Our very first INDI spotlight interview was with Ottawa musician/rapper, Eddie Quotez. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Eddie for a couple years but this was my first in depth conversation with him about music.
I begin the interview by asking Eddie about the spelling of his stage name, why the “z”?
Eddie Quotez: I was really into Trey Songz at the time that I came up with the name. He spelled his last name with a z and I just thought that was the shit.
HRP: So then what is your real name?
EQ: It’s Edgar Piol.
HRP: Do you have a middle name?
EQ: Ummm, my first name is Edgar-Glen. Yeah, I have a hyphenated first name like Mary-Sue.
HRP: To anyone that hasn’t heard your music before, what kind of sound should they expect?
EQ: Extremely energetic and animated.
HRP: Do you think that that carries over on stage?
EQ: I think it’s about taking what you put out on the track and making it come to live during the show. I think live shows are actually more important than your recordings because it’s more of an experience; you get to hear and see.
HRP: Is it easier to translate that energy and animation on stage?
EQ: I think it’s definitely a lot easier live, I can sweat it out. That’s the extent of my working out; when I get to jump around on stage.
HRP: Is it the same feeling when you get to make a music video?
EQ: No because you get to interact with the fans. The craziest part is interacting with the audience because sometimes you meet the craziest people.
HRP: Have you ever had anyone approach you after a show and say something like, “I’ve listened to your music forever.”, “I really like you.”, anything that’s really stuck with you?
EQ: I’ve gotten, “I’ve listened to your music for a while and I just wanted to see you.” but I’ve also heard, “I’ve came here for someone else and I thought you were going to be really shitty and you’re actually great.”
HRP: Awww, that’s a very sweet backhanded compliment.
EQ: The worst had to be, “I saw you come on stage in the beginning and I was like, ‘Oh no, you’re Asian’, but then you were great.”
HRP: Tell me a little bit about how it was opening for Ghostface Killah in April.
EQ: It was crazy. Cappadonna and GZA were there too.
HRP: Were they nice?
EQ: Ghostface and Cappadonna were. GZA was cool but after the show he just wanted to leave, Ghostface and Cappadonna stayed and shook hands. Ghostface is actually my favourite member so just to open for him was pretty mind-blowing. I got to meet him after the show and he didn’t know that I opened for him because he got there later. He was really chill, I asked if I could take a picture with him and he’s like, “Yeah, baby.”
HRP: Fast forward to this July when you got to perform on the same stage as Kanye West the night after his show, which was more surreal?
EQ: I think the whole Bluesfest experience was ridiculous. I went to the Kanye show and saw him sweat all over the stage and I’m like, “I’m going to say a prayer over this—get those good vibes.”
HRP: I read that you applied a couple times to perform at Bluesfest and got turned down.
EQ: It was five years in the making.
HRP: How does the application work?
EQ: You apply and I think they keep tabs on views and downloads, number of fans, basically all the buzz around you.
HRP: What songs did you end up performing?
EQ: I did stuff from my first mixtape, a couple songs from the EP’s, and a couple new tracks.
HRP: When did you know that music was something you wanted to pursue?
EQ: I first started writing when I was nine. It started as poems after my grandad passed away, it was a way for me to deal with things. I never really took it seriously until around five years ago. I tried to get as many shows as I could. Back then it was impossible for me to get shows so I took anything I could get and now I’m at a point where I can say no to a show.
HRP: What was the first thing you ever released?
EQ: My first mixtape was “The Outside Looking In: The Chronicles of Mr. Slept On”. It was a really long name, so I had to abbreviate it.
HRP: It’s too bad that mixtape is no longer available online, what about the music that is?
EQ: The “Nostalgic Unicorn” and “Unicorn Eddie” EP’s are both up there.
HRP: So what’s the difference between the unicorns?
EQ: I think the unicorn thing was a phase I was in. “Nostalgic Unicorn” was more traditional-ish hip hop mixed in with pop-ish sounds. “Unicorn Eddie” is more trap-rap based.
HRP: Are you going to keep sticking with the unicorn?
EQ: No, I think I’ve gone away from it.
HRP: Switch to another animal?
EQ: Maybe. Maybe like a Liger.
HRP: What projects are you working on now?
EQ: I’m working on my first album.
HRP: What’s it going to be about?
EQ: I think the sound is going to be more happy and electronic in the beginning and then the second half is a little bit darker.
HRP: Speaking of a bit of a darker sound, there was a song off Nostalgic Unicorn that was particularly striking, called Why Did It Have to Be Me. You get very personal; you talk about mental illness and about being in a psych ward. Does that make you uncomfortable to share that with people?
EQ: It did in the beginning but then in time and dealing with it it’s become easier for me to talk about. I wrote that song for myself to kind of let things out and realized after it would be good for people who have went through what I’ve went through. I performed that song at Bluesfest as spoken word because I have a really hard time rapping it live. There was an older gentleman that heard me perform that song and he came up to me after and told me that he had went through the same thing when he was a kid and that it meant a lot that I was so open about it.
HRP: That must be the ultimate compliment.
EQ: I think that in and of itself was more powerful than playing Bluesfest. I think honesty in music, when you’re truly open and honest about yourself, is when you make the best art.
HRP: Can we expect more of those types of songs from you?
EQ: A little bit, I think I’ll delve into the dark stuff. I’m currently writing a song that talks about when I first got into the psych ward. I had a suicide attempt and the police came and basically arrested me. I was in the back of the squad car with my hands handcuffed behind my back, no legroom, super uncomfortable and was just like, “Wow, this happened”. Then checking into the psych ward, having to be handcuffed to the bed–that was me hitting rock bottom. From then on I just knew I didn’t belong there. That’s when I knew I had to change things.
HRP: Do you think music had something to do with that?
EQ: Music was definitely a huge, huge part. I think after that I really started writing and getting into my music.
HRP: So it was like your savior?
EQ: Yeah, exactly. Music saved my life, literally.
HRP: The last question I want to ask you is, what makes your music unique from other rap in Ottawa?
EQ: I think I have a different style than most rappers in Ottawa. There is a certain sound I feel like Ottawa rappers have.
HRP: And what is that?
EQ: No comment. I’ll just say that it’s extremely saturated. I think I’m different from that kind of style. I think I stand out.
The following article was reposted by permission of The Indi.
The INDI is a group of people dedicated to elevating the status of design and art through immersive shows and exhibits that aim to foster new and exciting designers and artists. Our projects cover an extensive variety of mediums, formats, and genres. This includes everything from music, photography, performance art, visual art, and clothing design.