Ahead of releasing his Dilation EP, Quackson chats about his inspirations, the future of his project, and the state of midtempo.
Born from the mind of Jackson Wells, Quackson is the chosen name for a midtempo DJ and producer on the rise once again. Inspired by a love of bass music as well as midtempo overlord Rezz, he began his journey as a music producer in 2016. First gaining ground in his local scene of Seattle in 2017, Quackson quickly fostered a core fan base that soon moved online and continued to grow with every release.
While some might think it was a little early in his career, Quackson was dubbed “one of the leaders of the midtempo genre” by Noiseporn and “an artist to watch out for in 2019” by Your EDM. He’s been hard at work since then, hoping to live up to those titles. He quickly made his festival debut in 2018 with Freaknight, then went on to play two editions of Insomniac‘s Beyond Wonderland at The Gorge before supporting Deathpact at DEF this year.
One look at his discography and it’s easy to see why he’s earned those opportunities. Killer tracks like “Psychosis” and “Imposter” shine a light on Quackson’s stellar compositional skills, leaving no room for doubt. Not only that, but his remix of Rezz’s “Life and Death” reached her very ears and became a staple in her sets.
Quackson went on to collaborate with Rezz and Wreckno on “Gyrate” earlier this year, kicking off 2023 with a bang. More recently, he revealed the captivating single “Floating” off his forthcoming Dilation EP.
We caught up with Quackson to dive into the ins and outs of the project. Cue up “Floating” and read on to see what he had to say about his recent rise and the future of the midtempo genre.
Stream Quackson – “Floating” on Spotify:
Hi Quackson, thanks for taking the time to chat with us! What influences led you to pursue music production and how did they inspire you to become the artist you are today?
Of course! Thanks again for having me, and I’m excited to chat with y’all.
I’ve been a big fan of bass music since 2009 and always had an interest in it as an attendee, but when I saw Rezz at Shambhala Music Festival in 2016, that set pushed me over the edge to pursue production. Her set was unique and captivating with a darker vibe, which prompted me to think more seriously about trying to make music and explore curating something similar. Flash forward to a year later fumbling around in Ableton, and I started putting out tracks and figuring out what I wanted to create.
We see that you’re based in Seattle. What was it like breaking into the scene there, and how did that challenge your growth as an artist?
I’m thankful to grow up in a city like Seattle; I have a lot of friends and mentors here who have helped me learn production. It has challenges being a small community, especially for more underground artists. That’s why myself and a team of creatives started an event production company to promote smaller and forward-thinking electronic musicians called Waves Presents. It helped me gain experience playing shows early on and growing a community, but once the pandemic hit, we stopped throwing shows, and I shifted my focus to building a community online with things like Twitch and Discord.
Your most recent release, “Imposter,” was a beautiful example of your midtempo sound with thought-provoking vocals. What was the production process like for it?
Thank you, that makes me happy you dig it.
“Imposter” is a part of a big batch of songs I wrote in 2022 and is representative of my usual production style for the songs I wrote then. At the time, I was alternating between learning new production techniques and making sounds one day, then kicking out 80% of songs in one session the next. In a productive session, I find the root of an idea and then it kinda just becomes a blur. For “Imposter,” I found the vocal sample and the rest of the song wrote itself in like four or five hours. I spent a couple of sessions tweaking stuff, but it was almost done after the first session, which is a great feeling.
Speaking of your production process, do you have any production habits or pre-show rituals to help you get in the zone?
Honestly? 2023 has been a lot of finalizing my WIPs backlog and collabs. Production habits are tricky these days, more shows and a busy day job/personal life has me trying to redefine what that looks like. I’m big on dedicated studio time to try to hit that flow feeling and nail out ideas, and I’ll probably take time off and go somewhere remote, turn everything off for a week, and write my next bigger project.
Pre-show rituals are low key till about an hour before I play. I like to tweak my set and hang out with friends to keep my mind off the anxiety day of, then about an hour or so before the set I pace around trying to clear my head (laughs). Pre-set anxiety is tough, but as soon as I play a song or two it’s gone and I’m hyped.
You also recently released “Gyrate” with Rezz featuring Wreckno. How does it feel to reflect on how far you’ve come already, and to be working with a midtempo idol for many?
Surreal to say the least — working with Rezz has been a massive goal of mine since I started producing and it feels amazing to have been able to achieve that. “Gyrate” was a dream collab and it’s cool to see how far it has gone from being some random WIP I had sitting around to being a collab with some of my favorite artists that has been played around the world.
The midtempo genre is in a very interesting place right now, with artists like Rezz and Deathpact bringing it to the mainstream, yet with smaller artists struggling to reach that level of support. What are your thoughts on the current state of midtempo?
You hit the nail on the head. Midtempo seems to be one of those genres where the bigger acts can be top-tier headliners, whereas smaller acts have a harder time breaking out. We saw this boom in 2017-2019 when a lot of acts got big off the sound — like 1788-L, Blanke, Deathpact, HVDES and obviously Rezz, but then it waned a bit in popularity as a lot of genres do. Now, with REZZ’s imprint Hypnovizion and acts having more of a platform for the sound, I think we’ll see another wave that can get that opportunity.
I encourage producers who want to make a name for themselves making midtempo to take time to figure out what their sound is outside of emulating genre norms, and to try not to get discouraged if success doesn’t come immediately.
We talked a bit about your early inspirations — now, let’s talk about what’s in your rotation these days. Who are some artists currently standing out on your radar?
As a listener, I’m kind of all over the place. I’ve been on such a drum and bass kick recently, listening to tons of Sub Focus, Dimension, Chase & Status, etc.
Bass music wise, I’ve been loving stuff from Cyclops, Blurrd VZN, Slang Dogs, M?stic, and Lizdek. Honestly, there are so many talented folks out there pushing the boundaries of bass music. It’s hard to keep up.
What’s coming up next for Quackson? Any big plans for 2024 that you can share?
This is one of the first times I’m coming into the next year with a decent amount of shows booked in new cities, which is incredibly exciting. Plus, I think I should finally be able to release a certain remix everyone’s been asking for, so both of those pieces have me feeling optimistic about 2024.
Besides that, I’ve been focused on getting my newest EP, Dilation, out to wrap up 2023, and getting new music ready for my upcoming DEF set in December. I’m making a bunch of edits and flips and trying to make my sets as fun as possible.
Finally, just for fun, what’s your favorite local place to grab a bite to eat, where you’d take us when we come to visit?
Seattle has a ton of super dank food, and I usually like to ask people’s preferences whenever they come to town to make a better decision. This Vietnamese spot Ba Bar downtown has great pho that’s always a safe bet, but my personal favorite is Asadero Prime, which is this Mexican steakhouse that is to die for.