ARTIST PROFILE|QUINN SULLIVAN
BY SEAN O’GRADY
Its never easy navigating the path from child prodigy to mature adult artist but guitarist Quinn Sullivan is navigating that rocky road better than most.
On his new album Midnight Highway we find Quinn adding new layers to his repertoire, the album encompasses his trademark blues sound whilst also exploring more contemporary pop sounds. The title track is the standout with Quinn channelling the rock and soul sound of the formidable Delaney and Bonnie, he displays an easy transition to more pop oriented material on Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming whilst the self penned Eyes For You delves into acoustic folk. Quinn hasn’t forgotten the blues with Something For Me a powerful rough edged swampy blues that shows off the immense blues chops that attracted the patronage of none other than blues legend Buddy Guy.
Midnight Highway is also a jumping off point for Quinn’s exploration of more diverse sounds as he explained “we had a long break between albums and I wanted to dive into some new music, because I’ve been influenced by a lot of different styles in the last few years and I wanted to incorporate that and get deeper into it. As an artist you’re always searching for the perfect sound, we spent a lot of time in the studio listening back and seeing if we could do that guitar sound better or that lyric better.”
This sense of exploration and pushing the boundaries was further developed in Quinn’s songwriting, he co wrote three songs on the album with producer Tom Hambridge. It was his first attempt at writing and recording his own material and I asked him how this came about. “That was definitely the ultimate goal for me to write songs and become more prolific at it. I wanted to separate myself from other guitar players and developing as a songwriter was a good way to do that. It was about a year and half ago that I started writing, I always had an interest in it but I had never had that much life experience to draw upon. A lot of times I would write melodies on the guitar but never lyrics but I’ve now started to write more lyrics.”
As an up and coming writer I asked Quinn who inspired this new phase of his journey, “a lot of the influence comes from the likes of John Mayer and Ed Sheehan, I listen to their work a lot and I’m inspired by the way they write.”
Quinn took his new found approach to the music with him into the studio, the songs were built up gradually before being recorded live in the studio as Quinn explained.
“We had the basic outline of the songs before we hit the studio. We had a lot of demos that we had recorded on iphones and from there we would build on the arrangements. The songs came alive in the studio I think because we recorded live on the floor which was the first time I had done that. It was a big leap for me, it really helped me playing with a band to capture that feeling and it helped me play better.”
Now it’s time for Quinn to become familiar with that midnight highway as he heads out to bring his new record to the masses, it’s an album that is sure to impress.
Midnight Highway is out now.