Felly Wants to Move the World with His Art
“You need some loss for art to exist,” says Felly. “I don’t know why loss does that.” After losing his father at eight years old, the MC started making music — “just like how a kid would use a crayon on a piece of paper’ — and he hasn’t stopped since.
Now in his early 20s, this week’s TIDAL Rising Artist has turned loss into skill, boasting years of honing his craft through bedroom producing, high school freestyling and striking up creative partnerships at his USC alma mater. In this interview with TIDAL, Felly elaborates on his Connecticut upbringing, his forthcoming LP, Wild Strawberries and his desire to “move the world with [his] art.”
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Who is Felly? Can you introduce yourself?
Felly is an artist from Connecticut who moved to L.A. for school and met his squad. I’ve always wanted to make music. I started using the people around me to connect the dots. I was always making music in my bedroom, at school, making beats on my own. Then I realized this can be more. There can be a bigger aspect to it, and you can use that to make great music.
When and how did you start making music?
When I was eight, I lost my dad. And that creates a search for something else, kind of like, what do you do with your time? I don’t know why loss does that; or [why] you need some loss for art to exist.
After that, I just started to [create]… I don’t know, just like how a kid would just use crayon on a piece of paper. Like, I just got the tools. I got a machine, the stuff to make the music and was kind of like, “Let’s see what happens with it.”
How was it making hip-hop in Connecticut? Did you have people around you that were like-minded?
I went to an all boys school… I remember going to football games, and they’d make me rap in front of the whole school. They’d bring the freshmen down and make me rap in front of the whole crowd. Seniors and stuff. It was petrifying at first, but then I started coming with bars. I would have raps ready, and I would just kill them every time.
Tell me about Wild Strawberries. What does the name mean?
[Wild Strawberries] comes from this quote I stumbled upon that really touched me. I don’t think the quote was meant to be touching. I think someone said it quite literally: “He stopped cutting the lawn, and wild strawberries started growing.”
I just fuck with that really heavily because I was in a stage where I was just watching everyone around me running in place but sweating so much. They really wanted something, and they were just going crazy. And I’m just like, “What the fuck are we all doing here?” I started getting into that philosophy a little bit, thinking about [author Charles] Bukowski, who says, “Don’t try.”
That message of just letting things happen naturally and letting go of shit. All the best things just…happen. They just flourish. But it’s a bit of a message about letting go and having that faith that when you fall back. You’re good.
Who are your musical idols?
At the fore is probably Bob Marley, one of the artists who I listen to every day. I like what he did with music and culture and how [he wanted] to move the world rather than just making a bunch of money off his records and hits. I love Amy Winehouse, I love Rage Against the Machine, I love Nas, I love JAY-Z,
Name an album, artist or experience that changed your perspective on music or impacted you.
Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon. In ninth grade, I heard it. I think every kid during that kind of emo, going through puberty phase, like, clung to an album. It’s like, “No one understands me except for this album.” And that, for me, was Man on the Moon. And I was just like, “Damn, Cudi just looked into my soul.” I want to try and touch people like that.
What’s next for Felly?
What I and what I think my team wants is to be able to do whatever we want, to move the world with our art.
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