So much has been done already by Quantic – Will Holland – over his 13 years of career. 17 albums came out, enough already to make a double best of, he has toured and recorded with numerous musicians from all over the world under different bands : Flowering Inferno, Combo Barbabaro, Quantic Soul Orchestra, the Limp Twins…exploring hip hop, soul, funk, electronic and tropical music.
He’s now on tour promoting his fourth solo album which came out earlier this year. We met him in Dijon where he was performing at the Tribu Festival, few hours before his live.
He told us about his 6 years experience in Colombia and gave us some hints about new collaborations and the probable come back of the soul project.
You’ve been on tour for a while, after the album Magnetica came out. What’s the set up live like ?
It’s a smaller set up, very portable with 4 people. We have Wilson Viveros, a percussionist who is on the tropical project, on Combo Barbaro and on Alice Russel’s record so we work a lot together. It’s special to have him. We’re also working with a saxophonist, Sylvester Onyejiaka from Texas and we recently started to work together, but he’s a fantastic musician.
You’re one of the ambassador of colombian music in Europe, how did it all start ?
I started to travel to Colombia because i had heard the music and i wanted to hear more so after that I started living in Colombia and travelling to Panama and Venezuela and from there I really fell in love with the music. I accidentally started being involved with colombian music, I feel very accepted there and it’s nice that people think i’m representing the music because i’m english. It’s nice to think that I’ve done something with the music, for the music.
Cumbia has been over the last few years more and more popular in Europe, did you or the musicians you worked with see it coming while you were in Cali ?
There’s been a slow built of interest in tropical music not only from Colombia but the whole latin America. Cumbia is the most hype kind of word and the easiest to understand so that’s why it’s more popular.
Why did you choose to settle in Cali ?
I had a friend over there Alfredo Linares, a peruvian piano player but based in Cali. First few trips I went to stay with my friend’s grand father there and he was actually very old in his mid 80’s, a jewish colombian guy. And through Alfredito I started to meet musicians.
There are no real majors in Colombia, did you have any trouble exporting the music you produced ?
It’s difficult the record industry over there because it’s changing a lot but then it’s very cool because a lot of people like my friend Mario Galeano from Frente Cumbiero, he was always advising me, he knew a lot about the industry and in some ways it’s interesting because nothing exists any more, none of the old school record labels. I mean they exist but in making ringtones. For me and Mario it was a really nice time because there was a lot of musicians and a lot of energy but not really an industry. So it’s a great time to meet people, they’re really thirsty because that kind of old culture of going into the studio and recording together isn’t really existing that much anymore.
Can you tell us more about Nidia Gongora who sings on two tracks of Magnetica ? We thought she might be here with you tonight.
I’ve been working with Nidia since 2007, she lives in that very nice, tropical city on the pacific coast of Colombia. We started working on couple of songs for the Combo Barbaro, we really enjoyed that. And the unique thing about Nidia is that she’s a singer but also a very good writer, it’s a nice combination. She’s unfortunately not with us tonight because the french ambassy still has her passport. It’s the fourth time we’ve had that problem while on tour.
There’s also Alice Russel, a long time collaborator, on Quantic Soul Orchestra and Combo Bàrbaro. Do you have new projects together ?
Yes… Women… Of course we’ll be recording things together again. She’s taking a little break right now and she’ll be touring later on this year. But it’s so easy to work with her, she’s a very talented woman.
When you lived in Cali you had a studio at home where you used to invite musicians so as to record them live. Do you have a similar set up now that you live in New York ?
Well, a little bit. I have my studio there so i can mix but you know space is money in NY so it’s very small and i’m on tour this year so I’ve decided to put my studio in storage, I don’t need it right now. Actually after so long in Colombia struggling, doing all the technical things by myself it’s a revelation to be in a studio here, there’s somebody else who presses record and I don’t have to do anything, it’s nice.
About Magnetica you said you wanted to get back to you facing your laptop, but you’ve spent the last decade playing live with many musicians. How did you find the balance between these two ?
When I was working on the tropical project and on more live elements I was also working on this album. And the Quantic sound has always been something I do in my spare time. Most of the time, when I perform I dj and there’s a lot of music that I make which is not very suitable for the dance floor. I make music for dancing but there’s also lots of songs which are more chill so this was an album that I made to kind of bring some ammunitions to my dj sets.
17 albums released, you’ve explored soul, funk, hip hop, electronic, latin american music, are there still things you want to do ? Still excited about making music ?
I ‘ d like to go back in some ways to doing some soul again, it’s been a while but I think I could do it better now so there might be something with the Quantic Soul Orchestra maybe in a few years. There are a lot of musicians from the soul scene, drummers especially in the States like James Gadson who is a legendary drummer and he is kind of in a age when you want to catch this guy because he is still very powerful. But I don’t know, maybe I’ll get into something completely different or maybe just sit here again in few years being like « Yep, the 26th album… I tried to do some armenian productions but it didn’t work ». Laughs
– Words : Sophie Brignoli, Régis de Saint Amour, Riddimdim
Pics : Pierre Mériau