Endorphins w/ qgb
Alex Jacobs, known by his moniker qgb, has already been picked up by Ben UFO on Rinse FM, Call Super and Radar Radio. Promoting his forthcoming EP, Hornets, qgb presents his debut live set – a vivid concoction combining algorithmic sequencing, hardware instruments and hyper-digital synthesis. Expect colourful soundscapes, treacherous rhythms, rumbling sub-bass, and striking visual accompaniments.
Quick Q&A with producer qgb, ahead of his peak-time performance at our first showcase.
Your first LP Hornets is due out very soon - can you give us the lowdown on the release and run through the concept of the record?
Yeah, so Hornets is a 9 track album I've been working on for over a year now, and it's coming out on Present Tense Recordings, a label I established with Pepé in 2016. Jose has since moved on, but he is still there for feedback and is mastering the LP as we speak. While there are many concepts and themes I was playing around with, lots of the songs have references to insects, present in many of the samples used, and the sound design which feels spindly and microscopic.
Your live set is characterised by the use of a huge number of different loops, pedals and synths. Is this live set mostly improvised, or do you have specific tracks or pieces you know you’re going to play?
I try to be creative and take risks when playing live, but to keep things interesting and flowing I think it’s important to have a level of preparation. For this live set I've put together a combination of hardware instruments and computer-based performance interfaces for sequencing and shaping sounds on the fly. I also have a number of acapellas, samples and loops from my forthcoming LP. I know roughly how things will sound but I can adapt, combine and blend elements so the set will never be exactly the same.
What do the initials ‘qgb’ stand for?
Funnily enough, qgb isn't an acronym but an in-joke that I don't have the technology to explain. All I'll say is big shouts to the Fuminator and crockery expert Oscar Peake for the literary inspiration. I'd love it for people to come up with their own acronyms though – my personal favourites are “Quiche Goes Brown”, “Qatar Gets the Ball” and “Queer Gay Bastard”
How has your sound changed since producing drum n' bass as an early teen, and how do you think your early forays into musical production have influenced your current work?
I've definitely been music obsessed from a very young age, engaged in a continual cycle of excitement and regret with each step I take, and I think this has helped me to move forward to keep challenging myself. Aesthetically, I don't see much evidence of previous forays in production, but I suppose my music is relatively technical and definitely the result of many years of hard work and discovery.
You’re also a member of a Brighton-based band. Do you prefer to play as a solo artist, or as part of a collective?
Playing in a band has been an unexpected but very welcome development. I love the social aspect of playing with other musicians – working solo with computers can get lonely! My band-mates are among my favourite people, each with unique talents so it’s a pleasure to throw ideas into the pot and watch them materialise into something completely different. I also love djing back-to-back with friends and many good times were had over the last couple years doing electronic hardware jams with Jose Bernat aka Pepé. My dream has always been to do music full-time so it’s nice to be able to mix things up, working both on my own and with other artists.
Can you recommend an artist that you’re enjoying listening to at the moment?
I saw Alva Noto performing at the Barbican last weekend which was pretty crazy. I love that hyper-digital, procedure-driven sound of Raster-Noton, and am also a big fan of Autechre, Team Doyobi and SND. I like music that is future-leaning and these artists have made vast amounts of music that still sounds way ahead of its time. This has turned into more of a list so while I'm at it I'd like to recommend my pals Metrist, Caldera, Gaunt and Martin Pine as ones to watch over the next few years!