Richie Quake is an indie alternative artist from New York. His one-of-a-kind sound draws on a wide range of influences throughout the past decades to create a sense of modern nostalgia.
Quake's most recent release, "Never See You," written about an unofficial breakup, was released on April 21 ahead of his upcoming EP VOYAGER. Everything you could hope for and more, the single is groovy, jazzy, and laid-back. The ambient guitar and synth sounds dance around a tight rhythm section pocket, and Quake's vocal tracks sit in the mix perfectly-- not to mention the song's incredibly catchy hook. Fans of Porches and New Zealand collective LEISURE will love Richie Quake.
We spoke to Richie Quake about his influences, new single, and upcoming EP.
Read the full interview and listen to "Never See You" below:
Where are you from?
I’m from Brooklyn, New York, born and raised. I’ve lived there my whole life.
At what age did you start playing music?
I started playing music really young. I was about six or seven when I started playing my first instrument, which was the piano. I hopped around to a bunch of different instruments; I played trumpet for a couple of years, and I went to a special music middle school and played tuba there-- that was a trip. At 14 or 15, I got into guitar, which felt much more natural to me than trumpet or tuba. I started writing songs on the guitar, and that ended up being something I wanted to keep doing.
What is your favorite thing about being a musician/music?
I love the idea that you’re really expressing the human condition in a unique way. Everybody loves music; it’s just this thing that moves people. It’s a necessity for a lot of people, but you can’t really describe exactly what it does-- it’s a mystical, magical, spiritual thing, and as a musician I get to do that. It’s a cool thing to be able to tap into this unknowable energy.
"It’s a necessity for a lot of people, but you can’t really describe exactly what it does-- it’s a mystical, magical, spiritual thing, and as a musician I get to do that."
What does your average day look like?
I’d say I have a variety of average days. My day changes a lot; I work as a creative person, so I’m always making my own schedule and trying to get the next thing going. It’s a lot of improvising. A lot of the time, I wake up and make coffee, get some breakfast, and then it’s a big combination. Sometimes it’s phone calls and coordinating things, and then it’s meetings with other creatives. Maybe I’ll be doing a video, so I’ll meet up with somebody to discuss the video, or I’ll talk with my manager about things. Obviously, a lot of the time it’s going to the studio and making music-- sometimes with people I know well, sometimes with new people, sometimes by myself. I try to make time to spend with my friends and family… maybe grabbing dinner or a coffee with somebody-- grabbing a drink. I love hanging out with people, so I try to socialize when I can. I DJ a lot, and it’s a lot of fun. At night, you can probably find me out with friends or DJing somewhere, maybe at the studio playing. If you averaged all those things together, you’d find my average day.
What’s your go-to song when you DJ?
It depends on the night and crowd. I would say that I’m an unpretentious DJ-- all I care about is making people smile and putting them in a good mood. I love to play big songs like “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” or something fun that makes everyone happy and let loose a little bit.
Who are your musical influences?
I am a very eclectic music-listener. I go through phases where I listen to different things; I was on a big jazz kick this past year, so I’d say a lot of my influences these past few months have been in jazz. I’ve been very into the improvisational, very human, very conversational, imperfect, but expressive nature of jazz. I was listening to a lot of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, and Bill Evans-- stuff like that. I listen to a lot of old music; 60s music is really inspirational to me, and I’m a huge Beatles fan. I love classic rock: Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, James Taylor-- I could list forever. There are all the great 70s bands, but then I also love the 80s: Tears for Fears, the Smiths, Joy Division, New Order, a bunch of stuff. Some of the newer stuff I’m into is Porches, Tame Impala, and I love Kacey Musgraves. I love Carole King as a songwriter.
How would you describe your sound?
My sound comes from an honest place; I try to be true to the art and reflective of life. Sonically, I’m an indie pop, psych rock, alternative artist with influence from the 70s and 80s. I really like my stuff to have a raw, conversational, and human feeling. I’m a sucker for good hooks, so I try to mix all that together. I want it to have that comfortable feeling-- something you can trust and feel good about, but also provides you with something fresh.
