The Making of “Sacred Field”

The music video for “Sacred Field” (the final track on my 2017 album You Got It) is now available to everyone who has access to the hive mind!  The story behind this video is worth telling, and one that people in North Carolina may relate to. My family’s basement music studio got flooded in 2018 during Hurricane Florence, and again during Hurricane Michael, and this piece is a dramatization of those events.

At the time of the hurricanes, I was in the middle of making a short documentary entitled “A Storm of Crumbs” exploring the topic of being a musician and a new mother.  The project was directed by my good friend Stefan Kei DiMuzio, a visual artist and musician originally from Japan who resides in Greensboro, NC. He actually lives in my old house, four blocks away from where I currently live, which made filming the scenes of daily life fairly easy. The flooding of our music studio shook up the narrative quite a bit. Since it changed the course of the film, so we decided to find a way to weave it into the documentary.

Stefan had a clear vision for how to re-enact the flooding in an aquarium, and to my astonishment, he built the set and filmed it all in a matter of days. The cinematography, visual effects, editing and the tiny set design were all done by Stefan. For those of you have have worked with me in my studio, you know that the resemblance between the tiny set and the real place is uncanny! Many thanks to Stefan’s partner Lauren, and my partner Marty, for being supportive and helpful during this interesting undertaking. Here are some production stills:

The music studio, before the flood. Photo by Stefan DiMuzio.

When we were editing the flood sequence, the idea popped into my mind to pair it with my track “Sacred Field” whose inspiration was climate change activism. “Sacred Field” an experimental drone piece that I made during the time of the Standing Rock #NODAPL Dakota Access Pipeline protest, which took place in North Dakota in early 2017. I had made the track in the span of two days after having some intense dreams about Standing Rock, and wishing I was there (but I was pregnant at the time, and could not travel). In my dreams, I was a hawk flying over the protestors’ camp, and the music I heard in my mind was loud, synth-laden, resonant and ominous.

The track “Sacred Field” ended up being very different than all of the other tracks on my album You Got It, but it was important to me to include it because I wanted to remember how those dreams felt, and what it was like to watch the protestors from far away.

I felt there was a connection between the track and the visual themes we were exploring in the flood sequence: man-made climate change, water being the source of life and the source of death, loss of protection due to grander forces, losing what is dear to you, adapting to new ways of being amidst loss, etc.

When pairing the flood footage with the “Sacred Field”, Stefan and I were awestruck to see that the audio lined up very nicely with the visual pieces, even having the exact same total length (3:10). While unplanned, the two pieces seemed to be in sync with each other.

The resulting piece was beautiful in and of itself, so we decided to release it in its entirety as a music video. A shorter, edited version of the flood sequence will appear in the “A Storm of Crumbs” documentary, set for release in April 2019. Stay tuned for that.

The vastness of climate change is hard to wrangle, and North Carolina was hit hard in 2018. Each person was affected in unique ways.  Seeing the flooding interpreted onscreen has helped me process the complex feelings that arose in the aftermath of the storms. It’s a microcosm of what happened, and a way to re-imagine and heal the past.

Thanks for taking the time to read this far. 🙂 Stay toasty, my friends.

– Quilla

Quilla’s Interview on “Off the Beat” Podcast

Recently, Quilla recorded an interview with @wallywallacesax on his awesome podcast, Off the Beat. Links below! They talk about music entrepreneurship and being a studio artist. A really fun conversation about work, life and inspiration. Quilla gives career advice to emerging artists, such as learning about publishing rights, understanding your skillsets and goals as an artist, etc.

Link: https://bit.ly/2CzgedX
Apple Music / iTunes: https://apple.co/2Vc6XzH

Reviews for Johanna Breed’s debut EP, produced by Quilla

Johanna Breed‘s solo debut EP Is It Too Late? (Ritual Fire Records) was released worldwide on November 9th, 2018. It was written and performed by Johanna Breed and produced by Quilla, whose background in vocal production helped put Breed’s vocal skills and unique lyrical style front-and-center.

