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The Q Factor - Quincy Mumford
08/25/2009 - By Teja Anderson
Cover Photograpy by Mckay Imaging
Quincy Mumford – Singer/Songwriter and Jersey Shore to the Core
For the past year there has been a growing buzz about QuincyMumford.You hear his name around the schoolyard, at the beach, and on the streets. A beach kid to his core, Quincy can be found skateboarding, surfing, or snowboarding when he isn’t busy playing several times a week at local restaurants, benefit concerts, or larger venues to an ever-expanding audience of loyal listeners.
Quincy has been composing music and writing his own tunes since he was 9 years old, when he first experimented with his distinctive blend of folksy grooves, jazzy riffs, and reggae rhythms. In 2008, he released his first full-length album to great acclaim, earning him three Asbury Music Awards nominations, a coveted place in WBJB 90.5 The Night’s Emerging Artists Concert Series, the #11 spot on 90.5 The Night’s “Top 90 Albums Released in 2008,” and entry at #103 on the “Top 200 Songs on Non-Commercial TripleARadio” chart, on which it’s been climbing steadily ever since. His second full-length album is due to come out this fall.
Quincy credits contemporary artists like Jack Johnson, John Mayer, and Bob Marley with having an impact on his musical direction. He’s a self-described “down-to-earth, happy, and creative guy focused on his career,” finding inspiration for his meaningful lyrics in the real-world. The first track on his album, “My Town,” pays homage to his native Allenhurst, NJ, where he lives with his parents and brother. Quincy draws inspiration from characteristically colorful snippets of down-to-earth, everyday life at the Jersey Shore, writing and singing in a way that not only brings them to life, but makes them universal to any small town in America.
If you go to one of his live performances it won’t matter if you are 4 or 104 – you will probably be swaying or bouncing, dancing or singing along with him and his band of talented young people. Living In–The Jersey Shore sat down with Quincy on his back patio as he opened up about his success and his life as a Jersey Shore teen.
LIJS: This is Allenhurst?
QM: West Allenhurst. I’ve lived here since I was born, and I’m 17.
LIJS: The Mumford name is already pretty familiar around this area.
QM: Yes, My dad Chris is a chef and caterer, and my mother Debbie is a pastry chef. My older brother Kyle (21) is a film maker.
LIJS: Have your parents always been supportive of your music?
QM: They are super supportive. Whatever I wanted to do, they always encouraged me; they never discouraged me from my music or really anything else. And my brother…he helps me out all the time, filming my music videos and giving me creative insight.
LIJS: I read on your MySpace page that you started writing music and songs when you were 9 and started performing a couple of years ago. When did your music really seem to take off?
QM: Really about a little over a year ago now. I started writing seriously about 3 years ago, but I didn’t get out there and do shows or even open mikes until about a year ago. It’s really taken off just recently.
LIJS: Sometimes you perform solo, as just “Quincy Mumford” and sometimes you perform with your band, “The Quincy Mumford Band.” How did that come about?
QM: It’s actually funny. My bass player Brian Gearty and I have been friends since the fourth or fifth grade. I always wanted to play guitar, so I told him, “Man, you are going to have to learn to play something because I want to form a band.” So he decided to learn the bass, and then we just always practiced and played together; we grew together jamming or doing something stupid. Then I said I was going to “do an album and maybe play at a few charity events, come play with me”; he was always my first pick. Then we met a drummer, Skip Robinson, who was recording at the same studio – Lake House Music. He drifted away because he got real busy with school, and so we got Jeff Mann. He’s a little older than the rest of us. Travis Lyon came on board as lead and slide guitar; he is amazing. He is going away to college soon. We played a show at Brookdale College and this girl’s mom came and said, “Oh, my daughter plays keys, she’s really talented. I don’t know if you are looking for anyone…” I was willing to give her a shot; I was looking for a keyboardist anyway. She came over for a practice, and she was all shy and nervous and quiet…a typical teenaged girl. Then she started playing and she just blew us all way. She was incredible… Karlee Bloomfield. She does vocals too.
