Ten Years Lost Interviews Quaid

Ten Years Lost: I’ve been a fan of Steven Julien aka Funkineven for many years now and in recent years the outstanding output from his own label Apron Records, especially the new artists he’s been introducing the world to. It’s one of the few record labels that I trust is going to bring something fresh and musically interesting to the table that more often than not has solid strands of Funk and Jazz fusion woven into an eclectic palette of broken beats and futuristic electronic music.
One of the artists from the label that has piqued my interest as a producer / taste maker in the last couple of years has been Quaid. His last two LP’s on Apron have been classic long player albums that run from start to finish with a smooth cohesion to them. Creating a vibe that leans towards a sci-fi movie soundtrack rather than just a collection of bangers. I have been keen to ask Quaid about his musical background and production output for quite some time so figured it would be more fitting to reach out to the man himself with a little Q/A session that I can now share with you all with the help of the local homies Radio Buena Vida 🙂

TYL: Firstly, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions.. I’d like to start by asking about your musical background. I know you mostly from your releases on Apron, but was keen to hear about your history within the music industry in general. Do you have any other releases or aliases from which you have produced work under?

Quaid: Most of my output is under Quaid but I also do an edit / production series under the name Man From Atlantis sort of a dj tools vibe. Most things on the Native Programming label have come via my studio. My first release was back in the early days of Soundcloud. I started putting a few things up and got friendly with a dope producer called Chicago Damn. He had some stuff out on Mark E’s Merc label (total don) and hit him up with a couple of my joints which became my first ‘official’ record around 2012-13. Big respect to Mark E & Chicago D for that one. Then a couple years later I had my first LP ‘The Digital Fantasy’ out on Inskwell (also a badass) and Benny Badge’s ‘Hot Shot Sounds’ label which at the time was doing that 80s boogie crossover sound - I def had some influences of that but mine was more of a techno-funk thing (still is). That one got a lot of love from cats like Benji B & Alex Nut at the time which I was insanely hyped about. I followed that up with an Ep on Native Programming called ‘CFE’ which was a bit more experimental. But the first record that I made as a full ‘concept’ album was ‘The Technological Afterlife’ which came out a couple years later - initially as a self release but then got picked up by a label in Australia - big up to Booshank. That was a milestone LP for me personally as I really tried to incorporate a more expansive element to the music, and think about a body of music as a complete start to finish listening experience

TYL: Following on from the first question, I’d be interested to find out how you got into working with Apron Records. Did it come around organically through your relationship with Steven Julien, or did you send your demos to the label? How has the experience been working alongside the label?

Q: Well first & foremost I’m just a huge fan of the music - been mad into Stevie’s stuff since his Eglo days - and same with what he puts out on Apron - pretty much all killer. So I was following another dope producer - this time on insta - cat called Dreams from LA he’d just put a killa 12” out on Apron. He clocked a couple of bits I had up from ‘The Technological Afterlife’ and sent them to Stevie. I remember hearing snippets of those trax over the next few months on his Apron NTS show. I also think the mighty LDLDN may have put him on to my stuff too - either way big ups to those 2 dons! Anyway I DM’d Stevie at one point to say thanks for dropping and left it at that. A year or so later when I had finished (and was about to put out) ‘Dreem Static’ I thought it might be worth hitting him up again on the off chance he would be into it…and the rest as they say, is history. What I love about Apron is the multi-genre, hybrid sound. You hear all these different influences in the music - it’s hard to pigeonhole or categorise - but it all just fits together. And so there’s definitely a parity with what I’m doing - not just tonally but also in the mix of styles & tempos. So yeah feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to release on Apron - big up to Stevie & all the crew.

TYL: From what I can tell, you’re a born and bred London-based artist, right? Do you feel London has had a big impact on you as a producer? If so, are there any particular musical eras from its past that mean a lot to you?

Q: Yeah well I think this follows on from what I was saying previously - I don’t think Apron could have happened anywhere else but London. Its always been a proper melting pot. You could argue that for the UK as a whole in fact, but for me personally, it’s London that continues to inspire and nourish the music that I make. London instinctively locks on to all these different musical influences, chews them up and spits out something new. It’s born in the black communities then permeates out into the rest of the city and beyond. I was lucky enough to be schooled at Plastic People East London. There were lots of other places too - but Plastic was the one. I’d always loved 80s boogie funk, hip hop, fusion, Detroit techno, jazz but Plastic was where you heard it all mixed up in the same set. And I learnt to appreciate the threads that connects it all together, not just in the dance but musically as well. Big up to all the teachers at Plastics in particular the man Ade

TYL: Whilst listening to your music, I instantly hear strands of 80’s electro and the futurism of acts such as Drexciya. More importantly for me, there seems to be a strong presence of Funk music from the likes of Prince and the Time. Could you talk to me a bit more about your musical influences?

