Rob Kelly is a composer, music producer and multi-instrumentalist.
Rob’s compositions have been broadcast on TV shows around the world and featured by brands and productions including Horizon – Death of The Oceans (presented by Sir David Attenborough), The Financial Times website, The Late Late Show with James Corden, BBC News 24, Portlandia, Secret Histories – Saddam goes to Hollywood, Coronation Street, Islands of Britain, The Apprentice, NBC News, France 24, The Disney Channel, Come Dine with Me, Crimewatch, Great Continental Railway Journeys, Discovery Life, EuroSport and Country File.
Based at Strongroom in London (home to several of Europe’s finest music studios) Rob has a writing and mix room equipped with a wide range of unusual instruments.
Rob has recorded his music with many of the UK’s finest musicians, including soprano Grace Davidson, percussionist Paul Clarvis, drummer Ralph Salmins, saxophonist and bass clarinetist Tim Garland and strings with the English Session Orchestra at Abbey Road and Air Studios.
Rob's Studio at Strongroom
Engineering chamber orchestra session in Lyndhurst Hall, AIR Studios for Audio Network
Engineering and Production
A graduate of the Tonmeister course in Music and Sound Recording from the University of Surrey (where he received a prize for composition in his final year), Rob is an extensively experienced recording and mix engineer.
He has edited and mixed hundreds of orchestral & classical pieces for Audio Network (mostly recorded at Abbey Road Studios) including both of their Classical Collections - 79 new recordings of popular classics, re-arranged and produced specifically for use in media.
He has mixed projects for many of Europe and America’s best known film and TV composers including Joe Kraemer, James Brett, John Altman, Ruth Barrett, John Metcalfe, Patrick Hawes, Helen Jane Long, Philip Sheppard, Lorne Balfe, Rael Jones, Terry Devine-King and Max Richter. He is highly experienced in mixing in surround sound and working to picture.
Work for artists and bands includes recording, mixing and production for Anna Meredith, Modeselektor, Tim Garland, John 00 Flemming, Right Said Fred and Teleplasmiste. He works regularly for artist and AV turntablist DJ Yoda including playing, mixing and production work for his collaborations with Boy George, Michael Winslow, Man Like Me, The Trans-Siberian March Band and his Breakfast of Champions album featuring Shlomo, Rex Domino and Manchester's Mouse Outfit. He has worked as a technical consultant for Underworld.
Strings session in Abbey Road Studio 2 for Rob's Chislehurst Caves project
His most recent compositional project is The Caves Sessions - a triple album of atmospheric and experimental pieces for Audio Network, recorded within the extraordinary acoustics of Chislehurst Caves, a network of twenty miles of underground tunnels that have a natural thirty second reverb.
Rob has written additional cues for the scores of British features Comedown and Wild Bill, and composed scores for short films and animations including the nature documentary Hilbre. He has co-written with artist and composers including Ruth Barrett, Michael J York and DJ Yoda.
Comfortable writing in a wide range of styles, Rob is a creatively and technically versatile composer and a MIDI/synth programmer of 28 years experience which he finds slightly worrying.
Rob builds software based virtual instruments to create unique ‘sound worlds’ as part of his writing process. He is interested in using sound-design processes such as granular synthesis, spectral sampling and vari-speed applied to high resolution recordings of instruments made in unusual acoustic spaces.
A classically trained ‘cellist, Rob also plays electric bass, double bass, guitar, keyboards, hand percussion and drum kit. He’d like to say he plays the trumpet but it would be an outright lie. He wants to play the trumpet.
Rob co-designed the Bütone tuned percussion instrument with his friend James Bergersen, a metal tank drum that can be built to order with custom scales and tunings. Rob owns a large collection and has played them on TV scores for Ruth Barrett and for artists including MIA.
Playing Bütone percussion in Chislehurst Caves
Bütone Percussion 13 note range
Music Editing and Surround Sound
A score-reading music editor, work includes 3 episodes of US TV drama series The Bible scored by Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe, the BBC’s Panorama theme for David Lowe and Bella Saer, radio edits of numerous singles, 5.1 edits on music DVDs for artists including The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, David Gray and Elton John, and thousands of cut-downs of production music.
