Born and raised in Kilauea, Kaua‘i, Kellen grew up hearing lots of Hawaiian music but not by choice. His father would buy Hawaiian albums, which were played over and over in the long car rides from the north shore to town. Kellen and his brother Jory would buy reggae, hip-hop, and R&B stuff, none of which ever got played much outside of their rooms. During middle school, Kellen first saw kids his age playing ukulele. So he picked up his Tutu’s ‘ukulele and started bringing it to school with him. There he met friends Jed Hanada, Sanoe Duarte, and Allen Dean Alalem. In the 9th grade, they formed the group Le‘a Kai and performed a mixture of local contemporary songs and Hawaiian songs. Eventually through Allen’s pleas, Le‘a Kai performed only Hawaiian music. They continued to play together sporadically until their final gig in 2004.
Kellen moved to O‘ahu in 1999, after graduating from Kapa‘a High School, to attend UH Mānoa. Continuing his chosen high school sport, he swam for the UH Mānoa swimming and diving team for a couple of years meeting some very special people along the way.
His love for Hawaiian music led to an interest in Hawaiian language, which became a passion for him. He pursued this passion and received his Bachelors in Hawaiian Language in 2003. After a brief academic break Kellen returned to school and began his Masters in Hawaiian Language, which he completed in 2009.
Kellen’s “other” life revolves around being in the ocean. Aside from music, spearfishing is his forte. If he had his way, he would dive every day! From inshore diving, to deep drop-offs, to blue water hunting, Kellen enjoys every aspect of the sport. Because he dives in the day and plays music in the night, it seems like he almost having TOO much fun! But he handles it well…