Interview: The Q4

Interview: The Q4

Last week The Q4 (The QuadraphoniQuartet) released the critically acclaimed debut ‘Sound Surroundings’. Members Arts The Beatdoctor, Sense and STW sampled hundreds of dusty records to create their album, with a unique sample-based sound as result. The three producers took time to talk with us about their new release, sampling, music, the digital era and much more.

Last week The Q4 (The QuadraphoniQuartet) released the critically acclaimed debut ‘Sound Surroundings’. Members Arts The Beatdoctor, Sense and STW sampled hundreds of dusty records to create their album,  with a unique sample-based sound as result. The three producers took time to talk with us about their new release, the process of making it, music, the digital era and much more.

Music: Sound Surroundings (Snippet Mix)

Arts The Beatdoctor

Personal style? ‘Sample-art’
How to describe The Q4’s style? ‘More than the sum of its parts’
Future plans? ‘My sophomore album and a new EP on vinyl’

“Samples are inspiring. Most of the time when I record a track with instruments, I realize it’s a boring outcome. It’s not that I am against instruments or whatsoever, but samples have a certain charm. Musicians create songs with instruments for hundreds of years; using samples as a main source instead of instruments is something different. I don’t think we limit ourselves with only using samples, I think it’s the opposite: we create new possibilities with it.

Our way of producing is kind of an answer to Hip Hop. If you hear a sick beat and search for the original track the producer sampled, most of the time you face a disappointment. Once you heard the original song, you realize that it’s truly beautiful. The old original Funk, Jazz or Soul track or whatever, is most of the time way better than the Hip Hop beat with the sample. We want to be composers, instead of using ‘copy-pasted’ samples. If you hear the original records we sampled, we don’t want our music to be disappointing compared to that. We want to do something special with samples, instead of using ready-made sound bites.

We originally met each other on the internet and that’s also how the majority of the tracks were made. Often someone created a loop and sent it to the others, who build further on that. One Of These Days and My Own Advice were made that way. It’s not that we all three worked on every single track. We worked with minimally two persons on one song, sometimes with the three of us. Most of the time we were all on the same page, so the process of creating tracks wasn’t hard. Something we didn’t agree on was the ending of Split Personality. That’s why we made two versions: one ended up on my solo album Transitions and you can find part 2 on Sound Surroundings. There are two years between both releases, so we kept improving the most minor details. We are big perfectionists, when it comes to productions.”


Personal style? ‘Strong beats, mystical presence’
How to describe The Q4’s style? ‘A collection of three individual styles’
Future plans? ‘I am currently finishing up Shahmen’s debut album and mix tape, working on the Rise & Shine EP with Sotu the Traveller and Esperanza’s first release.’

“I honestly have very paradoxical feeling when it comes to digitalisation and the role of internet in (hip hop) music. But since you ask, I will try and illustrate the pro’s and con’s as I currently see them: The world is a very small place now and it is far easier to connect to fans, other artist’s and company’s than it was before. Because of this it has also become easier to find a market for yourself: A relatively obscure artist can now easily build up enough of a following on a global scale, to survive.

In general, possibility’s to promote and/or distribute your self to a major audience (with no real budget) have grown enormously. And the cost of making music decreases every day. One of downsides is that it has also become much harder to make money in a traditional way. And in a sense, the role of the artist has become far more complex: He is now also the promoter, booker, publisher and at times, distributor of his own work. It is not only that you can now do these things yourself, you really have to.

Even when you (want to) deal with the machine. Because like I said, it is much harder to sell records nowadays and you will find few mayors willing to invest in your product if you haven’t already built up a following by yourself.

Digitalisation also offers us a lot of new, much faster and more efficient technology. My only concern is that with the coming of these new techniques, we might lose our old way of doing things. It would truly be a sin for instance, if we where to lose crate digging to samplebanks, or proper engineering to virtual effects…”


Personal style? ‘A split personality when it comes to music. Mostly Funk and Pop’
How to describe The Q4’s style? ‘Atmospheric Hip Hop with less rap and more samples’
Future plans? ‘I’m still unsure about my musical direction, but a record is in the pipeline. ‘

“A few years ago we created strictly instrumental songs, but on Sound Surroundings we have guest vocalists as well. It’s a thrill to see what guests do with our own productions, ‘our precious babies’. But we only worked with vocalists we believe in: we were sure that they’d do something very nice with our music. And it worked out the way we hoped it would! Especially tracks with singers, like Terryman and Curra Suarez, are a surprise to me. Personally I worked with MC’s, but rarely with singers. It was exciting to try and luckily it worked out well!

If I hear my own music, most of the time it’s because someone else puts it on. I am a big perfectionist when it comes to music, we all three are. If I listen to my music when it’s finished, every now and then I hear minor things I want to change. But I am really satisfied with the result of Sound Surroundings! We listened to all tracks over and over again with the three of us, so that was a big help.  

In the first place it was also an interesting experience to hear the Tribute 7” Dday One and Mr. Cooper did of The Q4. I mean, they are working with ‘our’ music, so it’s nice to hear it from another perspective and with a new style. Their versions are faster and bang more, I really like that. They made different decisions about the music than we did, so there’s a gap between the original tracks and the remixes they did. But it’s a great addition to the original LP. Also, this 7” is the last effort Paul does under the pseudonym of Mr. Cooper. It’s really a honour to be part of that! Now he’s going to focus on the Dubstep-label he set up under the wing of Project Mooncircle. Sad to say goodbye to such an amazing musician, but I am sure we’ll hear new music by him sooner or later. Maybe under another name, but I expect good music nonetheless.”


Buy: Sound Surroundings
More: The Q4
Videos: Release Party

Just an ordinary guy always on the hunt for extraordinary music. Not just as the founder of The Find Magazine & Rucksack Records, but also as a freelance music journalist (bylines at Tracklib, Bandcamp, Wax Poetics, DIG Mag, among others) and—above all—out of love for all kinds of good music.