Interview With Quinn XCII

March 3, 2017 was when Seattle welcomed the up and coming
pop artist Quinn XCII into its classic rainy Friday night music scene for his
third show on his first ever headlining tour- The One Day at a Time Tour. We
sat down in the equipment room before his sold-out show at Barboza in the
Capitol Hill area of Seattle and chatted music, tour life, and his take on
entering the music scene. Out of his 18 stops on the tour, this was his third
show and at the time, all of the three were sold out, not a bad start.

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 I began the conversation by asking some local Seattle
questions as this was the Michigan native’s first time in the Emerald City and did
not get a chance to see the classic tourist sights, but he seemed to be a good
fit in the city as he said craft beer and coffee were two of his favorite
things in the world. He said he had plans on enjoying the local beer scene post
show. We also shared a few words on coffee, given that Seattle is famous for
its caffeinated drink and he said he has gained a new respect for it as it is
beneficial in order to make the most of his studio time and the “idea-sparking”
powers coffee has on him when writing.

 With now over 1,000,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and
64,000 followers on SoundCloud, Quinn gives credit to his music inspiration
coming from his parent’s record collection and influences from artists such as
Michael Jackson and the Motown scene surrounding Detroit, his hometown. In high
school Quinn began experimenting with his vocals and music in general as he
began to write raps and rap over beats him and his current day producer that
goes by the name Ayokay, would find on YouTube. From this sparked a musical
relationship between the two as they began “cultivating” their own sound
through these experiments. Quinn says the biggest challenge in creating music
is being able to stray away from the crowd and craft his own sound.

 Quinn spent his college days at Michigan State University
and his sophomore year was when he released his first official project via
SoundCloud, which he gives credit to being a major reason he was able to gain a
following during those first days of creating music. It was soon after that he
began playing live shows and says that after a show on a tour with electronic
artist Louis The Child in Lansing, Michigan, that was the moment he realized he
could do music as a career as he felt a, “powerful reciprocation” from the
crowd he had not felt before.

 We spoke on his hit song, “Straightjacket” that has a line
about a, “Psycho from a Mid-West suburb,” and I was curious whether he wrote
the song about anyone is particular which lead to a discussion about his
writing style and how he writes his music to which he responded by saying, “I
like to step out of the box and speak on a topic that I don’t really pertain to
with what I’ve been through, but I know people can relate to because people
have been through it.”

 A breakthrough artist who has been on two tours with artists
Louis the Child and SoMo and now getting the opportunity to go on his first headlining
tour has loved traveling and seeing new cities all over the United States. Quinn
also stated that his favorite fast food stop while living life on the road has
to be Burger King but that after a night of drinking with the crew the most
visited spot has to be the classic golden arches of McDonalds. And although
tour life has many promising features along with his new life living in Los
Angeles, Quinn says he misses the laid-back lifestyle the Mid-West has as well
as spending time with his friends and family.

Mike is Quinn XCII’s real name, and the first name he used
when he began releasing music was Mike-T. Eventually he decided to switch it up
and go with an acronym that he heard from a college professor at Michigan State,
Quinn, which stands for: Quit Unless your Instincts are Never Neglected. This
acronym to him means, “If you don’t have an instinct saying to stop what you’re
doing, continue what you are pursuing.” Due to copyright reasons, he ended up
throwing in the XCII for the roman numerals that translate to the number 92,
which was the year he was born. Due to the complexity of the name story, Mike
decides to introduce himself as Quinn and simply go by that name in the music
world.

 As an up and coming artist who just recently signed with
Columbia Records, Quinn says that he doesn’t feel famous, or in other words
hasn’t felt that he is “under a microscope” and jokes that he has decided to
just relax and take it “One day at a time,” following that statement by, “No
pun intended with the tour name.” He states that most of all he is very humbled
that people enjoy his music and says it is the, “Best feeling in the world.” Quinn
has a new single that recently dropped called, “Make Time,” and Quinn stated
that a new album is in the works that will be followed by a two month fall tour
in 2017.

 Following the interview, I was able to enjoy the concert
with the sold-out crowd and I danced with the melodic sounds of his music that
he claims is, “Great Summertime music,” and I will have to agree. His voice is
electrifying and his positive energy and genuine smile kept the vibes in the
crowd going as a majority of the crowd sang along song after song. Accompanied
by a live band on the keys and drums, his live act is very entertaining and he
brings a real energy to the show with his interaction with the crowd. I will
most definitely be seeing him on his fall tour!

