Nash Quest is one of those artists that is hard to define, and that makes his music shine.
Though he is just starting to make waves on the music scene his genre-bending style allows him is sure to make him a sensation. His new album “Contemporary Folklore” is a 10 track journey that defies convention.
Press Pass LA sat down with Quest to talk about his influences and creative process.
PPLA: You’re really inspired by classic French pop. What is it about the genre that attracts you? Do you find it gives you inspiration?
NQ: I am. What I love about it mostly are the romantic, cinematic, and orchestral sounds in the songs, as well as the performances of the artists. I love how some songs have simple arrangements and others have very complicated arrangements and that some sounds and recordings are clean, some are gritty, but they work either way and to me, sound beautiful.
There are long instrumental breaks with dramatic horns, Songs with no instrumental breaks, odd interludes, slow tempos, fast tempos and everything in between. Not one song sounds exactly the same. It’s like each one has its own life; its own world.
What also attracts me are the performances of my favorite artists like Yves Montand, Juliette Greco, and Edith Piaf. In some songs they speak and have musical conversations and in others they sing and the music always follows the mood and the performance of the artist. It’s so rhythmic and it always keeps me guessing and interested.
For example, Juliette Greco’s song, “Ca Va (Le diable)”, begins with these bright bright horns, then breaks down to bare bone percussion where she begins speaking with the drums behind her, then she’ll suddenly gets louder, then breaks out into singing, then goes back into speaking, it’s poetic and sporadic, but organized.
The fact that the artist, can be in different places in every song and that every song has its own mood and its own life is amazing. That is music to me. When a song has its own entity and creates an atmosphere that can take you to a different place.
It’s the different tones, the different moods, and unorthodox arrangements that attract me to classic French pop and what also inspire me to make music that isn’t cookie cutter and thinks outside of the box that other rap songs fall into. That is the beauty of music, there is no formula.
PPLA: What would you say your biggest influence is? Why?
NQ: That is a tough question because I feel we are directly and indirectly influenced by so much as we grow older. There are so many people, places, and things that have influenced me and, of course, my art. I would say that my biggest influence is the combination of the those three nouns. If I didn’t experience those people, places and things, I wouldn’t be influenced to create.
So, my biggest influence is the experiences I’ve had throughout my life in the places I’ve traveled, lived, and seen with the people I’ve met, loved, hated, left, and kept and the things that I’ve done, watched, heard, felt, along the way. My music is my life, and my life is complicated and has never been influenced by just one thing.
PPLA: You have a new album coming out, tell me a bit about that. What was the creative process in creating it?
NQ: Yes, it is in the works. I am still figuring out its title, but when I do I will let you know. haha. The creative process, has been wild to say the least. Songs have come to me on the road during my weekly travels back and forth between San Francisco and Los Angeles, in bars, on rooftops, restaurants, walks, etc. Sometimes melodies arrive while I’m at home in San Francisco on a run and I have to stop and record them as voice memos in the middle of park. I have been working a lot in my studio, just playing with new samples, melodies, hooks, and verses.
I am really focusing on not forcing anything, because I always end up hating it and rewriting it again and again and..again. Then I still don’t like it lol! Besides learning not to force it, I am also learning to always be ready when it comes. As we all are, I constantly have my phone in my hand with my “notes” app out. I also carry a small moleskin, when I have an idea for a painting. I also have a program on my phone that I can do a little production on if a melody comes to mind, or if I come up with a drum part. I also record tons and tons of ideas on my phone with my voice memos. Songs come at the most random times, because who knows what will spark your creative subconscious?
PPLA: You’ve been performing since you were 14 years old. Did you always know you wanted to be a musician?
NQ: Actually, yes. I have always known that I belong on a stage in front of a crowd. I remember one of my first times performing. I was in the 3rd grade lip-syncing a beach boys song in front of my school at a talent show and the feeling from the applause after I finished became something I always loved.
I love letting myself go, making people feel what I am feeling or what I am not, giving them something from an physical and emotional standpoint they can take with them, hate, love, or be inspired by. I think seeing somebody as themselves, showing off what they created, and be vulnerable in front of people who will either love it or hate it, but still respect the effort, is incredible. And I have never had a problem putting myself out there for the world.