Leave it to a 16-year-old from the Pacific Northwest to come out of nowhere and make you fall in love with lo-fi music all over again (or for the first time). quickly, quickly is the Portland-based emerging producer making waves on SoundCloud and the underground lo-fi scene with his downtempo beats, skyward atmospheres, and unique use of jazz, soul, & modern electronica. He’s garnered millions of streams without having even graduated high school yet, and it seems that nothing is slowing down the young producer from making more waves.
Many of quickly, quickly’s tracks feature familiar sounds: vinyl crackle, slightly-off-time beats, and jazz-inflected samples. However, his intuitive approach to production is what gives him a distinct sense of identity. quickly, quickly never even set out to make lo-fi music; like most good things in life, it just happened naturally. He even admits that he isn’t a mixing pro — he just feels it out. While that may be a gamble for other producers with a less gifted ear, it feeds directly into the power and innate warmth & feel of quickly’s music. And while he leans on older samples to inject a nostalgic vibe into his sound, he isn’t afraid of throwing in a trap beat or EDM-inspired breakdown to appease the modern world of production. On one track he’s sampling jazz songs as old as your grandparents, the next he’s sampling Lil Wayne and Drake.
After putting together an astounding track with our lo-fi & chill sample pack, we had a chance to catch up with the young artist to talk about the ins and outs of his creative process, his go-to gear & production tips, and where he sees the future of lo-fi music headed.
How did you first get into making lo-fi music? Did it happen on purpose or on accident?
I started making lo-fi music by accident. I remember the first lo-fi tape I ever heard was a tape called "La Cafeteria" by Saito and o k h o. I heard it just by browsing through this YouTube channel that posted heavy trap music. I remember thinking it was super weird, but I guess I just realized after listening to it a lot that it was really, really cool, and I wanted to make stuff like it. I have always loved boom bap and hip-hop, but lo-fi was this weird sub-genre that I never knew I needed until I heard it.
Do you find yourself looking for lo-fi samples, or do you make high quality samples sound lo-fi? Walk us through your process of achieving your sound.
For my neo-soul-ish type stuff, I usually play the piano out. It's just easier for me because I like my songs to be completely how I hear them in my head. When I make a boom bap/lo-fi beat however, I usually go sample hunting on YouTube or through the limited amount of vinyl that I have. I also like to run the sample through my Roland SP404sx to basically ruin the quality and make it sound hella’ lo-fi.
Some of your beats sound like they’re underwater or coming from a fuzzy radio signal — what are your go-to plugins for mixing lo-fi tracks?
I do a lot of my mixing with native Ableton plugins. The vinyl sound comes from the SP404sx — you can hear it really in most lo-fi songs; although it can be achieved in Ableton, I don't know how to do it and I usually realize that I would rather do it on the SP anyway.
When you’re working with a sample that might not be in very good shape, how do you incorporate it into an otherwise clean mix?
I actually get really excited when a sample is in poor shape. It almost adds to the feel of the track. It's like going up to your grandparents' attic and finding all of their vintage shit that they haven't touched in years. Maybe it's not in perfect condition, but it adds to the aesthetic. The more raw the sample the better.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges in making lo-fi music?
The biggest challenges I face usually come when a) chopping the sample or b) laying drums down. I like to think that the swing in my drums is usually really good, but you really have to think about the best drums for the sample, and that's where it gets tricky. Also, sometimes the sample is in 3/4 time but you want it to be in 4/4 time. That always sucks because the samples in 3/4 are usually so hot. You just have to really chop it in an interesting way and hope for the best.
What are the three most important tips for you to achieve a good lo-fi mix
Don't focus on the mix. Focus on the elements of the beat; save the mixing for the end. Luckily, in lo-fi there isn't a huge stigma around bad mixes because the whole point is to be dusty as fuck.
Use the vinyl sim. This is of course subjective to the song/artist, but I put the Roland SP404sx vinyl sim on so many of my lo-fi beats, as do so many other producers. I don't want to sound like a tool, but the shit is pretty cool.
Be creative with the mix. I don't know how to mix at all, but I just pretty much mess around until it sounds good. That's all there is to it. Have fun with it.
Lo-fi has a huge underground and online music scene, and even mainstream producers are incorporating it into their sound, such as Drake’s other half, Noah "40" Shebib. Where do you hope to see lo-fi music go in the future?
I see lo-fi being used a lot more in the underground rap scene with dudes like Ugly God and Ski Mask The Slump God. I don't know where it's going to go, but I hope it doesn't go too far away, because then I feel like it might lose the underground appeal. It definitely deserves all the attention it's getting, though. Big shout out to bsd.u for doing his thing with the lo-fi forums — that helped lo-fi really take off on SoundCloud and such. Big moves.
Check out Lo-Fi & Chill Sample Pack with demo & project file created by Quickly, Quickly.