Quark Kent interview by Seb Chan


My first contact with Quark Kent was when a demo tape arrived in the mail from the leafy northern Sydney suburb of Berowra. It was 1997 and Berowra was about as likely to be a hotbed of electronic music as Tamworth. Trapezoid Amoeba, at the time, was Giv Parvaneh’s first musical project and one that wore its influences on its sleeve – the electronic listening music of Warp and the pre-Squarepsuher-era Rephlex. It was a demo tape that showed a lot of promise and eventually it led to the Quark Kent being born, Giv and his friends setting up a party collective and record label called Fromage, and the release of his debut album Cosmicaress.

‘There is a stage for every musician where they become inspired by their favourite artists and labels and then try and mimic what they love. I think this is a natural occurance but eventually you develop your own sounds and move toward a different direction. Artists like ‘-Ziq, Aphex Twin and that whole Warp/Rephlex sound inspired me to start making music and you could clearly hear those influences in my music at the time. I guess you still can but hopefully it’s just a subtle influence rather than a direct rip-off . . . . Fromage was just an excuse for a few school friends to put on parties in Sydney with good music and also to give not so well known musicians and DJs a chance to perform. This also gave me a chance to take things one step further and co-release my music through Fromage as a label. This is not a unique experience in Sydney, I can think of a dozen other organisations who were and still are doing the same thing so we were by no means pioneers in that field, infact it was events like Freaky Loops, Frigid, Cryogenesis and the Kooky parties that inspired us to start up Fromage. But we have way too many small labels in Sydney with one or two releases each and all pretty much doing the same thing. It is so easy to release music these days and almost anyone can start his/her own record label but to do it right you have to be extremely dedicated.’

After the release of Cosmicaress the Warp influences slipped further into the background. To the fore came a slinky smooth melodic synth warmth drifting over soft touch beats, a kitsch electronic lounge sound. Naive melodies and a paired-back simplicity is the over-riding theme in Quark Kent’s music and one that revels in a minimalist studio setup. Totally eschewing trends towards hyper-rhytmicality or glitch the Quark Kent records are perhaps the electronic music equivalent of the indie folk revivial.The second album, Me You & The Moon followed in 2001 after a gear trade in. ‘I get to a stage where I just don’t enjoy what I’m writing anymore and that has a lot to do with my equipment. There’s only so much you can do with a synthesiser. Once you’ve used all the sounds, your songs start to sound very similar. So every now and then I go through a cleansing process by getting rid of all my equipment and starting anew. Of course I always end up losing a lot of money this way. So I guess soon I’ll go down that same path as what many other musicians are doing these days and that is using a laptop and softsynths to create music. At least this way you don’t really have limits on what sounds you can create and it’s all so nice and compact so you don’t need to worry about cables and moving your entire studio around when playing gigs . . . . I have always been a big fan of mini studios like the Groovebox or the MPC and I think the reason why I prefer to work with them is that you can go from sitting on a couch watching TV to playing that first note within 15 seconds. There is no need to boot up your computer and all your gear so you are able to be a lot more spontaneous and therefore more likely to produce something you had intended to create when you got that sudden burst of inspiration. I remember when I had a lot of equipment, by the time everything was ready to be used, I was ready to turn everything off and go to bed. So I guess in a sense I am helped by the limitations of my gear. I may not be able to have a broad range of sounds but at least I can quickly compose an idea without getting bogged down with technical details like loading samples into the sampler . . . . I don’t know what’s going to happen when I do finally decide to use soft synths but I’d say it is definitely going to change the way I think about music composition and therefore it will no doubt change my sound. But spontaneity is the most crucial element for me and as long as I’m able to get that first note out of the PC while I’m still inspired then I don’t think making the switch to soft synths is going to affect my ability to create music.’

In the time since Me, You & The Moon, Giv moved has further from music taking up hard working day jobs for large IT companies and travelling. The new album, Sixteen Neptunes was scheduled for release, then re-scheduled, again and again. Now it is available as a free download on the web.’I had 16 tracks ready for release as my third LP but due to work commitements and lack of interest in the whole business aspect of music production, I kept putting it off. Now it’s been over a year since those songs were recorded and they are not so new anymore so I figured there’s no point in keeping these songs on my hard disk and thought it would make more sense to just give them away and share the music with people. Releasing a CD requires a lot of energy and dedication and at the moment I don’t have either one of those. Call me lazy but when you have the option to bypass distributors, pressing plants, mastering studios and every other formality that comes with releasing a CD, you bypass them and get your music out there without even leaving your bedroom . . . . My new/free album reached more people within a week of putting it online than my other 2 releases combined from the time of release. I had about 1000 downloads in just 5 days from all over the globe like Canada, USA, UK, Portugal, Japan and Spain. This is what I wanted to achieve. I wanted to share my music with people and this has certainly allowed me to do just that without spending a cent. If I had done it the traditional way my CDs would still be in Glebe somewhere and I would be trying to work out how to pay off my debts . . . . But that said, I have a lot of respect for other musicians who take their music seriously and are trying to develop a career out it and I hope I’m not setting a bad example for them but like I said my goals are very different and I’ve discovered a way to reach those goals. So don’t be surprised if I decided to do all my releases this way in the future.

Sebastian Chan


About Author

Seb Chan founded Cyclic Defrost Magazine in 1998 with Dale Harrison. He handed over the reins at the end of 2010 but still contributes the occasional article and review.