HALIENE Seeks To Share Vulnerability On Her First Ever Solo Tour
When Kelly Sweet first saw NERO perform in the Sahara Tent at Coachella in 2012, her life changed forever.
As one of the most influential and adept bands in the history of electronic music, producers Joseph Ray, Dan Stephens, and vocalist Alana Watson are known to have that effect on people. But Sweet’s connection to the group is especially profound.
Sweet saw her entire future as a singer and songwriter unfold before her while seeing Watson perform. The emotional impact of watching a singer with an electronic group as a permanent member was potent. And the fact that she was the only vocalist to grace the Sahara Tent stage all weekend at one of the largest festivals in the world motivated Sweet to pursue her lifes work.
“Watching [Watson] perform with them it was like ‘Oh my gosh. That’s something I can do,’” Sweet tells Festival Insider via Zoom. “I knew that there was also a hole in dance music that I could fill. Something that I uniquely could do as a performer.”
Soon after that, Sweet took on her new moniker, HALIENE, and redirected her artistry to the now infamous status where she resides today.
Artistically, under the name of HALIENE, Sweet filled that hole in electronic music. She’s contributed her immaculate vocals and compelling songwriting to Seven Lions, Said The Sky, Illenium, Tritonal, Gareth Emery, Jeffrey Sutorius, Jauz, Markus Schulz, and many more, with multiple singles placing on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Digital Song Sales Chart.
Sweet found a spiritual home in electronic music.
During her transition into a new sound, Sweet was in the midst of what she calls the “Winter of her life.”
“I no longer had a record deal. I had made a second album that never got to come out. I was mourning the loss of that, and also both my parents passed away within six months of each other from cancer. Which was really difficult as an only child as well,” Sweet says.
Electronic music lifted Sweet out of that phase, and she lifted electronic music along with her.
“What do I love? What moves me? It was electronic music all the way,” Sweet says. “Seeing dance music I found a home. This is where I belong and I didn’t know this existed.”
As a vocalist and songwriter in dance music, Sweet is creating a new narrative for electronic artists that could only exist after the culture left the dark corners of the club and took its place on major festival stages.
In the past era, DJs in electronic music existed in the shadows. Hidden behind layers of smoke, obscured by sporadic flashing lights. There was literally and figuratively no room for a singer. At least not one who commands the stage like Sweet. The growth of the culture has given vocalists the space they deserve to take their (long overdue) place as a vital piece of that culture.
“As singers and songwriters we are writing the words that the crowd is singing back to the DJ, and we have an important role to play,” Sweet says.
More and more people in the scene, from fans to promoters to other artists, recognize how important that role is. With this increased respect and reverence, Sweet will soon head out on her first solo headlining tour as HALIENE. Singing songs, she was vital in creating to a room full of her fans.
“I am so happy that we can start doing this. Doing what we are made to do and performing the songs that we wrote. That we sing. That people know all the words to,” Sweet says. “It’s an exciting time. Yeah there are challenges, but there always will be when you’re paving the way.”
The tour is called the Glass Heart Tour, and it begins Friday, April 15, 2022, in Sunnyvale, California, and will hit multiple cities in the US, including Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco.
While this is her first tour as HALIENE (and one of the first-ever headlining tours for a vocal artist in dance music), this is far from Sweet’s first experience on stage. Growing up with two musicians as parents, she began performing when she was only four years old.
“I always used to say that music chose me. I didn’t choose it. It just was something that was part of my life since I can remember,” Sweet explains. “Creativity was everywhere all the time, and I honestly do not remember a time when I wasn’t singing. My mom used to say I could sing before I could talk.”
Sweet’s parents never forced her to pursue music the way she did. They knew firsthand that the life of an artist could be difficult, but after seeing how determined she was, Sweet’s mother resolved to help make her daughter’s dreams come true.
When Sweet was 14, her mother became her driver, taking her to performances, vocal lessons, and anything she needed to do to support.
“She enlisted herself to support me and my career, and it's been a big difference for me,” Sweet says of her mother.
Through hard work and dedication, Sweet soon found herself working with legendary vocal coaches like Ron Anderson (who trained artists like Adele, Axl Rose, Alicia Keys, and more) and recording her first album, We Are One.
Sweet was 16 when she started working on the album. She was still in the early stages of developing her artistic vision, and she worked with producer Mark Portman to help find what makes her voice special. What unique quality she could offer through her music.
The answer was her tone.
“I have always been told that my tone moves people which is amazing to hear, and I think from a young age I had that tone or was born with this tone,” says Sweet.
Her tone has become inseparable from modern dance music. It soars to the heavens, carrying all the emotional moments Sweet and her collaborators communicate through their music. Whether the song is uplifting, haunting, or melancholy in its essence, Sweet delivers with expert ability and pure vulnerability.
“It’s very vulnerable to be up on a stage. Thousands of people are staring at you and you have to be comfortable with sharing your heart with all those people,” says Sweet. “Music is meant to be a bridge from heart to heart.”
HALIENE is opening her heart every time she performs. Without fear. Without inhibition, and she invites all who would care to listen to join her.
The Glass Heart Tour begins April 15, 2022. Tickets are available now.