“I love that it’s New York City. It’s kind of a cultural epicenter. There are always other good artists to draw inspiration from. But definitely one downside is that that big industry people seem very inaccessible. They like to bring in talent from outside NYC and make them big in the city. It’s like they don’t even look for talent within NYC.”
Check out the interview with QNA exclusively on Skilly Magazine Online.
Skilly: How were you able to start your journey in the entertainment business? Where did this all start?
Ben of QNA: I grew up in Minnesota and I grew tired of it. I needed to get out. I needed to pursue this sound I was hearing in my head. I arrived in NYC and got in touch with the rest of the band members. A couple of months later we found ourselves playing shows all over town and releasing music.
What are some of the creative ways you use to promote your music?
Ben: One of my favorite ways to promote our music is by playing on the streets. Busking gives me an opportunity to stretch myself performance wise. People who drop a dollar or two always come up and talk to me and ask where they can find my music. This direct contact with new fans is so rewarding. It’s really my favorite way to spread my music. Call me old school, but it’s way more rewarding than social media.
What is the greatest challenge you face in today’s entertainment business? How do you overcome them?
Jai: Being an individual can be difficult because who I am rejects a world of preconceptions about what my societal role entitles. I meditate to remind myself to process, to forgive, and to grow. I keep close the people that understand the power of words. They keep me going.
How is the music scene like in your hometown? What do you like about it and what don’t you like?
Marina: I love that it’s New York City. It’s kind of a cultural epicenter. There are always other good artists to draw inspiration from. But definitely one downside is that that big industry people seem very inaccessible. They like to bring in talent from outside NYC and make them big in the city. It’s like they don’t even look for talent within NYC.
Where do you think the future of music is going to be? How do you feel artists can be more a part of it?
TJ: Everything is online now. Because of the vast amount of information, the music everyone is making is going to be a big mix of genres and styles. With a few clicks you can listen to gamelan players in Indonesia and then 90’s gangsta rap. One way that artists can harness the power of technology is by using it to connect with their fans. Nowadays we can talk directly to our fan base and get immediate feedback. It’s great.
What advice can you give to other upcoming artists and musicians trying to achieve success?
Marco: There are so many things I’ve learned in these few first steps I’ve taken into the professional music world. I actually have a lot of things to say that I should probably write down, but I’ll just give you three.
- Listen to everyone, but don’t do what everyone tells you. Everyone has an opinion. You have to have a confidence in yourself and that what you are doing is from the heart and sounds pretty damn cool.
- If you want to be treated like a professional it’s your decision to act like one. No one is going to hand you a button to press to suddenly make you play better or be taken seriously. Make the decision right now that every action you take has to be to help accomplish your goals.
- Take the initiative. Don’t complain (especially not on social media) about how there’s no one helping you out and how you don’t have any opportunities to play/record/etc.
What inspires you to write your next song?
Jai: Without peace in my life, I don’t even write. I’ve written most of my lyrics after listening to Shlomo or James Blake or something like that. After hearing people say they love the last piece I did, I feel inspired to make a new one. Being away from work also helps me come back refreshed. Without the balance of living my life and reflecting, words evaporate.
What are the steps you take to make a song?
Ben: Our songwriting process is very collaborative. TJ and I work together to write the skeletal parts of the song then we bring it to the group and jam it out. After that, we present it to Marina and Jai and they elevate it to a lyrical piece.
What do you think makes a great song?
Ben: Honesty is key. It’s the only thing that transcends genres, recording quality, and technical ability. If you’re being honest in your music, it shows.
Where can we connect with you? Can you give us your social media links and where we can contact you?
Jai (rapper/lyricist): firstname.lastname@example.org
Marina (singer): email@example.com
Ben (saxophonist): firstname.lastname@example.org
Marco (drummer): email@example.com
TJ (guitarist): firstname.lastname@example.org
Jason (new bassist): email@example.com
Photography by Hunter Peress