MKTO: From Sitcom Stars to Pop’s ‘Classic’ New Duo

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MKTO: From Sitcom Stars to Pop’s ‘Classic’ New Duo

Posted on: August 1st, 2014 by tommyj

Click here to view original web page at music.yahoo.com

There wasn't any hesitation. The boys of MKTO, Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller, instantly became best friends when they first met on the Los Angeles set of Teen Nick's Gigantic in 2010. However, in between takes, the duo couldn't stop talking about one thing.We dreamed of being on opposite sides of the stage rocking out with the crowd and having them sing along, smiles Kelley. Music brought us together, and now that surreal moment is happening.It's happening because the pair tirelessly pushed towards making their shared dream a reality. Oller recalls late nights in his Burbank apartment laughing, bonding, and recording music with Kelley until sunrise. Growing up with a deep appreciation for music, they bonded over influences ranging from Kanye West and Lil Wayne to Stevie Wonder and Muddy Waters. They also shared similar history. Kelley starred in Antwone Fisher with Denzel Washington and went on to lead the 2004 hit You Got Served before a regular and highly recognizable role as Walt Lloyd on the ABC smash Lost.Simultaneously, Oller followed his own path in Hollywood. He went from Dinsey Channel original series As The Bell Rings to spots on CSI: NY and later the hit horror flick The Purge starring Ethan Hawke. Their friendship remains the group's driving force. Not only can they finish each other's sentences, but their brotherhood makes for a deep bond on and off stage.The music still connected them the most though. They cut a few covers on their own for fun, but in the process, simultaneously carved out their own style—a smoothly stirred concoction of pop, hip-hop, and R&B.We're just honest with ourselves first and foremost, Oller goes on. We make music that we want to hear, and it encompasses all of our influences. It's just us and whatever we're feeling.The high-profile producer team of Emanuel “Eman” Kiriakou and Evan Kidd Bogart felt it too and inked a production deal with the group 2011. They signed to Columbia Records a year later and began working on what would eventually become their self-titled debut. The album spans a myriad of emotions and styles, while emanating undeniable energy guaranteeing a good time.The world got to officially join the party when MKTO released the first single Thank You. The song impressively garnered over 500,000 YouTube/VEVO views in just a day (1 million after three days!), and it went on to become an international hit in Australia. The tracks “Classic” and God Only Knows saw equal success globally, stirring up a palpable buzz in 2013. The second single Classic struts through a soulful groove with an immediately unshakable chorus and impressive rhymes. It certainly lives up to its name as well. It's about a classic woman and bringing her home to mom, Kelley admits. She doesn't need a lot of accessories or makeup to make herself feel better. She's comfortable in her own skin. That's the dream girl.They're a testament to those words, and they're going to bring this dream farther than they'd ever imagined. Having concluded their first headline tour in Australia off the back of 9x Platinum singles and their US single “Classic” about to crack the Top 10, 2014 is going to be a break out year for these young entertainers.Oller concludes, We just make music we love. We want to entertain and give listeners an escape. Each song is a story, and everybody is invited along for the ride with us.
There wasn’t any hesitation. The boys of MKTO, Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller, instantly became best friends when they first met on the Los Angeles set of Teen Nick’s Gigantic in 2010. However, in between takes, the duo couldn’t stop talking about one thing.We dreamed of being on opposite sides of the stage rocking out with the crowd and having them sing along, smiles Kelley. Music brought us together, and now that surreal moment is happening.It’s happening because the pair tirelessly pushed towards making their shared dream a reality. Oller recalls late nights in his Burbank apartment laughing, bonding, and recording music with Kelley until sunrise. Growing up with a deep appreciation for music, they bonded over influences ranging from Kanye West and Lil Wayne to Stevie Wonder and Muddy Waters. They also shared similar history. Kelley starred in Antwone Fisher with Denzel Washington and went on to lead the 2004 hit You Got Served before a regular and highly recognizable role as Walt Lloyd on the ABC smash Lost.Simultaneously, Oller followed his own path in Hollywood. He went from Dinsey Channel original series As The Bell Rings to spots on CSI: NY and later the hit horror flick The Purge starring Ethan Hawke. Their friendship remains the group’s driving force. Not only can they finish each other’s sentences, but their brotherhood makes for a deep bond on and off stage.The music still connected them the most though. They cut a few covers on their own for fun, but in the process, simultaneously carved out their own style—a smoothly stirred concoction of pop, hip-hop, and R&B.We’re just honest with ourselves first and foremost, Oller goes on. We make music that we want to hear, and it encompasses all of our influences. It’s just us and whatever we’re feeling.The high-profile producer team of Emanuel “Eman” Kiriakou and Evan Kidd Bogart felt it too and inked a production deal with the group 2011. They signed to Columbia Records a year later and began working on what would eventually become their self-titled debut. The album spans a myriad of emotions and styles, while emanating undeniable energy guaranteeing a good time.The world got to officially join the party when MKTO released the first single Thank You. The song impressively garnered over 500,000 YouTube/VEVO views in just a day (1 million after three days!), and it went on to become an international hit in Australia. The tracks “Classic” and God Only Knows saw equal success globally, stirring up a palpable buzz in 2013. The second single Classic struts through a soulful groove with an immediately unshakable chorus and impressive rhymes. It certainly lives up to its name as well. It’s about a classic woman and bringing her home to mom, Kelley admits. She doesn’t need a lot of accessories or makeup to make herself feel better. She’s comfortable in her own skin. That’s the dream girl.They’re a testament to those words, and they’re going to bring this dream farther than they’d ever imagined. Having concluded their first headline tour in Australia off the back of 9x Platinum singles and their US single “Classic” about to crack the Top 10, 2014 is going to be a break out year for these young entertainers.Oller concludes, We just make music we love. We want to entertain and give listeners an escape. Each song is a story, and everybody is invited along for the ride with us.

Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller owe thanks to their short-lived TeenNick sitcom Gigantic.

The 18-episode, 30-minute comedy series that aired for one season in 2010-2011 didn’t break Nielsen ratings or win an Emmy, but it did serve as the meeting ground for Kelley and Oller to develop a real bond that transcended the show.

Three years later, the actors have not only rebranded themselves as singers in the Columbia Records band MKTO (a combination of their initials), but they have a Top 40 single "Classic" to their credit.

"When the TV show ended, we stayed in contact," Kelley, the group’s rapper, tells Yahoo Music. "We played best friends on the show and became best friends." In addition to being less than a year apart in age – Kelley is 22 and Oller is 23 – they are both bachelors, and love music.

Kelley says music is one of the things that fostered their friendship. "When we hung out, we always ended up making music," he says. "When you meet somebody who loves music as much as you do, if not more, it’s like you start to bring your styles to the table," he adds.

Kelley and Oller ended up recording covers of songs by Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, and Bruno Mars during their pastimes and, on a whim, uploading them to YouTube. They quickly caught the attention of Columbia Records and signed a deal. "I don’t think either one of us expected that to happen," Kelley explains.

Kelley and Oller bring their musical styles together on their self-titled debut, melding R&B, hip-hop, pop, and rock. "That’s kinda what we wanted to do," Kelley adds. "We love all types of music from ballads, from pop to country to rock. We love everything."

Though Kelley and Oller have had opportunities to showcase their musicianship on some of their acting projects – Kelley appears in the cult, dance classic movie You Got Served and Oller sang duets with Demi Lovato on Disney’s As the Bell Rings – Kelley says there’s a big difference between making music for a scripted project and as a recoding artist. "With music, you have a short amount of time to get your point across, in a movie you have a little bit more time to explain things," he says.

Even though acting came first for Kelley, he always wanted to pursue a music career. He viewed recording songs as a means for telling stories and wanted to take some time to develop his chops. "I just wanted to grow a little bit more while I was acting, so I started to focus on acting," he says. "As I got older and started dealing with women and dealing with problems, music was just a great outlet."

MKTO’s transition from acting to singing and rapping has worked out perfectly.

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