Picture this: a sunny afternoon in the enchanting city of Amsterdam, and we had the absolute pleasure of hanging out with the charming and talented Quinn XCII! From the moment we met this Michigan-born singer and songwriter, it was clear that we were in for a delightful ride filled with laughter, music, and some serious heart-to-heart moments.
As we settled into a cozy spot, Quinn XCII greeted us with a smile that could light up the entire city. His warm and inviting personality instantly made us feel like we were catching up with an old friend rather than conducting an interview. And let us tell you, this guy has got jokes! With his quick wit and infectious sense of humor, we couldn't help but chuckle along with him throughout the entire conversation.
We dived deep into the heart of the matter: his latest album, "The People's Champ" Quinn XCII spilled the beans on everything, giving us an inside look into the stories and emotions that fueled each track. It was like he was inviting us into his own personal world, and boy, did we feel honored to be there!
Speaking of dreams, we got to hear all about his wildest aspirations - both as an artist and as a human being. You could see the twinkle in his eyes as he shared his musical evolution and the adventures he envisioned for the future. It was contagious; we couldn't help but get caught up in his excitement.
And guess what? Quinn XCII is back on European soil after four long years! He regaled us with tales of past tours, unforgettable performances, and how much he missed his European fans. The anticipation was palpable, and we couldn't wait to witness the magic he'd bring to the stage once again.
As the sun dipped below the horizon, painting the sky in hues of orange and pink, we bid farewell to Quinn XCII.
Quinn XCII proved that he's not just an incredible talent; he's a genuine, funny, and all-around awesome guy. With "The People's Champ" ready to conquer hearts, we have no doubt that Quinn XCII's music will continue to weave its magic across the globe.
So, here's to laughter, music, and unforgettable moments with Quinn XCII - a true champion of the people!
How have you been Mikael?
I've been good, man. Just living life here in Europe and being a tourist very blatantly. I think it's obvious who's American here. I definitely am. Not an exception. But no, man, it's been great. I haven't been here in four years and getting a chance to play shows overseas is always really amazing because it reminds me how lucky I am to do what I do. And I say every night, it’s crazy I get to do this back in the States too. But to go so far from where I grew up and hear people say, of course, the lyrics that I wrote - it's really amazing. And I felt extra compelled to come back here because it's been so long with the pandemic and my injury.
So how has tour been so far?
I think, if anything, I feel more confident on stage and less tinted. I think when I was here four years ago, I was maybe a bit shy and still figuring out my stage presence and sort of me as an entertainer. And I think now I've sort of sank more into my comfort zone and just able to strike up more conversations with fans in the crowd and not be shy about asking questions. I like it because European fans are very polite when they come to shows, you probably know that.
Yeah. I was going to ask if you find differences between - your fans in Australia or your fans in the States and your fans in Europe, if any.
Australians, I think, are more similar to Americans when they come to shows, they're more rowdy and little loose, whereas Europeans seem to be more- honestly, more respectful. Not that American crowds aren't respectful, but they seem more attentive to you and the band and they really, I think, value what we're doing. And again, it's not to say no one else does, but Europeans just have a little more I don't know, the vibe. I think Europe clearly is known for art and creativity and it's embedded in the DNA here. And so, I think Europeans just maybe, they approach a show differently than an American would and they clap after songs. That is not a thing in the States. . And so that's different and I actually really appreciate it.
Do you think that's because in the States your fans see you more often?
I think so, maybe. I think my brand too, is just very American. Maybe you're right and I think fans feel more implied to give a more rambunctious reaction in the States when they see me, rather than here.
You mentioned that you're getting more confident on stage. Are you a shy person off stage?
I think I'm getting more unshy as I get older, but I think I'm like growing up. I was a bit more timid in class, in school, didn't like to speak a lot. I was afraid of public speaking and stuff. I think my job has definitely made me become more social.
You’re a bit “forced”.
Almost forced to become more of an extrovert, but I think by nature, I'm definitely more introverted. Yeah. But no, I think in general, I was shy. Now I'm a bit more open.
But going back to the beginning, how did you get into music? Was it difficult to understand that you were meant to be an artist?
I didn't really think about it in terms of long term, really, like a career more so - I grew up in Detroit, just outside Detroit, and my parents played a lot of Motown music, which is like, the heart of that city and the stuff that I was raised on. And I got into music through them playing it around the house. And I knew music was special, and then I just developed my own taste in it. And then I also loved creative writing, and so around the age of -I don't know, maybe 15, I started music to be like “this is going to be my career”. I love doing it.
So to answer your question, this all became a career for years.
Just loving to do it and not even thinking about it as a job. And then slowly a fan base started to form, and then I realized, like, “hey, maybe this is the possibility to make money off of it and maybe this could be my job”. So I never thought of it as a job. I think that's why it worked, though. Because I always tell people, I think you need to fall in love with the craft first before you're committed to making it your job. Because if you don't truly love it, I don't think you're going to stick with it if you don't see that success immediately. A lot of people lose faith, but because I just love truly doing it, I didn't even think about the long term outcome. And then, sure enough, that happened before I knew it. And here we are.
Is there anything that you would love to tell your young self? Obviously, because this was not the plan with a dream. What would you tell yourself?
That's a great question. I made a whole album, basically. Right now, I would say - Don't take life so personally.
Don't take your thoughts personally. Don't identify with them so much in your life. Because I think life is just spontaneously happening and we like to attach ourselves to it, and that creates a lot of guilt and suffering.
