Genre-blending artist Quinn XCII’s name is an acronym that stands for “quit unless your instincts are never neglected,” which translates to pursuing whatever it is you want to achieve in life. The roman numerals for 92 stand for the year he was born, 1992. Hailing from Detroit Michigan, real name Mikael Temrowski is a singer-songwriter who bares his soul with each release, blending the genres of pop, hip-hop, soul, and electronic music.
Boasting over a million combined online followers, Quinn has solidified his name in the music industry, releasing 2 independent EPs and 2 studio albums via Colombia Records in the past 5 years. With almost 9 million monthly listeners on Spotify and over 1.2 billions streams worldwide, the “Second Time Around” singer has headlined stages all across the world at various festivals and venues.
Now, he has released his highly-anticipated new album titled A Letter To My Younger Self, spearheaded by single “Second Time Around” which he deems his most powerful song to date. Flaunt caught up with Quinn via Zoom while at home in Venice Beach. Read below as we discuss the moment he fell in love with music, the meaning behind “Second Time Around,” the new album, goals, and more!
Being from Detroit, what was the household like growing up?
It was cool. I grew up in a pretty middle class neighborhood, for the most part a safe area just outside Detroit. I had a really interesting perspective on the city of Detroit. I grew up in a white picket fence area but then if you drove 2 minutes away, you were seeing downtown Detroit in poverty. I got to see the yin and the yang life at an early age. I started to appreciate what I had a lot more as I got older because I saw how different it was from a very close area where I grew up. I have so much love for Detroit, it’s on the come up right now.
At what point did music become real for you?
It’s been something I’ve always been into. I can remember being 3 years old and dancing around the house with my parents playing music. Seeing what music would do to people and seeing their reactions when it came on, I naturally gravitated towards it. I didn’t start to think of it as a career until my freshman year of college when I put out my first EP, and a lot of people started reacting to it in a positive way. It was on SoundCloud and I didn’t have many followers then, but it gave me confidence to make more music.
How have you evolved since last year’s From Michigan With Love?
I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with myself. Not even just with the music, I’ve become a more centered person. More spiritual in my faith. A more mature adult. I’m always maturing but even a year has done a lot for me. With everything going on in the world today, it’s changed my perspective on life. The music’s changed a little bit, it’s gotten a little more polished and a little more retro. I’ve gone back to the roots of what I grew up listening to which is soul music and alternative rock. I’m incorporating more elements of that.
You say your new single “Second Time Around” is your most powerful song yet, why’s that?
It’s a song about self-reflection and self-forgiveness. I can be vulnerable, but it’s the first time I’ve shown fans I want to talk about God in my songs. Show them a side of me that’s very raw. Show them I’ve done some things that I’m not proud of in the past, but you can change the way you act as soon as you want to.
We need to forgive ourselves, and it’s a matter of doing it now. This song pairs well with what’s going on today because ironically, we’re in a time where we can press the reset button and choose whether we want to get on the right side of history or not. Although this song wasn’t intended for this time, it fits the mold of what we’re going through right now.
What’s the relationship with your mother? You shout her out in the song.
She’s amazing. One of the closest people in my life, I talk to her every day. She’s a really big inspiration, always gave me the courage to go after my dreams. She never pressured me to do anything I didn’t want to. My dad didn’t either but my mom was always in my corner. Vocally always giving me affirmation and really boosting my confidence when I didn’t have it. She’s always been my biggest fan, I’m so blessed. I know a lot of people don’t necessarily have that support system, I’m super thankful.
What was your creative vision behind the visual?
I worked with a friend, Blythe Thomas, who’s done a couple videos with me in the past. I wanted to create a really powerful black and white video that expressed the emotion put into the song. I tried my hand at acting a little bit in the video, giving off a vibe that was cohesive with what the song stands for. Trying to be as vulnerable on camera as possible, I’m still working on that side of me. The vibe of the video pairs well with the song, just the way that I wanted them to.
You say you only write when you feel it, how do you create a vibe in the studio?
I go to studios with the idea that if a song isn’t made, it’s okay. I never want to go into a situation where I have to be creative and feel pressure on me. I want to make sure it comes naturally as much as possible, to sort of catch lightning in a bottle. The second you try to force things, you’re going to hinder that process. I’m okay with going to the studio and not making anything. I’d rather go there and make something I love than me forcing it.
What are some things you need in the studio?
I need hot tea and honey to help my voice. I need good people, someone who’s willing to be vulnerable and talk about their feelings. My phone, but not really. I like to stay off the phone and vibe out with whoever I’m working with. Come up with random ideas. Maybe a pen and a paper, that’d be nice too.
I know you picked up cooking during quarantine, what do you like to chef up?
I’m really big into grilling right now. I was never a big barbecuer growing up but now that I have a grill, I’m finally a man of the house. I get to make steak, chicken, burgers, salmon, fish. Whatever I can throw on the grill, I’ll try it out. My wife helps me because she’s a much better cook.
How’ve you been holding up in quarantine? We’re almost opening back up.
Right, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve been good. I’m trying to read a lot of books and keep my mind off of the news as much as possible. I want to stay educated, but I also don’t want to drown myself in negativity. Taking up random hobbies, trying to form a new perspective on life and learn from this as much as possible.
I know A Letter To My Younger Self pays tribute to your high school, what was Quinn like then?
He was a shy kid. I had friends, but I was always quiet in class. I knew I had ideas and was creative, but I was always nervous and reluctant to share that to people. I thought this album was important to speak to that person and show him the things I’ve been able to change about myself. If you’re in high school, listen to this and know that high school’s not the end all be all. It’s a small chapter of your life and there’s a lot more to come afterwards. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
You have features from Logic, blackbear, Ashe, Marc E. Bassy.
They’re all incredible artists and friends of mine. It’s cool to have a nice eclectic mix of people on the record. Everyone brings their own flavor to it and really helps round the project out nicely.
What are some goals for yourself?
I’d love to win a Grammy someday. I’d love to sell out arenas. At the end of the day if I can keep impacting people’s lives for the better and shed positivity on them, that’s all I want. I feel so fortunate to do it for as long as I’ve been now. The other stuff is cool, but I’d rather make a positive impact on people as much as I can.
I saw your post “new song at midnight.” Hilarious, what’s that about?
[laughs] I was talking to my manager, he said “yo, you gotta promote the song!” I don’t want to gas myself too much about my own music. I post about it but I don’t want to annoy people on my timeline. I always like to be a little goofy and silly with my fans, hopefully it didn’t come off as too serious. I try to balance it out.
How important is social media for your career?
It’s really important, it gives me a chance to show off my personality and show people that I don’t take myself too seriously. It gives me another chance to relate to people outside of the music. If I can do that by showing them what I think is funny or what I made for dinner that night, that’s a great chance to connect. It’s a special thing to have.
Anything you want to let us know?
My new album is out today, check it out. Keep spreading music, I appreciate all the love and hopefully be touring soon once this craziness is over.
Are you itching to get back on the stage?
Oh yeah. We just did a quarantine concert rehearsal with my band, and it was such a reminder of how much I miss it. I’m dying to get back. The actual concert is airing on my Facebook on July 14, and it’s my first time performing songs from my new album so it’s going to be a lot of fun.