Singer Kelli Sae On Cutting Out Distractions To Focus On Your Passion

Kelli Sae spoke to LRM to discuss her very first show Disco, Dicks, and Dykes!. The NY born singer and songwriter spins yarns from the time she accidentally took Heidi Klum’s ex-husbands Seal’s cell phone to how she kicked a video game addiction. Check out the synopsis for Disco, Dicks, and Dykes! below.

New York-born and bred performer, singer, songwriter, composer, comedian and now playwright, Kelli Sae stars in this cutting edge one-woman show. “Disco, Dicks And Dykes!” tells the story of Kelli Sae’s fascinating journey and the coming of age of a young woman growing up in New York City. In a side-splitting, comedic fashion she details the bumpy road of life-defining events navigating her way through the music industry and discovering her sexuality. Backed by an incredible live band, Kelli’s performance and euphonious voice leave you feeling uplifted and transported.

LRM: Awesome. On behalf of LRM, I’d like to thank you for taking the time out for the interview today. We really appreciate it.

Kelli: Well, likewise. I appreciate you even taking the time to interview me. That’s really kind, too.

LRM: Nice.

Kelli: Yeah. We’re in a time where we have so many artists, anyway, so if anybody has any interest in what I’m doing, I’m ever so grateful.

LRM: Awesome. Can you tell me, where are you calling from today?

Kelli: I live in New Jersey, just outside of New York. I’m in Fort Lee.

LRM: Nice. Okay.

Kelli: What about you? Where are you guys? Where’s your headquarters?

LRM: Well, I’m actually, I’m in Hampton Roads right now in Virginia. Not too far from Virginia Beach, maybe 40 minutes or so.

Kelli: Oh, super. I like it there.

LRM: Oh, have you been here before?

Kelli: Yeah, a long time ago. I enjoyed it very much.

LRM: Okay. Yeah, it’s pretty decent area. A few things to do. If you’re fine with it, I’d like to go ahead and dive into the questions here.

Kelli: I don’t mind. Not at all.

LRM: Awesome. Okay. Can you tell me about working with Seal and Tina Turner?

Kelli:Well, both those things were background situations, where I was a background singer for them. I was a background singer for Tina Turner for special projects in Russia, and that was phenomenal. She’s somebody I really idolize and look up to so much. She’s just a pioneer in so many ways. That experience, I tried to just take it all in every single day that we worked together. That was just amazing. Her generosity, not just as a performer but as a person also, she’s very willing to share her knowledge and her expertise. I’m grateful for that.

Kelli: The Seal thing, that was just recently, too. That was at the Women’s March, another background experience. He’s somebody also that I just totally admired. Some years ago, my band was the opening act for him in Poland. I got sick and I wasn’t able to make that show. My background singers all took my songs and split them up, and each one did a song, sang it. I was really, really sad that I missed that show and all that.

This time when he came around in a different way, now I wasn’t the opening act, but I was slinging CDs for him, that was a phenomenal experience, too. He also was so kind. I accidentally ended up stealing his phone by mistake. I was in such a rush to catch a flight. I just didn’t know. All those iPhones look the same. I was in a hurry. I grabbed my coat and my suitcase and everything, and then I look in and I have this phone in my hand and I’m just like, “Oh my God, is this the assistant’s phone?” Thinking the assistant that works with us in the music department.

Then I didn’t see any, you know how you have a screensaver? I didn’t see her on it and I’m thinking, “I don’t know whose phone this is.” I say to the driver, “Hey driver, did you have another passenger in this car before me?” And he was like, “Yes I did.” I said, “I think they left their phone.” And he’s like, “No.” I’m not sure. I was just about to hand it to him and at that moment the phone rang and when it rang I was like, “Hello?” He was like, “Hello?” I said, “Did you lose your phone?” He said yes. “Well, it’s your lucky day because I found it.” I’m super honest, so you’re going to get your phone back. He said, “Oh, that’s amazing.”

I said, “Who is this?” He goes, “It’s Seal.” “It’s Kelli. I got your phone.” And he’s like, “How’d you get my phone?” No idea. We made special arrangements with the driver and whatnot. That was just insane. I was so honest. I gave the phone back. I didn’t peek in it to look for Patti King’s number or anything, however tempting that might’ve been. I didn’t do it. That was it, pretty much.