Themes of confidence, joy, and control are expressed through Breed’s lyrics and the upbeat, danceable tracks are balanced by others that are more introspective. Breed delivers gems such as “Mister,” an anthem for warrior queens from the future, as well as the title track “Is It Too Late?” which explores anxiety in the age of accomplishment.

PRESS REVIEWS

“With minimalist neo-soul production, gospel-tinged piano, layered vocal harmonies, fingersnap backbeats and a warmth to Breed’s singing, the record has a slinky exuberance. It’s a mellow future-funk statement of optimism and uplift. ” – John Adamian, YES! Weekly

“The results are impressive. The title cut from her debut EP (…) is saturated with funk interrupted by intervals of churchy organ riffs. Breed channels ’70s-era sax soul…” – Go Triad

More On the Artist

Johanna Breed is a neo-soul pop artist from Greensboro, North Carolina. She blends analog and electronic elements to create a fresh sound that she calls “future soul.” As showcased on her debut EP “Is It Too Late?” (Ritual Fire Records, 2018), her songs include beats, horns, synths, and layered vocals textured with talkbox. A multi-faceted performer whose strength lies in her powerful, expressive voice, Breed strives to create a sonic world that is uplifting and unexpected with vocal stylings inspired by her love of Soul, R&B, and Hip-hop.

 

Gate City Live Podcast: A Discussion with Quilla and Keith Miller

April Harris, founder of Gate City Live podcast, interviews Quilla and bassist Keith Miller on healing, spirituality through musical expression, and much more. A compelling listen that includes live performances by the artists. Quilla sings “Eye to Eye” from her latest album You Got It.  Keith Miller plays “Hope” from his 2012 instrumental album Live at Unity Chapel.

Quilla launches electronic music production workshops for women

Quilla has begun teaching workshops at her studio in Greensboro NC to help women and femmes become more self-reliant with their music technology and production skills. All production levels welcome. This is a safe space with no judgment about any hurdles or technical problems you may experience when trying to produce your own music.

Sunday Sept 30th, 2018. 1-3pm.  Electronic Music Production Workshop for Women. We will cover introductory concepts about electronic music production, talk about gear, digital workflow and file management, reflect on mixing techniques and have group discussion about the hurdles and challenges that arise from composing and producing electronically.

Weds Oct 3rd, 2018. 1-3pm: Vocal Production Workshop for Women. We are going to talk extensively about the human voice, as well as how to record vocals, how to EQ, how to compress, how to get the most out of your recording equipment, approaches to mixing vocals with other instruments, etc. We will do a little bit of vocal test recording so we can discuss best practices.

Weds, Nov 21st, 2018. – details TBD

Weds, Nov 28th,  2018. – details TBD

For more information, email: moonwheel@gmail.com

Workshop attendees Jacqui Haggerty, Johanna Breed, Crystal Bright, and Quilla

Quilla at The Richmond Forum

On Feb. 17th, 2018, Quilla performed an original ambient electronic set at the Altria Theater in Richmond VA, setting the stage for tech entrepreneur / futurist Peter Diamandis. She also sang the national anthem.

The event was part of a monthly series, The Richmond Forum, whose mission is to bring leaders from the world stage to expand horizons, stimulate conversation, and inspire the Richmond community.

Diamandis’ talk was entitled, “FUTURE TECH: EXPONENTIAL CHANGE, INFINITE POSSIBILITIES”, and program synopsis was poignant: “Rapidly accelerating exponential technologies such as infinite computing, artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, sensors, networks, and synthetic biology are transforming how humans will live and work in the future — in ways that are both disruptive and exciting. From human longevity, to the future of work, to the Singularity, Peter Diamandis will provide a tour of the future.”

Photos courtesy of the Richmond Forum photo stream.