Singer-Songwriter Quinn Lamont Luke – who you might know in his previous persona, Bing Ji Ling – has been releasing music for over ten years. On labels such as Aficionado, Claremont 56, DFA, Lovemonk, Phantom Island, Rush! Production, Tummy Touch, Uber, World Famous, and now his own El Triangulo. Collaborating with an extended network of musical friends that includes Shawn Lee, Tommy Guerrero, Phil “Cantoma” Mison, Paul “Mudd” Murphy (both of whom you can hear in Okinawa this weekend), and Alex From Tokyo. Across a range of styles from Folk to House.
I caught up with him at a gig in Tokyo last Autumn. A nicer, more affable chap you couldn’t hope to meet. Full of stories and honest, positive opinions. This interview really only scratches the surface.
Where are you from?
My parents met in the late 60’s in San Francisco. Though they were there during the height of the counter culture movement, they lived in a whole other world. They were – and still are – Mormons, and were not involved in what was going on at all. My father had moved there in the early 60’s to pursue a career playing the upright bass – Dixieland Jazz, and my mother moved there from Hawaii to work and look for a husband. Eventually, my father realized that the bass may not provide his growing family with the income that he needed, and he went back to school to study economics at the University of California, Davis. It was there that I was born, in a nearby hospital in Sacramento, about an hour and a half north of San Francisco. We lived in Northern California for several years, until my father’s work moved us to Southern California. We were there until I was about 10 years old, when we moved to Houston, Texas. As soon as I graduated high school, I got out of there. I ended up back in San Francisco, where I lived for about 13 years before moving to New York City. So, when asked that question, I usually say “San Francisco!”
Where are you based?
New York City, for about 13 years now. We split our time between Brooklyn and our house in the Catskills near Woodstock.
Woodstock has a rich musical history. Can the influence of Dylan and The Band still be felt?
Absolutely. They are legends, and you hear people talking about them, or telling stories often. Dylan is coming to play in nearby Kingston in June, and my wife and I got tickets. I’ve never really been a fan, but it seemed like something we should do! I do have quite a bit of respect for his craft of course…
Have you read Barney Hoskyns` book on Woodstock?
I haven’t yet. I saw it all over the place in town when it came out, but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. Thanks for the reminder!
Is there still an active live music scene? Which venues would you recommend?
To be honest, I haven’t dug into the scene here as much as I would like to. The Hudson River Valley and Catskills are full of musicians, studios, festivals, and venues. We’ve just been pretty busy getting our “adult life” – marriage, house, baby, etc. – setup here, I haven’t had much time to dive in yet much. I do know of quite a few things happening in the area, and I look forward to checking them out.
That said, I have managed to see a few shows here and there. The legendary Bearsville Theater, built by Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman – and it’s fantastic restaurant Bear Cafe – is a must visit. BSP in Kingston has great programming, as do the Basilica and Helsinki in Hudson. I saw my buddy Andy Cabic aka Vetiver there late last year. Sadly, I’ve not yet been to a show at Levon Helm’s Barn, Maverick Concerts, or Bethel Woods, which is a massive outdoor venue on the site of the original Woodstock Festival.
Are there still studios up there? Is it a good place to create?
Yes! There are amazing studios all over the place, a couple of which are owned and/or operated by good friends. A pretty major studio called Dreamland, owned by Jerry Marotta – used byPeter Gabriel, Hall & Oats, and Orleans! – is literally right down the street from our house. There is Applehead Recording in Woodstock, Outlier Inn over in Woodridge, The Clubhouse in Rhinebeck, and Future Past in Hudson.
Where would you recommend locally for good music and dancing?
Good live music I’d say any of the venues I`ve mentioned. Good dancing, I’d say our house! We do a big party once a year, with a proper sound system, DJs, etc.. I’ve been thinking about starting a more frequent party with some friends in a barn somewhere or something like that. There really aren’t any great places to dance, or I’ve not come across them yet.
How long have you been making music?
