This Saturday, December 7, we are excited to welcome UK garage legend DJ Q to New York City. With his relentless arsenal of certified bangers, countless performances all across the globe and long-running radio shows in his native UK, Q has established himself as a true tastemaker and trailblazer. We are humbled to have a bonafide innovator make the trip across the pond to share authentic garage vibes with our NYC family. Before things get tasty on Saturday night, we spoke with DJ Q to gain some insight into his life in music, his early days in Huddersfield and what artists inspired him when he was coming up.
Heart Beats: How does it feel to be making your NYC debut and bringing the authentic UK garage and bassline sound to America?
DJ Q: I’m really excited about coming to America. New York especially. It’s something I’ve wanted to jump into for a while. I’ve performed in the states before but this will be my first show as a headline artist. I can’t wait to see how the vibe and energy compares to the UK. I’m sure it will be just as energetic.
HB: You are an undisputed garage icon. How has the scene around the genre evolved over time?
Q: It’s evolved over time for sure, there are a lot more sub genres now and the audience is getting younger. Technology has progressed a lot and that means it's even easier for someone to take part in the scene whether that be as a DJ, producer or supporter.
HB: Can you tell us about your new track "Baby I Don't Know" which you produced with your friend Finn and how the track finally came to fruition?
Q: We initially started it a few years ago after playing a few events together put on by the label Local Action. I’ve always liked Finn’s energy as a DJ so it was only right we hooked up in the studio. We started it a few years ago but because of schedules we weren’t able to get back in and finish it. At the end of last year Finn came to my studio and we eventually finished the track and now it’s out there for the world to hear.
HB: How did TQD form and what is it like when all three of you produce tracks and play shows together?
Q: TQD never started out as a thing. The label Butterz had some time booked at Red Bull Studios in London. Myself and Royal-T were down there just vibing and putting ideas down. Those Ideas ended up being the songs “Day & Night” and “Vibsing Ting” We sent the ideas to Flava D and she worked on them and that was it. We wanted to put the music out there for people to listen to and decided writing TQD as the artist name would be easier and shorter than writing all our names individually.
HB: You are easily one of the most prolific producers in the world of electronic music. How have you kept up the level of quality and commitment over the years?
Q: I love music and It’s something I will always be involved in. That's what keeps me committed. In terms of the level of quality its a mixture of a few things I guess. I’m always trying to learn and always working on ways to add quality to my music. It’s about having people around that you listen to and trust to give you feedback.
HB: In the past, you’ve spoken about how garage music has always had a strong sense of community at its core and that’s what drew you to it. In your opinion, how important is it for dance music to have strong local communities in today's commercially dominated landscape?
Q: It’s totally important for dance music to have a sense of community. It helps when everyone supports each other. Sometimes, I think artists have problems with shining a light on other people in case it takes the spotlight off themselves. But for me, the more artists that progress, the more it helps the scene as a whole to progress.
HB: Can you tell us about your hometown of Huddersfield and the musical community there? What was it like when you were first coming up and how has it changed?
Q: At the time I was coming up Huddersfield was healthy for music. It’s a pretty big town in the UK and there were regular events and artists who were either producing or making music. The events have spanned through a wide range of dance music genres and we’ve had a lot of prolific names visit the town. This was inspiring to see as a young up and coming DJ. The music scene didn’t seem as far away especially after seeing people from the town progress in the music scene. Now, although there are fewer venues there’s still a sense of community within the music scene, there are regular events and there’s also places for people that want to get into the music scene to learn and get information.
HB: I’ve read that you started DJing before you started producing. What first got you into producing and what was it like when you started playing your tracks in clubs?
Q: I’ve always been someone who wanted to play new unheard music. I used to travel to different record shops across the country to get certain songs that weren’t in our shops up north. While I was studying music at school I learned how to use a programme called Cubase and ended up starting to produce edits of songs so that my sets were different. This gradually turned into me making my own songs.
HB: What influenced you to start making bassline and how is that genre stylistically different from garage?
Q: I think because of the way I got into the ‘Bassline’ scene I’ve never really seen it as a separate thing to garage. To me, it's just another sub-genre. The 4x4 garage tracks I made and was releasing got picked up by a few of the DJs who played in Niche (the now legendary bassline club in Sheffield).
HB: What is your favorite setting to play: intimate clubs, big festivals, raves?
Q: I just love playing music no matter the size of the venue or crowd. There are different elements of each setting which makes them exciting to play. For example, you get a huge buzz from playing to a big festival because of the size and energy of the crowd but at the same time not much beats feeling the energy of the crowd up close in a small intimate venue, It feels a touch more personal.
HB: Who are some artists who you really look up to and respect and conversely who are some up-and-comers that have caught your eye?
Q: DJ wise it has to be DJ EZ, he’s a big inspiration for me in terms of what a DJ should be. Producer wise Todd Edwards, his style has influenced me a lot. I look up to and respect a lot of my peers around me like Flava D, Royal-T, Champion, Jamie Duggan. I really like what Finn is doing too. In terms of up and coming names, I wouldn’t exactly call them up and coming as they’re doing big things at the moment in terms of music output but I’d say Mind Of A Dragon, Sammy Virji and Jack Junior. Those guys are putting out some really authentic sounding UK Garage at the moment.
HB: Outside of music what are your greatest passions?
Q: Music takes up quite a lot of my time in some way shape or form, If I’m not working then I’m just listening to music in general but away from that just usual stuff really. Spending time with friends and family. I try to get into the gym as much as I can. I love eating too! I enjoy visiting new places, whether that be cities or just new countries in general. When I get a chance I play PS4 a little bit and I catch up on WWE. I’m a big sneaker freak too!
HB: What tips would you give to someone just starting out in the scene and looking to make a career in music?
Q: It’s a long road but if you’re focused and determined then things will happen eventually. If one thing doesn’t go your way then don’t get disheartened just keep going.
HB: What was your “I made it moment” and how did your life in music change after that point?
Q: Looking back now it’s not really a major thing but I’d say my first actual “I made it moment” was when I first played one of my productions in a nightclub and then it getting a rewind reaction from the crowd. It wasn’t even a big club it was a local under 18’s event I played at the time but just hearing something I made in the club gave me a great feeling and the buzz to make more music.
HB: Can you tell us about your infamous ALL NIGHT Christmas party and how excited are you to unleash new music to your fans in that setting?
Q: I love the all-night parties because I get to take the crowd on a journey musically and I can play a wider range of music. During shorter sets at peak times in a club most of the time the crowd will want a high energy set at that particular time but playing all night lets you set the mood from early. I’ve been making a lot of new music recently so it will be good to be able to test them out in a club setting.
HB: What do you have lined up for 2020?
Q: More time in the studio, there’s loads of new music to finish off. That includes both solo music and collaborations. There will be more All Night sets with the plan to take them to different countries around the world.