Talk to me about your latest release “Never See You”.
“Never See You” was a song that I made with my friends, Frank and Andy. We were just in the studio messing around for a while, and we started jamming. Frank and I made around twenty chord progressions, and we were just going crazy and having fun playing around with so many different options. It got to the point where we had to decide on one or two, so we locked it in and laid down the groove. Once we arranged all the music and had melody ideas, we sat down to write lyrics. It came very naturally; I had just gone through-- I wouldn’t really call it a breakup... an experience with a girl that I had been seeing. The lyrics were very natural coming out of me, so it was a very chill writing process.
What can you tell us about your upcoming VOYAGER EP?
I’m really inspired by space; I love space travel. I love watching the Cosmos and reading Carl Sagan’s books, things like that. The Voyager mission was when they sent out this spacecraft into space to study the universe. They attached this record on it, which was meant to tell aliens about us if they ever found it. It has diagrams, coordinates, music, recordings of voices and people talking in different languages, a bunch of stuff about us. I always loved that idea. It was this thing that was sent out into the universe to study science, but also say, “here’s who we are; find us. Get to know us,” to any life out there. Music has that ethereal, unknowable, intangible thing that fills our void. You’re born, you start travelling through this unknown world in an unknown universe, and time is passing. The whole point of it is to learn things, to understand, to grow, and then ultimately to have that connection. That thing that says, “if you find this, here’s how to understand me. Here’s who I am.” It’s all of those things together: knowledge, understanding, experience, exploration, adventure, and (most importantly) connection. My music is about connecting with other people, it’s like, “here’s a way for me to travel through the universe and express what’s going on, and I hope that you find it so that you can connect with it.”
"You’re born, you start travelling through this unknown world in an unknown universe, and time is passing. The whole point of it is to learn things, to understand, to grow, and then ultimately to have that connection."
How do you create your visuals/album covers?
My good friend Freddy, who goes by Salad New York, is a guy I met through another friend of mine. We just really had a great vibe when we got together and he’s an amazing artist and graphic designer, as well as a musician. He came to me one day and said that he had a vision for my music. It was great because I didn’t know what that looked like yet. From then on, we started getting together to hang out, jam, make visuals, and talk about life.
What is your hidden talent? (non-music)
I’m alright at cooking, drawing, and I can swim and bike. My talent is music, though, the other things are just hobbies.
Coffee or tea?
It’s got to be coffee for me. I’ve lived in Bushwick for the past four or five years, and for the past couple of years I’ve lived near this cafe: Cafe Erzulie. Before the pandemic, I would go there every day. It’s just this amazing community-- I’m in LA right now, and I met the person whose house I’m at right now there. It’s just that type of place. You go in, talk to everybody, and the coffee is really good.
Talk about a memorable experience you’ve had playing.
I had a release show for my song “Nothing in My Head” a couple of years ago, and I hadn’t put out music in a long time. I was really nervous to put out music; I had spent a lot of time DJing and made a lot of friends from that. It was my first time releasing music in around two years, and I invited all my friends. I packed the venue out, which was really exciting-- it was like 300-400 people, which felt great. Before the show, everyone was chatting and not really paying attention (like it would usually be before a show), but the moment I got on stage, the crowd was silent, the phones went up, and I just thought, “wow..” They really were there for me, not just because I invited them to a party or they wanted to see me DJ after. I realized that I have people who really care about what I’m doing, which was super cool.
What are your plans going forward?
I’d love to keep going, but times ten. I’m doing a lot of writing with cool people I look up to and have wanted to work with. I want to tour, throw shows and parties, spend time with friends and family, and just have as much human contact and as little phone contact as possible. I want to go to Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, all around the United States-- I just want to see people and play music for them.