My Gay Toronto - 416 Scene

Diving into The Deep Ending

by Drew Rowsome

The Deep Ending Live, a release party and performance, is on Thurs, Oct 24 at Revival, 738 College St.

The hardest part of learning to swim is conquering the fear of drowning, the fear of the deep end. Kelly Clipperton has conquered his fears and moved out of the shallow end of the pop pool and dived into the depths of his psyche and musical obsessions. Kelly and the Kellygirls' new album The Deep Ending has a water theme and delves into Clipperton's personal angst, both romantically and artistically.

My first two listens to The Deep Ending were not successful - then I realized that a boombox, perfectly satisfactory for background music or vocals and beats, might just be the wrong sonic purveyor. Over a full stereo The Deep Ending became seductive and intriguing, drawing me in and demanding attention. I then listened to it three more times in succession, in its entirety, before chatting with Kelly and the Kellygirls' mastermind, ringleader and boss, Kelly Clipperton.

Drew Rowsome: The album – and it is an album not a collection of songs – is sonically very rich, going against current musical trends where music is reduced to a beat and, hopefully, a musical hook. Is that a choice or a preference? And how do you intend to reproduce or strip that down live?  

Kelly Clipperton: We played the whole album live when we recorded it. There is very little studio magic. I imagine the songs sound more intense live - we've done them half a dozen times now. I must be so disconnected with trends because I just do what I feel I need to do. I don't purposely try to keep up. Or to step outside the line.

What made you decide to go with a concept album instead of the prevailing one-hit and a lot of filler, fashion?  

It came quite organically - though I honestly hate that word. I have always wanted to do something with a strong narrative and this story just presented itself.

The guest vocalists seem to have spurred you on to greater vocal heights. Was that a conscious choice or a product of working with some favourite vocalists? Will they be appearing at the release show?

Everyone but Carole Pope will be at the show - we really tried to get her there but . . . The other voices were key to the story as subconscious thoughts, or ego boosty ego, or doubting "voices in your head." They were all purposely placed.  And yes after Mic Dainjah did his toast in "Light Sweat," I literally, being blown off my ass, went back in a re-did my whole vocal in one take.

What can we expect from the live show? Rumour has it that it will be quite elaborate.

Dancers, aerialists, a full ass light show, projections . . . And me with my clothes on for a change.

A lot of the lyrics leave you very emotionally exposed. Does that make you nervous? Or are you fearless?

Really?  Exposed? Thank you for that observation, but sometimes I think I'm being too clever. And no nothing scares me except maybe snakes.

What do you hope listeners take from The Deep Ending?  


A study showed that Madonna’s lyrics use the words “baby” and “love” not only the most but close to exclusively. The lyrics on The Deep Ending are much more lyrically dense. Do you have a more intelligent audience?  

Ha!  I guess, which is where I'm going terribly wrong I suppose.I will try to incorporate "baby" and "love" into my next song and then maybe things will change. That and dance, I need to sing about dancing.

The horns provide great punctuation and solos but are sometimes dissonant. Why did you decide not to Auto-tune them?

Ughhh! The dischord is on purpose! There are parts of the journey that are supposed to leave you on edge and I'm glad you mention it: the girls have perfect pitch like nobody's business, the clash is totally meant to be there.

Your voice is a stunner on ballads like “Blackmail, Insults, Tenderness & Tears.” If you were to do a standards album what songs would you choose?  

Oh, the list is endless and thank you. Yes I too think it sounds quite good there. Half of the album would be Cole Porter songs because he's a fucking brilliant writer and I've always loved "Secret Love" and "Don't Fence Me In" and "Flying Home" and . . . I could go on and on. Maybe one day I'll do it. My mom would be very happy.

I interpreted the closing song “Leo Giamani’s Arms” as, partially, a critique of our tendency to idolize porn stars to reality’s detriment. Has that been a problem for you – as a sexual front man you could fall into that category yourself? What other porn stars would you put in that category?  

Ha! I doubt I'm idolized. I seriously don't see that at all. And honestly I'm not a bigger follower of adult film stars careers, I just think he's ridiculously beautiful and his arms are stunning. That got me to thinking about the kind of power and energy it would take to seriously pull me out of the blackness and murk I've embedded myself in over the last 40 years. It's similar to the Kellygirls' song "Catherine Deneuve" where I talk of her saving the world in a deus ex machina. I think someone in the adult film world would be the perfect person to save me - entendre intended 

Do you think this CD reveals the real Kelly Clipperton?

Perhaps. It's the closest so far.

The Deep Ending is available now.

The Deep Ending Live, a release party and performance, is on Thurs, Oct 24 at Revival, 738 College St.