Interview With Enigmatic Indie Rock Artist QUARRY

We speak to indie-rock solo artist Quarry, to unravel the mysteries behind his latest EP, 'RENAISSANCE'—exploring the inspirations, creative process, and gear that brought this grungy-hypnotic masterpiece to life.

By Chris RoditisMusicngear Lead Editor

Article photo - Interview With Enigmatic Indie Rock Artist QUARRY


Chris Roditis, Musicngear: Your multi-instrumentalist approach is distinctive. Can you share specific gear, instruments, or recording techniques that played a pivotal role in shaping the sonic landscape of "RENAISSANCE"?

Article photo - Interview With Enigmatic Indie Rock Artist QUARRY My recording technique is absolutely linked to songwriting and shapes my tunes. For me, writing and recording are not distinct processes.

The most important thing for me in my small studio is to always have all the instruments set up, mic'd up, and ready to record any idea at any time in the best way possible. As a matter of fact, the final mix includes a large number of the first recordings captured during the writing stage.

I don't particularly enjoy the traditional approach of going through the pre-production stage for months before heading into the studio to cut the songs that will be released. I believe that going down this route increases the likelihood of overproducing the tunes and reduces spontaneity and the magic of a certain sound or vocals you performed or sung in a particularly inspired moment.

I enjoyed very much using ribbon mics like vintage Beyerdynamic M160 and M500 into AEA preamps on guitars, vocals, percussion and overhead on drums. Everything sounded more rounded and warm.


The concept of an astronaut's perspective on Earth is intriguing. How did this thematic choice influence your songwriting process, and did it impact the selection of specific instruments or gear for the EP?

The breathtaking view of Earth from afar enjoyed by this astronaut, which I saw on a NASA video, gave the songs a strong sense of space, both sonically and lyrics-wise.

The most important gear to get this outer space atmosphere has been an old analog Ibanez rack multi-effects UE400, mainly the chorus and delay that I utilized on guitars, vocals and minimal synths in the background, and the Strymon Bluesky reverb pedal.

In the mixes, I borrowed a Roland Dimension D rackmount, which I had never used before, but it was a revelation to me, and I now understand why some songs sounded 'spatially' like that.


Ambient music and atmospheric textures in a song, to me, represent suspension, something levitating that is ready to transport myself and the listener somewhere else


Guitar sounds are prominent in your music. Could you delve into the types of guitars and effects used on "RENAISSANCE" and how these choices contributed to the grungy-hypnotic vibe of the EP?

In the EP's four songs, grungy-hypnotic feel alludes to capturing the intensity of the grunge era and the variety of post-punk sensibilities, both of which were led by a guitar-driven mood.

While post-punk included a variety of tones and textures, grunge was characterized mostly by guitar distortion and power. I tried to incorporate these two elements and let them permeate my own sound and approach.

I mainly played a Fender Jaguar and a Guild S-200 Thunderbird. The Jaguar, with its jangle and chime sound, and the Guild, which is a little darker and has a more humbucker-like tone, but both produce a variety of tones, gave me a wide sonic range.

For overdrive sounds, I used the MXR Micro Amp M133 and EarthQuaker Devices Speaker Cranker Overdrive V2, while for distortion, I used the Electro Harmonix Big Muff PI USA and Electro Harmonix Germanium OD, as well as the Black Cat K-Fuzz. For ambient sounds, I used a lot the 80s Ibanez rack multi-effects UE400 and the Strymon Bluesky reverb pedal.

In addition, I made extensive use of my old Digitech Whammy VH-1. Everything ran mainly through a vintage Vox AC30.


Having a diverse musical background, how has your approach to gear and instrumentation evolved over the years, particularly when comparing 'RENAISSANCE' to your earlier solo works or collaborations?

My approach to instrumentation remained basically unchanged. I've always tried to make the most of the limitations of the instruments I owned. That consistently pushed the envelope, looking for new methods to get around them, resulting in constant experimentation.

What has changed is my perspective on the limitless possibilities that working with a digital DAW provides. After the first years working with Pro Tools, being comfortable with all the takes you can record and edit, as well as all the plug-ins you can use for whatever reason, I have changed my way of using it in a more creative way, using pre-digital era production techniques and resisting the temptation of taking the easy way out.

Things like submixing and using 16 tracks rather than 64 have profound effect on the recording process. And I believe that using the UAD Apollo interface and plug-ins contributed to the shift in workflow.