Keep your eyes peeled for this up and coming talent in the pop
and electronic music scenes who is enjoying his new life in the music scene,
one day at a time.

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-Gustavo O’Connell, RainyDawg DJ

Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!

Live Review: Serial with Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder

True crime podcast Serial launched into wild popularity during its 2014 debut. Co-created by Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder, the show is cited for groundbreaking work in long-form investigative journalism. Its first story, explored throughout the entire season, follows a 15-year-old murder case. Teenager Adnan Syed was convicted of strangling his ex-girlfriend in 1999, but he maintains his innocence to this day. The uncertainty was riveting. Koenig, the host, revealed new information each week as she uncovered it. At the release of its first episode, no one, not even Koenig, knew how Serial would end. Listeners couldn’t help but speculate. Did Adnan really do it? Where was he in those 21 minutes after school? What about the mystery of the Best Buy phone booth? Who lied, and why? 

With all these questions floating around, I was unbelievably excited to attend Serial’s live show at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday. I wish I had pictures for you all to see, but unfortunately photography is not allowed inside. The building is absolutely stunning, though. It has these wonderful high ceilings and ornate decorations and big, warm lights that make it feel like an old theater from a different time. I would highly recommend on venue alone! But back to Serial. 

I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that Serial changed the game for podcasting, journalism, and audio entertainment. Its creators were in Seattle to discuss how they made it happen. Before the show started, the screen displayed a rotating collage of scanned documents, drawings, and notes from Adnan’s case. It was strange to see these pages — lines of scrawled handwriting, sometimes blacked out in places — after only hearing them described out loud. It was certainly an effective reminder that true crime journalism is just that: true stories that affect real people.     

Koenig and Snyder made their entrance to enthusiastic applause. It brought the show to life in a completely different way, as Koenig’s already-familiar voice filled the room. The two graciously introduced themselves. They still couldn’t believe how many people came out to see them. (After all, their initial goal for the podcast had been to reach 300,000 people. To date, Serial has had 264 million downloads!) Side by side, Koenig standing and Snyder perched a stool, they began to tell the story of Serial itself. Beginning with their early hopes for the podcast, they explained how it came to be the show we know today. They talked about the development process and how they overcame the challenges that appeared along the way. This included one story about a hilarious Facebook mishap some time ago. Koenig also detailed the nature of her relationship with Adnan — calculated but personal, not quite friends but not strictly business either.   

Throughout this first part of the show, it was pretty hard not to be won over by these two ladies. The pair were surprisingly funny in an honest, matter-of-fact way. Judging from the laughter I heard around me, the rest of the crowd felt the same. Koenig and Snyder also acknowledged deficits in their investigation of Adnan’s case. They seemed to invite transparency about the deliberateness of their storytelling. Although that should be a given in journalism, it was still incredibly cool to hear the thoughts of the people behind Serial. The whole thing actually felt quite intimate. Koenig called this first part of the show a “speech”, but it was much more conversational than that and more like her comfortable narration on each episode.

The second half of the show was reserved for questions. Audience members lined up at microphones placed on each end of the main floor and balcony. People raised questions about various facts of Adnan’s case. Some asked about Serial’s second season, which aired last year. Others asked about the journalism itself. The number one takeaway? Fact check, fact check, fact check. Fact check everything.

In both halves of the show, Koenig and Snyder made excellent use of episode clips, pictures, and unaired interview tapes to illustrate the creation process. We even got to see a photo of hand puppets some middle schoolers had crafted to represent each character on season two. It was adorable in a kind of unsettling way.

Overall, it was a super rad night. I laughed a lot, learned a lot, and gained even more appreciation for all the work that goes into making a top-notch podcast. If there are any hardcore Serial fans who were unable to make it, I would highly recommend seeing them next time they make it out to Seattle.  

You can stream Serial from their website: Season 1 / Season 2

Serial and This American Life are also launching a spinoff called S-Town. It airs March 28th! Don’t miss it!

Emily Tasaka


Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!

Album Review: Dirty Projectors

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Dirty Projectors began a while ago as the solo project of frontman David Longstreth, before finding success as a full band with their blend of experimental yet accessible indie pop on albums Bitte Orca and Swing Lo Magellan. However, a new self-titled album finds Dirty Projectors returning to its solo roots under Longstreth. 

