Anamieke Quinn Leads the Charge of an Emerging Valley Music Scene
Anamieke Quinn's home in South Scottsdale is testament to her passion for music. There are shelves lined with records of soulful jazz from the '30s, Brazilian sounds, world music, and classic rock, and a recording studio adjoins the bedroom of Quinn and her husband, producer Michael Quinn.
Quinn, who grew up in Arizona, is back home to focus on promoting the state's music scene after time spent in Los Angeles. "You can be right here and be a part of a vibrant, awesome, original, and quirky music scene and make a much stronger grass-roots impact," Quinn, says. "With the advent of the Internet, there's really no reason to try to go anywhere else — we've got it all right here."
Quinn leads the "desert noir" group Treasurefruit, playing her songs with electric guitarist/vocalist Matt Ventre and drummer Ehren Stonner. She also plays electric bass and sings background vocals in Ruca and plays the upright bass for the Sara McAllister Band. When she's not performing, you can find her hanging out at shows.
But that's just at night — during the day, Quinn handles public relations and artist development at local record label Fervor Records, which specializes in music placement in film and television and represents local bands like Super Stereo and Fayuca. She also started Fervor's monthly listening parties to showcase the label's artists. The job at Fervor was never intended to be a full-time position, but Quinn quickly established a pattern of drive and professionalism and immediately impressed her bosses.
"The first thing I said in the interview was, 'Just so you know, we're just looking for an intern, and we're not looking to hire anybody,'" says Fervor co-owner Jeff Freundlich. "We wanted to set the expectation right from the get-go, and probably in two-and-a-half weeks, we realized we could no longer live without Anamieke. She's just a powerhouse. She has her pulse on the Phoenix music scene."
Quinn has known from an early age she wanted to make a career out of music, competing and traveling with the Phoenix Symphony Youth Guild Orchestra as a double bass player and taking undergraduate music-industry classes at the University of Southern California. She interned at Capitol Records and toured with the likes of Audioslave and Jane's Addiction before deciding to move back to Arizona to blaze her own trail.
"Arizona is a frontier," Quinn says. "There is no big man holding you down or pre-established regime you have to assimilate to or fight. You can choose your own adventure and build it how you want it. I just see so much potential to build an empire."
Quinn has music in her blood: Her grandparents both performed for a living, and Quinn performed in a vintage Western swing trio called Motel Arizona with her vocally trained mother. The trio traveled northern Arizona, gaining notoriety with both tourists and locals before Quinn decided to focus more on her own material.
Quinn chose to study the music industry to support her own music career, as well as create her own artist production and management company. In 2011, she formed Sidepony Music, which provides artist management for local acts like Doctor Bones, Prague, Dirty Lingo, and Ruca. And she plans to reignite Sidepony's dormant label in late 2013.
"Having worked all these facets gives her a sense of empathy," says Manny Tripodis, owner of The Rogue Bar in Scottsdale, where Quinn books quarterly shows that Tripodis calls "thematic and diverse events." "If a band asks for advice, chances are she's experienced it. She can tell these bands what has worked and what hasn't. I think that works better than some textbook response. That kind of help is immeasurable to a new up-and-coming band that is trying to learn the ropes."
One such artist whom Quinn took under her wing was Haley Grigaitis, who met Quinn at The Rogue Bar. The two became friends, and Grigaitis formed Ruca with Quinn.
"Anamieke is one of the most passionate people I know when it comes to original, local music, and she attends, promotes, and reviews shows and events relentlessly," Grigaitis, 23, says. "She is ever-present within the community and lends her opinions and experience to many discussions that arise regarding Arizona music and helping our local talent to explode onto the national scene."
Quinn is no stranger to hard work as a musician, having packed up her Datsun with her guitar and booked solo tours to South By Southwest in Austin as well as an East Coast tour. She describes her own material as having touches of everything from folk rock to funk to country.
"It all has to do with living in the moment, not ever missing a chance to be awesome, not ever letting things get you down — that's always the main theme," Quinn says. "Even the songs that are darker, there's always a light at the end of the tunnel. I don't want to say things that will make people feel bad over and over again. It might be emotional, but I try not to write things that are negative or hateful."
Quinn's music can be heard on her six-song EP, The Cava Sessions, which she recorded at Cava Studios in Glasgow, Scotland, where her husband is from. Quinn is now playing bass in Treasurefruit after the unexpected death of their young bass player, and she is also busy putting together the Sidepony Express Music Festival in Bisbee, scheduled for November 17 and 18.
"We all have to support and celebrate each other's unique artistry, as a whole," Quinn says. "We need to raise up our local musical representatives that really have what it takes to go big time and encourage the others to keep polishing until it's their time to shine. So much of this scene is fueled by smoke and mirrors, it's ridiculous. I sometimes wish people would stop trying to outsmart each other on a local level and, instead, team up for the bigger picture."
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