Quiñ: Queen of the Cosmos

This L.A.-based singer is taking over the (interstellar) world.


If you haven’t heard of Quiñ, don’t worry–you will. Born to parents of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent, the Los Angeles-native’s music draws not only from her Latin roots, but on a whole host of musical influences (Alicia Keys, Brandy, and India Arie are some of her faves–ours too, girl). Not to say that her sound is anything like theirs; in fact, she’s carved out her own niche in the music world, a genre she’s christened “fantasy soul.” And in keeping with all the feels that title might conjure, the self-proclaimed “Galacticat” has worked through the pangs of adulting with a little help from her fairy godmother and a whole lot of soul searching. We chatted with the singer and musician about coping with feelings, pushing boundaries, and finding your truest voice, at long last.

You used to have a phobia of attention. How did you overcome your fears, and what does music do for you now?
It’s kind of a long story. Music has always been everything to me–I joined choir in kindergarten and loved to sing. But I was very reserved, and as soon as someone put the spotlight on me, I would stop. I was an extremely sensitive kid. Nobody made music where I came from, so I never considered it as a career. It was so instilled in me to go to school and get an education; I though that was my only option. I ended up going to school for psychology because I thought that my passion was criminal psychology. I attended classes for a year and half, but all of these things started happening to push me out of L.A.: my boyfriend and my best friend since I was eight hooked up, my grades began slipping–it was too much to handle. I started to realize that I hadn’t been interested in school anyway, and it was time to get out.

That definitely is a lot to have on your plate. How did you get through it all?
My godmother was putting together a camp for kids up in the bay and asked me to come work for her. I did that for two weeks, and when I returned, I quit school. I had been making songs on my computer that whole time, but I couldn’t really give it my all because I had roommates. I needed to be isolated, so when my godmother said I could return to Berkeley for the summer, I did. I didn’t have many friends up there–my birthday happened, Halloween happened, and I was super sad. But I was starting to learn how to cope with my feelings on my own instead of relying on my friends or my boyfriend. I had always been a good writer, so I started writing alone by my window sill, and I think that triggered an openness to be able to receive these epiphanies about singing. I had to get deep into my feelings, and I realized that singing and making music was actually healing me. There was nothing else I wanted to be doing, and I felt like I would be selfish if I kept it to myself.
It was that isolation that allowed me to discover who I was. Everyone needs that isolation, time, and opportunity to discover themselves. I did, and I ended up really liking who I was.

Your godmother sounds like a fairy godmother.
Yes, literally! I have three sisters, and we each have our own godmothers. Mine had no idea what was going on in my world when she invited me to Berkeley; she just waved her wand and saved me.

You’ve called the genre of music that you make “fantasy soul.” Can you elaborate on what that is?
Fantasy soul creates a space for me to be as free as possible with my sound. People would ask me what kind of music I made, and I never knew what to say–just like when people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Fantasy soul is infinite, it’s open for interpretation. I’m definitely not the only one who makes fantasy soul; I created it so that everyone could feel comfortable to live in it. Fantasy soul has no boundaries, and no questions are asked.

One of your overarching themes is this idea of space and the interstellar. How did that come to be?
I’m still trying to figure out how it came to be because I came from it and I’m still discovering it. I’m definitely a star of some sort; I’m definitely from [outer space] because I go there in my dreams. I had a lucid dream once that I was on a mission. I opened a door that led to space, but I was also swimming because I had a life jacket on. It was really weird, but I woke up and started writing a lot. It’s all magical and wonderful. The stars help me out, for sure.

So would you describe yourself as spiritual?
Definitely. I believe there’s something inside all of us that we need to figure out, and our bodies are vehicles for that. We need to meet that person at the core but simultaneously appreciate our bodies. It took me awhile to learn to love my freckles, I used to hate them, but now I absolutely love them. We’re all here linked up in the world at the same time.

What?? Your freckles are so cute!
Thank you!

You were just on tour with Gnash. What was your favorite part?
Gnash is a really good friend of mine, so we were both grateful to be on tour with each other. We’d always say, “Man, our parents would be so proud. We’re not doing anything but smoking blunts and doing what we love.” The fun part was that it was my birthday during tour, so at every show I was being sung “Happy Birthday.” I was so taken aback at all the love I was receiving; it was a huge change from my 19th birthday when I was so sad and alone.

“Galacticat” is a rendition of The Aristocrats theme song. Why did you choose to cover that song?
I’ve been including elements of my childhood into my music, and I used to sing that song all the time; it was one of my favorites. So one time, it was five in the morning, and I recorded it outside. It was all freestyle on top of freestyle, and I just blended it together. I love how it came out.

Which do you prefer more–performing or writing music?
I used to cry when people wanted to take my photo [at performances] because I was so proud of myself for reaching that point. But I actually love doing both because to me, it’s the same thing. I’m creating when I’m on stage, and I’m creating when I’m writing.

Check out Quiñ’s newest video below, and to get tix to her show at The Mint tomorrow, go here.