The Kelseys met up their freshman year of college at the University of Michigan through a series of coincidences and immediately began working on original material. In 2016, the band began playing shows locally in Ann Arbor, opening for groups such as Atlas Genius, The Happy Fits, and Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers. At the beginning of 2017, The Kelseys started work on their debut single: Head over Heels, which released in 2017; followed that summer by a music video, directed by Charlie Beam.

In April 2017, after refining their collective sound and introducing new production techniques into their process, the band released their second single, "Beyond Repair," which allowed the band to cleanse their palate after exploring many different artistic styles, serving as a stepping stone between their first single and their debut EP, Summer Light. Summer Light was released in September 2018, comprised of four tracks that fuse together the indie stylings of acts like Walk the Moon, Vampire Weekend, and Young the Giant. Summer Light features lyrics written by all members of the band, more intricate and varied instrumentation, and a shift toward more danceable indie pop stylings.