Interview / Quinn Lamont Luke / El Triangulo

After a brief – and totally understandable given the circs – hiatus, singer / songwriter Quinn Lamont Luke’s El Triangulo imprint recently, this July, released two singles in quick succession – follow ups to 2017`s fantastic Different Aspirations. The first, the Loft-inspired dancer, Don’t Run Away, launched the digital arm of the enterprise. The second made files available, for the first time, of 2016`s Not My Day. This latter E.P. also featuring a cracking modern acid house remix from Quinn`s close friend, Alex From Tokyo, and a corking cover of Lil` Louis` classic Club Lonely. Quinn and I hadn’t hooked up since the pandemic hit, so it seemed like high time we did so. 

How are you? It`s been a while since we’ve spoken. I hope that you and your family are safe and well. I think the last time we were in contact, was in the fall of 2019 – when we were working together on the launch of your website, kind of consolidating all that you do. 

Hi! I’m great. It has been a while. It`s great to be chatting again! We are all good over here. We’re back in Upstate New York for the summer – currently on a family vacation headed to Maine for a week to see some friends, and pretty excited about it. I’ve never been! The said website is functioning well, and is being updated regularly. Thanks again for your help with that!

You had such big plans that I felt really sorry – not least for taking your money – when the site went live and then almost immediately the pandemic hit. I guess my questions here revolve around how the global crisis effected those plans – I know you always do your very best to maintain a positive outlook. 

Haha. I should have paid you more! Your services and the success I have or don’t have as a result are not intertwined. For sure I was let down that I could not ride the wave of enthusiasm that I had for releasing new music and touring again at the start of 2020, but I’ve made the best of it. We are all making the best of it. That music is coming out now, and is being well received, so I’m happy. The events of the past year and a half have proven beneficial for other parts of my life, so I can’t really complain. More on that soon!

Where are you based at the moment? In 2019, you were spilt between Brooklyn, the Catskills, and Oaxaca in Mexico.

We have let go of our lives in NYC for now. We are currently in the Catskills for the summer, and will head back down to Oaxaca in the Fall. This will likely be the framework of our movements moving forward.

If I remember correctly, didn’t you sell the place in Greenpoint, NY, and set out to drive across America, and the border?

We didn’t own the place in Greenpoint, so we just “let it go.” But yes! We did wrap up our lives in NYC for now, and then I made an epic, 3000 mile journey all the way to the coast of Oaxaca.

How did it feel to finally “leave” New York? 

It was time for us. We had been tiptoeing out of there for a few years. Our focus is shifting to projects and businesses that we have been developing outside of the city, in nature, in the Catskills and coast of Oaxaca. I have this fantasy of returning to live on the Upper East Side of New York City as an older man – with a cardigan sweater, a pipe, a poodle, and a newspaper or book under my arm, as I walk through Central Park. We’ll see if that happens!

How was that trip, especially given that the country was in the process of locking down, and caught up in immense social unrest?

It was an amazing experience. The social unrest had died down at that point, but the county was fairly locked down. Not completely. I was cruising solo, making stops as I pleased, and flying by the seat of my pants with where I stayed, using the Hotels Tonight app. I’d roll into Nashville or wherever, and stay in a super nice hotel for peanuts, cuz no-one else was really traveling. I had never been there, or to Memphis, or down the Delta River, or to New Orleans even, so it was a blast checking out historical and musical sites, and sampling the amazing regional cuisine. I highly recommend that area of the county – it still feels fairly charming and adventurous.

I had a bit of a hassle from Mexican Immigration at the boarder, and got robbed by the Narcos immediately upon entering the country, but I’m lucky they only took the cash that I had on hand. The rest of the trip through Mexico was fun, but I passed through a good bit of terrain I had already seen. I did pick up an old friend in Monterey, and we had a great car hang the rest of the way.

How long did the trip take? Where else did you stop and stay along the way?

I did it in about two weeks….New York, the Washington DC area, Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans, Houston, Austin, Laredo, Monterey, San Miguel De Allende, all the way to Oaxaca, Mazunte!

What did you listen to on the drive?

Oh man! I asked a bunch of friends to share playlists, so I had a ton to listen to. Whenever I would get close to a town with a musical history, I would search for music from the area. I also listened to some podcasts, and had long calls with old friends.

Did you collect some stories suitable for songwriting?

I’m sure I will draw upon the experience directly or indirectly at some point, but no songs have come out of the trip yet.

Didn’t you also cut off your hair and beard? What prompted that? You might have seen that I`ve gone the other way – currently rocking a castaway pirate look.

Just the hair. Life in the tropics and long hair don’t mix well! I’m loving your castaway pirate look. I’ll likely return to that at some point!

Has the lockdown period proved to be productive for you?

Absolutely! Busier than ever.

Have you written a lot of new music?

Last year, during the first lockdown period, I wrote a bunch of new tunes for Paqua. We are working on getting some new stuff going, which hopefully will be out there soon!

Have you been involved in any other projects?

I`ve been producing a record for my friend Charlie Hall, who`s the drummer for the  band, War On Drugs. That will be mixed this summer and out sometime early next year I would guess. I have a HUGE list of new material and projects I’m planning on exploring in the coming year or so. It`s hard to decide where to start!

Is the antique / art business still “booming”?

It is online, as is everything else these days. The company I work for, the art and antiques e-commerce platform 1stdibs.com, just went public. It was spurred on in part because of the increased move to online sales for the industry. 

For someone whose career contains so many collaborations, I’m guessing that being cut off from friends and co-conspirators might have been particularly frustrating. Alex From Tokyo, Bart Davenport, Alexis Georgopolous, Tommy Guerrero, Shawn Lee, Phil Mison, Paul Murphy / Paqua, Psychemagik – Have you managed to keep any of the collaborations going – at a distance – through the crisis – or start any new ones?

I have been touch with all of these people in the past month, and will likely work with each of them on something in the coming years. Again, it`s hard to know where to start!

Did anything happen with the “Dap-Tone sessions”, the work with Nick Movshon and Homer Steinweiss?

Yes! We have two songs that will likely be the next release on El Triangulo Records. I’m trying to figure out how to help the public make sense of me going from vocal house to `70s country soul from one release to the next!

Can you tell me more about the plans for El Triangulo? The label has recently had two fresh releases – do you have any more lined-up?

At this stage of my career I’m getting more interested in producing other artists, more collaborations, and making whatever music comes to mind, whenever I can. The project we are developing in Oaxaca centres around a recording studio, and my hope is to have it operating as much as possible. El Triangulo will be the home for this music.

El Triangulo was initially envisioned as a recording studio, and a spiritual healing retreat, is this dream still happening?

100%! It should be operational at some point next year, hopefully early next year.  six buildings are up, and half of them are basically finished.

Are things beginning to open up again where you are?

Things seems to be going the other way at the moment. We are in New York now, and they are re-instituting indoor mask rules.

Prior to the pandemic was there / is there a local music scene?

If you mean Mazunte, a bit of one, but not much – there are lots of people passing through though. If you mean Woodstock, DEF yes!

All being well what are your plans for the rest of the year?

We’ll head back down to Mazunte from the Woodstock area early Fall. We’ll be moving everything forward with our project there, and hopefully make some formal announcements about it all in the not to distant future!

Quinn, amigo, thank you, and good luck with everything!

Thanks so much Rob! Great chatting with you as always.

Quinn Lamont Luke’s recent El Triangulo releases – Don’t Run Away and Not My Day, plus a ton of his ace archival material, can purchased directly from Bandcamp. 

quinn Luke Dont Run Away

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