Interview by Jamison Harvey
Name. Where You're From, + What You Do:
I am Kelly Finnigan from Studio City which is a suburb of Los Angeles, California and I am many things. I am a producer, songwriter, audio engineer, multiple instrumentalists but I think people know me probably best as a singer/artist on Colemine records who also fronts and plays keys in the band Monophonics.
Tell us about how you came into being a musician, who your influences are, and what led you to where you are today.
I grew up in a household where music was life. My father has been a professional musician since the ’60s and has toured and recorded with some of the biggest artists and groups of all time.
I loved music growing up, played the drums a little but it wasn’t until I was in junior high and saw DJ Jazzy Jeff do a DJ routine plus attending a couple of house parties over the summer that made want to become a DJ. I did that for a minute and played tons of school dances and house parties(even one at Bill Withers house). From there I got way into sampling, beat making, and crate digging.
Once I got out of high school, I went to audio engineering school and started working around recording studios in LA to learn more about things. At the same time I started teaching myself how to play keyboards and got heavy into collecting vintage keyboards. As time passed I just kept growing, learning, and wanting to do things bigger and better. By the time I hit 25 I was deep into soul, funk, jazz, reggae, and most genres under the sun.
I then moved up to Oakland to produce a record for a rapper on the Hieroglyphics label. I then met Monophonics a couple of years later, joined up with them, and settled into the bay. Been on the grind since then making records and have toured in 47 states and 25 countries. My biggest influences are all over the map cause I’m so involved in so many different roles in the studio. Curtis Mayfield is my number one outside of my father Mike Finnigan.
Also Sly Stone, Willie Mitchell, DJ Premier, Thom Bell, George Kerr, OV Wright, Smokey Robinson, James Brown, Bert Berns, Marvin Gaye, Madlib, Isaac Hayes, Stevie Wonder, the Hodges brothers, Herbie Hancock, Aretha Franklin, Rick Hall, Tom Down, Jerry Ragivoy, Jerry Wexler, Dilla, Jack McDuff, Carol King, Paul McCartney, David Axelrod, Charles Stepney, Richard Evans, Carl Davis, Earl Palmer, Earl Van Dyke, Donny Hathaway, Benjamin Wright, Brothers of Soul, Quincy Jones, MJ, Hart brothers, Tom Dowd, Ray Charles, Booker T, Al Jackson, George Clinton, Rudy Van Gelder, Ennio Morricone, Syl Johnson, Jimmy Smith, Bob James, Mahalia Jackson, Joe Sample, Mizell Brothers, Etta James, James Gadson & Eugene Record.
What is your relationship with coffee? Where is your go-to spot? How do you prepare it?
My parents were way into good coffee and having it delivered in the mail to our house. This is before grocery stores carried a wide selection of quality coffee.
So I started drinking coffee regularly as a teenager around my senior year of high school. I absolutely love coffee and don’t hide my need for it but I’m also not a coffee snob. I won’t drink the gas station brown sock water but I can put up with a mediocre cup.
My go-to spots are all in my neighborhood. Weavers coffee and Nova Roasti plus Philz which has an amazing iced coffee drink. I prepare it and like it all ways! I mostly do drip coffee & French press in the morning, but I also enjoy a double shot of espresso or iced coffee midday.
We feel like coffee and music go hand in hand, can you give us your opinion on that?
I would have to completely agree. Both play an integral part in my day and life. I grew up in a household where good music and coffee was around all the time. They share some important similarities. The most obvious being the passion and love that goes into the creation. You have people spending hours working to craft and create coffee/music so you and others can enjoy it. I drink coffee while making records and working on music as I’m sure those roasters and coffee makers are listening to music while they work.
What music are you listening to right now? (records, streaming, etc.)
Right now I am digging on some Lloyd Charmers, A bunch of releases off Zodiac Records from back in the day, Charles Kaynard, St. Panther, Madlib’s beat konducta series, Candi Staton’s Fame recordings, Aaron Frazier & Young Gun Silver Fox
Can you tell us about the making of the "Impeach The President" record?
I wasn’t around for the initial creation in SD with Sure Fire Soul Ensemble but I imagine they felt it was an appropriate cover given all things going on plus the fact that it is a classic cut with a famous break. I have worked a good deal with those guys in the past and met the band leader Tim Felton right when he started the group. Terry from Colemine and Tim asked if I wanted to sing on it and of course, I had to say yes. I think the record came out great and I’m very proud to be a part of it.
Have you been doing anything else besides making music during this pandemic?
Besides trying to get outdoors as much as possible I really haven’t done much outside of music. Studio work has kept me really busy and I’m always working on stuff for other artists, Monophonics or myself. I’m really grateful for all the work and inspiration.
Last Words, anything you'd like.
Just want to express my gratitude to all the good people who support and show love to me and the music. Be sure to check out and purchase my record ‘A Joyful Sound’ which comes out on Colemine Records at the end of November and is the perfect soul record/soundtrack for the holidays. Lastly, I encourage EVERYONE to go out and vote! Vote early or vote on the 3rd of November, but be safe and get it done. It is important to get involved and use your voice.