I grew up in a musical family. As mentioned previously, my father is a musician. My aunts were in a singing group in the 50’s and even released a couple singles! We always had a piano in the house, and our family would sing in church, and go Christmas caroling as early as I can remember. I took piano lessons from ages 10-12 or so. I begged my mom to let me quit. She finally conceded, but issued a curse; she said “Ok. You can quit. But when you’re 30, you’ll wish you didn’t!” Around my 30th birthday, I found myself surrounded by vintage keyboards and synths, hammering out some new songs, and remembered what she had said. She was right! I was happy with what I was able to do on the keyboards, but I could certainly have used some additional skill and learning! Life lessons.
I think the first time I ever sang publicly was in church at the age of 12. Somehow I wasn’t scared. It felt natural. I got a guitar for my 14th birthday, and promptly learned “Louie, Louie,” “Wild Thing,” etc.. I was in bands starting in junior high school. Back then, we covered Rush, Van Halen, Boston, etc.. In High School, the cover bands continued, moving on to U2, Living Color, INXS, Erasure, etc.. Towards the end of high school I started writing my own songs, and I’ve been doing that ever since.
What / who prompted / inspired you to pick up a guitar?
That’s a good question. I guess I wanted to emulate the rock stars that I admired. Music felt natural to me from an early age, and it seems like a good next step. I’m sure inside I knew that girls thought it would be cool.
Who are your guitar heroes?
The guitar is not something I’ve ever really taken that seriously. Sometimes I wish I had/did. I’m pretty comfortable with the instrument, and am happy with what I can do, but it’s never been a deep passion of mine on it’s own. I look at it more as a tool I use to write songs, and accompany myself when I sing. I do like to noodle around as well, but I don’t obsess over that. When I first started getting into playing the guitar for real in the early 90’s, I was looking to people like Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, and Ernest Ranglin. I realised quickly that I would probably never have the dedication I’d need to get to that level, so I’ve focused more on rhythm guitar. I’ve had a blast playing with Tommy Guerrero, Phenomenal Handclap Band, and others in that capacity. In fact, most of my playing I picked up from people I’ve worked with, as opposed to listening back to records. My guitar style has been significantly influenced by Jim Campilongo – I took a few lessons from this legend, Greg Smith – bandleader at Shanghai Jazz/Blues club I played at, Tommy Guerrero, Bart Davenport, and Luke O’Malley (Phenomenal Handclap Band).
Which singer-songwriters do you aspire to?
There have been different people at different times. There are of course the mainstream masters of the craft that I’ve admired and learned from – Lennon/McCartney, Burt Bacharach, Dylan, Cohen, etc. – but I can’t say that I’ve ever aspired to be like any of them. In the 90’s, while I was getting my thing going, I was looking to classic soul and R&B, as well as rarer stuff for cues; Stevie Wonder is an all time hero. Shuggie Otis was a huge inspiration on me as well. I lived for a time with Jan Weissenfeldt (Poets of Rhythm, Whitefield Brothers) for a period of time in the mid-90’s in San Francisco. He gave me a tape with some tracks he thought I’d dig on one side, and Inspiration Information on the other. That pretty much blew my head off. Prince and Frankie Beverly are writers I can say I’ve studied a bit.
I’ve always loved classic Jazz vocal standards like “Misty,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” and “Isn’t It A Lovely Day.” I’ve spent some time with tunes like that. Errol Garner, George Gershwin, and Irving Berlin I would count as influences in my writing. Also, when I think about it, it’s been many of my friends that have inspired me, and influenced my writing style. Bart Davenport is someone in particular. He would site people like Arthur Lee, Caetano Veloso, and Gil Scott-Heron as influences. I love all of those writers as well, but I can’t say I’ve ever tried to emulate them. I do however admire what Bart has taken from them, and have drawn on that. Tommy Guerrero and Money Mark are also friends that I have admired and learned from quite a bit.
As time has passed, and interests and trends have changed, I’ve gained new sources of songwriting inspiration. Discovering artists like Ned Doheny and Batteaux in the early 2000’s for example has been pretty influential on the music I’ve made since then. Around 2004 or so, I discovered the Aficionado parties from a distance. The music that those fellas played has been a massive influence on me in every way over the past 10 plus years.
