It’s 5PM and I’m wandering through Silver Lake in Los Angeles with a pixie-like figure as the sun goes down. We’ve moved from sipping mint tea and chicken broth at Café Casbah and are making our way to House of Intuition to shop for crystals. Passing natural birthing centres, juice bars and restaurants with names like ‘Forage’, the east of L.A. feels different, a welcome respite from the flash and fortune of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. People are rambling through the streets rather than rolling to the next stop, and there’s even talk of going paddle boating in Echo Park nearby.
Said pixie is Bianca Quiñones – the L.A.-born half Mexican, half Puerto Rican singer ‘Quiñ’. To the average listener, Quiñ’s music is a modern twist on R&B, her voice sweet like Cassie but hypnotic like FKA Twigs when layered over distorted backing vocals and electronic synth. Her own description, however, captures the essence of Quiñ far better. Wrinkling her freckled nose so her septum ring shimmers and scrunching her blonde curls on top of her head, she explains: “It’s called fantasy soul, as my music comes from a little fantasy world in my head. It is kind of like my higher self is writing my songs for me.”
Like Silver Lake, Quiñ is the antithesis of Hollywood; she proved this when she gave the finger to her first label after they told her to take out her septum nose ring: “I said no because they didn’t realise that none of that shit matters. If I took it out it would have defeated my whole purpose on earth, which is showing that it doesn’t matter – these beauty ideals – none of it matters. How am I supposed to change the world if I am dumbing myself down for a world I don’t believe in?”
She is now making music on her own and is in control of her own image and message, releasing dreamy, all-encompassing tracks like The Cure and Dragging Me Down while gigging around L.A. at Whisky a Go Go, On The Rox and The Roxy. Her show later that night at The Lyric with Mindfield is sold out and the opening of her new music and performance night No Service at The Standard reached capacity last week. Her latest project is called Nine Lives and is coming out in chapters of three. It’s about her on a dead planet where the only way to escape is through her dreams. She laughs, “The dream world is a whole other thing though,” and we decide, for today, to stick to Silver Lake.