Words by Trevor Polk
Images by Jake Standley
It was a clear night when we first met Felly, a Connecticut native with a wavy sound and hair longer than my girlfriend’s. We were hosting our first concert in Los Angeles; a small show on a make-shift stage inside a smoke shop. Fel was headlining, GYYPS was opening, and tickets were sold out. 150 bodies were packed into this tiny venue, sweating, smoking, drinking, and rapping along to Canoga Park word for word. With a bottle of Henny in-hand, Fel takes the stage and the audience of
18-24 year old hipsters go insane. Drinks go flying, blunts light up, and a wave of fans bounce in sync with the bars that this 19-year old prodigy is singing. As it turned out, smoke shops aren’t meant to hold 150 jumping kids on their makeshift stage, and we literally
BROKE THE FLOOR
"Imma ride the waves, you know I got this bruh"
- Felly | This Shit Comes In Waves 2015
Malcom Gladwell coined the concept of the 10,000 Hour rule in his book Outliers in 2008; for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, he basically developed this theory that if you do any activity for 10,000 hours — i.e. making beats and rapping — you become a master of it. Malcom used examples such as Bill Gates, who accumulated 10,000 hours of coding by the age of 18. But in our industry, Felly is the perfect example of this rule. It’s not luck, it’s years and years of practice, passion, and dedication that set him up for success.
At the age of 15, Christian Felner was already well versed in the ways of beat creation. He learned how to produce on a platform called Maschine, a Native Instrument software and product that maps sounds and samples to different buttons. It’s fairly easy to understand once you get the hang of it, but not everyone is born with the ear for creating melodies, harmonies, chord progressions, and drum sequences. He started a YouTube channel and started selling instrumentals, earning close to 200,000 plays on the first beat he released.
While some kids were playing video games, participating in after-school sports, or doing any number of the “usual” high-school things that teens do, Felly was in the studio perfecting his craft. 5 years later, it’s starting to pay off in a big way.
PROJECT PLAY COUNT
Branding is something that has become synonymous with an artist’s success in the music industry, and visuals have definitely contributed to the hype behind Felly. The man in charge of all of Felly’s graphics, and the CEO of 2273 records, is Jake Standley.
Fel moved out to LA in 2014 to attend the University of Southern California, where he, Jake, and a handful of close friends started taking their careers and the 2273 project seriously. Viral music videos like “Probation” emerged, as well as color corrected photos of the crew smoking
weed in various wilderness settings, a line of pastel dyed long-sleeved t-shirts, and various beat tapes with eye-catching artwork. Whether you attribute it to a team of talented individuals, or some sort of secret formula for gaining fans, you can’t deny the fact that this type
of growth is purely organic. Just by looking at his play count on the last few projects he’s released, you can see the development. You can hear the progression. You can feel the waves of good vibes every time his music comes on. And in 2016, he embarked on his first nationwide tour.
"It's just human music. It's music for humans."
- Felly | UniversityHype Interview 2015
Felly started 2016 with a new line of merchandise and a huge tour announcement; 12 shows in 11 different cities to coincide with his This Shit Comes In Waves project that dropped in August 2015. Although the majority of Felly’s fan base are high school students, the 2273 front man still managed to sell out 18+ shows across the nation with ease.
The sound he’s developed is unique, in that it can’t be categorized to any one style or genre. He can be feeling a hip-hop banger one day, and a wavy indie jam the next. This might be true for a lot of artists, but the difference is that Felly sculpts his own soundscapes. He crafts songs from start to finish, and what he lacks in professional equipment he makes up for in creative power.
His proficiency behind the computer, his knowledge of production and music in general, and his team of multi-talented students have more momentum than artists who’s labels are shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars on PR firms and marketing expenses. Take that in for a second: college students are outperforming tenured record label executives.
Felly dropped his debut iTunes/Apple Music/Spotify release, the Young Fel EP, on July 22nd, 2016. It’s 8-tracks in length, and features the two singles Desert Eagle and I Really Need It. For someone who’s been an icon for pot-smoking teens, this EP was much more mature than we anticipated. The quality of production is much higher than the bedroom beats we’re used to, and the verses seem much more refined compared to some of his previous work. Despite the slightly auto-tuned vocals and steroid-injected instrumentals, Fel managed to retain some of his distinct qualities; church organ break downs, familiar ad libs, and shoutouts from 2273 members throughout the project.
The project peaked at #19 on the iTunes album charts, and remained on the U.S. Albums Chart for a total of 5 days, which is extremely impressive — especially for an independent musician. While it’s too soon to tell what the play count is for the project, it’ll surely surmount any of it’s predecessors. So if there’s an artist you should be watching right now, it’s Felly. This kid is fulfilling his potential in every way possible, and we’re lucky to have come across him as early as we did. Cop the new project on iTunes and throw him a follow on Twitter and Soundcloud to show some support.