On the second stop of her I Hope It Lasts Forever tour, Sapporo-born Qrion sat down with us before her set at the Deep Tropics Music, Arts, and Style Festival Friday night after-party. She began making her own sounds in high school as a hobby by using her phone and now takes inspiration from all the environments at her whim to create a signature sound that oozes genuine artistry. She uses the noise of the world around her to create intimate songs anchored by energetic beats and lush synth textures. Named on Forbes Japan’s 30 Under 30, Qrion has graced labels such as Anjunadeep, Sasha‘s label Last Night On Earth, Mad Decent, and more. Beyond her profound sound productions, like her collaborative Sapporo EP with Spencer Brown and her solo debut Sine Wave Party EP via Anjunadeep, Qrion proves her mettle as an excellent remixer, too. She’s lent her future-focused sound to artists such as Alina Baraz, Lane 8, Catching Flies, TOKiMONSTA, and more to elevate a variety of songs across the spectrum of today’s hit music.
Ranging from soft, exquisite beats to ‘90s-adjacent dancefloor numbers, Qrion delivers a versatile flair to electronic music. Qrion has taken her release schedule to the next level, releasing remixes for Gabriel & Dresden, Flownn, and Trivecta. She showcased her curation abilities with her Apply Music Pride 2021 Mix and partnered with Spotify to curate Qrion’s Track IDs, a regularly updated playlist with more than 16,000 followers featuring her favorite tracks.
Gaining momentum like never before at the beginning of 2020, Qrion touched down in cities across North America on tour with Spencer Brown and for festival appearances at EDC Mexico and Groove Cruise in Miami. She has shared the stage with Above & Beyond, Porter Robinson, and deadmau5 in previous years and is on her first headline tour this fall and winter.
You can read our interview below.
What was the defining moment where you knew you wanted to pursue a career in music?
Five years ago, in San Francisco, I had my first U.S. gig at Public Works. I played at a video game convention after-party and it was the first time I played in front of a lot of people. My English was so bad, but nobody cared – people just enjoyed my music even though they had no idea who I was. At the moment, I thought “Maybe I want to keep doing this seriously” and that really pushed me.
I think that’s a great experience because music is universal, so I’m glad you had that experience to ignite your path forward. In three words, how would you describe your music to someone who may not know it?
I would say “Emo, sad, house.” I love using my old memories from childhood or the views I see on tour, something nostalgic or sentimental. I would say my music is sad and emotional.
That’s a really unique combination, so I’m really excited to catch your set and experience what that sounds like. What is a common theme that listeners can find in your music?
I think my sounds are pretty atypical, so people are always able to distinguish my songs. They always tell me that they can tell which songs are mine when they hear them. That’s all I’ve wanted to do in my music career – find my own sound and style.
When people can pick up on your unique sounds, that shows that you’re doing what you set out to do, that you’re paving your way. Where do you draw inspiration from?
Usually from tours – when I’m in airports or on airplanes, watching the skies, and going to different cities to feel the energy of different people and cultures. It’s been really difficult during the pandemic.
I can only imagine how it feels to not have been missing that source of inspiration for so long! Could you share your perspective on what it means to have diverse representation in the music industry?
I think that’s what this industry has been dealing with for such a long time. It’s not like things can change overnight, like one day, there are just a bunch of Asian women DJing. But all I can do is keep making music and encouraging people in some way. If there are female Asian artists like me who feel boxed in by the industry, I’d love to help them recognize that this is possible.
Visual representation is super key. How has COVID-19 affected your creativity?
I think all artists had a hard time making music because we had to stay inside basically 24/7 without any shows. It was mentally very difficult. At the moment, I was feeling really stressed out by the pandemic. Of course, I wish it didn’t happen, but I am now mentally stronger than before as a result of how it impacted me.
There’s been a much larger conversation around mental health as a result of the pandemic, which is really critical for everybody to talk about. How does it feel to be touring again?
It feels amazing. I’m still nervous because I had an entire year where I wasn’t on stage or in a club. I’m a really shy person, so I’m not a great entertainer. The shows I’ve had in the past couple of weeks were all really good though and people really energetic, which made me feel great. It’s like everyone has so much built-up energy to release from the pandemic.
I think the energy tonight is going to be great. In general, what has been one of the biggest challenges of your career and how have you overcome it?
In the last few years, my mental health. Artists have to constantly push their creativity and generate output, which can be tough. I think being healthy as a DJ is a really important part of the industry. I do have a great support system through my platform and fans. It’s so easy to talk about things on the internet these days, which makes our community tighter. When I post about what I’m going through on my platforms, my fans let me know that I’m not alone.
I really admire artists who are open about talking about their mental health, especially using their platforms.
Speaking up is so important. In the past two years, I’ve learned that it’s important to speak up about topics like mental health and Asian hate. We can’t be quiet on these topics.
Right, you can’t enact change unless you talk about these issues. What has been one of your favorite moments in your career?
Whenever I release music, I always feel happy. I feel warm whenever I see people dancing to my music and enjoying it. I make music in a tiny bedroom by myself – it’s very private. But once I release a song, it’s a shared feeling and such a happy moment for me.
I know I’m really excited to witness your energy and performance. I really do think Nashville will give you such a warm welcome. Do you have any last thoughts you want to share?
I’m doing a fall/winter tour. I have a bunch of new music that I’m really excited to share with everyone! I also want to say thank you to all of my fans who have supported me, and been patient through the pandemic. I wouldn’t be able to do what I love without them.
Qrion’s magnetic and unique sound entranced after-party goers as they filed in to extend the long day of feel-good vibes. August 27th may have been her first time in Nashville, but the city gave Qrion such a warm welcome that it certainly won’t be her last. You can catch her smooth grooves and hypnotic beats on the rest of her tour.