I associate the music you make with that of Shawn Lee and Andy Cabic of Vetiver? Are these guys friends of yours?
Thanks! Absolutely. They are both good friends, and I’d agree that we have a lot in common. Shawn Lee and I met about 10 years ago, though I’ve known of him for much longer than that. My earliest releases were on Ubiquity Records, and he was working with them around that time too. He’s a force of nature, that fellow. We did a little collaboration for an album he was working on when we first met, and have worked together on a few things since then. We always link up when I’m in London or he’s in New York. “Top chap,’ as they say across the pond.
Andy I came across years ago when he was in a post-punk disco band called Tussle. I was a fan. They were an instrumental outfit, and Andy played bass, ferociously. They were great live. I ended up producing an album for the band that was released on Smalltown Supersound. Andy had left the band by then to focus on Vetiver. We had several friends in common – Chris Veltri of Groove Merchant Records in SF, Tommy Guerrero, Alexis Georgopolous – so I can’t remember how we actually met, but we’ve been connected for 7 years or so, I’d guess. I did a remix for a song called “Can’t You Tell” on his album “The Errant Charm” from 2011. It’s funny you mentioned those two together. I’ve thought of getting the three of us together in a room for a session someday!
How did the Phenomenal Handclap Band come about?
The Phenomenal Handclap Band was started by two producers, Sean Marquand and Daniel Collas. They were DJs in New York as well, playing obscure music of all genres. They started working together on a few tracks, and corralled various friends to guest on each one. Eventually, they had enough to put together an album, and they drew on the core musicians they had been working with as a foundation for the band. That group of musicians was also my backing band for my solo material at the time. The first live show was in the summer of 2008…
To rewind, I first came across Daniel in 2005. I heard the album he produced for Joe Bataan, and was well impressed. I had been in New York for a couple years, and really wanted to meet and work with someone like him. We had a very good mutual friend in common, the aforementioned Bart Davenport. Bart made an email introduction, and I attempted to befriend Daniel by visiting a DJ gig of his. Daniel wasn’t super receptive, sadly. When Bart came through town to do some shows a few months later, we had another chance, and things went better. We became friends, and started hanging around a lot. That’s when Daniel was starting to work on the PHB tracks. We did’t work on any music together for a year or so though. We just hung out, went out, whatever. Patrick Wood (drummer in PHB) was really tight with Daniel then too, and we all spent a lot to time together. Daniel invited me to work on a track one day. I knew Bart was working on a track with him, so I asked how it was going. He said it was pretty frustrating, so I decided not to take Daniel up on the offer. That was my opportunity to sing on the album, which I missed. I think the track he was thinking of was “Baby”. That became my trademark song live, but it’s not me on the recording. I did end up performing on the album towards the end; handclaps and what not…
Eventually, we all got together for a jam session at my studio. As soon as we did, we knew we had something. I had good connections with clubs, having been DJing around New York myself in those days. We started a series of parties called “…And Then Boom!!!” where we would do a little live, loose set, then DJ ’til late. That was the beginning of our live performances together. I did some solo shows around that time too, and the group backed me up.
When it came time to start doing some live shows as the Phenomenal Handclap Band, Daniel and Sean found some beautiful ladies to sing the female vocal parts on the recordings, and we auditioned them. It all came together very easily, and we did the first PHB gig at an “…And Then Boom!!!” party in the summer of 2008.
How did Incarnations happen?
I had formed a great relationship with Borja Torres, the man behind Lovemonk Records in Madrid. He put out some singles of mine with excellent remixes, and I had been over to perform a few times. He also got involved with the Phenomenal Handclap Band release in Spain and Portugal. On one of my visits, he proposed funding a recording project in the South of Spain for Lovemonk. That sounded pretty great, of course! We had discussed a few ideas of what it could be, and I suggested bringing my buddy Bart Davenport in on it. Bart had a band in the 90’s that was popular in Spain, which he continued to foster with his solo material over the years, so he was well known there already. Borja was into Bart’s music too. Bart and I got talking, and agreed it would be great to bring Daniel into the project. Between the three of us, we had all the instruments covered; drums, bass, guitar, keys. We all sang as well. We agreed to show up to the studio with a few songs each. It was at place near Tarifa called Punta Paloma. The first night, we passed the guitar around and each performed the tunes we had prepared. The next day, we started an assembly line production of the material, and the album that you hear, was what we recorded live in 10 days. I think I added a clave to “There Must Be Love” in New York, and that’s it. It was a magic time…
How about the formation of Paqua?
