Meagan Rodriguez is QRTR, a Brooklyn-based musician, DJ, and film composer flourishing within modern electronic music, recognized as one of New York's top rising indie artists. Building music of conceptual depth, the tonality of QRTR's productions pull from various ethos: the entrancing and pulsating waves of house rhythms, psychedelic scopes of space and layering, and immersive worlds of sound that utilize her vast film and field recording library. QRTR can activate the biggest of stages and can also immerse the mind into a menagerie of unfolding styles cascading over one another. A singular artist in this generation that has released two monumental works within a 24-month window: 2020's Drenched and 2021's infina ad nausea. The live resume and presentation of QRTR's music has become just as exemplary, making her presence known at prestigious festivals such as Coachella, HARD Summer, Electric Zoo, and Electric Forest, completing a full sold out tour opening for Luttrell, and performing at some of the most cutting edge underground shows around the globe. Most notable was her appearance at A2B2's sold out Night of Fire festival at the Knockdown Center in New York, featuring QRTR alongside Arca, Eartheater, Andy Morin, Machinegirl, and Kero Kero Bonito. Millions of plays across streaming platforms worldwide and a dedicated fan base that's expanded far outside of Brooklyn, QRTR has become an undeniable force within modern electronic music.
The origins of QRTR's love for modern electronic music coupled with sounds from the past is a culmination of the family she was raised by and the dance music communities she first had access to. Her mother is from Madeira, a Portuguese island off the coast of Morocco, and her father is from Puerto Rico, giving a distinctly unique lens on incoming sounds from the house she was raised in. Growing up in Massachusetts, she would get her first access to making music with a vital gift from her dad: a Sony computer with DAW Acid Pro installed. Wild excursions into any sound obtainable, these stepping stones led to Garageband and then Ableton with a Pioneer controller. It wasn't until she moved to New York for film school at NYU that she was able to really harness the full scope of the QRTR sound that we know of today. One that DJ Mag's Ben Murphy describes as "tapping into everything from deep house to mystical IDM atmospheres, touches of UK garage, full-pelt jungle and psychotropic techno." Intensive hours sound designing and editing video gave her not only a cinematic view point to how sound is constructed but it also gave her access to a vast and unique library of sample sources. Beyond the techniques and skills acquired through NYU, being in New York allowed QRTR to interweave herself into the nightlife of the city and expand on the ethos she was formulating with vision and sketches sonically. These experiences had a huge impact on her as an artist. Across both Drenched and infina ad nausea, the bookend worlds of 21st century NY club nights and modern experimental film composer culture are glued all over the low end, overtones, and midsections. This unique dynamic is an integral aspect of what her artistry represents as a whole.
In 2017, QRTR put forth her first public works in the self-released EP Absinthe Party. Forging an integral relationship during this time was the addition of sound engineer Ryan Schwabe and the work completed mastering QRTR's maiden voyage. Schwabe brings sonic clarity, buoyancy, and lush dynamics, known for adding engineering to pivotal works by Oneohtrix Point Never, RJD2, Tierra Whack, and Shamir. It's an empowering and important part of her sound that's threaded through many of the QRTR releases, including the latest batches of remixes launched from the infina ad nausea LP and the sophomore album itself. In early 2017 at a Sundance premiere for a documentary she was working on, QRTR played demos that would eventually be on her first EP to the series composer Khari Mateen. It was suggested by Mateen that she connect with Ryan Schwabe for engineering assistance on a public release over this material. QRTR would eventually meet Schwabe after her work was completed at Sundance and arrange for work on Absinthe Party. Around this same time, QRTR would begin to really lay her roots down across the changing music landscapes occurring in Brooklyn and neighboring cities on the east coast with standout live performances/DJ gigs, and the bubbling nature that occurred with the first EP. Two singles would quickly release right after, including "Driver" and "RUN OUT THE BACK." Both are conceptually and sonically rich tracks that further added to QRTR's rise in the public sphere.
