Have you ever heard a song and just thought, “This is pure magic”? Well, this was the first thought in my mind when I heard Deanna Quinn’s latest single, “Silent Killer”, for myself. Deanna is one of those incredible humans whose voice doesn’t seem like it comes from her. A petite, adorable blonde, her eyes–hazy, almost gray-colored–hold the emotion that you do expect to find in her music.
In “Silent Killer”, Deanna’s deep, lush vocals envelope you, and it feels familiar and almost calming. She sings of being frustrated with other peoples’ opinions and views, a situation that almost anyone can relate to. Lyrics such as “Some may say that it’s impossible / Take the lead and discard all of the typical frustration” burn bright in your memory, as you listen to her discuss people watching–like a jury–and passing judgment along the way. After all, “it is the silent killer you don’t expect.”
Deanna was amazing enough to answer some questions for us. We talked life, the emotion that music brings up, and Star Trek. Check it out!
If you could introduce yourself to the world—money being no object—how would you do so?
Tricky question! I guess if money was no issue, I would travel around to different cities and play shows to attract more people. I would have other artists travel with me to back me up to make my sound fuller. I would sell my CDs at the shows and provide people with unlimited tootsie rolls and chicken fingers. Plain, BBQ, etc. Their choice.
What’s your musical background like, and when did you decide to pursue music as a career?
I’ve always had music in my life. My grandma doesn’t play anymore, but she was a beautiful musician who used melodies to bring people together. I would go over to her house and she would always tell me, “play a tune everyone can sing along to.” She didn’t care to hear the sonatinas or scales I would be practicing because no one could sing along to them, so I started learning other relatable tunes (like songs from the musical “Ragtime”). She is my #1 inspiration for creating and sharing music.
Moving along, I started writing songs on the piano from an early age but didn’t share them really until I got to high school. A lot of my early songs were generic because at that time I was just trying to figure out what words rhymed and sounded good together – ha. I would sing my originals at open mics around my town, for my family and for my friends. At one point, my friend went through a tough breakup with her boyfriend during high school. When I found out, I went home that night, wrote and recorded a song on my MP3 player relating to the situation and then played it for her the next morning in the locker room. She teared up and I’m pretty sure I did too because that was the first time I saw my music change someone’s emotions for the better.
I accompanied my school choirs throughout middle school and high school in order to challenge my piano skills. I wrote a piece for my high school orchestra that was performed at our spring concert and ended up receiving a standing ovation. I’ll admit to you that I cried on stage in front of everyone – embarrassing, yes – but I was surrounded with happiness. THAT MOMENT made me realize I wanted to pursue music. I applied to the music composition program at SUNY Fredonia, studied that for two years, met wonderful and talented musicians, but then switched over to music education. I’ve always loved teaching and didn’t realize that I wanted to pursue that until junior year of college. A tad late, but hey! Gotta do what you gotta do. To add, my time as a music composition major changed me as a musician tremendously. It provided me with a whole new level of appreciation for music I never really listened to. I respect every musician thats out in the world now because they’re trying to do the same as me, share their music and get it out there for others to hear.
How would you describe your sound, specifically?
My sound.. I would describe as soulful and story telling. Before I start writing, I always think of either a person, object or even myself and grow the story from their. Each lyric and note has to have meaning otherwise I’m just performing nonsense that doesn’t relate to anything I’ve experienced. A musician has to believe in what they’re sharing in order for others to relate and understand. When I get mad, upset or frustrated.. instead of screaming into a pillow, I run to the piano and start writing words down. It helps let the stress out. Same for if I’m happy and just in a good mood, I’ll sit down and write what I’m feeling.
What was the production process like on your debut album?
The production process was LONG but I wouldn’t take any second of it back. It was all so fun, creating new melodies and lyrics and working with other musicians who added things I never would have thought of. When a new idea emerged in the studio, Ariel Arellano (producer of ArcAtlas Records and of my album) wouldn’t let me do anything, nada, until I took out my phone and recorded it. Fact about Ariel. HE IS AN AMAZING PRODUCER AND MUSICIAN. I can’t hype that enough. He added so many beautiful things to my music and allowed me to hear it all in a different way, something I’ve dreamed of but never expected to actually happen. My music has reached a whole new level and has come so far thanks to him and EVERYONE who has helped this past year. After this past school year, communication became harder because we were all in different areas of NY. I was in constant communication with Ariel and the sound engineer of ArcAtlas Records, Rafael Santiago. I would always love opening emails with the songs as they were being worked on and just being like “YESSSSSSSSSS RAFFY, OH MY GOSH I LOVE THAT. IT SOUNDS AWESOME”. To conclude, there were many late nights of recording and many bad grades from projects I turned in while being sleep deprived. But.. I made Deans List! We’re all good.
