QUIÑ is Bringing Her Fantasy Soul Dreamland to Life With 'DREAMGIRL'
You might recognize QUIÑ from her single “Sticky Situation” featuring Syd from The Internet, from her performance at AfroPunk, or even from her cameo in Leikeli47’s newly released music video for Milk Makeup. With her freckled face and explosive personality, she’s hard to miss. QUIÑ visited our Milk LA fam to chat about her fantasy soul dreamland (a self-proclaimed genre which her music inhabits), her newly released EP DREAMGIRL, and why confidence is key.
In terms of background, did you grow up in LA?
So I grew up in a place called Alta Dena, which is a place just outside of Pasadena—it’s pretty much the same, but a little bit different. Went to school in Pasadena, graduated high school from Pasadena High School and then went to CSUN in the valley for a year and a half.
What did you study?
I studied Psychology. I thought I wanted to be a Criminal Psychologist, but then I realized, what I wanted to do was so specific that the steps—it was just a lot. It was a cover-up. I would have been good at it. I even had this little internship over at the FBI psych department, but the thing was that I didn’t have a car and nobody was trying to help me out so I was like “Okay parents—new plan”.
I moved to the Bay and that’s when I was actually for once, alone, had my own space, my own room and it was kind of the reset of me getting to know myself all over again and kind of tapping into all of my gifts—without being shy because there was someone in my room, sharing it with me. Or anything. It was kind of just like me alone, on this adventure in the bay and it was my favorite… I got a job at Juicy Couture and The Gap. I ended up just choosing The Gap because I was like “Juicy’s too cute, I need some hours… I grew up really afraid of music or singing alone—I always sang in choirs, but I never liked doing solos or anything like that because I was just like no. I didn’t like sharing my gift…. You know when people would normally ask you like, “What do you do?”
I was training myself to be confident in my taste and confident in my work and my writing and my voice and I had to just dumb it down to the simplest stuff—like Okay my voice sings, so as long as my big head doesn’t get in the way, I can’t mess up…. People will be like, “Sing something” and you’re like, “No” and just wanna run away but instead I made a bet with myself, if ever there was a moment that I was forced to or I had to sing or someone asked me to, I would just do it. And after I made that bet it, the universe was like, “Oh really, okay.” So everywhere I went, it was like, “Oh she sings! Sing something!” It would be like at a party or anything like that and it would be so uncomfortable and mortifying to me at first but I was like, “Ah fuck, the bet” and so that’s how I beat my fear with the singing… All of a sudden I’d be in situations where people would ask like, “So what do you do?” and I’m like, “Well I can press play.”
You talk a lot about the universe. Your work is very ethereal; it’s very otherworldly and dreamy. Is it linked?
I feel like, it was always living inside of me. Ever since I was a little girl, I was just free to imagine all day long. I was the first born so it was a while before my sisters were born. I was like 6 or 7. I would hangout with my mom and her friends and I was very in my corner doing my own thing. And I feel like that kind of just gets coded with life. And being alone was kind of like me taking off those layers and going back to the source of me and that me had a wild imagination, that I could just play all day. I’m kind of just playing all over again.
What’s your dream world? Do you envision it?
Yeah, so that’s where Galactica came from actually. It was kind of shown to me and I was in deep meditation one time and I just got shipped there. It showed my Galactica through all different perspectives; what it looked like from a far, what it looked like up close. It’s really just another form of my imagination because it’s totally infinite and versatile. Anything can happen. So it’s just in a planet form, that’s what my imagination looks like.
Galactica is cool because it can—I mean you can jump down the pink waterfall and land somewhere that I might not even know yet, because I’m still writing the book. I’m just kind of still learning about my imagination as I go and writing songs—and not necessarily writing them for the purpose of and album or project. But I’ve accumulated enough songs to go back and think, “So what has my soul been trying to say?” How can I put these stories together? It’s like writing a book randomly and putting the page numbers on them and realizing that they’ve been the same story the whole time. That’s the part of the whole puzzle I love.
How does that correlate to your experiences?
Galactica was like the setting, the foundation of me. And DREAMGIRL is like kind of zooming into Galactica with the who/the when/ and what happens there. And how did she get there?… [It] was more of a self-love journey where I was figuring out who I was and then DREAMGIRL is more specific. It’s kind of like a love story, through my travels, I’ve learned how I travel through my dreams. That’s what I was doing in Galactica and now I know. And I’m kind of getting used to that, but then in the midst of it all, falling in love and I’m getting used to being with someone who isn’t used to being in space.
Is it pulled from personal experience?
Yeah, totally. “Sticky Situation”, all of those. Some of them I was writing while I was writing the songs for Galactica, but I’m kind of doing a half and half thing where the first part of DREAMGIRL is coming out and I’ll do my daydreams and then the night falls and I just get even deeper.
And so you coined the term “fantasy soul” to kind of describe your vibe; to kind of describe the music you create. Do you want to talk a little about that?