The process of writing and recording Absinthe Party was the catalyst in putting together her first proper full-length album, Drenched. Released with Los Angeles-based indie label Dome of Doom in March of 2020, the limited edition cassette version quickly sold out, with press around the the world praising the album for its deep sense of allure and sonic weight. QRTR was ushered into the sight of Dome of Doom on the strength of her artistry. No weighted connections or after event hand shakes were needed to establish how special and unique she was to the LA-imprint. Label owner Wylie Cable expands, "I met QRTR online originally. I was in a phase where I was looking for new artists to sign to the label and in my searching, QRTR stuck out as someone I felt had a unique and original sound. All of my most meaningful curation for the label comes from a very intuitive place. At this point in my career I feel like I can pretty much know within a few minutes of meeting a new artist whether or not they have the kind of potential and creative spark I look for in artists I work with. I immediately got that sense as soon as I found QRTR's music and just followed my intuition and cold call reached out to her online asking if she had heard of the label and that I was interested in working on a debut full-length."
Drenched is a record QRTR describes as her love song to the ocean's depth and the type of experiences she gained when encountering these spaces with her family. "My father was born in Puerto Rico and my mother was born and raised in Madeira, a Portuguese island off the coast of Morocco," QRTR adds. "Waves and dance music have a lot in common, the way they provide release through repetition. In Madeira, the people have an intimate relationship with the ocean, one of both respect and fear. The island is mountainous, with rocky beaches along the sides of cliffs. It beckons you, and when you've succumbed, the high tide comes in and pushes you back out. This LP is my love song to the ocean's depths. The way we look toward its vastness and accept that we will never fully know what's underneath. To be drenched, you must allow yourself to submerge completely, while being careful not to be consumed." Further blends of influence would include the dystopian worlds of Haruki Murakami, the meta-cognitive dissertations of Jia Tolentino's surrounding music, along with music visionaries such as Miike Snow, Crystal Castles, Jamie XX and Jacques Greene. Summation of many paths, all driven by the overall sensation to inspire people and give them a drive to pursue the worlds that give them the deepest sense of life. Reception percolated across the global press and radio grids, with Tom Ravenscroft of BBC6 taking a measured sense of interest in her works that has resulted in repeated plays across the influential radio platform and a unique mix for the 99 year-old platform. Paste Magazine, XLR8R, Magnetic Magazine, Bandcamp Daily, and many other influential platforms also saw the vision early. A half-year after the release of Drenched and QRTR would expand further into the ethos of Dome of Doom, contributing a remix for Daedelus' "Fettle" piece, with original sample material sourced from the What Wands Won't Break LP. This remix would appear on the What Wands Remixes comp on Dome of Doom, quickly becoming a sold out cassette shortly after launch.
A year after the release of Drenched and the "Fettle" remix with Daedelus, QRTR followed up with the enthralling and highly-celebrated work, infina ad nausea. Released with Dome of Doom in August of 2021, it's the first record in her catalog to receive a vinyl pressing and was met with journalistic recognition and radio love from outlets such as Pitchfork, Bandcamp Daily, DJ Mag, BBC6, Mixmag, The Wire, Paste Magazine, XLR8R, KCRW, Magnetic Magazine, Audio Femme, Electric Hawk, Saint Audio, Beatportal, and Dancing Astronaut. Pitchfork's Eric Torres states, "Rodriguez's propulsive production, ornamented with samples, murmured vocals, and various percussive elements, makes for a brisk, euphoric trip through the mind." A perfect summation on the sonic intention of the music and the affects the music took on QRTR while ruminating on past experiences and creating in response. QRTR notes, "infina ad nausea is a play on latin terms "ad infinitum" and "ad nauseum." I was trying to create a phrase to describe growing sick of a false feeling of permanence, as though you're living in a never ending loop. I was steeping in the concept of "spiral" which is a theme I've been coming back to constantly in my art and life since 2011. I always felt as though I was living within a series of full circles overlapping on each other (creating the illusion of a spiral). I have a tattoo on my arm that I designed in an effort to visually express the idea. The concept of this album feels a little larger than life to me and difficult to describe and that is exactly what I was trying to encompass sonically. I arranged the track order in a way that felt like the act of spiraling internally (mentally and emotionally). It starts off bright and playful and becomes more frenzied until suddenly you've reached "the point" -- which is ever moving and evolving and thus unreachable."