What are you most looking forward to about its release?
I am beyond excited to share my music with my listeners. What excites me the most is how people will relate to them with their own experiences. Also, being able to create something and add to the world is pretty cool. The other day, someone mentioned to me that they really liked one of my songs and just the first two lines really got to them. So as they said that I’m thinking, “…okay what are my lyrics? What did I say? Oh right right.” SO COOL how words that come from my head can mean so much to another human being. I never thought that would occur in my life because a lot of what I say out loud is very sarcastic and stupid 🙂
What was the inspiration behind your track “Silent Killer”?
“Silent Killer” is very different from my usual sound. The song is based off of an online article by Derek Harvey called “The Silent Killer Of Relationships”. You all should read it, it opens up your mind. Seriously. To sum it up, it talks about expectations vs. observation. I, and I’m sure many other people, tend to go into things with specific expectations, thinking it’s going to go as planned in your head, but ends up going the total opposite direction. What I learned from the article is you have to NOT do that. Unmet expectations can ruin your mood, so instead you have to observe. Observe what’s happening around you and not depend on your already picture-perfect image in your head. Derek Harvey has no idea I exist, but I plan to get in touch with him and let him know about the song. Make connections and make new friends. See, right there. I just made an expectation that I will be friends with Derek Harvey and he will enjoy the song. BUT he may hate it and never want to talk to me again. SO, I will contact him and then just go with the flow.
So you can’t whistle. Do you have any other hidden talents?
Can’t whistle! I’ve already accepted that, so I’m not ashamed anymore. I don’t know if this is considered a talent, but if I laugh too hard I end up crying. It’s happened many times in public places and I end up looking like a mess. Pretty sure I get that from my mom. She does the same exact thing, will just laugh continuously and break out in tears. I am also capable of making every conversation awkward. It’s actually hard for me not to make it awkward..
You like coffee. What’s your favorite?
LOVE coffee. I enjoy flavored creamers. When I’m home, I use my Keurig (with my reusable Keurig cup = save $$), fill the cup with Folger’s Classic Roast and then add the yummy white chocolate raspberry creamer that is almost empty in my fridge so I have to go buy more soon. I also like french vanilla. You can never go wrong with that. If I’m ordering from Tim Hortons or some place, I just say, “medium coffee with one cream and one sugar, and a splash of vanilla”. So if anyone ever plans on buying me coffee, you now all know the correct info.
What do you think is the most important piece of advice for budding musicians?
For getting into music, you have to:
1) show passion within everything you do. Don’t give 40% or even 98%, ya need to give 200%. I learned that during a performance. I was singing an original, slower original, and I realized that no one was really listening. It was at a bar and I’m all for people doing their own thing, but I had to allow myself to sing from my heart and not worry about the 20 different conversations that were happening around me. If you show you’re truly committed, then the right people will listen.
2) Allow yourself to make connections with everyone. You never know when that connection will help spread your music. I’m still starting out and have no idea what I’m doing, so I’m totally open for meeting new people who may be able to help in the long run. That being said.. Sara Bareilles, you can find me on Facebook and send me a message. I’d gladly provide you with my cellphone number and we can go from there. Maybe write a song together or just sign my forehead.
What else would you like to add, darling?
Hm hm hm..
1) I play the violin. The reason for that pick was because I could not blow out my birthday candles when I was younger and because of my lack of breath support, all thought it was best for me to choose the violin once it came to instrument picking in 5th grade.
2) I am named after two characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation while my brother and sister were named after family members. Deanna Troy and Q –> Deanna Quinn.
3) I decided to go with my first and middle name for my stage name because if/when I get married in the future, I won’t have to worry about the whole keeping or changing my last name.
Deanna Quinn’s album is set to release November 29th. Subscribe to this list for updates on her upcoming work.