NYC born and bred, 22-year-old Teddy has gained a following for his unique style, standing out against the SoundCloud Rapper aesthetic.

22-year-old Theodore “Teddy” Oliver Ruben II, made his first song at 19-years old, and said “one thing led to another.” Commenting on his fame at his age, Teddy says “The whole process has been so natural to me. I just like doing what I do, and whatever comes, comes.”

After Teddy’s EP Castle With No Light, he dropped “Broken Hearts” and “Taste Me.”

Teddy grew up listening to an eclectic range of music. Primarily, one band in particular — Swedish punk band, Bombshell Rocks. Teddy’s uncle, Christian Määttä, was the guitarist and singer of Bombshell Rocks, and had played the guitar line on “Broken Hearts.”

Photography by Cassie Zhang

Photography by Cassie Zhang

Tell us about the collaboration with Christian Määttä on “Broken Hearts.”

When I was younger I saw him open for Blink-182, and whenever I thought of music I always thought of him. I was in Sweden a year ago and we linked and he came on his work break and played guitar, and it was super natural. It wasn’t a forced collaboration by any means, just because he is my uncle. It’s definitely an awesome thing and one of my favorite songs. Just having him be past his music days and coming back and doing it is awesome.

A common theme in your music is castles and fairy tales. What do these symbols mean to you?

Castles in general have always been intriguing to me. It’s really just a mentality and my brand, Castle Life. It’s where you put yourself in your mind, and no one can tell you where that is. You make up your own fantasy world and it becomes that.

Photography by Cassie Zhang

Photography by Cassie Zhang

Do you have any tattoos that fit into that theme?

Oh yeah, I have dedicated my whole right arm to castles. It’s all off kings and queens and knights, all medieval shit. All of my work has been by a few different artists, but primarily, Castlebasas. He is one of my best friends and comes over every night and just goes crazy. A lot of it is freehanded, randomly. He is crazy. Natural as fuck.

How would you say your music style has evolved?

I freestyle everything I’ve ever made, except for the interlude on my new album. Never wrote anything except for that 42-second song. It’s crazy. It’s so based off mood and it has to come natural. I’ve tried so many times to force music and force songs and no matter what, it will never come out the way it’s supposed to. It’s forever evolving, but it’s just like, getting to a deeper understanding of myself in my mind helps me evolve when it comes to music. Further understanding of who are will portray into your work.

You’re called the emo rapper. How would you categorize your style?

I would say a mix of this Australian band, Sticky Fingers. A little Lil Peep vibe in there… he was the first person to teach me how to record and work with my own voice. Maybe some Young Thug and Future. Not both, but a little bit of both in there, molded into one. Definitely some Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Honestly, I’ve been trying to categorize the music I make, but at this point I have no clue.

Not fitting into a box makes it so that you have your own box, which is rad, and always welcomed into the music scene.

Exactly. In my mind, it’s just good music. So whatever that category is.

Photography by Cassie Zhang

Photography by Cassie Zhang

Moving to Lil Peep, will you tell us about your friendship?

We met the first day that him and Makonnen [ILoveMakonnen] started doing the Peep x Makonnen project in Los Angeles. It was natural, I didn’t know who he was when I met him, never heard a song or anything. One thing led to another and he ended up crashing at our crib with Makonnen and became friends. The first night we were ever in the studio we bonded over some weird song and band that no one likes… he played it and I went crazy like, “woah you like this shit?”

We ended up doing “Dreams & Nightmares” together, and “Nightmares Pt II,” which will be coming shortly, at the right time.

You’ve also toured with Fat Nick, who we’ve had here. How did you guys get together?

We met in LA at Peep’s service, but we had spoken on the phone before that through friends. When Fat Nick moved out to LA we started hanging out and making music together, and he asked if I would tour with him, and I didn’t really have music out at the time, but I was like, “Fuck yeah. Sounds dope.”

It was a really fun tour, with good people. Being on a bus for 12-hours a day is an experience on it’s own.

Photography by Cassie Zhang

Photography by Cassie Zhang

How do you feel about the image of Soundcloud Rappers having tattoos?

No face tats for me. I definitely went through a phase where I was like, “Damn, do I want face tats?” It wasn’t for any clout that I want people to be happy with the way I look, it was more like, “Damn that would be cool.” Seeing Peep everyday with his face blasted made me think about it, but now it’s changed. Honestly in my opinion I think it’s pretty lame. I’m not out here tryna get a face tat to fit in or whatever it is. All of the people I know that I know it worked on was natural. It never was like, “Oh I’m going to do this to advance myself.” 80 years down the road, if you can’t even look at yourself... it’s like crazy.

Like, no offense, I like Lil Xan and shit, but his face is crazy.

Yeah power to them.

Exactly. I wish I had the balls to blast my face like that. But my mom would kill me.

Does your mom not like your face tattoos, even though they aren’t on your face?

Nah she don’t care. Cuz her brother, my uncle, his whole body is blasted so she’s used to it.

Photography by Cassie Zhang

Photography by Cassie Zhang

Is your first tattoo your favorite?

The first one with I got at Bang Bang, of these Swedish crowns on my 18th birthday. My favorite tattoo is this king and queen with the back of a chariot without any wheels. The sunset and the handing of a flower I love. I came up this whole design with Castlebasas so it was super random but low-key. I wish it was on my hand or some shit. The only place I wouldn’t get tattooed is the bottom of my feet.

What are you doing when you're not making music?

It sounds crazy, but it's like no matter what it is at this point, my mind's always on music. Whether it's actually making music or not. Just surrounding myself with music, you know what I mean?

Yeah, life will still inspire your music even when you’re not making music, kind of thing?

Yeah all that stuff. Calculating the future. No matter what, I’m always stressed about everything. That’s just my personality though. But when I’m stressed it’s a good thing, using stress as a motivator like, “Let’s go. We got a lot of work to do.”

How do you detach from that stress?

I smoke a lot of weed and chill. Have good friends around me. I have a small, small circle, of two, three friends, and a girlfriend and just take it easy. I'm very, very easy going. I’m not out here trying to fucking force anything into anything. So whatever comes.

Photography by Cassie Zhang

Photography by Cassie Zhang

When is your new album coming out?

April 26. It is called Teddy, self titled Teddy. It's a piece of work that I am very proud of. It's really just— to be honest and it sounds crazy— it's really just a collection of, I think, some of the best music I’ve made over the last year-and-a-half. I had been working on it for a long time, without realizing I was working on it.

What are your favorite songs on it?

Right now — it changes every couple days— but the interlude, called “Rainbows”, and “Tempt Fate.” "Tempt Fate" is with this girl, and it’s really cool. It’s awesome.

What about your all time favorite song that you’ve made?

Probably “Nightmares.” Not “Dreams & Nightmares,” there’s always a common confusion, but this is Part II, the one that is unreleased.

That was the first song that gave me confidence to make music to be completely honest. That was the first song I've ever made that I was like, “Damn this is fire.” That was the song Peep really fucked with. We bonded off of that song, so it will always have a deeper meaning in my heart. It is a transition to what my life has become, through this piece of music.