Khalil Arcady, who performs a mix of neo-soul, indie, alternative and hip-hop as Sur Ellz, has been looping his own voice since 2012, but only recently has he mastered the craft, he says. It comes fully alive in two music videos, shot by Kontagium, that Arcady has released.
When he first began performing in Denver, he would bring his looper to open-mic nights around town. He received positive feedback and felt inspired to keep cultivating this craft, though he wasn’t quite satisfied with how it sounded.
Experimenting at open-mic nights and improv-style performances with the Black Actor’s Guild, Arcady has found his groove looping.
“I like to use my voice as an instrument,” Arcady says.
The new videos spotlight Arcady's talents, both vocally and stylistically. The full range of Sur Ellz's style comes alive in the videos. He shows an upbeat, playful persona in his R&B mash-up and a more emotional, serious side with his cover of Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River."
Arcady, who grew up in poverty on East Colfax in Aurora and the Five Points neighborhood in Denver, says Sur Ellz brings street art to the stage.
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Arcady defines street art thus: “You or someone you’re inspired by comes from the street. You use your street knowledge to inspire your passion of art; it therefore becomes street art. Because it’s from the streets, for the streets, but not only for the street.”
He adds: “I’ve made it my sole mission in life to defy the odds that have been set against me, to defy the stereotypes placed above me, and to show people that I’m from the streets. But I didn’t give my life over to the streets; I gave my life over to art.”
Sur Ellz will perform at the Westword Music Showcase in City Hall's amphitheater at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 24. For more information, go to the Westword Music Showcase online. For deep savings, consider purchasing the Showcase Squad Pack, four general admission tickets at a discounted rate for a limited time only.