This story first appeared in Chromatic: The Crossroads of Color and Music. Order your copy today.
Qua: “Circles”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Qua_Circles.mp3|titles=Qua: “Circles”]
Given the proliferation of programmable equipment and digital production techniques, kids all over the world are growing up and playing music without ever touching a physical instrument. Who can blame them? Nearly every imaginable texture, pitch, effect, and beat is just a few clicks away. This sea change from analog to digital musicianship hasn’t just changed the way that we create music; it has changed the way that we see music too. Distinctly electronic timbres are coupled with the colorful swirls of an iTunes visualizer, the bright strobe lights of a dance club, and the neon aesthetics of genre giants like Daft Punk and MIA.
Though he grew up playing guitar in rock bands, Cornel Wilczek, better known as Australian electronic artist Qua, set aside his guitar and took the solo electronic road early in his career. His decision was made possible by a discovery of electronic music, a genre wherein Wilczek realized that he could become, as he says, a “one-stop shop.” He could handle production and technical duties without having to rely on anyone but himself.
At 17, Wilczek won a Yamaha guitar competition and moved to the USA to do session work and guitar demonstrations. “It was really quite amazing at the time,” Wilczek says, “but it was also the end of an era for me, because I had met so many of my guitar and music idols who were complete assholes. I actually came back [to Australia] and stopped playing guitar for about five years, and that’s when I found electronic music.”