Fantasy Soul is simply a genre—well cause everyone was like what kind of music do you make? And honestly for a second I was kinda like it’s a little bit of this [waves hands] and I’m tired of describing sounds with my hands. I didn’t really know how to communicate it, so instead I just asked out loud. I need two good words. I just need to summarize it. It just came to me one day and I was like, “I make Fantasy Soul music,” end of story. It’s literally whatever your imagination just came up with because it’s kind of like an activator—once you say that there’s been a button that’s been pushed in your brain—maybe that door opens up and you’re able to imagine what that possibly could be so it kind of just makes your brain work a little bit—which is what I think music needs. It’s soul music because I’m writing it and it’s coming from my soul and my soul kind of just experiences this fantasy land in my mind and reports back and writes these cool songs.
Your mom was a dancer and your dad worked in music and television—what other forms of creativity do you tap in to create what you have?
I’m involved a lot with the production. I don’t play keys but I can sit there and be like, “Ooh—can we put some droplets in here or some glitteries over there?” and the people who work with me the most understand what I’m saying. I’m really involved in the production—I like starting things from scratch and I also am really getting into playing hand drums right now—it’s like my calling—it’s always been but I do things one at a time and I’m so sick of that. I just want to do everything now. So, that’s what I want to do.
You mentioned meditation and tapping into the universe. Do you believe in law of attraction and creating your own reality? How do you practice?
I definitely try to meditate as much as possible. I think we could all be meditating more because once you know that it’s just law and words are so important and they can be medicine, it’s really important to pay attention to what your thoughts. We are not our thoughts; the thoughts they fly by and either you hold on to them or you release them and are like, “No, that’s not true to me.” You know? I’ve been working on being in control of my thoughts through meditation, through yoga, through stilling the voices in my head—you know what I’m saying? Just, letting my soul be in charge—versus the mechanical part of me.
Because words do have so much importance, what message are you trying to send?
Right now, I’m just trying to be a good example of confidence in being confident because that took me a long time to get the point where I even felt like it was even okay. It’s a hard thing to find the balance of what’s humble and what’s not… Instead of being discouraged by people that assume that’s cocky or this and that—when you know what’s true to you, I think the message I want to give off right now is just being a good example of being confident in myself and in the gifts that I’ve learned, but I also know that it takes a long time to get there… It’s so funny because we also have this thing about being selfish or self centered. I recently was just in a conversation with someone who just didn’t speak that same language as me and it was so interesting that the words she chose to use against me were that I was self-centered when really I just had to think about it. I am centered in myself and if you were we wouldn’t even be having this conversation because we both know we are boss bitches in what we do.
But you can’t explain that. We all have to learn on our own.
Yeah. I want to be a good representation of confidence without the ego—just knowing that this is my job, and I’m just doing it. One of the layers of DREAMGIRL is me breaking off all of those layers and going back to the little girl me who is looking up to the big girl me and is like “oh my gosh you’re doing everything that I was so afraid to do—thank you for being my dream girl.” So at this point—I’m my own Dream Girl—you’re really good at what you do and you can say that out loud, and if you can’t that’s just your journey and it takes time to break those layers. You don’t just automatically become your dream girl. Once you know your job, you can work towards that and set tests for yourself, and place bets for yourself, and play games with yourself until you can get there.
How was being on tour and supporting JMSN?
I learned a lot and I was totally exhausted, but I feel like I pushed through a lot of levels of the live show and now I just feel like what’s next. You know? I’m really proud of myself for getting through that. I’ve never experienced doing a show at night and consecutively—ever. So it was a really good learning experience. JMSN is someone to really look up to. He’s just so independent and works really hard and gives a fuck and makes good soul music. I can relate to that. It just makes you realize, I could be working a lot harder actually. I’m just grateful to be here.
What was one of the toughest things you learned?
Really, it was just taking care of my body. And realizing that I have a body and it has needs and I was just trying to stay as hydrated as I could because in LA we are really lucky to have the food that we have here and I feel like when you travel to other places it’s hard to stay healthy unless you have your vitamins with you. Plus, you’re moving constantly, so it’s easier to do the unhealthy thing, but I tried really hard not to do that. Everyday I was like okay—we have got to find Whole Foods. You don’t want to settle.
Last question—you’re performing at Girl Cult. There’s a lot of feminism and positive messages involved—what attracted you to that event?
Well, we were kind of attracted to each other. I love Galore. Those are my people. Girl Cult—it’s kind of just fitting for what I’m about right now—with DREAMGIRL, it’s kind of just a perfect match. It’s about being confident, about being so confident that you’re willing to collaborate with other women. Naturally, I feel like we grow up and a lot of girls go through this phase where “I only hangout with boys cause they’re way cooler”—you know? I definitely did because I was just such a little boy-girl. I just wanted to kick it with my boys and my best friends who were girls and I had sisters—so I didn’t really have to deal with too many outside girls… you get this idea of women, young…
In terms of competition.
Yeah and it’s just not what my true self is about—so like I said, breaking that ice and realizing that collaborating with women is all I ever really wanted to do because it’s so rare that—especially in music, that you get to write with friends, because a majority of the time it’s just guys. I think that it’s just a good example to everyone that that’s just so five years ago, 10 years ago the whole competitive girl on girl action. I’m just happy we are all coming together and there’s no passive aggression. It’s just like, “Wanna sing a song at the same place?” Who cares!
Photography: Andres Norwood
Art Direction: Olmen Barcenas
Styling: Alia Al-Rasheed
Assistant Stylist: Taylor Greenthal
Hair/Makeup: Robert Harter
Stay tuned to Milk for more rising stars.