Indie-pop artist Quinn XCII has emerged as one of 2015's most exciting new artists. Growing up in Detroit, Quinn XCII was raised on the city's Motown musical history, fueling a passion for myriad musical genres from rock to reggae to funk to hip-hop. Three years ago, as a sophomore at Michigan State University, Quinn XCII began to write and record his own music, quickly becoming a college mixtape sensation. Traveling frequently to Ann Arbor to record new material with his childhood friend producer ayokay, Quinn XCII began to craft his own laid-back sound that drew on hip-hop, electronic, and tropical influences. His debut EP Change of Scenery was released in May, garnering wide acclaim and millions of online streams. His first label release "Stung" came out on Atlantic Records / Taste & Tone in early October, and quickly went to #1 on HypeMachine's popular charts. Shortly after in January 2016 his collaboration with ayokay ,"Kings of Summer", soared to #1 on the Spotify Global Viral Chart. With his Sophomore EP "Bloom" set to release in February, Quinn's rising star seems poised to continue to elevate.
Much like a patchwork quilt, the diverse experiences Teesa Houston has encountered throughout her life have morphed into an eclectic tale of adventure and self-discovery, creating ample material for her musical project, KOLAJ. Along with “Mighty” Mike McGarity, the singer-songwriter has begun carving out a niche in the indie-pop dance music world.
Houston’s journey began in Okinawa, Japan shortly before she was adopted into an American military family and shipped from state-to-state for most of her formidable years. She received her green card in Guam, settled in Hawaii, was moved to Maryland, then Ohio and eventually landed in South Dakota, giving her a rare perspective of the world.
“All of these places were vastly different,” Teesa says. “Maryland was basically a suburb and Dayton, Ohio was like a Midwestern ghetto. Suddenly I was in an all black school. My mom wanted to do an internship so we moved to South Dakota. I was 14 when we moved there and I was over it. I think that’s the age I entered my rebellious phase. Being out there, classic rock was so huge. That’s actually what made me want to play the guitar.”
Teesa would shut the door to her bedroom and teach herself how to play Jimi Hendrix songs. At her high school talent show, the ambitious teenager showed up dressed as Hendrix and played “Foxy Lady” to a shocked audience, most of whom didn’t know she even played an instrument. Shortly after graduation, she took off to pursue a musical career. After a quintessential “living in a van” period, in 2009 she settled in Los Angeles, where she linked up with some of the biggest names in the pop music industry, most notably producer Dr. Luke. Around the same time, she also met her musical counterpart.
“Mike and I instantly hit it off the first moment we played music together,” she explains. “It went from playing instruments together into production. We had an incredible connection. I think we were impressed with each other. Mike excelled in advanced jazz drumming and was very highly educated. I had zero education and I’d play by ear.”
After six years of co-creating, the musical marriage between Teesa and Mike’s individual styles have resulted in an intriguing sound that’s both polished and idiosyncratic. Mike’s pop production sensibilities (he’s produced Top 40 songs like Kelly Clarkson’s “Catch My Breath, but also proved his versatility with his work on FKA Twig’s material ) coupled with Teesa’s strong, ethereal-sounding vocals have KOLAJ poised to become the next big pop success story.
Since forming in 2015, they’ve hit over 1.5 million streams on Spotify, 2 million on Soundclound; garnered early support from Zane Lowe on the Beats 1 Radio show, #1 records on HypeM, inclusion on H&M’s soundtracks, a #1 slot on Spotify’s Viral Charts, sold out headlining show in Brooklyn and sold-out show with Gryffin in LA. As the duo prepares to release a new single and finish up a long-awaited EP, they’re riding high on some of their latest singles, including “100 Degrees,”“The Touch” and their collaboration with Kaskade, “Whatever.” It’s only a matter of time before KOLAJ is weaved into the musical fabric that creates the soundtrack to our lives.
“KOLAJ is a fusion of sound and culture,” Teesa says. “Mike and I are like ying and yang musically. I felt the name KOLAJ had to do with the collage of my life because my background is really, really mixed up and complicated. It turned out to make a pretty unique picture.”
Ian Biggs is a singer/songwriter from New Haven, Connecticut, who denies the label of a "genre." The musical journey of his latest collection of material will take you from the quiet depths of a weathered soul to the heart-pounding, rug-cutting thrill of being alive. After years of fronting the Rock band All in Blind Ian began working with producer Jeff Gitelman (The Stepkids, Chance The Rapper, Alicia Keys) and longtime friend Robbie Chemical on his new project. After his second European tour Ian returned home in August of 2014 and signed with Niveo Records.
Along with All in Blind, Ian has worked with with many other acts. He recently toured with Jesse McCartney (808 Records), Katy Tiz (Atlantic Records), Edisun (EMI), Nicole Frechette, Marjorie Lee, and was an instrumental member in the Indie-Rock band Lion's Teeth. He has also done session work for many acts including Katy Tiz and Jitta on the Track.