MKTO Preps For U.S. Push, Talks Debut Album

"I feel like each single's going to be different," says the pop duo's Malcolm Kelley of their 2014 debut.

MKTO's uber-catchy single "Classic" has yet to take off in the States -- although the pop-rap track has reached the Top 10 on the Digital Songs charts in New Zealand and Australia, where the duo recently spent time touring, the impossibly amiable song is not dominating U.S. radio. But it is coming.

Nearly a year after signing with Columbia Records, Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller (get it? MKTO?) are readying a proper stateside push for "Classic" (which has sold 76,000 downloads in the U.S. to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan) before releasing their debut album, tentatively due out at the top of 2014.

Kelley and Oller met in 2010 while co-starring on the Teen Nick dramedy "Gigantic," on which they played best friends. Kelley, 21, and Oller, 22, have each snagged other acting gigs (Kelley appeared in "Lost," while Oller shows up in this year's "The Purage"), but found an equally promising creative outlet in music.

"Every day after filming ['Gigantic'], we'd go back to my place and start writing and putting up YouTube covers," says Oller. "A little down the line, people started responding to the covers and saying, 'This is really cool. You guys should form a band. You guys should make an album and go on tour.' We thought it was funny, and not possible."  

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Soon, however, the duo's YouTube covers attracted the attention of songwriters Emanuel Kiriakou and Evan "Kidd" Bogart, who have co-penned songs for artists like Beyonce, Selena Gomez and Bridgit Mendler. "From there, we did a couple demos that we brought to labels, and ended up creating a bidding war… but Columbia was the perfect fit," adds Oller.

MKTO, who signed to Columbia last January and opened for new label mates Emblem3 over the summer, recently stopped by the Billboard office to preview cuts from their as-yet-untitled debut album. Songs like the buoyant pop track "Forever Until Tomorrow" and the Ne-Yo-assisted "Could Be Me" sound like potential breakout hits, while Oller and Kelley each have accomplished solo tracks on the album. 

"I feel like each single's going to be different," says Kelley, who separately appears on "Save Your Soul," a song that appears on the vinyl edition of Celine Dion's forthcoming "Loved Me Back To Life" album. MKTO will release a new single, "God Only Knows," in Australia soon, while ramping up promotion of "Classic" in the States beginning in November.

Check out MKTO's brand new cover of Lorde's "Royals" for SiriusXM:

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