Welcome, friends, to some millennials’ first installment of a weekly series we like to call Free Music Fridays Mondays (FMFM). FMFM will highlight artists who have decided to release large portions of their music for free and will run with an interview of the artist. For the first FMFM, Brian has interviewed Brooklyn R&B artist Richie Quake, and the interview will be interspersed with music he has released for free.
Quake’s career began with 2012’s Sound of Return EP and 2013’s Visions, both of which can be downloaded for free on his Bandcamp. “About Time”, from Visions, hinted at the R&B vocals of his current work while gliding over downbeat pop production. From these alt-pop beginnings, he developed an R&B style that pulls from modern production hallmarks while, as revealed in the interview, drawing on music from decades past for lyrical content. In 2015, he released In Love N’ Memory, his most fully-realized aesthetic statement to date. This release contained the devotional anthem “4 U I Care”, one of the best songs of 2015. 2016 has seen the release of four singles, and he stated he plans to release a single a month for the next four or five months or release an EP.
His music has been featured on well-known music blogs Pigeons & Planes, Noisey, and 2DopeBoyz, and has accrued tens of thousands of plays on Soundcloud. His latest single, “Sweettalk”, was released on June 27. You can follow Richie Quake on Twitter, Instagram, and Soundcloud. This interview has been edited and condensed.
some millennials: Why free music?
Richie Quake: Putting music out for free is an opportunity to get to as many people as possible. It’s a necessary sacrifice in this day and age – once the numbers [of plays] go up, then you no longer have to release music for free.
sm: One of the best ways to get free music out there is via blogs – what role do you think they play in this regard?
RQ: A huge role – blogs like Pigeons & Planes are great because they highlight underground, lesser-known artists. If you can develop a good enough reputation, [blogs] trust you.
sm: Listening to your music, some influences are apparent: Aaliyah, for example, had a title name-checked on “4 U I Care”. What artists influence you that might not be immediately apparent in your music?
RQ: Old R&B and soul, for the lyrical content and song structuring. I started off liking folk music, 60s-80s classic rock, older folk like [Bob] Dylan and Peter, Paul, and Mary-type stuff. A little bit of the [Grateful] Dead. The Shins are really cool. I’ve been heavily listening to Black Sabbath and Queen, they have crazy song structure. Travis Scott has cool structures, too.
sm: I can see the old R&B and soul influences most clearly through your lyrical content. Unlike most R&B today, you eschew drug talk for straight romance. Is this intentional on your part?
RQ: I like to party, but I wouldn’t consider myself a big party guy. What I respect about older R&B is that it’s thought-provoking, even the sex and romance had a purity to it. It’s transcendental.
sm: Your music pretty clearly merges today’s sounds with older content.
RQ: Music today is sonically cool. I like the discipline of past songs, you have to be cohesive. Bill Withers is my songwriting idol: he had hits from writing about life stories, not a drug-fueled night.
sm: Regarding your latest single, “Sweettalk”, one thing that stood out to me was how the hook switched from “I don’t want to hear that sweet talk” to “I just want to hear that sweet talk”. That type of matching the hook to the verse is missing from a lot of contemporary music.
RQ: I don’t want to be separate from contemporary music. For example, [Travis Scott, Young Thug, and Quavo’s] “Pick Up The Phone”, I’m going to listen to that every day.
sm: What, as an artist, allows you to appreciate other people’s songs like that?
RQ: A lot of the top-40, radio hits, I appreciate a lot. Most people will brush it off. The more you produce, you see the genius of the producers – [I like] the producers behind Rihanna, Travis Scott; people like Allen Ritter, Vinylz, Boi-1da. You realize they’re writing every hook that you love.
sm: The first person who I really noticed that way was The-Dream with all the songs he’s helped write.
You wouldn’t think so many different hooks are written by the same people and you just can’t imagine how that could come out of one person. You find out that your childhood’s been soundtracked by the same person every time.
sm: Switching from music – you’re from Brooklyn. Where would be one place in Brooklyn that somebody not from there would have to go?
RQ: Summertime in Bed[ford]-Stuy[vesant] is great. There’s music always playing, there’s a good flavor to it. You walk around at night and can find a block party. Also, the Gowanus Canal.
sm: Last question, and possibly my favorite: What’s your favorite sandwich?
RQ: It’s a tie between a deli-style pastrami, pure pastrami on rye with mustard, and a place called Esposito’s in my neighborhood. An Italian with all the meats they make – red peppers, fried, shredded eggplant.