LIJS: You are lead vocals, of course, and you play guitar. Any other instruments?
QM: I play a little bass. I used to play a little trumpet, a little keys.
LIJS: Did you have a lot of vocal training or voice lessons as a child?
QM: No, not at all really. I just sing. I used to be pretty bad (laughs), dreadfully bad, but I just kept singing and tried to replicate some of the artists that I really liked. I found or formed this sound…it became this “Quincy Voice.”
LIJS: What’s the “Quincy Voice?”
QM: It’s kind of like John Mayer and Jack Johnson…a blend of all the “feel good” kind of music. It just sort of came about by listening to all these different cool artists with positive vibes.
LIJS: So you are completely self-trained for voice.What about guitar?
QM: Oh, I took lessons. I still take them.
LIJS: With whom?
QM: Actually, a mixer at my studio; his name is Rob Lebret. He played on my CD.
LIJS: When did your self-titled debut CD come out?
QM: It came out April 2008. Jon Leidersdorff produced it. I owe everything to that guy; he’s kind of like my second dad…he’s my musical father. He’s been in a bunch of successful bands – Blow Up and Out Cry – and he is a very successful studio musician.
LIJS: Do you like or follow any Jersey Shore artists in particular?
QM: I’m really into (and they are good friends of mine) Outside the Box. They are kind of a bluesy-jam band. Keith Kenny – he’s like a one-man jam band and a really cool guy.
LIJS: You have a gig coming up at the Stony Pony with Donovan Frankenreiter. How did that come about?
QM: Well, I’ve played a bunch of times at the Pony, and the promoter, the guy who books there, knows that I really like him and that we have a similar sound, so he was like, “I’m gonna hook you up. I’m gonna let you come open for Donovan.” It’s really crazy.
LIJS: I’ve seen you playing at a bunch of charity gigs lately. That’s great to be so involved already at your age.
QM: I try to do as many benefits as I can. Even if it’s no money it kind of makes you feel better especially if it’s for something that you really care about yourself, such as keeping the beaches and the oceans clean, like The Surfrider Foundation and Clean Ocean Action. With me, being a surfer and a body boarder and going to the beach all the time, I think it’s important.
LIJS: Which is your favorite beach?
QM: Roosevelt. It’s in Deal and no one really goes on it. You don’t have to pay and there is this cool little river that goes through there. The waves are really good there and it has a cool pier. But if I want to go where there is a snack bar and a little more to do I’ll go to Loch Arbor.
LIJS: Do you ever play at the beach?
QM: Every Friday night I do jam sessions on the beach for Surf Camps for Kids right here.
LIJS: Where else are you playing these days?
QM: Well, I play about once a month at the Surf Taco in Belmar and also in Manasquan, the Fromagerie in Rumson, and the Lake House Restaurant & Bar – that’s where I get the biggest crowd. It like my local home base. I see a lot of familiar faces [there]. InA ugust we are playing in the VIP Tent at the PNC Bank Arts Center for the G. Love/Jason Mraz Concert.
LIJS: Wow! How did you get picked for that?
QM: My dad Chris; he is my manager. He works wonders. You know how I think he does it? He’s in the food business, and the business end of music is very similar. It’s all about networking. He does a really good job at getting us gigs…gets us in there [by] schmoozing and talking to people.
LIJS: Did you ever get a gig at an event he was catering?
QM: Yeah, actually last year (chuckles). I did a benefit for Food Bank. I was the entertainment and he was passing out food.
LIJS: Have you ever worked for your dad?
QM: I’m working for him this summer at the Breakwater Beach Club in Deal, doing concessions, flipping burgers like my dad, helping him out. I’m getting better at it, too; also making sandwiches, but I definitely don’t want to do it as a career.
LIJS: It’s good to have a summer job. So you are about to go into your senior year at Ocean Township High School?
