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How To Slay The Holidays

A M.AD Interview with Kelsey Matthews

Kelsey Matthews wears plenty of hats.

By day, she’s one of Atlanta’s rising stars in the world of copywriting, working professionally with R/GA while she continues to refine her talents at M.AD.

When she’s off the clock, her talents are directed elsewhere: she takes on voiceover work, puts in work on a forthcoming book and film, and she devotes time to charity initiatives to reduce food insecurity within minority communities.

That’s a full schedule for anyone—let alone a copywriting student. But it’s not all work for Kelsey. There’s one other role she takes on…

Kelsey Nashe: burgeoning pop diva.

To that end, Kelsey spent more than a year creating what just might be the newest holiday classic in your rotation: Holiday Slay Shuffle. It’s an enthusiastic, intoxicating, joy-filled track—in short, just what the doctor ordered after a year like this.

Romping around a stellar set designed by M.AD grad Millie Nicholson, Kelsey gives us a new sense of what Christmas can sound and look like. She also shows off the kind of unrepentant creativity M.AD has always been about.

So what makes this young gun tick? We sat down with her to find out.

An Interview With Kelsey Matthews

What’s the story behind your video? How did this whole thing come to be?

I grew up doing a lot of country (western) line dancing– from the Watermelon Crawl, to the Boot Scoot Boogie, you name it! 3 years ago, I randomly thought–“Hey! There’s a line dance for almost every occasion–but what about a Christmas one” (my favorite holiday)! I had a  jingle in my head and told Kristin, MAD’s Admissions/Social Media Coordinator about it. She put me in contact with someone she knew who could help me bring what was in my head to life, Adrian Appleby (Big A). I am classically trained on the flute and have been playing for about 18 years. I started by playing the melody on my flute, and then deciding that I needed to sing it and write lyrics that were fun, exciting, and made me feel like we were on a fun winter journey with friends.

After 3 months of working at Adrian’s in-home studio, we shot the first music video in December of 2019. It was most definitely a labor of love–as all of my friends in entertainment and production banned together to help me do what I could with my zero dollar budget. I am a bit of a perfectionist–so I decided to wait until 2020 to remaster the song and re-shoot the music video, with a better budget. I remastered the vocals with a local celebrity producer and collabed with a recent Design grad of MA.D, Millie Nicholson, to bring my Holiday Slay Shuffle music video vision to life–and we did just that! I reached out to the co-founder of M.AD, Pippa, and she was happy to support me and allow me to use Portfolio Center for my shoot when I told her what exciting project I was up to next! My family and friends were there every step of the way–my brother even helped choreograph, and did my hair extensions for the video shoot! It took a tribe for sure!

You’re obviously getting a tremendous amount of love so far. How does that impact you as a creator?

We got over 1k views in 1 week! As a creator, it makes me feel valid in my madness to be honest. It makes me feel like the sleepless nights, idea sessions, and money spent on my project really paid off. It makes me feel seen and elated that if someone is watching it–then maybe there was an opportunity for them to have a fun moment with their family and friends, and that brings me the most joy.  It is also amazing when others finally see you in the light in which you see yourself.

Where are you headed? What’s next for Kelsey Nashe?

My short film, “A Father’s Love” that I released in June 2020 is currently in consideration for an award with a film festival. (It was also filmed at MA.D). I recently made the University of West Georgia’s 2021 Thriving Under 30 list. I have a holiday film and also a book that I am currently in the process of writing that I would like to produce and release in 2021. I have been investing more into my urge to just play and have fun! I take acting classes each week and I have started going to auditions. Lastly, music! I love to write and make songs about things daily! I am always coming up with a jingle or a tune for something! I want it to spill over into my professional life too–let me know if someone needs me to write them a commercial or a jingle!

Who is your dream collaborator? What’s your dream project?

I do contract work as a Brand Strategist in Atlanta with a 360 degree Brand Management Agency. I have been on many red carpets and have met many well-known celebrities and creators. MA.D has helped me discover that I want to create with anyone who wants to HAVE FUN and show up as their best creative self, no matter their tenure or social status. I use the following analogy a lot–everyone remembers that feeling of going to pre-school and making your first friend, and playing together. It was the sandbox for me, with my good friend Zoey.

When I create–and I am surrounded by other creatives who are simply doing it for the love/fun of it, it takes me right back to that sandbox. I want to have that feeling with the work I do, more often than not. But–If I had to collab with someone established in the wonderful world of copywriting, it would be Spike Lee, working on a feature film. He has written and directed some amazing films! I think we’d enjoy building sandcastles together. His ability to expose true human emotion through his writing and directing is something I aspire to do with films I write, ads, or even songs. I could learn a lot from him.

Has MAD influenced your creative process? How so?

2020 has been a tough year. With the Holiday Slay Shuffle video, we wanted to create something fun that would bring people together–something that the whole family could do; and we did just that! I hope that everyone could tell from the video how much fun we were having, because it was an absolute blast! It also felt good to be back at the portfolio school that made me decide to leave my job as a Marketing Director of a $10M food and beverage account in July 2019  to begin my pursuit of becoming a creative, all day, every day.

The creativity that I have tapped into since being enrolled at mad is like diarrhea of the mouth–I just can’t stop creating….and I don’t plan on it. Not only does M.AD support you creatively, but if possible, they provide the resources for you to be successful. I had been holding onto my script for “A Father’s Love.” It was written 3 years ago. It wasn’t until I had a class that wanted us to tell a personal or compelling story, until I completely developed it out and decided to film it. Now, when I write things, I don’t want them to live in my journal for years–I want to bring it to life. MA.D sparked that. Anything is possible. My process is now, “do, do and do!”

Based on where you are now, what’s some advice you’d give to your younger self?

Never lose the nerve or gumption to do what you want to do boldly and unapologetically. There will NEVER be a “perfect time.” Do it now, and give it all you’ve got!

Kelsey Nashe, Holiday Slay Shuffle Music Video Set
We’re so proud to continue watching Kelsey’s growth—as an artist, as a creative, and as a person. Here’s to seeing what she’ll do next.

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