Singer-songwriter Tory Quinn grew up in a house full of musicians. “I was listening to whatever I could steal from my sisters’ CD collections,” she says. “I was drawn to Ace of Base, Heart, Cream, Madonna, and I can remember Pure Disco 3 was on heavy repeat."

She and her family sang traditional Irish music at gatherings. “This is where I learned how to harmonize and the importance of storytelling, and creating space in songs.”

VQnC's style builds on the music Quinn grew up with. Each song swells with close-harmony vocals fused with four-on-the-floor beats, syncopated basslines, synthesizers, electric rhythm guitars, and a lot of good vibes. "I jokingly say that VQnC is a pinch of cowbell, a touch of sass, and a dash of disco claps, but VQC is nu-disco that leans into soul and pop.”

The new album Freedom hits all those notes, combining elements of disco, electronic/dance, folk/Celtic, pop, hip-hop, and funk, with guest appearances from Boston musicians. The result is an amorphous and inclusive sound that leaves plenty of room to explore. I caught up with Quinn to learn about how she got started and her current avenues of inspiration for VQnC. Excerpts below.

Bands You Should Know — VQnC
OJ Slaughter

She loved creative writing, but didn’t feel comfortable sharing it.
I used to publish my poetry in school publications under a pen name. With singing and performing, I was ALWAYS confident on stage as it was a very natural thing to me.

She first felt encouraged to turn her writing into songs when she moved to Boston in 2013.
I lead a busy life and am an empath so I’m very activated by the world around me, and music is one of the few places where I can filter out the world around me or stresses that I’m feeling and create something healing and beautiful.

The first song she wrote and released for VQnC was called “Miwabe.”
Writing this song felt very natural as I was going through a tough break up and I just channeled everything I needed to say but was too anxious to verbalize and I used music as a conduit for that message.

I worked on this song with Cliff Notez and it was a very collaborative process. Through writing this song, I learned that I thrive most when I’m in the moment and just connecting with a producer and write/record a song on the same day. I learned to trust my instincts and not to overthink the creative process.

Lyrically, she’s influenced by personal experiences and the world around her.
I am a huge extrovert but I use my art to explore my inner thoughts and experiences and I find it very therapeutic. I also have a degree in women’s and gender studies which taught me to always question everything - from power structures, to identity, to basically anything that we’ve just been told to be true. I’m really focusing on this in my new material that I’m working on right now and it’s been a really engaging departure from the writing in my last album.

Musically, she’s inspired by a ton of musicians.
I’m super influenced by Stevie Nicks and Kate Bush in their vocal stylings and how they emit so much power and strength yet remain vulnerable - it’s truly a beautiful execution. I’m also very influenced by Erykah Badu and Sade in how their voices are so unique yet fit in perfectly with their music to create a cohesive package - this is not easy to do!

And how can I not be influenced and inspired by the glowing local scene? I’m blessed to call so many of them my friends! Local producer and musician Hamstank has influenced me a ton in thinking about an album as a full collection of cohesive songs that create a story as opposed to a collection of songs. I’m also very influenced by Oompa, Anjimile, Lightfoot, Optic Bloom, Party Bois, and Aubrey Haddard.

She started performing with the funk rock band Dr. Fidelity...
During that time, I really learned what it meant to be a bandleader and honed in my creative process as I learned a great deal about songwriting.

...and was playing out with VQnC in 2017.
I had my first performance at a Hipstory House Party in JP. Now Hipstory is curating massive shows at places like the MFA; it’s wild to see how much it has grown since the early days!

After that performance, VQnC took off.
I’m still wrapping my head around how much VQnC has grown since then! Back in the early days, it was me and an instrumental track, and now I have an amazing team of musicians who work with me - Hamstank on production, Fiona Wood on violin, Allister Quillon on keys, and Mario Epstein on drums. And being nominated for R+B Artist of the year at the Boston Music Awards in 2018, and being nominated for three awards this year: R+B Artist of the Year, Vocalist of the Year, and 617Session Artists of the Year - it feels good to know that people are connecting to my art!

Pre-performance rituals involve getting dressed for the show.
I’m very passionate about fashion as another mode of creative expression so the act of getting dressed before a show is very meditative for me. I’m a stylist and vintage seller so I have a lot of fun pieces to select from! My sparkly, colorful outfits are very much a part of my brand so I never just throw on a random outfit to perform!

Also, this is a little silly but I ALWAYS eat Goldfish before a show. I didn’t realize this until my band pointed it out to me and now before our shows they always ask, “Tory, do you have any Goldfish?” And the answer to that question is ALWAYS a yes.

Career options outside of music?
Something that is really important to me is being able to pursue all of my passions at once, instead of focusing on one thing exclusively as I’m also a photographer, vintage clothing curator/stylist, visual artist, and activist working in Progressive Politics at ActBlue. I love being able to do multiple things at once and being able to express all aspects of myself on a daily basis. This is what makes me ME.

But if we’re taking a fictional approach then I’d say being a professional ribbon dancer.

Where can Boston see you perform next?
I am performing and New Alliance Gallery on December 5 and The Canopy Room on December 8.

The Boston Music Awards recently selected VQnC to be a part of the 617Sessions, a program that recognizes Boston-based artists who are making great contributions to the local scene and rewards them with a day of studio recording.