Paul (Murphy) and I met in 2011, shortly after the big earthquake in Japan. He had made a post that all proceeds from the sales of Claremont 56’s catalog would go to the relief fund. I thought that was incredible, and proceeded to download everything I could. I had been a fan of the label for sometime, and this was a perfect opportunity to get the music. I emailed to thank him for that, and he asked I I wanted to work on a track together. I said yes of course, and he sent over an instrumental that became “The Visitor” shortly thereafter. The process was so simple, so effortless. It was quite timely for me, given that I was in the process of leaving PHB. That was the very beginning of what has turned out to be a great friendship. “Paqua” is a made up name, that encompasses the letters of the names of the original three members; Paul, Quinn, and Alex. The album artwork, with the letters being formed of branches coming from one tree says it all…
How did you hook up with Tommy Guerrero? Are you a skater?
I was a skater, starting in the late 70’s. Growing up in the 80’s, Tommy Guerrero was my hero. Him being from San Francisco, and focusing on simple, soulful moves on the street – I could never really do ramps – was why I gravitated towards him in particular. In the mid 90’s, I had a good friend who had a good friend who worked with Tommy at a skateboard company. My friend told me that Tommy was working on some groovy music, and that he would ask his friend to invite Tommy over to jam someday. It never happened…
Strangely, I first heard Tommy’s music when I was living in Asia. I was in Hong Kong, on a music smuggling expedition for a club – Asian dance hits, that were illegal in China at the time – I was working at in Shanghai in the late 90’s. I was at a dinner party at a French couple’s house, that I had met in Shanghai at the club I performed at. After dinner, we were sitting around chatting, and listening to music. I was really groovin’ on what they were playing, thinking that it had some Shuggie Otis vibes, and asked who it was. They laughed, and said “You’re joking, right?” I said I wasn’t, and they then said it was Tommy G. They were surprised I hadn’t heard it, being from SF.
After I moved back to the U.S., I was running a vintage modern design shop in the Mission District. One lazy afternoon, I was fooling around with a track I had started in Pro Tools on my laptop. This guy walks in, comments on it, and we got talking. That was Monte Vallier. He suggested that we should jam sometime, and I said sure. We got together, and had a nice session. He mentioned that we was friends with Tommy, and that I should come down to a weekly jam session that he was hosting called Spirit Hands. That night another guy showed up and played drums. That was Charlie Hall (now in the War On Drugs). It was a pretty fun night. At the end of the night, Tommy asked Charlie and I if we wanted to get together with him sometime to jam. We both said “Sure!” At the end of the second jam session, Tommy asked us if we wanted to go to Japan with him on tour. We both said “Of course!!!” That was the beginning of a 10 year run, of us playing together, and going to Japan with Tommy nearly every year. I did a couple more tours with Tommy after Charlie started getting busy with the War on Drugs, until I got kicked out of his band for getting married and having a baby!
How did you hook up with Aficionado, Moon & Jason?
Back in the Myspace days, I discovered the Aficionado boys though Terje Olsen’s page. They were one of his “top friends”. Must have been around 2004. Terje and I had gotten in touch on account of the Coppa edits I was doing with my buddy Chris Veltri aka Cool Chris of the Groove Merchant in SF. Anyhow, I quickly discovered some talk about their parties in Manchester, and started downloading mixes whenever I could. It was my introduction to that whole Balearic world, and sort of connected the dots for me between my initial early 90’s UK Rave and Rare Groove scene discoveries in SF (Wicked parties, Bulletproof, On The One) through to the Loft in New York. I had always known about Ibiza being a centre for dance music, but didn’t know about Jose Padilla, Phil Mison, etc.. I followed the party from a distance for years, and eventually got in touch with Richard through Myspace. I can’t remember when I actually finally met him in person, but it must have been on a trip to the UK with PHB. I do remember the first Aficionado party I went to though; it was one they did that Shawn Lee and I performed at together. That was quite an honor!