LRM: Okay, great. That’s an awesome story there. Thanks for sharing.

Kelli: You’re welcome.

LRM: Now can you tell me about your experience on Dancing With the Stars over on ABC?

Kelli: Yeah. That to me is like a dream come true because I’ve been such a big fan, and still am a fan of the show. I love it so much. I knew some of the people that worked on it before me and I just thought, “Oh wow, they got it made over there. Wow, I’d love to have that job someday.” As it turns out, one day there was the changing of the guard and they just hired a new musical director and the whole nine. I just so happened to know the musical director and I was like, “Hey, I heard a rumor and you’re the new music director of Dancing With the Stars. Is that true?” He said, “Yes I am.” And I was like, “Well, do you have all your singer yet?” He said, “No, I don’t.” I was like, “Well, I would love to audition if you’re having auditions.”

He was like, “Well, we are.” Kind of like, not bragging, but saying, “I can sing this or that and the other,” da da da. He’s like, “Really? You got anything that shows you can do?” And I was like, “Yeah.” I had a little reel I put together of 18 tracks of different styles of music. I sang from Ella Fitzgerald to Lady Gaga, blah, blah, blah. I just put that together. He was like, “Oh, great. Great. Get yourself out to LA and then we’re going to have in-person auditions.” I’m like, “Oh my gosh, really? Now I got to get myself to LA.” I did it. I did what it took and I got my butt out there. It was a closed audition of maybe a hundred singers, maybe. I don’t even know. I ended up getting the job. I’ve been there ever since. It’s almost six years.

In between everything else I do, when it’s in season, if they’re happy to have me, I’m happy to be there. We’re happy.

LRM: Great.

Kelli: But again, an amazing experience. I hope that one day I get to actually be a contestant on that. That’s my next big dream because I love dance. It’s an amazing art form. It’s great to see those people come on the show that maybe don’t necessarily have all that dancing experience and watch them transform from week to week. Their bodies become stronger. You know what I mean? And more fit. They become better dancers and it’s so inspirational and motivating. I’m like, “I want to do that.”

LRM: Definitely. Awesome. You’re actually doing a one woman show right now, isn’t that right?

Kelli: I am. I’m so excited. I stopped just to call you. We’re in rehearsal now. I was like, “Oh God, I got to I got to call.” Yeah, I don’t mind. No problem. We had to take a lunch break anyway.

LRM: Okay.

Kelli: Perfect. Yeah, we’re rehearsing now. Oh my God, I’m frightened. I’m scared. Oh my God. Are you coming? You should come.

LRM: Is it in New York?

Kelli: Yeah. Just get on a little bus, a little train. Come on up. We got a ticket for you, waiting for you.

LRM: Okay. Great. I appreciate it. What are your show dates?

Kelli: It’s one show only right now. February 29th.

LRM: February 29th, okay.

Kelli: Honestly, I didn’t want to commit to doing a long run until I really got to see what this thing really was. You know what I mean? I’ve been working on it three years. My life story put to music. Yeah. The thing too, is it takes a lot. I’m losing a lot of sleep right now over it, but it takes a lot to make yourself so vulnerable and put yourself out there on that level that you let people in to your life. My life has been like everybody’s life. We have ups and downs, traumas and blah blah blah. But it’s talking about, it’s not just my life, but it’s on what my journey was in becoming a successful singer and becoming… You don’t have to just be a pop star to have a great career. Things like that.

You can still live your dream and do all that. Now if your dream is for world domination, that’s what you want, whatever. Hey, go for it. I’m here to encourage you to do so. That’s what the play is about. It’s about a little girl’s story from the South Bronx how she navigates her way through her teen years and to sexuality and to discovering what her career should be. All those things.

LRM: Okay. Sounds really interesting. You grew up in New York then?

Kelli: South Bronx.

LRM: Sounds like it’s an awesome story.

Kelli: I hope that that’s going to be people feeling and that they take something from it. Don’t feel like… “Well hey, I can tell my story too.” Everybody, you can, if you’re willing to share it. I’m sure that there’s somebody who wants to hear it. Why not? The takeaway too is, I don’t know, throughout the story, I still want it to be entertaining and be motivational, inspiring, all those things. And how the people that I’ve loved in my life have inspired me to keep going and that kind of thing.

