Justin Nellis



Minneapolis, MN | 2017


My Music Background

I am a keyboardist and singer-songwriter based in Minneapolis, MN.  I have extensive experience in live performance, studio recording, composition, accompanying, improvisation, and musical collaboration with various local artists.  I was classically trained on piano as a kid and started performing on both piano and drums in middle school. My theory training started in high school and continued into college where I began composing original sound scores and broadening my playing styles. After college, I broke into the Minneapolis music scene and started performing, composing, and recording with a variety of bands as well as starting a collaboration with choreographers and dancers in the Twin Cities.


I have been studying and performing piano for over 20 years.  My playing styles specialize in acoustic piano, rhodes, organ, and synthesizers.  I use MainStage software in my keyboard rig and incorporate the use of midi, vocal effects, and loops in much of my playing. My extensive musical theory training allows me to quickly read sheet music, play by ear, and read chord charts.

I am also vocally trained with a background in classical, musical theater, and pop singing. I currently sing backup vocals, compose voice parts, and create harmonies in all the groups I'm involved in.

Occasionally I will find myself playing drums or auxiliary percussion, as I also have a background in drumming.



Movement of the body is an art I consider incredibly fascinating and I love to provide musical soundscapes and interactive sounds for choreographers and dance classes.  Much of what I play when collaborating with dance is completely improvised and inspired by the movement I see.



Musical improvisation is something I've learned to do at a very young age.  Ideas started to form, sounds were created, and the way it was made up on the spot and never repeated the same again was a concept I fell in love with.  Whether it is providing background entertainment for parties or gatherings, improvising a keys solo in the middle of a jazz standard, creating soundscapes for a contact improviser, or composing interesting chord progressions to sing along to, I use improvisation in all elements of my playing.



RED WING, MN  |  2016


Touring & Performance experience

Over the past 10 years, I've had the pleasure to travel and perform with many great musical groups such as: VAN STEE, EXOTIC-A-GOGO, SCHOOL FOR GIRLS, JILLIAN RAE, & THE SHRIEKING HARPIES.

In my first few years of living in Minneapolis, I recorded and released a solo EP with intentions of pursing my own project.  However as time passed, I found the thing that interested me most was the collaboration with other artists and musicians.  It allows me to continue learning from other singer-songwriters, challenges me to find new ways of incorporating my sound into various musical styles, and gives me the opportunity to make new friends.

I also have had the pleasure to perform and collaborate with some wonderful choreographers, artists, and organizations over the years such as: Blake Nellis, Taja Will, James Sewell Ballet, Luther College, HUGE Theater, & Brave New Workshop.


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