I met Phil Mison – who I discovered through them – at the Loft in New York around 2010. Alex from Tokyo introduced me to him, and I assumed it was Phil South; he was English, a DJ, we were in New York, etc.. I had obviously not met Phil South yet. Anyhow, I asked him how the party was the other night – A No Ordinary Monkey event – and that’s when I realized I was speaking to Mr. Mison, not Mr. South. I had become a massive fan of Phil’s by then too, so I was a bit embarrassed.
A good friend of mine from Mexico City named Uriel Esquenazi aka BN Loco was moving back home around 2007 from New York. He had a going away party, at a favorite spot of ours called Lil’ Frankie’s. A friend of his named Pablo Sanchez from Venezula was there as well. Pablo had worked for Lovemonk in Madrid before coming to New York, and was headed back to live in Barcelona. I had just finished an EP I had called “June Degrees In December” and had a few copies on me. I gave him one. He gave it to Borja, head honcho of Lovemonk, and I got an email from him a couple days later asking if I wanted to release a 12” and come to Spain to perform. It was a dream for me, as I had never been, and had always wanted to go. I’m going back there this summer for a trip. Can’t believe it’s been 10 years!
I really like Lexx`s remix of your cover of Loose Ends “Hanging On A String”. Do you have any more music planned with Lexx?
Thanks! He did a fantastic job, as he does with everything I’ve ever heard him do. He is super dedicated and pushes himself to be the best he can be. His new label doesn’t miss a beat, and he continues to leave everyone speechless when he drops a new mix. A+ artist, in my opinion. We don’t have anything planned at the moment, but I would jump at the chance to do anything with him again.
You seem to release on a variety of labels. Is there a reason for this?
It’s just been how things have unfolded, really. Also, I think I’m a bit all over the map stylistically; so DFA wouldn’t release my singer songwriter stuff, and Rush Productions wouldn’t release my psychedelic Disco stuff. I suppose it would have been nice if one label had come to me and offered me loads of money and resources to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, but that simply hasn’t happened…yet!
Is El Triangulo your own imprint? Will all of your music from now on be on El Triangulo?
Having taken a bit of a break from music production the past couple years, I’m sort of re-entering it fresh. I don’t have a huge ambition to make a new album at the moment, and I’m just squeezing out a couple tunes here or there from a little setup I have at home in the countryside. As such, I don’t really feel the need to collaborate with a label. El Triangulo is actually the name of a music school/recording studio/retreat centre on the Oaxacan Coast of Mexico that my wife and I are dreaming up. Eventually, I’ll be holed up in an underground studio, minutes walking to the beach, producing music of all types for myself and others there, and will release everything on this imprint of the same name. It’s sort of a place holder for now, I suppose. I’m headed that direction, but it’s gonna be several years until the whole thing is realized. In the meantime, I’m not opposed to doing something for another label. Just depends on what comes up, I guess…
You were part of the scene focussed by Mangiami in NYC. Can you tell me what Mangiami was like? Why it was important? Has anything / anywhere come along to replace it?
Yeah. Mangiami was a pretty major hub for the New York Disco family for a good while. Though there were many people involved that I knew previously, it was my introduction to many others. I lived a few blocks away for it’s entire history, and spent an awful lot of time there. I got involved in the early days of it, because I was DJing at the club down the block called 205. The staff of the club were old friends of Gianfranco (Mangiami owner), and so we would often go to dinner there before the night started. Gianfranco would come to the club after he closed the restaurant, and then some of us would go back to the restaurant afterwards for a lock in. Wild nights for sure. I think the first time I played there was for a Sunday afternoon party Alex From Tokyo and Jason Kincade had called Sotto Voce. I did a little live set. Did that a few times. It was always fun. There were some parties happening occasionally in the tiniest basement you could imagine as well.
