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Quarterback Will Make You Feel The Effects On "I Only Like You When I'm High"

The R&B-pop crooner gets litty on lost love in his latest fairy tale fantasy

by Heather Taylor-Singh

Quinn Bates is inviting listeners into his trippy and surrealist world with the music video for his new single, “I Only Like You When I’m High.” 

The R&B-pop singer professionally known as Quarterback lays out a transcendent track, reminiscing on a past lover and how their love will always be at a crossroads. Its accompanying video is a lo-fi acid trip adventure with bright colours, trippy animation, and Bates himself sporting elf ears while he interacts with CGI fairies. Animated by Tech, coloured by Bảo Ngô, and edited by Zuleyma Prado, the playfulness of the video is contrasted with sad lyricism, as Bates is left wondering if the love he once had is only good when he’s in a state of euphoria.

Following this video drop, Bates is gearing up to release a Remix EP on July 1. The five-track offering invites four others collaborators, including Vancouver-based duo Big Kill (fka We Are The City), who’ve all helped to reproduce and rework versions of the song.

We chatted with Quarterback to discuss the single, his stance on drugs and the, umm,  high of releasing new music.

How would you describe your sound and approach to songwriting? 

At first I wanted to do R&B but after this pandemic, I’ve been leaning way more into pop. R&B and pop is what I grew up listening to with my family and I wanted to stay true to what makes me most excited. I’ve been making electronic ethereal pop with R&B vocals, lots of high-end sounds to bring in that atmospheric galaxy vibe. When I write, I like to picture glitter in space and queers twerking on Saturn. 

How did you get into writing and recording music? 

I originally was in music school and trained in classical voice. I always sang gospel and R&B on the side because it’s what felt the most cathartic. I took an elective course where I got to be in a band and we performed some covers at the year-end recital. A bunch of people in the jazz program were there and my friend asked me to join their cover band. I then joined another cover band and started playing weekly shows. We eventually started to write originals and that’s when I met Hugh Mackie, who started working on originals with me. This was when Quarterback was born and I got to create music that resonated with me.

What kind of music did you grow up listening to?

I listened to everything. To name a few, I loved Destiny’s Child, Usher, En Vogue, MC Hammer, Shania Twain, Stevie Wonder, Billy Talent, Mother Mother, Paramore, Avril Lavigne, Jay Z, Kanye. I was such a pop culture kid growing up, and was well versed in music culture. I also listened to lots of musical theatre, classical music, and jazz. I’ve tried everything at least twice.

Speaking of drugs – what is your stance on illegal substances?

I love and support addicts. I’m a firm believer in eradicating the stigmas around drugs. People are people and we all have our struggles. Although this song is a metaphor and only half-related to me, I’m an occasional drug user. That sweet ethanol in a pitcher on a patio is where I most thrive. 

Where did you record the single? Was this a pandemic project?

I recorded this at a studio near my current apartment. It was written prior to the pandemic, but reproduced and reworked during because I had the spark to develop myself further. Although I am super annoyed by the pandemic, I am super grateful for the things I’ve learned and the artist that I’ve become. 

What is life like for you these days? What does an average day consist of?

I am currently chilling in Toronto but I’m a BC citizen, and I shall remain a BC citizen. I come back as frequently as I can and 90 percent of my collaborators are out in BC. My average day would consist of waking up late, making a meal (maybe) and either going to the studio, doing computer work, organizing a photoshoot or music video, or playing Animal Crossing. Followed by staying up until the sunrise thinking about literally everything at once.

Any plans for any more live streams or touring this summer once restrictions lift? 

I just did a livestream performance for my single release and it was so much fun. It was a stacked lineup of Prado, Vot, Zuleyyma, and Nivram. Other than that, I have a show lined up with Nelson Mural Fest for a livestream, and I’m just hoping for things to open up so I can start playing live shows again.