Kelli Ali was born Kelli Dayton on June 30th, 1974. For the first seven years of her life, she lived on the 7th floor of a tower block called Near Oak House in Bartley Green, Birmingham.
Kelli was a dreamer and loved to sing and dance. She grew up listening to old rock ‘n’ roll singles from a little record player that she carried around with her. At the age of 13 she was listening to Sonic Youth, The Violent Femmes, Mud Honey and Nirvana. She was also into Prince, Raspberry Beret and Little Red Corvette.
After leaving school at the age of 14, Kelli started going to see lots of bands including; Sonic Youth, Iggy Pop, Mud Honey, Fugazi, X – Ray Spex, Billy Idol, Prince, Transvision Vamp, and The Stranglers.
When Kelli was 16, she joined her first band – Psycho Drama, and together they played around the city centre, but they didn’t last long. However, she received a phone call from Russell Cross who had seen Psycho Drama play and wanted her to join his band.
At first, Kelli was reluctant to join another band so soon after just leaving one, but after checking them out she said if they changed their name to The Lumieres and learned all of her songs, she’d join them.
They were trying to get gigs in london and when they finally got one at the Garage in Islington, Kelli wrote to loads of record companies to get them down there. Rick Lennox, an A&R guy for One Little Indian Records turned up. After the gig, he said that he wasn’t into the band but if Kelli was up for singing with other people, he’d keep his eyes open in London.
Not long after, Rick contacted Kelli and said there was a band called F.R.I.S.K. (Forever Rain In Self Knowledge) on a sub label of One Little Indian, Clean Up records who wanted a singer and he thought they should meet up. So Kelli went to one of their gigs and after the band came off stage, she sat down with them, Rick Lennox and their manager Craig. That was the beginning of the Sneaker Pimps.
After meeting Chris Corner and Liam Howe at the gig (F.R.I.S.K.), Kelli went back to Birmingham and they sent her some demo tracks which she liked. The band already had a singer, but they were after a female voice.
The guys came to see one of The Lumiere’s gigs at an open air festival in Birmingham City Centre. Kelli was surprised by how shy they were towards her when she came off stage. She sensed that they were very different and there was a definite divide between them.
Nevertheless, Kelli agreed to go up to Elwick Village, Northumberland where Liam had a little bedroom studio. And there she sang all the vocals in a little cupboard that Liam had made into a vocal booth and was impressed at their musical ability.
Craig, the guys manager called Kelli and said that the band would like her to join them. At first, she declined, The Lumieres had started getting a lot of attention and Kelli wanted to sing her own songs so she told Craig that they could use her voice if they wanted, but why should she join a band who just wants her to sing?
Craig convinced her that she could continue to make her own music and join the band. Virgin Records America were already interested in signing the band if Kelli became a permanent member.
Kelli decided to join the band ( that had now chosen the name Sneaker Pimps) on the basis that she would write B-sides and co-write on the next album. Within a couple of weeks they were offered a U.S. deal with Virgin Records America.
Sneaker Pimps finished the album, ‘Becoming X‘ in Liam’s bedroom studio. Shortly after, the band were on the road and had a few weeks to get the live show together. They played all over the U.K, Europe and America, touring with a band called 12 rounds. At first they played in little pub venues to no more than twenty or thirty people but soon moved on to bigger things, supporting Neneh Cherry and Blur for a part of their tour.
The film, The Saint with Val Kilmer, used 6 Underground as part of the sound track, then that was it. Sneaker Pimps were asked to fly to New York and record a song with Marylin Manson for the Spawn movie soundtrack in addition to going on TV and radio shows.
However, After touring so long and living in close proximity, things started to get difficult on the road and the band started to grow apart. One morning, towards the end of our last U.S. tour, the band woke up in Tennessee to find a note from Liam saying he had had enough. He’d flown home and left the band on the bus.
Kelli returned to London and decided to go travelling to Costa Rica and Panama for a couple of months. When she returned to London, the Sneaker Pimps had already set up a studio at Terminal Studios in London. The band called a meeting, which Kelli thought was to discuss new ideas for the next album. But when she turned up, Liam said that Chris was going to sing from now on in replace of Kelli.
Kelli left The Lumieres in 1998. In 2001, she signed a solo record deal with One Little Indian Records and released two solo albums; ‘Tiger Mouth’ (2003) which featured hits such as “Sunlight in the Rain” and “Kids,” which featured ex-Doors drummer John Densmore.
She toured alongside Garbage in 2003 and released a follow-up album,’Psychic Cat‘, in 2004. The second album featured musician-turned-author Tony O’Neill on keyboards.
In 2005, Kelli left London to go traveling and write a new album. Whilst journeying through Mexico and California, she wrote many songs and in 2007 had completed writing for the ‘Rocking Horse’ album.
In March 2008, she went to Edinburgh to work with composer and producer, Max Richter on a new record. ‘Rocking Horse’ will be released in Autumn 2008.
*Psychic Cat (2004)
*Tiger Mouth (2003)
*Inferno High Love (2002)