At some point, he started a regular thing on Monday nights called L’Apertivo. It was a tiny place, but had huge doors that opened to the sidewalk. There would be a DJ at the end of the bar from 6 or 7pm, and the nights would sometimes go ’til well into the next day. My studio was a few blocks away, and I used to ride my bike over with two massive bags of records. I would go retrieve them the next day, and realise I had played nearly everything! It was so natural the evolution of it all, and the crowd that came through. A perfect New York mix of people. It really was the place “where everybody knows your name.” At the time, there weren’t any really amazing regular parties at clubs that people were going to, so we just made them there.
To be honest, the closing of Mangiami timed very nicely with a change in my lifestyle. I met my wife about a year after, and those late nights have been pretty much a distant memory since then. I was already phasing out of that way of living for some time anyhow, so it wasn’t a huge disappointment to me really. I bet many others involved were happy to have a break as well! Since I’m pretty out of the nightlife loop these days, I don’t really know if anything has come along to replace it. I don’t think anything has filled the space exactly, but I know many people who met/came up there are doing things, and having fun. I’m happy to have been a part of it all…
Is that where you met Alex From Tokyo? Alex is in Berlin now. Do you still plan to collaborate?
I met Alex somewhere else nearby, and around the same time. It’s a funny story, actually. I first became aware of him through his radio shows on Shibuya FM. His on air personality was larger than life, and his selection was top notch. I was a fan. One night after the Loft, a group of people went to a bar in the East Village. I was there talking to a friend, and overheard someone next to me that sounded an awful lot like the voice I recognised from Shibuya FM. I asked “Are you Alex From Tokyo?” He concurred, and we got to chatting. I told him I had some history in Japan, having played many times with Tommy Guerrero. Turns out he was good friends with Tommy and I’s label owner, and we had several other people in common. We were instant friends, and have become pretty close since then.
It’s a bummer that Alex is in Berlin now, but it’s the best place for him, so I’m happy he’s there. We don’t have any collaborations in the works, but I would love to do something with him again. The track we did together was a great experience, and he’s a great editor. In fact, I need to give him proper credit for the idea to extend “Different Aspirations.” The “Radio” version is what I did originally. I played it for him driving around Woodstock in my car, and he said it should be longer. The “Cosmic” version is a result of re-thinking it after his comments.
Do you still get into New York? If so….
I do. My wife and I have an apartment in Greenpoint, and we are pretty much splitting our time between the city and the country at the moment. We had sort of decamped to the country while we were having our son. He’s nearly 2 now, so we can go back and forth a bit easier.
Where do you recommend for coffee?
When I moved to New York, a good cup of coffee was pretty difficult to find. Nowadays, there is a boutique coffee shop on every block. I mostly make my morning cup of Joe at home, but pick one up at either Bakeri – across the street from our apartment – or Parlor Coffee in Greenpoint if I’m on the go. Blue Bottle has a few locations now. They have modelled their whole empire on the Japanese take on coffee bars. Very good. Not cheap.
Good music and dancing?
The Loft is still the best party on the planet, in my opinion. Still happens, still goes off with a great mix of old school heads and newbies. There is also Danny Krivit’s excellent party 718 Sessions, and the occasional Body and Soul. That’s pretty much what I would stick to if I was going out, which I’m not much these days. Maybe the Loft once or twice a year is what I’m up for. There are lots of new people and parties, but like I said, I’m out of touch! Output is a place that a lot of great DJs play, but the general crowd there is so bad, I find it hard to enjoy. I went to see Harvey there last year, and it was rammed the entire night with weekend warriors. No place to dance, not even for the final tunes. It was a bummer.
Can you tell me where the Bing Ji Ling moniker comes from?
When I first arrived in Shanghi, one of the bartenders at the in a Jazz/Blues club I was playing at asked me what my name was. I said “Quinn”. She asked “Cream? Like ice cream?” She then proceeded to tell everyone that my name was ice cream, which in Chinese is “bingqilin.” For pretty much the year that I was in Shanghai, everyone call me Bingqilin. When I got back home to San Francisco and started working on my first solo record, my friend and producer Merkley suggested that I go by that name – modified to Bing Ji Ling for ease – and come up with a whole ice cream/Soul man persona, which I worked for some years. We used to have some lovely female friends of ours dressed as sexy versions of the classic 1950’s ice cream man pass out ice cream at the shows. It was good fun.
