English rhythmic and ethnically explorative musical artist Quantic, aka Will Holland, regaled a modest crowd at Sonos Studio in Los Angeles Tuesday night. KCRW’s Music Director Jason Bentley hosted a Q & A with the Englishman prior to setting him loose with a lively performance.
Quantic’s sound is a right in its own, drawing from several ethnic influences, namely Columbian cumbia rhythms, British dub step bass lines, Ethiopian percussion and even an American folk twinge on occasion. His ability to blend so many different instruments creates a truly unique, soulful and undoubtedly versatile point of view. During the discussion, Bentley initiates inquiring what it means to think that Holland may have been born in the wrong place or wrong time. He modestly acknowledges that though he grew up in the small town of Worcester, Holland’s move to Brighton was the pivotal step in the course of making him a full-fledged musician because it is a “magnetic center of music.” He left Brighton for Columbia and left there for America. Columbia has since made such a strong impression on Quantic’s craft that he even returned to the second most dangerous country in the world to record his new album Magnetica.
Quantic asserts that most of his musical influence comes from just listening. That is how he fell in love with cumbia rhythms, so much so that he decides to filter it into his solo projects as Quantic. His obsession is based more off ambient sounds and feeling than the musicality of the songs. He also notes that as a producer, he manages to record most of his ideas simply with a laptop. This information surprises Bentley because he feels that Quantic’s sound has such an authenticity to it. The gentle Englishman ultimately is a citizen of the world. Drawing from all genres and methods aids his production of some of the most intrinsically versatile music around today.
Just before the interview concludes, Bentley introduces Quantic’s new music video accompanying the single “Duvidó.” The video highlights all of the colorful characters at Carnaval de Barranquilla, the second largest folklore festival in the world after Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro Carnival. Quantic expresses that traveling enriches life because it is a social activity and it humbles you. “You become, as a creator, I think, as an artist whatever art work you’ve done becomes very rich in spirit; and for me it’s done a lot of good.”
A fairly small crowd spreads out through the studio to enjoy the live performance with enough room to dance to the ambient beats. Quantic’s transition from a studio recording to a live setting is like night and day. His already complex and appealing recordings that take a well-trained ear to process become monotone hums compared to the electric roar his live set ignites. After a quick, mild intro with “Magnetica,” he brings Columbian vocalist Nidia Gongora on stage and the female element makes it even more enticing. Her warm smile and high, dry voice elevate the sound and complete the puzzle. The room now is a giant vibrating mass as the audience bounces and salsas to the music. Between songs, Quantic shows a humorous side, playfully mentioning that he is going to play a rhythm that no one in the room has heard before, to which news the entire room goes silent in anticipation of an answer. He announces that it will be cumbia, and the entire room erupts into laughter. When the horns hit their hook in “Sol Clap,” the room goes wild.
Adding fuel to the fire, Quantic engages a special guest vocalist Thelma for a few songs. She and Nidia alternate, taking turns singing and dancing. By the end of the set, they both are on stage smiling ear to ear and swaying along. They feed off the hot crowd. Wild horses couldn’t drag them away from the infectious music.
The draw of Quantic’s sound is in great thanks to his wide use of instruments from traditional Colombian tools such as timbales, cowbell and horns to synths, guitars and even an accordion. Magnetica is available now, and Quantic is an artist worth making the trek to see live. Be sure to catch Quantic’s interview with Jason Bentley and his performance on KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” Monday July 7th.
Sol Clap/Descarga Cuantica
Aguas de Sorongo
Mishaps Happening/Muevelo Negro
*photo credit Tiger Tiger, courtesy of KCRW