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New Artist Spotlight: Big Quarters

by Travis on April 12, 2009

I have my underground groups/artists that I have been continuously watching almost since this blogs conception. Groups like Archetype, Nite People, Poorly Drawn People/Storm Davis, John Public and Ameer are all artists that reached out to me while the blog was in its young stages and their music stood out to me, so I continue to watch them. Another such group would be Minneapolis natives, Big Quarters. In 2007, they hit me up with a copy of their Cost of Living LP, and it’s one that stuck out to me that year and continued to get a lot of play through out the year. Nothing but great music and “real” rhymes (meaning real life that most of us face) will be found on the album.

I sat down and talked to them while they prepare to release their second album, From The Home of Brown Babies & White Mothers, on May 5th. Well spoke on their influences, how a town that is seemingly ruled by Atmosphere and Rhyme Sayers regards hip hop and their monthly hip hop producer spotlight, Last of the Record Buyers event.

“Barter System” (prod. Medium Zach) off the album From the Home of Brown Babies & White Mothers.

WYDU: What’s good guys, could we get a proper introduction for those out there sleeping?

Brandon Allday: What’s going down – my name is Brandon Allday. And along with my brother, Medium Zach, we make up Big Quarters. We both produce, record and perform. Once in awhile, I play trumpet – and Zach plays saxophone.

W: How did you guys come together to form the group? What’s a little of the group’s history?

BA: We started DJing, freestyling and making beats in ’99 while I was still in high school – under the name “EPL”. In 2001, my man Try-D of Interlock gave us our first show. Three years later, we changed our name to “Big Quarters.” And we self-released our debut album “Cost of Living” in the spring of ’07.

W: You hail out of chilly Minnesota. Obviously, Atmosphere & Rhymesayers has put the area on the map. Do you consider that an advantage or a disadvantage?

BA: It’s a much-appreciated advantage. Man, we’re privileged to be in a situation where we have an outlet, in terms of venues and people checking for our music – the veterans like Interlock, UVS & Rhymesayers have laid the groundwork. In addition, we are surrounded with veteran artists as our friends and mentors. Almost everyone in the Rhymesayers office, from artist and staff, has given me a good piece of advice at one time – and some, many times.

W: I’ve seen events such as “Last of the Record Buyers” going on in the city. Describe the scene in Minneapolis and the Last of the Record Buyers events.

BA: With Last of the Record Buyers, we’re bringing hip-hop producers to the forefront – that weren’t seeing a lot of light. It’s a monthly event, we have 25-30 producers sign-up to play beats in a 3 minute slot – much like an open mic. This open CDJ is followed by an invited featured producer for a 30-40 minute set. I host and pose questions to the producers – like what equipment are they using, which artists are they working with, are they looking to work with anyone. With forums like this, our community and scene is growing – definitely in terms of hip-hop producers. But also in hip-hop artists in general. The talent pool in the Twin Cities is deep.

W: You have a unique way of releasing music that I haven’t seen before with the BQDirect series you got going on. What exactly is it and how did you come up with that promotional idea?

BA: In terms of making songs, we are prolific – so really, we needed an outlet. And we made that BQDirect. We release 5 songs a month (for $5 a month) to subscribers direct to their email. Those songs include: new Big Quarters songs, cuts that Zach or I have produced for other artists, and a featured unreleased instrumental. We run it ourselves – and it allows us to stay connected to our people supporting us.

W: Describe your sound for someone that has never heard of you guys?

BA: We sample records and rap about our family. That’s pretty much what it boils down to.

W: Who would you credit as some of your influences, both musical and in life?

BA: Wow. Life influences – my brother Zachary, the Bagaason family and Rincon Family. As far as music production, Famfeud and Last of the Record Buyers keeps me on my toes. Songwriting – my man I Self Devine has given me m
any tips. My man Big Zachariah is a great storyteller – I bounce ideas off him sometimes. My writing is really grounded in day-to-day experiences.

W: The group released a good, yet slept on album in “Cost of Living”. What are some of the challenges of a “strugglin’ artist” in the age of the internet?

BA: Man, the internet is an open market – it’s beautiful. Any one can setup shop. The challenge is to offer something creatively that will allow us to stand out from the pack. And I think we’re going to continue to find ways to do that.

W: What does the crew have in line for the future?

BA: BQDirect is coming out on the 5th of every month. Last of the Record Buyers is coming up on the 2 year anniversary. And we’re getting ready to shoot a music video for “Good Look” in support of the new album – From the Home of Brown Babies & White Mothers.

W: Final words?

BA: Now you are officially down with Big Quarters since day one. Please tell a friend.

W: Thanks, best of luck for the future!

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