Why have you started releasing music under your real name?
I’ve kept the Bing Ji Ling name for years, even though I abandoned the persona some time ago. It has served me well, being easily recognisable, easy to remember, etc.. The story was helpful for a while as well. As time has passed, it no longer fits who I am, and what I’m doing. I felt like making a clean break, and so have decided to go by my given name. Feels like the right thing to do.
Can you tell me more about the stage set up you use when playing solo?
Most of what I do is centred around the Boss Loop Station RC-30. I’ve used it for over 10 years as a song writing tool, so it’s been a natural transition to use it live. It has two tracks you can record to, faders and start/stop for each, and a few basic effects. It’s pretty basic, but I feel like I’ve found a fairly human, musical way of using it. It’s limitations are what I find exciting about it. There are more advance pedals with more features, and you can use a computer of course where the sky is the limit. Keeping it simple forces you to be more creative, which I like. I use an Electro‑Harmonix Octave Multiplexer to make the bass guitar sounds, a Fulltone Fulldrive2 for soloing, a Boss SE-20 pedal for delay, and a Boss AW-2 AutoWah occasionally. I have an SM57 mic for the vocals. They are all very common pieces of gear, really.
Does playing and making music pay the rent?
Not at the moment! For the past 20 plus years, I’ve played music and traded/consulted in art and antiques professionally. Some years it’s been all music; some years a mixture. Since the split from PHB, I’ve gone from not being home for more than 10 days at a time, to not going on tour for more that 2 weeks a year! My lifestyle has changed dramatically, all for the best. Splitting time between the city, the country, and Mexico, developing projects in each place, with a new family, doesn’t leave much time for music production these days. For me, music income has always been connected to a cycle of writing, recording, releasing, touring, and promoting new releases. I’m off of that cycle for now. I’ve managed to squeeze out a few new tunes over the past couple years, and will return to it all at some point soon, I’m sure…
You always seem to have a ton of collaborations on the go, but who would you most like to collaborate with?
I mentioned before that I’d love to do a group project with Andy Cabic, Shawn Lee, and maybe a few others. I’ve really enjoyed working with Phil Mison. We are working on a new tune that I’m really excited about. I’d love to do more with him, maybe even an album. His style of production is so distinctive, and I think it would be fun to do a solo album that sounds like that. Instead of biting his style, why not just collaborate with him?!?!?
Also, I’d really love to get back in a band. I sort of AM in a band; Paqua. That’s really more of a trans-Atlantic recording project though. I’m really motivated and inspired by writing and playing with a group in the same room. That’s where I started, and that’s where I feel very comfortable. I’d love to meet some people around Woodstock, and put something together. I have a feeling that will happen soon. Lastly, if someone wants to send me a killer House track that needs a vocal, I’m all ears!
How often do you get to Japan? When are you next over?
I’ve been lucky enough to visit and perform in Japan nearly every year since the early 2000’s. I missed only a year or two, I think. My first visit was en route to China in 1997. That was just a quick stopover, but it was the beginning of a long love affair. Around 2001 I went over with Tommy Guerrero. The first 5 years or so we sometimes went over twice a year. Every trip is spectacular, and I’m very grateful I’ve been able to go so many times. I don’t have any plans to go back at the moment. It’s sort of contingent on having a new release in Japan. That’s reason enough to find some time to work on some new material!!!
What are your plans for the rest of 2017?
Well, 2017 is nearly half over! It’s really zipping by. I’m heading over to Europe at the end of June/early July for a couple weeks to promote my new releases, and check in with folks over there. The rest of the summer I’d like to be in the lake near our place Upstate as much as possible, and be working in our garden. I`m going to try and find some time to work on new music at some point. We’ll be back down in Mexico in the winter working on our project there, and I have plenty to do to move it forward from here. All that combined with the various things I do for work, and raising a family, means there is never a dull moment!
Quinn Lamont Luke`s Different Aspirations is out now on El Triangulo.