Q: Ha yeah well there’s no denying that 80s era Prince / Minneapolis is a massive influence. There’s something in that sound I just can’t leave alone. And of course Detroit in all it’s many guises is a huge pull. But back to the last question it’s in bringing these influences together where I think it gets interesting - like what would a Marcellus Pittman & Dam Funk record sound like? So I try - consciously or otherwise - to take any influence and flip it into something of my own. Even if that’s incremental.

TYL: Looking at the artwork and music videos from your Apron releases I notice a strong emphasis on futurism and nostalgia for sci-fi.. I could easily imagine your tracks being used in movie scores. Would I be correct to assume that this is a big source of inspiration for you as an artist, out with your musical influences?

Q: Yeah I mean I wear my sci-fi credentials on my sleeve lol. I like music that tells stories, that creates a mood - that takes you somewhere. So sci-fi film music is def another big influence - and when you want to get across a particular mood or feeling - the visual component is really important. And sci-fi themes def resonate and inform my music

TYL: Next up I’ve got some production questions for you - the ones I’ve been most eager to ask, as the level of musicality on your records is outstanding. What is your background as a musician? Do you play any instruments besides midi keyboard and did you take any lessons in your earlier years, or are you entirely self-taught?

Q: My main instrument is actually the drums - used to session for a while - so I really come from a live music background. And I try to incorporate that feel into my tracks. But let’s be clear: all the sick synth solos come from my bro Alex M Sound - he’s an incredible player with such a wicked feel, we’ve been jamming together for years. Also another vital ingredient is Shepherd. He just has this amazing soulful vibe to his voice that sits so sweetly with my freeky shit. They really add the ‘musicality’ - I just bring the dirt!!

TYL: What is your process/workflow like whilst in the studio? Do you like to do things ‘in the moment’, or are you more meticulous with your work? What kind of setup are you rocking? A hybrid of software and hardware? I’m keen to know how you get busy in the studio! Could you expand a little?

Q: Honestly each track has its own process / life. It’s really haphazard for me in the studio and mainly based on feel. As in first and foremost am I feeling it. Whether that’s a b-line / rhythm track / chord progression or a straight up sample - the jump off is always about whether I’m connecting with it emotionally. From there it’s a process of building it up breaking it down and building it back up again. Sometimes that takes a couple of weeks sometimes years!! But yeah I’m using software & hardware.

TYL: Is there any equipment that you couldn’t live without, or any pieces that you’re currently favoring?

Q: I have an old school G3 Mac running a 20 year old version of Cubase lol - but it has some killer soft synths on!! That’s my current go to - sorry can’t give any more details… Other than that I have my trusty Roland TD6 drums - there pretty basic tbh but I just love the 808 preset on there.

TYL: Your mixdowns & arrangements are some of the best I’ve heard in terms of being crafted for an LP, there’s no urge to skip a single track when listening to your last two LPs. Could you tell me how important this part of the creative process is to you?

Q: Really appreciate that man. Well I hope some of my previous answers go some way to discussing this one. By the time my stuff comes out in the world I’ve listened to it an insane amount of times - that’s not necessarily a perfectionist thing but again more about the ‘feel’. Is this music creating the feeling the way I want it to, the way it needs to. Until that’s been addressed correctly nothing leaves my studio. So it’s a pleasure to hear when other people experience & connect to that feeling as well. My favourite long play records are a mix of tempos and vibes even if they are all tied together with the same theme - think about a Prince record. Personally I just find that way more interesting in an Lp than 10 tracks all the same tempo.

TYL: To finish up, I’d like to mention the title of your latest LP; ‘The algorithm don’t like my freek.’ The title speaks for itself and I completely agree with this statement. Are there any final comments about your work that you’d like to put out there for the listeners/readers?

Q: Well the title really talks to the fact that the way we predominantly discover / consume music now is based on ai algorithms that are programmed to respond to biases, subjective popularity and ultimately some one else’s idea of what you should be looking at / listening to. In particular with reference to Insta. I mean how bullshit is it now? It’s full of stuff I couldn’t give a monkeys about & not full of the music from people who I follow or am actually interested in - unless you’re ‘algorithmically relevant’ it’s just not a level playing field. So the title is to do with that but also to do with fuck it I’m just gonna keep on doing what I do anyway. On that note a massive big up for having me up on here - appreciate it. And big up to all the peeps who buy my music and continue to support - really means a lot. New project(s) in the works…stay tuned…peace Q