Meet Quentin Wylie, the 17 year-old singer/songwriter with a work ethic so strong it would put Richard Branson to shame.
I met Quentin at the little Legenderry Warehouse No. 1 cafe on Guildhall Street, where he will be launching his 4 track EP ‘Innocence is Bliss’ this evening with a night of local music.
The whole project - recording, CD pressing and venue rental has all been funded out of his own pocket.
Quentin explained: “I’ve always been surrounded by music, but I was never really instrumental. Me and my Dad have pretty much the exact same taste in music and there would always be music playing in the house. I started playing electric guitar with my thumb in P7 and started my first band in 1st year. I couldn’t even hold down a note with my index finger. We were shocking.
“After a while I joined another band, but again it was disastrous. It took us about 40 takes and 50 cans of Red Bull to get one song down.”
“The first time I met these boys there were three fire engines outside the drummer’s house and they had just nearly burnt the kitchen down making chicken nuggets. Obviously that band fell apart, but that’s where I got the taste for it.”
So where did the Quentin we know today begin?
“My uncle Jackie would always arrive late to parties with his guitar, singing his way through the door. I think it was my Grandparents’ 50th anniversary where he taught me all these old Cash songs. I went home and picked up and old rusty acoustic guitar and just started singing.
“I started with putting some stuff online and the general reaction was surprise, at the age I started writing. I must have been 15 at the time.”
It’s a curious route he took in planning his musical career. Most young musicians are content with the occasional gig in a pub or cafe and the thought of recording would never cross their mind until a much later stage.
But for Quentin writing original material and recording it has been a priority from the start.
“I know from being in a band how hard it can be getting gigs. They want to know who you are, what you sound like and there isn’t always time for auditions. They want recordings.
“Last summer I started busking at every opportunity and decided from the start the money would go straight into recording.
“And it was worth it. I wrote what I think is my best song, Beggar’s Cry, and my voice and self confidence vastly improved during this time.
“I went from having two gigs in six months pre-recording to being on the radio and having 6 gigs in a month and a half after recording.”
So, how hard has it actually been getting to this point ?
“The hardest thing really was balancing music with school. I’ve put everything into this, it is the dream. Busking pretty much paid for the recording and printing and money from Christmas paid for everything else.
“Going independent is unbelievably difficult but that’s the great thing about the music scene in Derry. Everyone wants to help each other and they all want to see you succeed. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the likes of The Jammhouse, Practice Makes Perfect and In Your Steps.”
So what is the ultimate dream for Quentin Wylie?
“Really, I’d love to get management off the back of this launch. Getting signed is really the ultimate dream, but even if it doesn’t work, I’ll be back in the studio next summer recording my second EP. I’m determined. I’ve also now got a residency at the Legenderry Warehouse No. 1 for the rest of 2014, which is great.”
‘Innocence is Bliss’ will be available to purchase from the Warehouse Cafe today and will be on iTunes from tonight. The CD will also be available in Cooldiscs from Saturday and in Head Music Shop, Belfast in a couple of weeks.