LRM: Awesome. What advice do you have for young future entertainers?

Kelli: I think the most important thing is to try to, and this might sound cliche, it’s just to hold your identity. Don’t try to be someone you’re not because you think that that’s going to get you further if it’s not you. You know what I mean? If that’s not you… If it’s you to want to dress more conservatively or whatever, it doesn’t mean you have to get up there with a leotard on and show everyone. I think that’s important. I think too, that’s from a physical aspect, but then from an artistic point of perspective, your music or whatever it is, your poetry, whatever you’re doing that’s artistic, just to again, know that your voice is important and people would be interested in hearing what you have to say.

Your identity. Not, “Oh, wow. Let me try to sound exactly like X, Y, Z because everybody likes that.” Sometimes in ,32 the industry, they are known to try to pigeonhole you and go, “Such and such is hot. Okay, great. We need to go out and find us 10 Billie Eilish’s. We need to go out and find…” You know what I mean? Okay, that’s great. She’s special because that’s her thing. That’s her. Find your thing that makes you special. Stick to that. Own that. I think you’ll be much happier and maybe more successful.

LRM: Awesome. That’s great advice.

Kelli: Thank you.

LRM: You’re welcome. What’s next for you?

Kelli: What’s next after this play? I’m trying to take this play and take it to a higher platform and decide on the 29th if this is something that I want to keep pushing and take it to Broadway, go to Broadway, or do I want to film it and have it be something more like a special like an HBO special or Netflix? Something like that. That’s what I’m trying to focus on. Then also new music. I’m working on new music to release. Doing that at the same time. Overall, just trying to elevate on all levels. The next is how can I make my life better? How can I enhance my life through my behaviors? You know what I mean? How can I be a better sister, friend, lover? All those things. How can I… I wake up every morning and I think the answer to that is we all feel great when we’re producing, progressing. If you’re laying around and you don’t feel productive, then you don’t feel happy. That’s when you kind of fall into this rut. The idea is to every day, do a little something that’s productive for yourself or for someone else. You’ll feel just as happy. Content, rather.

LRM: Awesome. That’s great advice. Yeah.

Kelli: You’re very welcome.

LRM: Have you done any acting?

Kelli:I have a while ago. I did some acting in some very community theater stuff and little things like that. Nothing really on the big screen ever. It’s not something that I’m against doing. Some years ago, it’s so funny. This was in the play but I had to take it out because I didn’t want the play to drag on long, I got my whole life story and everybody’s… They’re all going to go to sleep. I had to just decide what stories to tell and what stories are relevant to the time, blah blah blah. But I remember auditioning for Rent about seven times, seven or eight times, when Rent was out. I never got selected. It was just so weird. It was so weird. Don’t you know after the third time that you won’t be in that? I guess not. It’s hard.

That and then I did some other little things. I did Paul Simon, he did the music of the Capeman. That was amazing too. Another person who I idolize that I got to work with that just, my mind blown. Another phenomenal songwriter, musician.

LRM: Let me ask you, do you like comic books by any chance?

Kelli: Comic books? Not anymore. I liked cartoon comic books. Not in a long time. I love cartoons and I like games.

LRM: Nice, nice. Do you play video games?

Kelli: Not anymore. I cut them all out. I deleted every game. You know why? Because it was getting in the way of my productivity. I was noticing that I wasn’t accomplishing as much. I’m very competitive. If I’m playing a game, I want to be at the top of the leader board. Oh my goodness, I’ll be up in the middle of the night checking to see if my score dropped. Okay, I’ll spend some extra money on extra man or whatever. It’s like, oh my God. I started realizing this is not serving you. All this time you’re spending, two hours, whatever it is, you can spend producing a new song or writing something, doing crafting or exercising. Find something else productive to do. I’m not a square or nothing. I love that, but I just realized that if you’re really trying to elevate your game, you have to stay focused in a different kind of way.

LRM: Right. That’s a conclusion people come to a lot of times. Well, Kelli, I want to, again, thank you for taking time out for the interview on behalf of the staff at LRM.

Kelli: My pleasure. Thank you.


This February 29th see Kelli Sae live in NYC for her one woman show. Or check her out on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars.

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