Surround sound work includes mixing and mastering for commercials, DVDs and short films, over-seeing audio post for hundreds of 5.1 music DVD / Super Audio CD releases and mixing sound for AV installations and 'visual music' projects. These include Labland, a visual music DVD and installation collaboration between Berlin’s electronic pioneers Modeselektor and acclaimed graphics house Pfadfinderei, and mixes for The Five Elements, a three screen 5.1 installation for the Design in the Year Zero exhibition featuring 5 international artists. Commissioned by Dalbin, it is a permanent part of the collection of the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Rob created the sound-design, foley and mix for Maze, a 9 channel, dual screen installation by artist Stuart Pearson-Wright, featuring Keira Knightley. Maze premiered in London in 2010 and has since exhibited around the world.
Recording choir in Lyndhurst hall for EMI / Strongroom Productions Cinematic Voices
Modeselektor and Pfadfinderie
Premiere of 'Maze' by Stuart Pearson Wright, a 9 channel 2 screen install feat. Keira Knightley
Air Lyndhurst Studios
Session Playing and Bands
Rob has played on recordings for artists including Portishead, M.I.A, DJ Yoda, producer Haydn Bendal and two albums for The Trans-Siberian March Band. Playing for TV and film includes Ruth Barrett's scores for BBC drama series Hunted and Remember Me and feature film Harry Brown.
He has always enjoyed playing in bands, most recently as ‘cellist and bass player with folk group Suntrap and percussionist for fourteen piece Balkan Brass group The Trans-Siberian March Band.
Rob played with TSMB and was part of their management team from 2008-2014 and continues to perform with them as a dep. During this time they performed at venues and festivals around the UK including Glastonbury (2009 & 2013), Secret Garden Party, Arcadia, the National Theatre, Kensington Palace, the Barbican, the Royal Festival Hall, Henley Festival, the Union Chapel, the Thames Festival and tours in Wales, Scotland, Bosnia, Georgia, Hungary, Austria, France and Montenegro.
In 2011 he established and worked with band leader Isabella Fletcher to produce a reasonably silly but successful collaboration between TSMB and AV turntablist DJ Yoda which fused Balkan and Gypsy music with hip-hop, live visuals and a fourteen piece brass band.
AIR Studios, Strongroom and Avid Technology
Rob worked for Strongroom and Air Lyndhurst Studios from 2002 to 2011 as Director of Business Development for the Air Studios group, Managing Director of Air Post Production and Business Development Manager for Strongroom. He also worked as an occasional engineer, dubbing mixer and in various other technical, sales and marketing roles.
Before joining Strongroom Rob worked for Avid Technology (then Digidesign) as the UK's senior Pro Tools product specialist and European technical support manager. He was a member of the Pro Tools beta programme for 10 years, contributed to the design of several Pro Tools software features, and has worked for Avid as a freelance writer.
Strongroom Studio One
Producing Trans-Siberian March Band's second album in AIR Studio One
The collaboration performed at venues including the Camden Roundhouse, HMV Forum and the Royal Albert Hall and toured the UK’s festival circuit for four years to critical acclaim. Festival performances included main stages at Shambala, Kendal Calling and Camp Bestival, Glastonbury’s Hell stage, Bestival’s Big Top and Womad’s Big Red Tent. Rob also established and helped curate a three-year artist residency for the band at East London’s Rich Mix arts venue and produced both the band’s albums.
DJ Yoda & Trans-Siberian March Band - Shambala Festival Main Stage 2012
“But better than both was the Trans-Siberian March Band, a 13-piece Balkan brass ensemble of flamboyantly dressed Londoners, who played a hugely entertaining collaborative show with the hip-hop turntable virtuoso DJ Yoda. Lively and witty, they proved to be perfect festival crowd-pleasers.” – The Times, WOMAD 2012 review
Rob started his career in 1996 as an assistant / house engineer for UK residential complex Jacobs Studios where he assisted on sessions for artists including Portishead, Tori Amos, Brian Transeau (BT), The Cure, Goldie, Jhelisa Anderson, Alec Empire, Baby Bird, Nicolette and Kula Shaker and worked for producers including Jim Abbiss, Paul Corckett, Ken Thomas and Phil Vinall.
He feels lucky to have caught the tail end of working on sessions with bands making albums over weeks or months using big desks and analogue tape though through his time with Avid may have assisted in the sad demise of several studios with big desks and analogue tape.