Profile: Quinn XCII Discusses New Music and What Inspires His Sound

This past week, Her Campus at UCLA had the chance to sit down with Mikael Temrowski, also known as Quinn XCII, to talk about his new music, how his career has blossomed and his advice to college students. The 27-year-old singer and songwriter from Detroit, Michigan went from recording his own music as a sophomore in college at Michigan State University to being signed to Columbia Records and anticipating the release of his third album. Quinn XCII’s music is not only catchy, but also contains powerful messages ranging from everyday life to the struggles of anxiety. Here is what Quinn XCII had to say:

Her Campus: What does Quinn XCII stand for?

Quinn XCII: I’ll start with Quinn. Quinn is an acronym that stands for Quit Unless Your Instincts Are Never Neglected. I came up with that back in college because I was a little unsure if I wanted to pursue music as a career. I was a little scared to tell people about it and that it was my hobby and my interest. So, for a while I kinda contemplated quitting music altogether so that is kinda where the Q in Quinn comes from. But then I also had this drive and this passion that I felt inside that I needed to see it out so to speak. Even if I failed, I still would’ve had comfort knowing that I went for it. So that is where the rest of the acronym comes from. Just pursuing something that you love even if it is nerve wracking. If you just can’t shake that feeling and can’t get rid of that excitement for doing it then I think it is a good sign you should continue doing it. That really applies to everything in life. And then the XCII is the roman numeral for 92 which is the year I was born. 

HC: Do you have a time period for when the new album is coming out?

Q: I can’t really give a date at the moment, but it is going to be top of the year before summer. I would say springtime. But fans can expect more singles coming up in promotion of the album. Springtime 2020 I would say the album is coming out. 

HC: In regards to your new album, does it have a sound comparable to your past albums?

Q: It doesn’t really actually and I think that is why I think it is my favorite one that I have made so far because I think for the most part, production wise, it is the most cohesive project I have put out. I really wanted to take inspiration from a lot of music I grew up listening to back in high school because this album is about nostalgia and just those four years of high school that I went through. To me that is such a crucial part of my life in terms of who I am now so I kinda chose inspiration from those four years of the music I listened to back then and even now grabbing inspiration from artists I look up to still just trying to create a solid palette for the music. But no, to answer your question, I don’t think it sounds like anything I have made in the past. I took a little more risk as far as filtering my voice sometimes and messing with littles things I have never tried before. That is kinda vague but I think once it is out you will see what I mean. But I think it is really a cohesive body of work and the most aesthetically pleasing album I have made so far in my opinion. 

HC: What are your favorite artists to listen to and that inspire you?

Q: For this project I channeled a lot of Third Eye Blind and a lot of 90s pop music, not Britney Spears or anything, but more so the musical bands that were out there. There is a lot to choose from but Third Eye Blind definitely comes to mind. I listen to a lot of there stuff to kinda refresh my ear. Switchfoot was even in there. Even early Coldplay. Just a lot of bands that use minimal electronic sounds and I really wanted to incorporate as many live elements to this album which really encompasses the 90s and that sound. Obviously technology just wasn’t where it was as it is today. Just making a lot of live sounding music and stuff that would translate really well to my live show because that has been a big part of my career so far. 

HC: How and when did your career start booming?

Q: I think the start it got a little popular in college. I went to Michigan State so that was around 2014. I was putting music out on SoundCloud. I put out my first EP that was solely produced with a friend of mine, Ayokay, who is another artist/producer. I kind of put stuff online for free and after that we shortly released a song called “Kings of Summer” which really got the attention of labels and it went to #1 on Spotify’s global chart so we had never really seen success like that at the time so that was massive for us. That song really was the tipping point. Since then we just kept putting out bodies of work and him and I moved out here to Los Angeles and we got signed by Columbia Records and that was the moment where everything started to happen. 

HC: What are some of the main things that inspire your music?

Q: The easy answer would be just whatever is happening in my life. I try to talk about whatever I am going through as much as possible. But, on the flip side, I also like to revisit things I have gone through in the past. I am really inspired by finding relatable topics but saying them in ways that no one else is really saying them. Even touching on subjects that no one is talking about. I have a song called “Tough” that is about male bullying and male masculinity and I don’t think there are too many songs out there like that. I like taking on challenges, songwriting wise, that leave people scratching their heads a bit. But if I can make it work and I can make them enjoy it then I feel like I have done my job. Also I am inspired by other music, even what music is current and what is popular and kinda taking what is popular and spinning it into my own way. Not really mimicking anything, but taking little bits and pieces of what the public is into and funneling it into my own sound. 

HC: What is your favorite track to perform on tour?

Q: That always kind of changes. I recently have really been excited to play “Stacy,” which is a song that came out last year and that is gonna be on the album as well. That one seems to go over well live. I really enjoy a song called “Candle” that I perform and also a song called “Straightjacket.” It is really cool because I feel like every song has its own type of energy and own type of moment. They are all really different in that sense, but I would say those three stand out to me. 

HC: Since you were once a college student yourself, what advice can you give to college students today?

Q: I think just don’t get too stressed about having things figured out. Even if you have a major declared and you don’t feel too excited about it, I wouldn’t think it is the end of the world and that there is no more opportunity past that. For me, I was an advertising major and I always knew that wasn’t really what I wanted to do, I wanted to pursue music. I just still stuck with it and kinda had these other plans. I wanted to get a degree from school, but I wanted to pursue something else once I graduated. I have a lot of friends that went to school for something and now they are doing something completely different. Even if you feel discouraged and you don’t feel like things are working out with what you are currently studying I would say keep your head up because there are so many jobs in the world to be a part of. Chances are you probably won’t even stay with the major you are doing unless you really love it. Don’t get too down on yourself about stuff like that. Think positively and things should work out.

Make sure to check out his new single “Two 10’s” on streaming platforms or check out the video here.