the live music, which is happening all the time, even our local dive bar has music legends playing on a Monday night, and good Tequila, if you’re into that sort of thing!

kelly sherrod

One of the rescue pigs.

It’s peaceful here, though on the weekends the neighbours are shooting guns, I believe it’s just target practice. I try to tell the deer and raccoons to come to live in our woods for safety! There are beautiful definite seasons here, and the environment and nature-nurture the music and art.


How did you get to play bass for Ryan Bingham?

Ryan was in Nashville auditioning players to tour his new record. We had a nice chemistry and we went ahead and did a couple of tours. During this time I found a good level of comfort and confidence playing bass, probably something to do with how much I had to learn and practice to get to that point, but I tried to make the most of the opportunity to grow as a musician.

I loved how his music transcended genre though, it seemed more about the beautiful delivery, and the story when he performed, though there was a country feel and element to the songs, I likened it more to a Tom Waits’ experience. 

ryan binham kelly sherrod

On stage with Ryan Bingham.

What’s coming up for Proteins Of Magic?

After my record release, I’m working towards combining my visual art and music into a theatre performance. I was recently introduced to an amazing space here in Auckland with a state of the art sound system and incredible wall space, I’m excited for the possibilities, my dream is to have an intensely musically and visually enveloping show!

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