By Christine Moritz
With his particular blend
of funky, jazz-influenced beats, producer-DJ Quantic (a.k.a. Will
Holland) has been one of the biggest names in downtempo for the
past few years. He burst onto the scene in 2001 with his first full-length,
The 5th Exotic, released on the Brighton, U.K. downtempo
powerhouse Tru Thoughts. In 2002, he followed up with Apricot
Morning. In 2004, his full-length Mishaps Happening was
jointly released on Tru Thoughts and Ubiquity. Quantic has remixed
such artists as Dublex Inc., Jon Kennedy, Bonobo, the Funky Lowlives,
Bushy, DJ Angola, and Greyboy. All thisat the tender age of
What would you say
are the chief differences between Mishaps Happening and your
previous album, Apricot Morning? What characteristics remain
Quantic: I would say it has a lot more traditionally musical
and harmonic elements. I have used more live instruments than before.
However, I'm still using the same recording techniques and trying
to keep the drums interesting but heavy for the dancefloor at the
How long have you
been doing production and DJing? How did you get into it?
I've been producing computer-based music since I was 15 or 16; I'm
now 24. I was into a lot of rock before that and my mum and dad
were into a lot of folk music. I got into DJing as a natural progression
from record collecting.
You're now based in
Brighton, right? Is that where you grew up? What did you listen
to when you were younger and how did it affect you? Who has influenced
Yes, I'm living in Brighton now, but I grew up in Worcestershire,
in the Midlands. It is very chilled there, but there is a great
scene in Birmingham, which was quite near. At 16 or 17, I discovered
a lot of funk and Northern soul in local record shops and also was
into a lot of drum 'n' bass. This led to producing stuff in that
veinactually, I think my sound is a direct fusion of jazz,
drum 'n' bass and soul. I have always been influenced by my parents
and sisters who taught me a lot of things about music. I am also
mad about obscure records and seem to spend most of my time either
looking for them or listening to them. I get influenced by a lot
of music; at the moment I'm into Okay Temiz, Mulatu Astatke and
Can you tell us a
little bit about your other projects, the Limp Twins and Quantic
The Limp Twins is my long-running project with fellow collaborator
Russell Porter. It is basically the result of myself and him drinking
tea and eating biscuits togetherand some music. We released
the debut LP Tales From Beyond the Groove last year on Tru
Thoughts; it's a mix-up of soul, funk and folk.
I started the Quantic
Soul Orchestra project to explore more raw and traditional funk
and jazz arrangements and recordings. This was initially a recording-only
project, but last year I put together an 11-piece band to support
the LP and we haven't stopped since.
How did you start
collaborating with Alice Russell, who has appeared on Mishaps
Happening, Apricot Morning and a number of Quantic Soul
Orchestra tracks? How about the other collaborators who appear for
the first time on Mishaps HappeningSonny Akpan, Trinidad,
and Spanky Wilson?
I've known Alice for two or three years now. We first started collaborating
by post. We were introduced to each other by Paul Jonas [who, together
with Robert Luis, runs the Tru Thoughts label] and we started passing
ideas back and forth. I would send her a CD of the track and she
would record her vocals in her front room and mail them back to
mean ideal pen pal! She is based in Brighton, so when I moved
there it became a lot easier to work together.
As for the collaborations
on the new album, it was a case of picking people who I really like
and respect. Trinidad is an excellent rapper and had previously
released a very bizarre 45 with [French hip-hop artist] Pilooski.
Sonny was a part of the Nigerian funk band the Funkees in the '70s
and is still performing and teaching percussion in London. And,
as for Spanky, I have her loved her records for many years and with
the help of a few friends I tracked her down and found her in LA.
I understand that
you live something of a "straightedge" life, which is
of course a bit unusual in the DJing and music world. (I heard a
great anecdote from Raimund Flöck of Freiburg's Jazzhaus; he
recalled that you were playing his club and drinking only water.
At one point your brow became furrowed and you muttered, deep in
concentration, "Hmm, this is going to require something extra."
Raimund and his crew watched intently as you rifled through your
bag... and pulled out a bar of chocolate.) Has this always been
the case? Is it difficult in the music world, where alcohol is often
so much a part of the social fabric?
Ah, Raimund... a man of many anecdotes! Yes, it's true; I drink
wine from time to time but that's all. It's not a big life decision;
it's just I'm traveling so much it would be crazy to add alcohol
to the mixture. An example, on many occasions I've had shows that
have finished at seven in the morning and flights to the next venue
at nine or 10 that morning. When you're getting only two hours'
sleep, you've got to keep straight!
What equipment do
you use in producing music?
I use a Mac with Logic Audio, an Otari eight-track reel to reel,
a TLA Tube tracker desk, lots of old spring reverbs, a Hammond organ
(until it died during the making of the Mishaps album), and
an assortment of guitars and basses.
You've managed to
generate quite a buzz in the U.S. even though your releases prior
to Mishaps Happening were import-only. Are you likely to
DJ here more often as a result of the increased distribution and
I would hope; I enjoy coming over there.
How often do you DJ
and play live? How have the live gigs by Quantic Soul Orchestra
and by the Limp Twins been received? (In the summer of 2004, QSO
was playing at the Glastonbury festival, the Out There festival,
and the Istanbul Jazz Festival.)
At the moment I'm doing a gig around every three days; it's pretty
busy naturally, as it's the festival season all over Europe. Most
gigs seem to go down pretty well; I always judge it by how many
people are dancing and by the end of the show they normally are.
As for your contemporaries,
whose work intrigues you at the moment?
Inverse Cinematics, the Dapkings, Moonstarr, Spiritual South, the
Malcouns and TM Juke.
What's in the works
as far as releases, remixes, and tours from your various projects?
I'm working on more Quantic tracks, the next QSO album, a few funk
side projects with Jan and Max of the Poets of Rhythm, trying to
cut down on remixes and concentrate on my own productions.