With an upcoming US tour, what gear and instruments are essential for recreating the EP's sound in a live setting? Any specific challenges or exciting aspects you anticipate in adapting the music for live performances?

I have a great band playing with me. We'll bring our instruments and pedalboards and rent the same amps used in the recordings. A few songs will include click and keyboards backing tracks. The live approach will be a little more powerful, but my goal is to get as close as possible to the sonic world of my albums and this new EP.


Music is no longer as significant as it was in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. It is based on quantity rather than quality, and the term 'entertainment' is perceived incorrectly as a pile of garbage that algorithms or massive networks try to feed the audience

 

Do you have a standout moment where a specific piece of gear or instrument significantly influenced the creation of a song, perhaps on 'RENAISSANCE' or any other project in your musical journey?

Undoubtedly, some instruments and pieces of equipment determine the tone of a song or a whole album. And I am fascinated by the power of chance during recording sessions. It happens many times and in a variety of ways. Sometimes you accidentally move a mic, and when you hear the recorded sound you say: 'How different from the previous take, how did I get this?'

The main riff of the single 'Wild New Start' from the 'Renaissance' EP was recorded with a friend's guitar and amp that had been left at my studio for a period of time. I used those instruments only on that song. I was messing around with this guitar, an Epiphone Casino Vintage Sunburst through a Fender Deluxe amp while playing on a percussion loop captured during a session, and I recorded this improvised riff just to hear how the guitar sounded through that amp. In ten minutes, I had all of the guitar parts that ended up in the final mix.

With a rush of enthusiasm for the riff and the sound, the song was completed in a few days.



The EP features suggestive ambient sounds. Can you share insights into how you incorporate ambient elements into your compositions and the role-specific tools or gear play in achieving these atmospheric textures on 'RENAISSANCE'?

Ambient music and atmospheric textures in a song, to me, represent suspension, something levitating that is ready to transport myself and the listener somewhere else. They are usually created by improvising on guitar, and then going through reamping and treatments till I get something off the wall that gives me that kind of spacey vibe.

These sounds and textures may be found on the EP's tracks 'Find A New Star' and 'Up On The Mountain Of A Cool World'. I treated some guitar parts using filter plugins, then reamped them via a small Fender Champion 600 amp, then through delays and reverbs, and finally through a Vox AC30 amplifier.



'Micro Plastic People' delves into socio-environmental issues. How do you use your music as a platform for addressing such topics, and do you see a connection between your thematic explorations in different releases?

Unfortunately, music is no longer as significant as it was in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. It is based on quantity rather than quality, and the term 'entertainment' is perceived incorrectly as a pile of garbage that algorithms or massive networks try to feed the audience. However, I believe it can still be used as a spiritual instrument for dealing with social, political, and cultural challenges. I've always tried to do that.

'Micro Plastic People' was the most direct approach I took. In 'Renaissance', I want to juxtapose the gloomy part of our current reality with the breathtaking view that this astronaut was able to appreciate from a distance.



You mentioned the desire to escape to an ideal place in your creative process. How does this yearning manifest in the music, both sonically and lyrically?

I recently realized while reading my lyrics, rather than singing them, that this ideal place to escape to, the yearning to escape the paranoid pressure of this model of society that I can't stand, is consistently present.

The world has changed since Bruce Springsteen portrayed in most of his songs the desire to escape the weight and pressure of life of the characters who worked long, hard days in factories. Now, I think those characters have been replaced by others who are used to, and somehow addicted to, algorithms, social media, influencers, ephemeral notoriety, and have no desire to escape to a better place.

What I would like to convey, both sonically and lyrically, is that there are people who are comfortable with being out of place and out of time, and these are the people who yearn for a better place, and these are the ones who, hopefully, will carry the ones who have no desire for a better place to live.


Listen to RENAISSANCE


Connect with QUARRY
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Keep an eye out for QUARRY's upcoming US tour in 2024!

About Chris Roditis

Chris Roditis has been an active musician since 1995 in various bands and projects across a variety of genres ranging from acoustic, electronic to nu metal, british rock and trip hop. He has extensive experience as a mixing engineer and producer and has built recording studios for most of the projects he has been involved with. His passion for music steered his entrepreneurial skills into founding MusicNGear in 2012.

Contact Chris Roditis at chrisroditis@kinkl.com

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