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Meet qtz.

Today we’d like to introduce you to qtz.

qtz., let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Growing up in Detroit, music was always a big part of my life. After auditioning, I was accepted into the Detroit School of Arts (the same high school Aaliyah was a student at). There, I was immersed in the worlds of jazz and negro spirituals and baroque music. I wasn’t gung-ho for necessarily being a “singer” at that point, I just knew I had a voice and enjoyed it. But it was at DSA, I found my artistic voice and got to experiment and learn a bunch of new things. That’s where my love of music tech and drum machines started.

After high school, I got into Spelman and moved to Atlanta. I was a music major because at some point towards the end of high school I was like “I wanna be a music educator, That’s what I wanna do. Teach kids about baroque music.” But, I quickly realized that wasn’t for me. Throughout my time in undergrad, I just became comfortable in being me and growing as an artist, because for the longest time I denied being that out of fear and judgment. Between my sophomore and junior years, I was performing as an opening act for Elle Varner, Chrissette Michelle, and Frankie Beverly and Maze. I was really encouraged by some faculty to redefine what it meant to be a Music major there and was the first student in Spelman’s history to perform a senior recital of all original music, as well as release an EP (“Going Direct”) as a graduation requirement.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I wish I knew the meaning of smooth. Sometimes, you look for support in certain places and you just don’t get it. And it’s shattering, but it makes you stronger.

Honestly, every day is an obstacle but remembering where I want to be and choose not to focus on where I am currently helping immensely.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am a singer/songwriter, producer, and arranger. Self-producing most of my music, I create in smooth, funky and soulfully whimsical sounds take the minds of listeners away from the present time. Not quite reflecting the current trends of R&B and soul music, my sound blends elements of 90s gospel, jazz, neo-soul, and electronica.

Many singers frequent youtube and SoundCloud for a free beats long term (no shame, we’ve all gotta start somewhere), but I decided to stop that in 2015 altogether to broaden my artistic approach. I think you feel the music differently as a whole when you’re playing each instrument and characterizing them, giving them lines in a way. The energy of the music is just different when it’s all don’t in the house with your own hands.

I can say the same for my live performances. This year I’ve only performed my sets with a looping machine, an iPad, and sometimes a laptop and people are like “where’s the band?” or “where are your tracks?” For me, live looping and live technology give me more freedom to play with the songs, play with the crowd, express more, I think that sets me apart from some performers. When things are stripped (no band, no track) and I’ve gotta layer and layer each part with my voice, I can focus more on the musicality and what actually makes the song beautiful and share that process with the audience live. It’s a form of intimacy.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
My carefree attitude. I try to live as carefree as possible, meaning I just go with the flow and push as much negativity to the side as possible. I feel like often times, people focus so much on being calculated and as perfect as possible and that stifles their growth and success. I try not to do that because… done it before a lesson.

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