The fluidity and range of infina ad nausea has been the perfect slate for expansion, with inclusion on the Dome of Doom 10-year compilation Decade of Doom, radio support all over the world, continuous placement from Spotify, Apple, Amazon Music, Beatport, Bandcamp and other worldwide music services, and a cycle of shows that continues to fuel the enigma of the music. QRTR's also expanded the music of her sophomore LP with remixes collected from electronic musicians of every walk and life. Launched through packs and one-offs over the last six months (Astral Club Pack, Global Magic Pack, Miami Rave Pack, International Disco Pack), the inclusion of Daedelus in these remixes is a full-circle moment, following up on the work QRTR contributed to the What Wands Remixes. In an interview with self-titled magazine, Daedelus reveals: "QRTR immediately struck as someone who had an ear for a tune. Where an onstage persona is no different then what you'd hear in her production. A rare, wonderful feat! Grateful to get a remix that exemplifies this on my album and how could I not try to reply in return. Taking a kaleidoscope approach on my remix of her interlude, going noisy where she'd sublime, dance-y against her ambiance. Not trying to be contrary -- rather a heartfelt affirmation of what the song meant to me on first listening."
The packs, one-off singles, and unreleased material have been collected in the 18-track epic remix compilation infina ad nausea: the remixes. Revisionists/remixers include (in order of appearance): BAILE, Breaka, Nikka Nair, Liebknecht, VNSSA, Proper Villains, Mirin Doja, Daedelus, CSLTY, Paperwater, Coffintexts, Digitalism, Baby Weight, Lawrence Hart, Panooc, mayari., Supertaste & Sasha Rome, and The Micronaut & Architect. From Japan to her hometown of Brooklyn and far beyond, artists from all over the world put a unique lens on QRTR's sophomore opus, celebrating the work with an attention to detail that very few remix compilations achieve. QRTR's continued state of releasing music prolifically has elevated even more in 2022, launching the stunning Snowfall EP on Rules Don't Apply Records and contributing sublime remixes for Justin Martin and Lawrence Hart & Ryan Winters.
With QRTR producing a wealth of material this quickly into her career, some of the steam that was first generated around her music was infused with the presence of her feline companion ambientkitty. QRTR's usage of unique samples wasn't only restricted to film source material, with the inclusion of ambientkitty walking on top of controllers and creating spur of the moment ambient symphonies. Some of this material has made its way onto Drenched and infina ad nausea. With many of the core aspects of QRTR's music revolving around dynamic spacing of melody and beautiful rhythms, the usage of sample work has become just as critical and also ties directly back to her days in NYU collecting sample libraries and sourcing her own field recordings. Just as important to the overall makeup of the music as any drum tone or synth layer, most notable are field recordings taken from Notre Dame, Paris in 2018, as well as Catskills, New York in 2020. Used across infina ad nausea, they transport and transmute the tonality of the album and give it an essence that feels like time is stretching far back. Intros and outros all over both her debut and sophomore works take deep dives into QRTR's library, adding blends you won't find anywhere else.
Over the last three years, QRTR has shown the world what artistic merit and unfiltered vision can do in the realm of the dance community and beyond. Euphoric DJ experiences and mind opening listening experiences have taken her music to beautiful heights and she's only just found her footing. Global awareness has recently allowed her catalog to expand outside of music's DSP and physical pressing market, with soundtrack work now included in Hulu's new exclusive film from Searchlight Pictures, Fire Island. From the biggest of platforms to the smallest, the core values rest in the positive connections the music makes with the listeners while tapping into some of the deepest spaces of life. "The further I push the boundaries of this project, the closer I feel to reaching what I know is an impossibly difficult objective: making sense of pain. The world feels heavier than ever, and I can't think of anything more beautiful than working toward giving people some kind of joy. Whether that means through dance, emotional catharsis, or the act of making love to music that resonates with you -- it has the potential to create meaning in a time when a lot of things feel meaningless. To make a living doing this is a dream come true."