Posted On 21 Sep 2015
Tag: Alexa Hoyer, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, Allah Lahs, Big Willy Style, Bossa Nova, Brian Wilson, California, Casey Catelli, Cleveland, Cognac, Exotica, Gold Robot Records, Hawaiian, Hip Hop, Jay Stone, Knxwledge, Los Angeles, Madlib, Monster Rally, MR/JS, NOFX, Oakland Surf Club, Ohio, Psychic, Psychic EP, Punk, punk music, punk rock, RUMTUM, Steven Harrington, Ted Feighan, The Decline, Tropicalia, Valley Cruise, Will Smith
MONSTER RALLY is the brainchild of Cleveland native Ted Feighan. Producing music that is sampled-based tropical pop, Monster Rally began with the goal of assembling a bunch of old records into a completely different beast.
Feighan began crafting tracks from his collection of records, combining his interests in Hip-hop, Exotica, Tropicalia, and Soul. Monster Rally creates tracks that manage to maintain a surprisingly organic sound, as if they were recorded by a full band on analog tape.
Truth be told, I first heard about MONSTER RALLY through the always ahead of the game, Marissa A. Ross via her hilarious online series: Wine All The Time.
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa had a chance to catch up with Ted between his various projects. Enjoy their interview below!
Hi Ted! How are you today? What’s on the agenda today besides our interview?
Great! I run a brand called Valley Cruise Press along with my wife and I spend almost everyday writing emails with artists we’re collaborating with, developing product ideas, packaging people orders, etc.
We just released an awesome collaboration with LA artist Steven Harrington, who created some beautiful pin designs for us.
I understand you are from Cleveland, Ohio. Is that still considered home for you?
I definitely still consider Cleveland my home, my wife and I actually just got back after spending two weeks back there. That being said, LA is more home for me than any other place I’ve ever lived aside from Cleveland. The more time I spend here the harder it is to imagine leaving.
Ted, you craft tracks from your record collection, combining your interests in Hip-hop, Exotica, and Tropicalia. That’s a pretty killer combo! For those that are not familiar with you and your music, how did you get your start? Who or what was the catalyst for you to want to live the life of a musical gypsy?
I started collecting records when I was about 18 and by the time I started making music as Monster Rally (when I was 23), I had amassed a pretty large collection. I was going through lots of record and thrift stores and buying albums based solely on whether I found the cover art intriguing.
Most of the records that caught my eye featured exotic / tropical / worldly imagery. It was through taking these records home and listening to them that I developed my love for Exotica, Tropicalia, Bossa Nova, Hawaiian, etc.
During this time that I had been buying records, I always knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to sample them. I would listen to my favorites and had several sections pin-pointed that I wanted to use for loops. It wasn’t until about a year after this that I finally bought a sampler and by then I had a long list of records I wanted to start sampling.
You recently worked with producer and rapper, Jay Stone for the track, “Cognac”. How did that come about? How was that experience working with Jay?
Hunter from Gold Robot Records was introduced to Jay through a mutual friend, Max from Oakland Surf Club (an awesome shop where Hunter and Jay often hung out). Jay shared a bunch of his tracks with Hunter who in turn shared them with me. Hunter and I had been talking for years about wanted to pair Monster Rally with an MC, but nothing we found seemed to be the right fit.
Once we both heard Jay we immediately knew he was who we had been looking for. Hunter formally introduced Jay and I and we hit it off right away. We spent some time together listening to records and talking about other artists that had inspired us both. I think we both got into the same mindset for the whole album and it came together pretty seamlessly.
Who have been your inspirations growing up that also inspire you today?
My two biggest influences are probably Brian Wilson and Madlib. Both of those artists made such an impact on me and made me think differently about what music can be.
What did you learn between previous releases, collaborations and playing live, that you felt you wanted to infuse into your latest release, Psychic?
The Psychic EP is actually a collection of tracks that I recorded back in 2010/2011, so its some of my earliest music as Monster Rally. It interesting for me to listen to that because while I don’t think that my music has changed too much, it sounds so much different to me than something I would make today. All the tracks are in the same vein, but my style has shifted a bit. Through working with different people I’ve definitely learned and adapted my style.
Doing those couple of records with RUMTUM really made me think more about the production of my records. John is so talented and technically skilled with music that working with him always inspires me to better. On the other hand working with somebody like Jay Stone has shown me not to overthink everything. Often the first and simplest version of something is the most effective, and that is mostly how was did the whole MR/JS album.
What was the first album you purchased for yourself?
Ha, this is a funny one. Will Smith – Big Willy Style. No regrets though, that album is a classic.
What was the first song you fell in love with (that you can remember) and why?
I’m sure I had ‘fallen in love’ with many songs before this, but one that I can remember pretty well was back when I was in middle school and was trying really hard to be punk – NOFX – ‘The Decline’.
Its a 20 minute song in probably ten different parts. I think just the concept of that blew my mind back then. I loved how the entire song built upon itself while shifting to be totally different and telling a story. I also think I liked the idea of a piece that was so long but required you to listen to it all the way through in one sitting. It forces you to be engaged with the music, thinking about it over the entire length.
Now that I think about it, that idea has really shaped the music I make. I always wanted people to listen to each half of my records as an entire piece that works together and changes from beginning to end.
Who is in your current playlist? What artists or bands are in current rotation for you?
Since moving to LA I’ve become a big fan of the Allah Lahs. I’m also pretty into the new record by Knxwledge and I’ve had RUMTUM’s new album on repeat since he sent it to me a couple weeks ago.
What’s on tap next for you, Ted? What are you most excited about for this year?
I’m planning on finishing the new Monster Rally full length in the next two months, which will be released in the Spring. I’m in the process of creating pieces for my new art book that will be released through Valley Cruise next year as well. I have a few more collaborations that I’m working on for MR over the next few months as well.