A Chat with Quizboy (31.01.22)

Influenced by the likes of Alice in Chains, Bad Religion, Nine Inch Nails, Rise Against and Nirvana, singer-songwriter Quizboy has been described as having a “heavy grunge and punk influence”. The solo project of US-based multi-instrumentalist Ben Dayho, Quizboy has been sharing his musical passion with the masses for approximately three years. We speak with Quizboy about his new EP Bella, memorable smells, future plans and much more.

OSR: What drew you to music?

Quizboy: It’s always been a therapeutic experience for me, both as a listener and as someone who wanted to experiment with playing, writing and composing. I was a latchkey kid growing up so I didn’t have a ton of stability and music was always something I could turn to. I used to get dropped off for summers at my grandparent’s house when I was little and that’s where I got my first guitar; it was something my grandpa pieced together from various parts bought at yard sales. I think they gave it to me, and my brother one too, to keep us preoccupied with something while we stayed there. Outside of that, I was just a weird kid in the corner drawing, so having more resources, so to speak, in terms of having an instrument to tinker with led me to transition from a visual art to an audible form. As it turns out, I have been drawn more to audible arts than visual over time.

OSR: What inspires you to make music?

Quizboy: I wish I could pinpoint that, but I can’t really explain it. I call it the “itch.” I constantly ask myself why I continue to even do this if I’m being honest, and the best I can come up with is that because of the coping mechanisms I developed before, it’s a learned behaviour. So, in that respect, emotion. Mental state. If I’m up, if I’m down, if I’m angry, if I’m happy, I have tendencies to get sporadic waves of inspiration in all those situations.

OSR: What can you tell us about your EP Bella?

Quizboy: A few pieces have been written so far that fixate on this part, so it feels like I’m belabouring on it pointing it out again, but I guess it is something significant since it’s in relation to the title. It’s named after my dog, Bella, well our family’s dog, not just mine – a beautiful pitbull that died at the beginning of the States going into quarantine. That kind of marks a starting point from when all the songs were beginning to be conceptualised.

There was a sporadic release in between called Quarantine Barbie that was put out before Bella, with only a couple songs that were penned quickly in real-time by what I call a “manic” wave of inspiration, but a lot of it was also stuff that just happened to be in the works at the time as well. Bella is more reflective of what was happening in that timeframe between mid-2020 through 2021.

Theme-wise, it’s rooted in dealing with struggles with alcohol and interpersonal relationships. If you are listening to the Bandcamp version, I tried to start and finish it on more uplifting (for me) notes starting out with a cover of an Elton John song and ending with ‘I See You’. To kind of demonstrate an optimism that gets killed but then revived again at the end, like a “but it’s gonna be alright” type of thing. Although, that might not have translated as well as envisioned if you read the MangoWave review. I think the writer there described the cover as taking an uplifting Elton John song and turning it into an opus fit for a school shooting or something like that. *laughs*

OSR: Did you face any challenges when writing and recording Bella?

Quizboy: Your typical ones for an indie, I guess. Budget and time. In terms of creative process, there were a couple of periods of writer’s block, just not inspired enough to finish an idea at times, felt overwhelmed by things at times. That’s a kind of typical thing for me when I write though, I tend to get stuck on lyrics for a while just mumbling and babbling melodies over arrangements, eventually, something inspires me to get it out.

There were some distribution challenges which explains why the streaming services have the first track, the cover song ‘Believe’, as a stand-alone single while Bella as it stands on the streaming services right now is technically tracks 2-7 on the Bandcamp version of the release. The challenge was wanting to opt into the Twitch Soundtrack platform. They don’t accept cover songs and the distributor I was using doesn’t let you opt-out of just one service for one song on the release; it was an all or nothing thing, so that’s why ‘Believe’ was distributed separately.  From what I’ve read Twitch only accepts releases from two distributors right now, and I wasn’t about to explore what the other one aside from the one I was using could or couldn’t do because I have a big-time vendetta against them. Not naming names, I rant enough about that on Twitch already. *laughs*

OSR: What do you hope people will take from the EP and your music in general?

