Out today! Leverage Models and Anachronisme Records present, GREYS, a 21-track compilation benefiting the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees (“MVRCR”). Quilla is thrilled to have contributed a track to this album. She remixed Leverage Model’ euphoric masterpiece, “A Scout’s Prayer” (see track 4 on compilation).
Contributors used material from Leverage Models’, Whites (2018) as a creative starting point, recording new work, including thoroughly unorthodox re-constructions and original music in some form of lyrical / musical ‘conversation’ with the originals. Greys features new work by a crowd of idiosyncratic and brilliant independent artists/producers. As with Whites, the Greys album has a wide wingspan — from the dance-floor to the bedroom floor — amplifying its ecstatic, dark and fragile notes, and pivoting around themes of inclusion, privilege, abuse by caregivers & authorities, and a stubbornly persistent belief in social hope.
100% of album sales and streaming royalties will be donated to the MVRCR, an organization in upstate New York’s Mohawk Valley region that assists refugees, immigrants, and “limited English proficient individuals” through a range of community-centered programs in order to help them achieve independence and self-sufficiency. The organization also enacts programs to build a more multi-cultural and understanding community.
It’s been a busy time of year on my side! Happy to be serving my community in various new ways this year. The track “Wild and Kind” (by Molly McGinn and I) will appear on the massive “Artists United to End Poverty” compilation, a 50+ song album featuring musical talent from our corner of North Carolina.
All proceeds will be donated to United Way of Greensboro to help raise awareness about poverty in our community. Greensboro ranks 31% above the national poverty average, and 1 out of every four kids are growing up in poverty.
This compilation was compiled by The Culture Pushers – they have worked so hard to bring this project to life! Many thanks in particular to Andreo “Fanatic” Heard who brought so many artists together for this initiative. This photo represents the beauty and diversity of Greensboro and all the amazing artists who live and work here.
Album artists include: Vanessa Ferguson, Bishop Bryan J. Pierce, Sr., Mount Zion Gospel Choir, The Hamiltones, Mayor Nancy Vaughan, John P. Kee, Laurelyn Dossett, Autumn Nicholas, Fanatic, Andre Fenix, Demeanor, Jordan Hawkins, Shelby J, Sybil, J. Timber, Molly McGinn, Quilla, Josh King, Jaron Strom, Citizen Shade, Tigo B, Jessica Mashburn, Josephus Thomson III, The Collection, Abigail Dowd, JBlanked, Debbie “The Artist” Long, Chris Meadows, AND MANY MORE!
Thank you everyone for the recent love on my song “Beans Beans Beans.” Here is some insight into the background of the song.
I created this song as a one-word mantra elevating one of my favorite foods, the humble bean. Both a carb and protein, it has long been known that the bean is kind of magical, and can be used and consumed in so many different ways. With a colorful past and diverse array of manifestations, the humble bean has saved many people from starvation, and is still a staple in our diet today.
My plan with creating a loop around the word “beans” was to make various stacks of vocal melodies and percussive elements that helped the listener picture one dancing bean (symbolized by the initial bass line “beans”), then two beans, then three, and soon a cascading waterfall of beans pouring down from the heavens and surrounding you with a multifaceted world of glorious beans.
I thought about the sensation of dipping your hand slowly into a huge container of dried kidney beans at a market, and how the texture of those beans feels soothing on the skin. I wanted the song to be soothing, hypnotic and silly but without being overly ridiculous. I suppose it sounds like I planned this piece out a lot, but in reality it came out rather quickly in one of my loop practice sessions in 2010, and I stuck with it.
I remember playing it in my Center Camp set at Burning Man in 2010 and hearing people shriek with sheer joy. After that, I just kept throwing it into my live sets to see how people would react. I loved seeing their expressions of hilarity or incredulity when they realized the entire loop song only had one word in the lyric. Each time I played it, it came out a bit differently, and I learned how to improvise and push myself just a little bit more.
Recording this song in the studio with my engineer Mike Garrigan was a fun and spontaneous process. We didn’t make the studio version until 2014, which was four years after I composed it. By that point, I had already test-driven this song live on my vocal looper many times in front of random audiences (some receptive, some not!). In doing so, I had figured out the exact tempo that would work; too slow was a death sentence, and too fast made the song totally inaccessible for people. And I had to settle on the underlying layers that would loop well. Once those were established, adding new layers and improvising new melodies and beatboxing on top was a pure delight.
Mike and I laughed a lot in the studio, and often referred to recording this song as one of the more carefree production sessions over the years. I had been writing and recording a lot of vocal tracks for EDM producers around the time (between 2012 and 2015). Even though my vocal lines in those songs may sound simple or obvious to the listener, those EDM projects were very actually very meticulous and hard to put together. The projects could be stressful when there were looming deadlines, fussy producers to deal with and various labels and stakeholders to please. “Beans Beans Beans” was the antidote to all that, and it represented the type of freedom I needed in that moment.
Sagittarius is out now! This was a huge project to bring to life. I am really excited about the song itself, and the collaborative spirit it took to make the video. I have so many wonderful people to thank for the video’s fruition, see full credits below! Thank you to everyone who was involved. Everything was produced and filmed in Greensboro, NC, and I am proud of the balance and diversity that was embodied in front of and behind the camera.
