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QUISOL Wants to Restore Power to the (Music) People

Photo courtesy of the artist.
Quisol is a Latinx singer-songwriter from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Queer and Trans People of Color often face issues of equity in their communities, and the music industry isn’t any different. QTPOC artist QUISOL is using his music (as well as his DIY music space Queens Collective) as a vehicle to try and change that.

"I have better opportunities if everyone else around me is thriving. That’s my outlook on life."
– Quisol, Latinx singer-songwriter

Interview Highlights:

On having his passion for music ignited through video games like Guitar Hero and Donkey Konga:

I think my generation grew up with these kind of toys and the internet and computers, which meant we could download software and start creating with whatever we could find. I always live by the motto, “Use what you have to get what you want.”

On the similarities between independent artistry and activism in the South:

When you don’t have a platform, you have to make your own. And then people start taking notice. I appreciate all of the hustle and drive of artists from not just Charlotte, but around the South. I think we have a strong tradition of underground culture, even relating to the civil rights movement and social movements. There’s this back-and-forth between marching for our rights and organizing, to producing our own shows and celebrating our own culture.

On being a self-described “organizer:”

It’s about reclaiming the power and flipping the power structure, where the base of the triangle is the people and the top is the people who manage it. Those that have positions of power above us can’t really do anything unless those at the bottom are supporting it. And if we organize ourselves as a people, then we can reclaim the power and create alternative systems that actually support either the work we’re doing, the culture we’re making or the music that we actually want to hear. And that’s something I try to keep in my music.

On encouraging community and more opportunities through music:

I have better opportunities if everyone else around me is thriving. That’s my outlook on life. I want to keep extending that network and, in a way, intervening in systems and institutions that weren’t designed to support anybody who wasn’t a white straight male and democratizing them — or kicking down those doors — for people who were historically locked out.

On the title track from QUISOL’s 2018 release The World Keeps Turning:

These changes keep happening. We keep moving and striving to do better, and we’re killing each other at the same time. There’s this split between this extreme optimism that it’s going to get better one day, and this extreme pessimism that it’s just cycles and cycles of violence where we’re just going to be awful until the end of time. It’s meditating on these two sides and this binary. But this change keeps coming and it keeps me moving. It’s weighing these two sides and trying to find a path forward.

Music featured in this #WFAEAmplifier chat:

QUISOL - “May, June, July (Part 1)”
QUISOL - “Everything & One Thing”
YARA - “Tonight Tonight”
QUISOL - “Met M'n Vriends”
QUISOL - “One More Kiss”
QUISOL - “The World Keeps Turning”
QUISOL - “The Cards”

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Joni Deutsch is happy to call Charlotte home as WFAE's manager for on-demand content and audience engagement, where she's led the first Charlotte Podcast Festival (named one of the “best podcast conferences” by Buzzsprout) and helped produce such podcasts as FAQ City, SouthBound, Inside Politics, Work It and the Apple Podcast chart-topping series She Says. In addition to being an NPR Music contributor, Joni is also the creator and host of WFAE’s Charlotte music podcast Amplifier, named “Best Podcast” by Charlotte Magazine and honored for excellence in arts and music podcasting by the local Edward R. Murrow Awards and The Webby Awards (called “The Internet’s Highest Honor” by The New York Times).