After the excellent release he put out recently on Translation, we’ve been keeping our ear to the ground for word of more material from the Arizona-based producer. The man has been hard at work in the studio on his debut album and it’s an interesting beast, blending influences from across the electronic spectrum and beyond to create a unique take on the 170 sound.
From the frenetic beats and vocal cut ups of Give Me All Of You, through the mellow chords and reverb drenched soundscapes of It’s Only and out into the menacing bass stabs of Def Poet, the tracks provide variation while maintaining the air of a coherent work, and prove that musicality doesn’t have to be sacrificed in the pursuit of mixdowns. Elsewhere we’re treated to a couple of interesting takes on the 140 sound on Jovial and We Both Need This, and even a slice of more IDM-esque beats on the sublime Behaviorism.
Ahead of the album’s release we caught up with the man himself to ask about his influences, his musical process and what to look forward to in 2014.
DNB Dojo: The influence of hip-hop and other styles of electronic music is pretty prevalent throughout the LP. Can you tell us a little about your musical background and how your influences all feed together when you write music?
Quentin Hiatus: Oh Damn, both of my parents have strong musical backgrounds. Both my mother and father were strongly rooted in gospel music, rhythm and blues and hip-hop. I remember listening to CeCe Winans and Patti Labelle a lot as my mother did things around the house. As I grew up, I began branching off into dark urban, moody, east coast hip-hop as I became more aware of my own tastes. Hip-hop has always had a “realness” and an edge that’s spoken directly to my soul. I loved Guru, Wu-Tang, J-Dilla and many others. Aside from hip-hop, rock and punk worked their way into my playlists as well, with electronic music following soon after.
I’m also a big fan of Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson’s work. They did amazing things together. My album models some of Quincy and Michaels philosophies on music and how to format a full body of work. When I started producing, my focus was to push the “electronic” sound of synths, spacey atmos and uplifting vocals. For this LP, I’ve really turned towards that original “organic” sound and challenged myself to reach a mature audience and also challenge my followers to come along with me.
DD: You’ve already had releases on a few fairly respected underground labels. What made you take the decision to self-release your debut LP?
QH: This was a tough decision honestly – I drove my wife crazy with this lol, going back and forth on whether or not to release with another label or my own. Ultimately, I decided to release this on my label Free Love Digi for the same reason I started the label; creative control. I wanted to keep this album close to me and remove any potential “noise” that may have influenced my process of writing. I think all decent electronic music producers face the same crossroad at some point: make music for the masses or make music for yourself. I made this album for me, and I have faith in Free Love Digi. I have an amazing team of people and artists. It just made sense to release my album on my label and show support for the Free Love Digi Family.
DD: What’s the scene like in Arizona where you are? From here in Europe it’s easy to get a picture of the US “EDM” scene as focused on mainstream electro house and tearout dubstep; is it hard to get people interested in the less conventional beats you’re making, or is there a thriving underground community?
QH: The scene in Arizona is pretty cool. To be honest, I don’t participate very much in it any more. I find it’s much easier to stay focused on personal development and growing as a producer without the potential distraction and dilution that can come from being too heavily engrossed in a scene. You definitely hear the big room “EDM” sounds here though – that is the most popular sound here at the moment. Overall, I’d say the underground movement in AZ needs a serious revival. We need more like minded peeps to come together and push for a less mainstream culture and expand on deeper more cerebral music. I think Denver does it so well! I’d love to see Phoenix align with Denver in focus; my homies out there bring out the best underground Drum and Bass artists and truly respect the art and the form, not the hype.
DD: The LP seems to get a good balance between modern production techniques and musicality, something which is often lacking in the mixdown obsession of modern D&B. Any tips for producers to avoid getting bogged down in the technicalities?
QH: I’m glad you asked this question. The emphasis on “perfect” production and mixing has never been higher. I think it’s good and bad. I look at it like speaking, you want to be clear and concise in order for your message to come across, but you don’t want to distract from your message by compromising it’s accessibility. Imperfections show depth and character. Imperfections are human.
I took more time on mixing techniques on this album mainly to expand on my elements, to enhance the sounds and make them more immersive. I didn’t do it to impress other elitist producers. My best advice is find your sounds and yourself first. Isolate yourself from other music within your genre for a while. Build your own sound, really get lost within your creative process. Don’t look back and just throw sounds that you like together. You can always learn how to mix and master. The internet makes that easy. It’s important to educate yourself in regards to production techniques, but it’s much harder to be interesting and inspiring.
DD: What else is in the pipeline for Quentin Hiatus and Free Love Digi in 2014?
QH: I plan to release more on my label Free Love Digi and sister label fld.Study. I have some other tunes forthcoming on some awesome labels as well. I have lots of music on deck so it will be interesting for sure. For Free Love Digi, we have releases coming from our core artists Fade, Atic, Kaset and myself.
Check out the clips of the album below and watch out for it dropping via Beatport from March 24th and elsewhere from April 7th. If you wanna hear more from the man, you can find him on Facebook, Soundcloud or his website. Likewise, you can find Free Love Digi on Facebook and Soundcloud.