This week saw relatively new producer to the scene RQ drop a lovely single on the ever impressive Blu Mar Ten Music so I caught up with him to find out a bit more about what he’s all about
Hi Ryan, could you start by telling us a bit about yourself and how you got into music?
My name is Ryan Quinlivan and I am 42 years old, I am originally from Christchurch in new Zealand and currently reside in Auckland. I grew up in seaside village called Sumner and had a pretty idyllic life there, surfing, exploring the hills… amassing a large gang of friends, some of who are still involved in the electronic music scene now.
In my late teens we were on a steady diet of metal and hip hop (Public Enemy and Brutal Truth being my favourites of that era) and through some of my more switched on friends I was introduced to some great stuff that I would never have heard otherwise, bands like Scorn, Einstürzende Neubauten, Slint, Big Black and Shellac etc. We saw a lot of bands and were lucky enough to regularly see Bailter Space play, I still blame them for my love of loud music and the ringing in my ears.
I had always like electronic music, right from the electro / breakdancing music of the early 80’s so when the rave scene in Christchurch kicked off in the early 90’s I was not far behind, going to some great nights in great locations. Early on there was no real genre segregation so on any given night you would hear German Acid (Labworks etc), Hardcore and Gabba (Mokum was my favourite label), lots of early breakbeat / hardcore stuff (early Moving Shadow for example).
For whatever reason I was not super into Jungle initially, maybe the complexity of the beats was too crazy to grasp after a few beers! But that changed very quickly in one night, one set even and maybe a particular tune. The night in question was a party called ‘Totally Inta Stella Rave’ in which the promoters had to move the whole party to a venue less than quarter of the size 2 hours before the doors opened, so a massive sound system in a tiny hall and enough people to fill the venue many times over. The effect was amazing if not healthy and at some stage during this exact set…
The penny dropped with Jungle and I was away, the next day I went out and started buying it.
Your debut EP was released on ASC’s label Auxiliary, tell us a bit about that?
That EP sort of started happening without me knowing. Geoff Presha (Samurai) had been passing on a few of my tunes to James (ASC) that he thought James would like and he soon contacted me with the concept for the album and the tracks that he wanted to release and have remixed. I was surprised and blown away as Auxiliary is of course known for it’s amazing quality control and almost cabal like roster, so for it to pan out the way it did (smoothly, and with those amazing remixes) was a joy to be involved with. For Auxiliary to be the first label I released on was a dream come true and for me was a confirmation of my theory that good things come to those who wait!
Musically, the tracks were from a very specific vision, that dense ambiance and the scattered field recordings were invoking those late end of nights out the back of a gig, only the sub and stray melodies making it out to the surrounding alleyways.
And your next release has been picked up by Blu Mar Ten Music, how did that come about?
My remix of their track ‘All or Nothing’ came runner up in the competition they ran and I think that put me on their radar. So I had been sending Chris tunes for quite a while, any tracks that I thought he would like, not necessarily for the label but just to share. He is very generous with his time and opinion which can be rare and we are both of a similar vintage too which I think lends us some common reference points within the genre. He expressed an interest in releasing a couple of recent tracks I had sent through so we took it from there. We did replace one track with ‘Traces’ as it was a better fit with ‘Shimmer’ which does make it a better release, very much in that GLR mold. The whole process was super straight forward and they run a very tight ship and for me to be involved with BMT was awesome as they have been favorites of mine since back in the Logical Progression days.
Could you tell us a bit more about the two tracks?
When I first started producing in around 2000 / 2001 all I wanted to do was make Good Looking / Logical Progression style tracks. It was pretty obsessive and also at the detriment of my evolution as a producer. But my love for that sound was all encompassing, I made LOADS of terrible knockoffs with none of my own imagination or ideas, just straight up trying to copy tunes. It is a sound I will always love and I often find myself halfway through a track and realise very much sliding in to that mold.
‘Shimmer’ was the first of the two tracks and I was very intentional in going for that sound, all lush keys and sweeping ambiance. I did want to try something a bit different with the drums and get that kinda stilted half time approach to flow nicely with everything which I think I did ok! It is one of those tracks I listen back to and can’t figure out how I did some of the things in it, the smoothness of the sound and the punchy drums in ‘Shimmer’ are unique in my catalogue.
‘Traces’ started off life as something quite different, it was on its way to becoming a bit of drifty Autonomic style ambient piece until I dropped a very nice jungle style pad in it and it took a bit of a turn to that style. I didn’t want to change the drums so I had to figure out to get the jungle elements playing with the modern so I layered that wash of an amen break over it and got that bassline going and it started coming together. Unfortunately no matter what I tried I could not get it sounding like anything other than an epic intro and I wasn’t sure what to do with it, so I copied the amen I had chopped and gave a bit more of an edit and fattened it up a LOT and dropped that over everything… problem solved.
I know it takes a while to turn up in the track but it honestly didn’t feel right coming in any earlier, that tease of the amen coming and going and the rise and fall of the track, almost to a drop and then back down again, I think make the wait totally worth it. So many tunes now basically start at the drop and relentlessly pound you with constant breakdowns and multiple drops, I didn’t want to do that opting for more of an ‘Alaska’ approach of just hammering the amens until done. Knowing that I had made some tunes very reminiscent of that GLR vibe you can imagine how happy I was when some of the original artists in that ‘Intelligent’ era wanted to release them.
Can you name a few artists that inspire you?
I am on a bit of a mid 90’s revival at the moment so I have been getting loads of inspiration from the Platinum Breakz-era Metalheadz roster, when you look at their body of work it covers so much of what I love about the genre, from beautiful jungle ambiance to tough minimal drums… jazz, hip hop, dub all in the mix.
Photek (and all pseudonyms) has been a constant and direct influence from day one, tracks like ‘Ni ten Ichi Ryu’ changed they way I thought about jungle / drum & bass. It was so far removed from many of the tropes and signifiers that were prevalent at the time but still so very much part of it. An amazing feat and it’s longevity and far reaching influence are testament to both Photek and the genre. The attention to detail has never been topped.
Jazz has also been playing a big part in my life over the past 5 years or so, I had always liked ‘jazzy’ music (hip hop, drum & bass, trip hop etc) but for some reason had never connected with the actual source until recently. I don’t pretend to have any great depth of knowledge on the subject or to be in to rare and obscure artists, I just like what I like. So from that side of things I have been getting a huge amount of joy and inspiration from the different approaches of Dave Brubeck and Sun Ra, there are a ton of other jazz artists I love and enjoy but those two appeal to me on heaps of different levels.
Any plans for future releases?
There are quite a few tracks set to go on my label ‘Dawn’ , I am just working on getting the timing right between releases and increasing it’s on-line presence at the moment. There is also the project of getting some of my back catalogue up on Bandcamp in the near future, a big task from my end as there are 40 or more tracks I need to re-master and do artwork for etc.
Outside of that there is nothing lined up and I have just realised I haven’t actually worked on any music for over a month! I will try to remedy both of those situations asap.
Thanks for talking to us
Absolutely no problem!
Buy links for RQ:
RQ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RQ.music
RQ Soundcloud: http://www.soundcloud.com/rq_
RQ Bandcamp: http://www.dawnsound.bandcamp.com