Quizboy: This is a tough one to answer. I don’t know. The point of the Quizboy project is to express myself exactly how I want, the way I want to, without the apprehension of external people’s opinions that tend to be completely based on their specific musical taste. You’re never going to make everyone happy, and a lot of people want to tell you how things should sound or things like, “if you like this, then you should sound like that.” For me, that kind of environment has historically been really noisy and stifling. I’m trying to go back to being that weird kid in the corner by myself drawing.

The music I make is not for everyone. I think what I would find most satisfying, artistically would be to connect with other weird people like me on some level musically.  The biggest compliment I could ever receive is that if someone were to say something like, “I was in an awful place at the time, and I would sit quietly in reflection and listen to your music, it helped me.”

OSR: If you could change one thing about Bella, what would it be?

Quizboy: I’m always picking and messing with things and am never happy. I eventually had to get to a place where I say, “well, that’s the best I’m probably doing at this period or time” and just release it otherwise, I’d never finish anything. So, no. Once I finally release stuff, I divest away from it and start working out on the next thing.

OSR: What advice do you have for emerging artists?

Quizboy: I’m really not in a position to tell anyone anything of much value, truly. I would offer some lessons learned, like, find a way to always be growing your creativity, learn how to recognise quickly what kills your artistic curiosity or passion. Is it the people you’re around? Is it the environment? Do you feel inspired? What really are the things stopping you from creating what you want right now? Get to a place where you can recognise that quickly and rid yourself of those things. It sounds basic, but I personally think we don’t realise how much we sacrifice parts like that of ourselves for long periods of time without ever thinking twice. You could even be damn near close to doing what you really want to do and still not realise you’re stifling your own creativity.

I would stress the “quickly” part because the next thing I would say is that you need to understand the business. Need to. There is so much to learn and it never ends. People spend lifetimes learning about it and are wrapped up in the business part. If you only spend time curating and nurturing, you always feel half empty. Unless you’re only interested in one to begin with, then that means you’re just happy. Right?

OSR: What’s your definition of success and has it changed over time?

Quizboy: Personally, in principle, no, but in terms of what, yeah probably. For example, I personally believe that “success” is to feel fulfilment and happiness in whatever it is that you’re wanting to do. What is it that would make me fulfilled or happy? Yeah, that has changed a lot throughout periods of my life through realisation, experiences, and just plain wisdom about things.

OSR: What smell always brings back some type of memory?

Quizboy: Cigarette smoke and elderly people. That combination smells like casinos to me. Reminds me of being a kid in Nevada.

OSR: Do you have any plans for the future?

Quizboy: For Quizboy, not really. In that writing lull. I have a couple of ideas brewing but haven’t really explored them fully yet. For the Quizboy project, it’s mostly just gaming on Twitch and doing some live recordings from my jam space for the Bandcamping Podcast. However, there are lots of happenings right now with my radio station, podcast, and blog AMS Radio. I’ve been blogging a lot and have been finding so much awesome indie music through gigs with MusoSoup and HardnHeavyPlaylists.com. It’s been great, and busy. I really do enjoy sharing music, whether it’s mine or not, with other people. The network of people I’ve been working with lately has been great. I’m able to curate just as I like, to my taste, pick and choose what I want to invest my energy into, etc.  I just recently accepted with the Indie Amplify group as a curator too, looking forward to what comes about from that. I get a general feeling that I’ll be able to discover and find a lot more hip-hop there, that’s the feeling I get from it, we’ll see.

My station’s podcast, Baked and Bulletproof, has become a really fun project. The show has a general theme about being obsessed with Mega Man the Nintendo game and creating bots to D.J. the radio station for me because I’m a shitty and dumb business owner. I use speech transcription software to do the voices of a couple of different characters that introduce featured indie music, and then read a Creepy Pasta horror story which has opened the door to meet and network with a lot of independent writers, authors, etc. It also opens the door to vocalise, audibly, a lot of the writing I’m doing for the blog, so I’m totally wrapped up in that right now. The hashtags for it are #IndieMusic + #CreepyPasta = #BakedAndBulletproof.

Many thanks to Quizboy for speaking with us. For more from Quizboy check out his Facebook, Twitter and Spotify.

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