Born and raised in our nation’s capital, he’s 27 years old and has been through the brightest and darkest paths in life, leading him to the haven he is at now. Only weeks following his prodigious performance on the same stage as Chi-Town’s own Kanye West, I sat down with the up and coming rapper to be.
Who is Eddie Quotez?
Eddie Quotez: I don’t know where to begin *laughs.* I was born and raised in Ottawa – spent all my life here basically. My parents originated from the Phillipines. I am very much into anime and Japanese culture. I really love how Japanese culture pushes limits and I relate to that.
When did you start in music?
EQ: I started writing when I was about nine years old. It was after my great-aunt passed away and writing and music were how I dealt with her passing. My great aunt was like a grand-mother to me. She was the one who sponsored my mother to come to Canada and even if/when my mother was working, she would come and look after my older sister and I. So, I started writing to focus on things I do like, drawing away from the pain, or whatever I was going through.
Why Hip Hop? Or would you classify your music more Trip-Hop?
EQ: Uhm, it’s weird *laughs.* I like different sounds and so that echoes in my music. I like to bounce between experimental, pop music, video games, and computer sounds. I draw from things I’m really into. Hip hop is more challenging lyrically as opposed to other genres. With singing a lot of the emotion comes through the vocals, but, with hip hop, you don’t really sing too much and so you have to rely on lyricism. I enjoy playing around with words, metaphors, and similes.
How would you (or do you) differentiate your style of music from others?
EQ: I think I’m just myself. I try to bring honesty and my truth to what I write. Not everyone’s the same so I just try to be myself.
Who are some of your favourite artists?
EQ: Oh Prince! Prince is one of my favourite artists of all time. He’s a great song-writer and composer and even now he still has a vault of songs unreleased.
JCole has spoken about the fighting for the title that occurs in hip hop – especially in his song Fire Squad. Cole speaks of how useless it is to fight for something that is really non existent. How do you feel about the competition in hip hop to be best? Do you feel this competition is necessary in hip hop?
EQ: I love it. I think it’s good for the music because it keeps people pushing to the next level. For myself, in the local scene, if I hear another artist’s work and it’s great, I feel motivated and pushed and tell myself, I have to top this.
Your music videos are rather trippy and unpredictable. You can’t really guess what the video will look or feel like. Where do you get the ideas for your videos?
EQ: I pitch ideas to the director and then I’m usually cool with letting the director take creative control. My thing is music and theirs is visual and so I let them take the lead on that, as long as they don’t stray too far from what I hoped for.
You performed recently on the same stage as Mr. Kanye West at Ottawa’s annual Bluesfest Music Festival – What was that like?
EQ: That was… that was crazy. That was crazy! It was crazy and amazing at the same time.
Was this your first time applying for the Bluesfest stage?
EQ: No, I’ve applied like four or five times. Last year I made consideration, but this year was different. They released the first batch of artists this year with a lot of locals on it and I was bummed because I thought I did not make it. Then came late April, early May, and I received a call while at work that I would be performing this year. I let out a huge gasp and like my one single tear. *laughs.* With so many years of rejection, to get this was amazing. Especially with this year having Kanye West.
You’ve collaborated with artists and producers. Beyoncé got some heat for having multiple producers on her album BEYONCÉ following the Beck incident. Do you think the more the merrier or is artistic integrity diminished with more?
EQ: I think it adds more because it adds different sounds. When one person produces the entire album I find a lot of the songs sound alike. Multiple producers bring different styles and sounds. Even Kanye has multiple producers and writers on one track – like with All Day (amazing track).
In this world of social media, if you’re not connected it’s hard to maintain a fan base. What’s important for you with your online persona?
EQ: Basically, again, to just be myself. I often just say what’s on my mind, sharing my friend’s work, funny stuff, or like anime *laughs.*
What attracts you to anime?
EQ: It’s crazy sometimes. Random stuff happens. Their story lines couldn’t ever be done or allowed in America. They have a liberation and are not afraid to cross lines. Deathnote, now on Netflix, is one of my favourites.
Ottawa gets criticized as the city fun forgot. What do you think of Ottawa’s art scene?
EQ: It’s growing. Especially now. I feel that it’s starting to shine. When I was younger I felt it was harder to get into. It’s growing now because people saw that it was dying and are just waking up basically.
Do you have any other hobbies besides music and anime?
EQ: uhm… I don’t know *laughs.* I used to play basketball and do some graphic design but time has made that all limited. I haven’t been up to much else but music and anime.
If your art had a colour, what would it be?
EQ: You know those polaroid shades? Those sunglasses that have multi colours? It’s kind of all over the place.
Any advice for new artists?
EQ: Keep pushing and keep doing yourself. Do it for no one else but yourself.
EQ: To go back to your first question actually, if that’s okay?
EQ: I’ll use this as a platform to tell my story. This will be hard for me to talk about. But, when I was about 6-years old, I was molested by my uncle until the age of 9. Until I was 22-years old, I told no one. Eventually told my family. I was having a lot of anger and depression issues. I would have anger black outs. Eventually I was admitted to the General Hospital in the psychiatric ward because I attempted suicide. In the psych ward, I hit my rock bottom. I was in isolation and so it gave me the opportunity to think of where I wanted to go in life and what I wanted to do because I was self-destructing. Through the psych ward, I realized I wanted to be better and so I worked hard to get out. I took my counselling seriously and focused more on music. Music helped me to get out of that phase. That has brought me to this point. A better place in my life. I still struggle with it from time to time but I’m better. It’s crazy though, at Bluesfest, I performed “Why Did It Have To Be Me?” Which is one of my songs about my childhood. Live I performed the spoken word version of it. Rapping it makes me too emotional. Following my set, a man, maybe in his 40s, approached me, and told me he went through a similar fate. He said thank you and expressed how he’s still dealing with it, and how that song helped him know he’s not alone. Even though the Bluesfest experience for me was amazing, that topped it for me. I know that feeling of thinking you’re alone and no one knows what you’re going through. That song is to let people know they are not alone. Bluesfest gave me a platform and an outlet to tell that story and I am very glad. That is my story.
Hi everyone, it is Annette here. I would like to add that if you are someone who has experienced what Eddie has, you are not alone. Your pain is not irrelevant. There are people to talk to. There is the Ottawa Sexual Assault Center here. You are worth love and care. I will also attach two videos below of encouragement and motivation for those religiously inclined and those not. If you feel you are stuck with no one to speak to, you are more than welcome to anonymously vent your frustrations with me here. My box is always open and my ears are always listening. My heart is always open. xx