This song is dedicated to the strong and luminous Sagittarius ladies in my life: my mother, my sister-in-law, my best friend, and my niece. Now we have a Sagittarius anthem. 🙂
Buy / stream Sagittarius today on all digital platforms:
Friday June 14th at a secret spot in downtown Greensboro NC, in partnership with SoFar Sounds. This event will kick off the SoFar Summer Series and will feature two other North Carolina electronic and low/fi acts.
New music on the horizon! My upcoming single “Sagittarius” (Ritual Fire Records) will be available on all platforms next week, on Friday June 14th, with a brand new music video!
Directed by Jennida Chase and Hassan Pitts (the dynamic duo also known as s/n), the music video for “Sagittarius” was made in production with third-year students in the UNCG Media Studies department and it features incredible dance performances by Greensboro talents Esha Hickson (choreographer), Devin Simone and Nayirah Harris. Stay tuned!
I knew Taylor Bays because of his fierce presence in the Greensboro music community. We shared the bill at local venues and parties many times, and we knew the same folks. He gave the best hugs and really cared about his friends and fellow artists. He sang in a way that was raw, electrifying and f*cked up.
Taylor was a complicated being. At times otherworldly, at times wound up and gritty with the world’s pain, he was silly, profound, self-deprecating and uplifting all at once. He caught people off-guard and did unexpected things, which led people to find him weird and eccentric. His charisma usually won people over. Difficult and outspoken, he did have a dark quality to him, and some people remember that side of him too.
I never found him that strange; I thought he was really unique and not afraid to be himself, and I admired his tenacity. He was one of the few people who truly did not give a sh*t what people thought of him. I sometimes wondered how he ended up on Earth. He was different and highly perceptive, behaving as if he came from another place.
He formed close connections with those struggling to make to their art. Since his passing, the musicians I have spoken with about him all say the same thing: Taylor was unconditionally supportive of their music. He would regularly reach out to see how they were doing and was ready to give them constructive, meaningful feedback about their songs. The world needs more people like that.
Taylor was a true friend for many people, and an enemy to some. He listened to people with an open mind and appreciated what he heard. He resonated with people’s pain and felt everything on a deep level. He spoke up when he felt something was problematic or unfair, and towards the end of his life he caused rifts. He left a controversial legacy behind.
He struggled on a daily basis (physically, spiritually and financially) and channeled it all through his music. One of my favorite songs of his is entitled “Pencil Song” (on his album Whatever Dude, recorded in Greensboro at On Pop of the World Studio). I remember seeing him and his band The Laser Rays perform it at The Blind Tiger a few years back. I was so so enthused, so happy to hear someone playing something so unexpected and original that I cried and laughed at the same time.
The lyrics perfectly capture his joyful yet reckless spirit, punk ethos and his supreme closeness to his friends:
I want some ice cream I want some pie I want to stick my finger into my eye so I’ll have a reason to go to the ER I hope on the way there I don’t crash my car
Cuz I’ll be driving with one eye Pumping gas with one dollar I can drink a gallon of orange juice with one swaller If there’s a problem I’ll just call my crew and they will kick the sh*t out of you
Taylor Bays, you will truly be missed. Your smile was contagious. Your lyrics were genius. I feel like your spirit and music will live on for years to come.
I had the pleasure of being on television for first time last week; it was very humbling and exciting! I was on UNC-TV / PBS (Public Media North Carolina) on May 2nd during “MUSE: The Arts Show” which will also included segments on A/V Geeks and Art-o-Mat.
I was featured in a super sweet 4-minute segment during which I played my new song “Boom Ba Da” (which will be out on Ritual Fire Records in July 2019). The track weaves a fun tapestry vocal loops + Latin rhythms + live piano. I was accompanied by three amazing roller skaters: Brandon Powell, Marquis O’Brian and Chase Clark. Directed by Morgan Potts, the segment was filmed at Skateland USA North in Greensboro NC. It was a glorious experience to work with such talented folks. I will never forget how much fun this production was.
Thanks to everyone who wrote to me with kind messages about seeing the segment on TV! I am super thrilled.
CREDITS “Boom Ba Da”
Written, produced and performed by Quilla
I’ll be on TV for the first time next week, it’s very exciting! Tune into UNC-TV / PBS (Public Media North Carolina) on Thursday, May 2nd at 8:30pm, and I’ll be on during “MUSE: The Arts Show” which will also include segments on A/V Geeks and Art-o-Mat.
I’m featured in a super sweet 4-minute segment during which I play my new song “Boom Ba Da”. It weaves a fun tapestry vocal loops + Latin rhythms + live piano. I am accompanied by three amazing roller skaters: Brandon Powell, Marquis Darnell Brown and Chase Clark.
Directed by Morgan Potts, the segment was filmed recently at Skateland USA North in Greensboro NC. It was a glorious experience to work with such talented folks.
The song “Boom Ba Da” will be available world-wide in the coming months, will keep you updated on that! 🙂
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.
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.