[Interview] Joe Quinto Talks New EP Cinemasonic, Writing Process, Milwaukee Hip Hop, and More

When people think of Hip-Hop, they usually don’t think of Wisconsin but don’t think the state isn’t putting out good music. One of the best parts about the Hip-Hop that has come out of Wisconsin is the diversity of sounds. Everything from trap to boom bap to Joe Quinto with the release of his new EP, Cinemasonic. Get to know more about Joe and the project below.

UHH: Congrats on the release of your new album. What is your biggest fear when releasing music to the public?

Joe Quinto: That I can never take it back. I mean, I know that I could always delete it from the inter webs and stuff, but people have heard it, digested it… downloaded it. I’m a perfectionist to a fault so every time I hear my work – even months after it’s been released, I’ll still hear something and be like “damn I should have turned that ad-lib up a decibel or two” or some stupid shit like that.

What is the meaning behind naming the project CINEMASONIC?

I had the concept and vibe of the project before I had any tracks written (aside from X-Ray). So the vision, the cinematic aspect of the project came before the sonic aspects ever really took form. The name came to me when I was thinking about how weird it is to create that way. I’ve never done it before, but it came so naturally that I just rolled with it.

What inspired you to create the sounds that make up the project?

Sonically, I wanted craft a feel that could have came from a different decade. I was greatly inspired by the sounds and mission behind the artists, bands, and overall counterculture of the 60s and 70s. The music I grew up hearing my parents play. I also wanted to craft the project to where it would translate easily to a live-show format. The moment of truth was when my band came together to begin rehearsals for the EP release party – it took us about 10 minutes of tuning and picking around, but once we started jamming over the reference track, it was clear that my goal was achieved.

Tell me a bit about your writing process.

Well, as I said earlier, the writing process for this project was much different than what I’ve done before. Knowing that I wanted a more lighthearted, positive, vibey project, I went in to choosing my production in that mindset, rather than just writing to whatever struck my fancy at that particular time. It was challenging at times, but working with producers and friends like Benjamin Allen, Miguel Diaz, and Zach Lyda, they really played into what I was going for and allowed me to create exactly what I saw and heard in my head.

You mentioned you produced “Found” Was this the first time you released a record you produced?

No, I’ve released 2 tracks under my previous moniker “Cinco” that were self-produced. One was accurately-titled “White Kid” on my very first album and the other was a short freestyle entitled “Scream My Name” that I randomly released after having produced and recorded a decent (to me) freestyle in under an hour. This is the first record, however, that I pre-produced at home, took to the studio, and added in live elements after recording vocals which was an interesting way of doing things.

There are only 3 features on the album. Tell me why you choose the artists you did?

After producing and writing my first verse and hook to “Found”, I knew the record had potential and I knew the upbeat, positive message had to be matched by whoever I had on the verse. Honestly, Shle Berry was the first and only person I ever wanted on that record. She’s one of the smiliest, most contagiously happy person I’ve ever met so it was kind of a no-brainer.

“X-Ray” was a different story. Being that this was the only track that pre-dated my “CINEMASONIC” vision, it had seen some changes. Truth be told, since writing this song almost 3 years ago, I have recorded it 5 different times with 3 different female vocalists on the hook. (Note my faulty perfectionism) It’s funny, because I’ve known Jayne Joyce for years and we’ve always had a mutual respect for each others’ talents, and one day it just clicked that she was the perfect voice for the record. As far as Genesis Renji goes, he and I have also had a mutual respect for some years now and I’ve always admired the consistency at which he releases music. He dropped a song for every day of his birthday for fucks sake, who does that?! I knew I had to get his OG-self on the project so I asked, and he graced me with the amazing verse you hear today.

Who do you wish you could have had on the album?

Man, that’s a tough one. Honestly, I’m content with who I have. I’m not one to like to crowd a project with features but if the it had been a few tracks longer, there’s a list about 20 miles long of Milwaukee artists that I would want to work with. If you’re twisting my arm to name a few, I’d have to say that Lex Allen, Ian Ewing, and Mic Kellogg would be high on that list.

“Rehab” is my favorite on the album. What is yours?

Damn, it’s a toss-up. “Rehab” is probably my favorite to jam out to, but “X-Ray” hold the biggest space in my heart. Just because it’s been around for so long and the journey it’s taken to get where it ended up.

Were there songs that you made that didn’t make the project? If so, why didn’t they make the cut?

Yeah, the project started out as a 7-track venture, but after recording them all, it was clear that a few weren’t up to the par that the 4 that made the EP set. I still like the tracks and have them for my own personal records, but they’ll never see the light of day… Sorry haha

In our last interview, you said Milwaukee has “the best scene in the country.” Tell me why you think that.

I know that people outside of Milwaukee would probably laugh at that statement, but I still stand by it. The level of talent here is crazy. It’s every genre, too. And while the music scene is what I’m most drawn to, the arts scene in general is thriving here. Street art is starting to become more widely accepted and even commissioned by the city, the MKE Film Festival has skyrocketed throughout the past few years, and local radio stations like Radio Milwaukee and WMSE are pioneering the way that people listen to local music. I’ve seen the strides we’ve made as a city in the past 5 years, but I’m confident that the next 5 will solidify Milwaukee in talks of art hubs across the US.

What’s next for Joe Quinto?

I’m going to focus on playing a few gigs to take the EP live for the rest of 2018 as well as record a few singles to start 2019 off with. I’m working at a new studio now that has really elevated my sound a lot, so I’m really excited for the records that are going to come out of there. I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

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