Though he wouldn’t describe himself as a pop artist, Quinn XCII is certainly popular among college students.The Michigan native and electronic artist performed a sold-out show at Ritchie Coliseum on Friday.
Quinn XCII, whose real name is Mikael Temrowski, has been delivering feel-good ballads since Change of Scenery, a five song EP, dropped in 2015. He followed that up with a few singles, another EP and then his long-awaited debut album The Story of Us in September 2017. A few days after the show, he announced that he is releasing his second album, From Michigan, With Love, in early 2019.
Quinn might seem like a small act, but the artist who is consistently hitting tens of millions of listens on Spotify is poised for a breakthrough. His voice, rapping ability and high-octane production make him a musical triple threat. I sat down and talked with him before he took the stage at SEE’s Fallapalooza.
I got a chance to see you over the summer in Montreal. A lot of rappers do the typical, “play your song with your lyrics and rap over your lyrics,” but you bring the drums and the keyboard, recreating the sounds there. Why do you put so much effort into your live show?
That’s a good question. Live music, for me, has always been really important. I grew up listening to a bunch of Motown music and stuff, being from Michigan my parents put me on that. Going to concerts, you would see a rapper with the DJ behind him and some people can pull that off, but there’s other acts with a live band, and it is so much more full sounding.
Why is live music so important to you?
To me, it is important because I think it shows diversity. It shows we can take songs that are more produced out and electronic sounding and then bring them to a live setting where we can transform them … we’re going to add a guitar next tour, just kind of keep moving this into more of a musical direction because that’s really what I want people to know — I’m more than just a writer, I love producing and having my hand in all this different stuff.
You and Chelsea Cutler signed with Visionary Music Group, a label founded not too far from here. Logic actually shot one of his first big music videos here at UMD. What was the decision process behind that?
[Logic] is from Gaithersburg, right? So my manager Jesse became good friends with Chris and Harry, who run VMG with Logic and Jon Bellion, and eventually Chris and Harry took notice of the growth we were experiencing, and they were just like, “Do you guys want to merge and see where this goes?” So we did.
I’ve always looked up to them as a label because I envy their philosophy in terms of slow building and fan bases. Nothing is overnight — they really put in effort to see their artists succeed. It’s a great fit, and I’m super excited.
You’re a big hat guy — anyone who follows you on Instagram knows it’s always Fila with you, but what’s your favorite hat recently? Because it seems like that’s a big part of you.
Yeah, dude, I love hats so much. I don’t know why, but I’m so much more comfortable wearing hats.
Well, you picked a career where you can do it.
I always joke with my mom and dad — it’s not like I can wear this going into an office job. I cycle hats all the time … and that’s with clothing in general. I like to wear the most comfortable thing I can, but, like anyone, you go through habits and tastes.
You had a “Stop the Hate” hat on when I saw you in Montreal.
Yeah, “Stop the Hate” is a brand I’m pushing with my buddy who is my photographer and that’s becoming popular with [me]. It’s cool to wear stuff, but if you can pin a message behind it, it’s even better. It sucks because I’ll wear them on stage and sweat through them, and then they’re damaged … it’s not good.