I had first heard of Kelly and Holly Port as “the cool older couple that is not lame” via Def Sound about two years ago. He hailed them as a fine example of how to grow up and not grow old. Kelly Port is a special effects manager for big block buster movies, Holly Gable Port is a children’s portrait photographer. They also happen to moonlight as music video directors for the likes of J*Davey, Joya Mooi, Novena Carmel, and most recently bass prodigy, Thundercat.
They are spending their time and resources feeding a culture of which they are not natives and receive no quantifiable benefit from participating in. That is to say, they are not mining for talent. You might wonder how a middle aged Culver City skateboard mom and dad ended up in the petri dish that makes up Los Angeles’ urban alternative music scene. They are aliens from another world, and it’s no surprise that they were jettisoned here on a ship called Facebook.
Holly says, “Def Sound was my first Facebook friend. I plugged in all this obscure music information for search by interests and I messaged him. He shared his music with me I loved it. It all sort of snowballed from there.”
Holly has shot Bilal, Quadron, Nikko Gray, Van Hunt, Amber Ojeda and others, you find her crouched in below a stage monitor at live shows or popping up from the croud like a meerkat.
Holly grew up in Santa Barbara, in the 80’s, which is a far cry from central Los Angeles in a cultural context . She was listening to Sex Pistols and David Bowie in high school. “I heard De La Soul in college and ‘The Magic Number’ changed my life. It opened a door to a whole new life. I was hooked… When Pharcyde came out they became my favorite hip hop act, and still are today.”
Mrs. Port is definitely the propeller in the duo, she is embedded in the scene and reaches out to artists but most of the collaborations seem to come about organically. Kelly is on the technical side of things mellow, always welcoming, warm and inviting as well. They make a great pair.
What intrigues me is that they are not harvesting talent for their own personal gain or even making any money off of the projects, conversely it is not a charity gig either. There seems to be asymbiotic relationship between The Ports and the artists they work with, both getting equal value out of the projects.
Holly shares, “I do this for the love of it all, I think it might detract from it if we pursued profits… I was just so grateful Def [Sound] was open to letting me hang out and take photos and trusted us with his first video.”
She told me it feels like home, which you might think is odd because home is so different. Holly is one of the few moms dropping off their kids to their japanese school and bumping hip hop on the way, when we speak it is sometimes apparent. We have to compromise on the culture references we use because of age and background but I still feel what she is communicating. “I think we are all aliens, and that is what brings us together, why we all get along.”, Holly explains.
The Ports are not without their goals, Kelly would love to do a video with Little Dragon, and Holly has her sights on working with Erykah Badu.
Holly credits her music education to KCRW’s Garth Trinidad and as she comes into an understanding of this culture, she is no longer and alien, and more of naturalized citizen.
Here is the latest from Thundercat in collaboration with The Ports, Austin Winchell, Adam Tillman- Young and a star-studded cast.