Dirty Projectors marks a change in style with its R&B inspired sound. Although I always appreciate artists trying new genres and changing up their music, some of these attempts work better than others. While there are many great moments on this album, a lot of it just does not seem to work so well; not totally unsuccessful, but lacking. 

“Keep Your Name” makes the new stylistic turn of this album immediately clear, with it’s distinctive distorted vocals a bit jarring on first listen. The track comes across a bit as a failed experiment, with the vocal changes (including a pitch shifted sample from their last album in the background) proving to be more irritating than anything. The lyrics feel pretty harsh, with lines such as “I don’t think I ever loved you” and “What I want from art is truth, what you want is fame.”

“Up in Hudson” has some great instrumentation, yet it is brought down by rather awkward, unsubtle lyrics that feel out of place, including “And we both had girl and boyfriends blowing us up SMS” and “Now I’m listening to Kanye on the Taconic Parkway, riding fast/And you’re out in Echo Park, blasting 2pac, drinking a fifth for my ass.” The chorus, however, is probably one of the high points of the album, and the strong outro to the song helps save it despite these earlier flaws. 

The remainder of the album is similarly inconsistent. While there are still great moments to be found, such as the refrain of “Little Bubble”, or the nice backing vocals from Dawn Richard on “Cool Your Heart”, other songs, such as “Work Together” just feel more annoying than anything else, with the overused effects detracting from the overall quality of the song. Some of the middle stretch of the album blends together a bit, with some less remarkable tracks. Although a bit disappointing in comparison to previous Dirty Projectors albums, it is by no means a bad album, with many strong moments on it despite some issues.

Website / Twitter

-Noah Prince

Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!

Album Review: Khalid Brings the Fun on American Teen

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Khalid has been on my radar for quite some time now. He was part of my list of artists to watch this year, and he has entered the spotlight with American Teen. Khalid has proven he lives up to the hype, and that he knows how to have fun doing it.

Despite the tone of American Teen, most of the songs’ instrumentals are uplifting and catchy. Khalid primarily sings over ballads, but he goes out of his comfort zone on a few tracks. “Young Dumb & Broke” is one of the highlights, a trap-flavored track where Khalid encourages his fellow youth to act heinously while they can, because it won’t last. The majority of the tracks revolve around the theme of being young and reckless. It’s pretty fitting, considering Khalid is only 19 years old. Other tracks involve Khalid grieving about lost love and failed relationships, such as on “Another Sad Love Song.” The tone and instrumental clash here; the production is so infectious and groovy that the listener might not even know Khalid’s crooning about missing a past lover.

Khalid’s voice itself doesn’t impress often. He sits on the same pitch for the entire album. His tone rarely changes, so he sounds the same on every song. This isn’t necessarily terrible, because it conveys his vulnerability on the slower ballads. Otherwise, it’s disappointing, and I hope he takes more risks with his voice on the next album. 

Another pitfall American Teen faces is its lyrics. Khalid’s lyrics are awfully surface level and a lot of them cover familiar ground. Most of the time he’s saying it in a different way; it only sounds different, but doesn’t feel different. “Coaster”, “Hopeless”, and “Shot Down” each encompass the feeling of being heartbroken. Complex lyrics are by no way a requirement for albums, but Khalid needs to find a way to effectively convey his feelings about love and youth in more than one or two forms. 

Khalid has pretty much met my expectations with American Teen. The subject matter is focused but doesn’t deliver as distinctive. He tropes mundane topics through the 15 tracks, usually settling for a melancholy love song or an anthem for the adolescent. However, if the listener doesn’t pay too much attention to the lyrics, the album is wonderfully entertaining. The production is a mash-up of electronic, R&B, and trap that blends together remarkably well. American Teen is a fun album; just don’t expect to have any intellectual conversations about its themes. Listen to American Teen here.

Archie O’Dell

Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!

3rd Annual Birthday Battle

On Tuesday, April 11th, UW student artists Don, Pants, High Turnover, and The Squad fka BRADLEGANG will be competing for an opening slot at our Birthday Fest concert on Tuesday, April 18th!

by Pari Gabriel

Come watch the battle at the Ethnic Cultural Theatre at 7:30pm on Tuesday, April 11th for FREE! You can RSVP here.

Open to all • 4/11/17 7:30pm • Ethnic Cultural Theatre

Also be sure to buy tickets for and RSVP for Birthday Fest!