QM: Yeah, I just took my senior pictures, actually.
LIJS: Do the kids there treat you any differently, especially the girls? Teenaged girls tend to have a thing about musicians.
QM: No. They all treat me the same.Actually, I have a girlfriend now and she met me through my music. She showed up at a show and she was really into it (laughs). She hates when I call her a groupie. It definitely does help to meet girls when you play music.
LIJS: Has your fame reached outside of New Jersey?
QM: I wouldn’t really call it fame, but I have sold some CDs in the U.K. and Japan, and I have a pretty big following on MySpace® and Facebook®, from Brazil actually the most. They ask me all the time when I’m coming down there to perform. I’m like, well…I don’t have that kind of money.
LIJS: Is The Quincy Mumford Band turning a profit yet? It takes a lot of money to put out an album…
QM: I am just trying to break even right now. I’m starting to pay my parents back for the loan, for the record, ordering more CDs and T-shirts. There are a lot of things that I need to pay for, so from everything that I make I try taking a little out for gas and pocket money; the rest I put in the bank. It’s really just an investment back into myself.
LIJS: Are you saving for college? What are your plans after this final year of high school?
QM: Yes. I’m thinking about doing maybe 2 years at Brookdale just so I can stay here and continue to work on my music. I was also thinking of University of Vermont (UVM). I love going up there, and I have a lot of friends who go there. Plus Bennington is really good for music.
LIJS: Have you ever been somewhere and heard your music played?
QM: Yeah. Once I was riding in my friend’s car and I heard this song on the radio; I was like, this song sounds familiar; who is it? And, I turn it up and it’s me. It’s so weird hearing yourself…cool but really weird. I was like, change the channel.
LIJS: You don’t like listening to yourself?
QM: Sometimes if you are playing a really exciting show and you have it recorded, and you are really excited, and there are a bunch of people there, you might kind of force the vocals, trying to really get your voice out there, not singing how you normally would. Then you hear it on playback and you are like, “Oh no, dude! Why did you do that?” Not all the time, but it happens sometimes. It’s better not to try too hard and just relax and be yourself.
LIJS: Which comes first, the music or lyrics?
QM: The music. First I find something that sounds cool on the guitar and I hum along to it and soon a melody will come, and then somehow a topic will develop from whatever is bugging me or something I’m thinking about at the time, and I just write about it. But a song is never done the first time you write it. It is rewritten and rewritten and rewritten at least five times before it’s ready. There are always so many things you can do to make a song better. Sometimes by walking away from it for a few days, or even weeks, you can then look at it from a different perspective. I look at different ways to say things and make it easier to understand or even appeal to a wider interpretation…make it easier to relate to.
LIJS: So, you want it to be more universal…
QM: Exactly. I love it when someone comes up to me and asks me what a song they relate to was written about. I ask them, “Well, what did it mean to you?” And they tell me and I think it’s really cool, even though it wasn’t what I was thinking about when I wrote it. Then someone else will find another meaning in it, and someone else something even different. I think that is really special to be able to do that with music.
LIJS: Which of your songs do people request the most in concert?
QM: The two songs off the first record, “My Town” and “Going North,” are probably the ones that get most people pumped.We usually do a mix of “Going North” and then go into a Grateful Dead song and then anAllman Brothers song, and back into “Going North.” People like that because it’s familiar and fun and they get to hear my song and perhaps like and remember it. But I’m not a cover band.
LIJS: Do people sing and dance along to your original songs?
QM: Yes. Often I can see people in the audience singing along with me; that’s a pretty cool feeling. It gets me pretty pumped. It depends on where we are for people to get up to dance. One time I headlined at the Pony and a bunch of people were dancing and they were really into it. I could see their faces in the light and they looked so happy, dancing to my music; it was so great to see that…really wild. It was a really exciting moment for me – one of the best I’ve had since I started playing. Kids frequently respond to my music by dancing and jumping around a lot, too. Kids will often start dancing when I play at more familyfriendly venues, even when the adults aren’t dancing.
