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Interview with Quantic
Ubiquity Records website, Sept. 2004 - May 2005


This interview with Quantic appeared on the Ubiquity Records website from September 2004 to May 2005.


Uncommon Denominator

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 this—at the tender age of 24.

What would you say are the chief differences between Mishaps Happening and your previous album, Apricot Morning? What characteristics remain consistent?
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 same time.

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 you?
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 vein—actually, 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 Orlando Julius.

Can you tell us a little bit about your other projects, the Limp Twins and Quantic Soul Orchestra?
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 together—and 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 Happening—Sonny 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 me—an 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 exposure?
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.


This page created May 2005 - Last modified May 10, 2005

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