I just think in general, you need to kind of just go with the flow in life and not get too hung up on or not.
I think everyone's going through something that you don't know about, and if they're mean to you, it has more to do with them than you.
And everybody's different.
Yeah, everyone's different. So there's a lot there. I feel like I could give you 20 different answers, but right now I think my instincts are telling me to say that. But ask me.
You said that you started writing when you were little …
I’ve always been writing. For my entire life.
Do you write when you're on the road?
I write little, like not really. I write little phrases or catchy words. I could give you a hint of what you want to write.
Song titles or words that I think I could build a song off. But it's not so much. I'm sitting down and writing full songs. I think for me, I've realized that when I'm on tour, I must dedicate all my energy towards the tour. And I know some people can multitask and make music while they're touring, but for me, I think I can only do so much. And of course, I must just focus on the shows rather than relaxing because I’m tired as well, especially overseas.
I just focus one thing. So when I'm off the road, then I focus on writing music. But when I'm on the road, I just focus on performing.
You’ve been in the industry for so long and you have so many songs with different friends and artists for example Chelsea Cutler, or ayokay or blackbear to name just a few. How does that come about?
Yeah, I think it's random every time. I've been really lucky to make friends who are also really great musicians. For examle, ayokay, Chelsea, those are some of my best friends and if I want to share something with them or ask them to get on a song, it's as simple as me just texting them nerve wracking and what are they going to think of the song? It's easier nowadays, but someone like Big Sean or Logic – it’s a bit different.
I want to present them with the best thing. I think I can have them jump on and let's see what they say. So it's either through management we'll reach out or I'll directly message them on social media and see what they say. And a lot of times it doesn't work out. I think 90% of the time people don't respond to you, so I definitely value it when someone does respond. But the whole point of collaboration, I think, is to find someone who can bring something you can't. And so I think when I choose who I want to work with, I intentionally choose people that I think are going to sound great, but can also bring a quality of music to the song that I personally just can't think.
Sean's a great rapper, I'm okay, but I'm not as good as, like, his perspective and his style, I thought really suited that song that he was on. And someone like Black Bear or Ash or Chelsea, I don't know, it's like we're all different colors and it's one painting we're trying to and they're all.
Speaking about Chelsea. Do you think that we're going to see more collaborations with her?
I’d love to do a joint album together.
I know she's done the Brent project with Jeremy Zucker, but we've always been fans of each other. I think our voices are very – I don't know, sympatric – if I can use this word. We have discussed working on a project together so, we will see.
Speaking about your latest album, The People's Champ, what is the album about?
It’s all about self-reflection and just sort of going deeper into whether it's meditation or just like, self-awareness. I wanted to sort of get a bit more closure in that area of my life and started to realize that I think we put a lot of added pressure on ourselves in life to be something, whether it's society telling us our friends or family or whatever.
Do you think that increased because of the pandemic?
In general? Yeah. I think the inevitability of humans, we're always functioning like that enough.
It’s like there's always more to attain. I just wanted to make an album that reminded people that whatever it is you're going through, it's perfect the way it is. And I think the issue we have is we judge everything, and our mind gets in the way and tells us that we're in a bad place or that we're not enough. And, those thoughts are not really what's going on, but we believe the story, and I do too, just like everyone else. And so I just wanted to kind of get out of my own way a bit and get out of my own thoughts and be like, how I am right now is perfect. I am my own people's champ.
So let it all out.
Let it all out. Yeah. And just to live authentically how you are living, that doesn't mean do whatever you want, but it means that what's currently happening is perfect and you don't have to judge it so much.
You don't have to justify what you're feeling or why you have racing thoughts or all that stuff. You can just let what's happening happen and that's it. That's enough. I don't know. It's a really deep question, I think, and just learning to kind of sit with everything and surrender to the conditions that are happening.
It's a very personal album.
It's very personal, yeah. And it's kind of funny, though, because we put like a sports reference attached to it. So “The People's Champ”, it does have like the branding has all been sports related, but the meaning actual is the opposite.
What are the most proud of in your life?
I think it's really my relationship with my wife Macy, my friends and family that I have my support system. I'm very proud and probably proud is not even the right word. Like lucky and fortunate and blessed to have people that, despite everything that goes on in my life and the hecticness of it, I can always go home and have that support system there. Without that, I don't know what I don't think I'd be doing what I do, because I think it all flows into each other. And without her and without my friends and family, I don't think I would be doing what I do at a high level.
And musically, what is next for you now?
So, musically, I want to start working on more stuff once I get back home. We're still figuring out what the direction is for the rest of the year and moving forward, but just trying new things, I think, and just trying to further the potential of what I have to offer as a musician and not try to get boxed in as one type of thing. So I think I'm going to experiment a bit more moving forward with my taste and stuff, the sound, but just having fun with it.
And the last question is, are we going to see a Red Rocks event where all you guys are going to be on stage again?
That's the dream. If we could do like, a whole tour – Red Rocks is, like the best venue in the world, it’s like a spiritual experience from an artist’s point of view.
Everybody wants to play that venue and I've been fortunate enough to play it three times now, actually. That night, though, specifically what you're asking, that was amazing. It was the first event out of the pandemic that we had ever and I got to share the stage with my friends.
Follow Quinn XCII's journey here.
Words by Sal F.
Photos by Mike B.