LIJS: So you have fans of all ages?
QM: It’s so great. My producer’s little kid, J.D., has such a “man crush” on me. He’s only years old; it’s the funniest thing. I have this thing…sometimes I wear these colored shades; they are like Ray-Bans© (with colored sides), and in the kid’s video I did, at the end I kind of pull them down on my nose and peer over them, and the other day I was at the studio and J.D. had on the same glasses and he was being all shy and I was like, “Hey! J.D.!” And he did my little move with the shades; it was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. He can even repeat lyrics from my songs.
LIJS: I’ve seen that kid’s video on YouTube™. I couldn’t stop smiling!
QM: Yes. It’s called “The Bird Song.” We filmed it with just me and a bunch of little kids; it was so much fun to see their energy. They were going nuts over it, so I took it as a good sign. Hopefully it will be on Nickelodeon. I auditioned for their kids’ show, so either I could be on the show or they could play my music video. That was a kid’s music video though; it’s not on my CDs.
LIJS: How do you decide which of your songs should be turned into a music video?
QM: Well, usually it’s just whatever song we think is going to be a hit, or whatever song my brother Kyle thinks would make a cool video. Kyle is a really gifted director, writer, and editor; he is just so creative. He might get an idea for a particular song because he can relate to it, like when we did the video for “Life of Destinations.” It wasn’t the most popular song – it’s kind of mellow and it’s the last song on the record. But we were in Vermont and it was a really nice day and we were in a friend’s barn. Kyle was like, “Let’s just shoot a really simple black and white music video.” It was super classic. We just did it! It took 2 seconds, and he edited it in 2 days, and it was done. He is an amazing film maker; he is at the School ofVisual Arts in New York City.
LIJS: It’s nice to have a videographer in the family, but it can’t always be that easy…
QM: We did another video for “Dock on a Bay.” It’s one of my upbeat Reggae songs.We went out one day and shot in my garage; it was really nice out, so we borrowed my friend’s van to drive around and shot more stuff in the van, outside the van. Then we went to this guy’s dock on the Navesink River and it really turned out perfect. Kyle got it edited in a few days; his vision came true. He used a lot of animation using the art from my cover album and made it move…made the objects move. He is really good with special effects, and it came out cool.
LIJS: What are your long-term and short-term goals?
QM: Short-term goal is to get more gigs and exposure out of New Jersey. I want to get into New York City and Philly and Boston. I’mgoing to Florida soon with Jay (Alders, the Shore artist fromthe July/August cover story) to play at the Surfrider Foundation Festival, and then we are going to collaborate with his art and my music. I did my own art for my first CD, and Jay is actually doing the art for my second CD.
LIJS: So when is it coming out?
QM: Hopefully by the end of the summer, probably by the time this interview comes out. This next record is really cool; it’s kind of like a whole new world. It shows that I have progressed as an artist and as a song writer. The lyrics are more meaningful; they go into deeper topics. It’s funky, it’s upbeat… I think people are really going to respond to it and dig it.
LIJS: Do you have a title for it yet?
QM: No, I don’t. I keep going back and forth between two different ones.
LIJS: Let’s get back to your long-term goals.
QM: Sharing my music with a lot more people, hoping my music brightens up their day, and making money doing it. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all about making money; that is not why I am doing it. Somehow being successful in themusic business, even if in 10 years I amstill playing in bars and 300 people show up, if my music is still making people feel happy, then I‘ll still be happy doing it. Yeah, a record deal would be nice too.
LIJS: Somebody get this kid a record deal!
Mumford’s Culinary Center in Tinton Falls
Pineapple Express and Mumford’s Law
people who repeat themselves
Three People You’d Like to Have Dinner With:
John Lennon, Jerry Garcia, and my grandmother Diane Mumford (I never met her, but I wrote a song about her)
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