We’ve been all a-quiver over the song-writer and producer Pablo Queu for a while now. This year’s Soul Chapter EP cemented the Spaniard’s status right up there in our rising star list with it’s seemingly effortless blend of soulful, sunshine dipped beats and delectable guitar work.
We caught up with the very talented Mr Queu to find out more about the man behind those beautiful vibes:
Who were your big musical influences growing up?
I started playing guitar at 13 and the blues immediately caught my attention. I’ve always liked music from all genres, but blues music has been the base of my musicianship for sure.
My biggest musical influences at that time were Eric Clapton, John Mayer and Stevie Ray Vaughan as guitar players, but then growing up I started looking into other instruments and grabbing ideas from different styles, specially jazz.
A few of the many artists that have played an important role in me as a musician would be Oscar Peterson, Derek Trucks, J Dilla, Miles Davis, Robert Glasper, Marvin Gaye…
What’s your songwriting process?
Most of the time it starts with a chord progression that really gets stuck in my head. To me, this is what sets the mood of the whole track and inspires me to choose one direction or another. Then I start to add the foundation with the drums and bass.
Beat based music tends to be very repetitive and this is one of my biggest concerns, as to me a song and a beat are pretty different concepts. What I try to do is to find a balance between the beat and electronic side and a traditional song. So once I have the basics of the track, I start to add small arrangements and structure to keep it interesting. At the moment I am working in recording as much as I can with real musician rather than doing everything myself.
Also an exercise that I really like nowadays is to play a small melody an then add chords that fit the phrase in each note but not necessarily in the tonality, sometimes you get some really crazy but awesome sounding progressions that you wouldn’t have played otherwise!
Nice looking studio space in the picture for your ‘Blossom Blues’ track on Soundcloud?
I’m glad you like my living room! Haha kidding. This was back when I was studying at SAE in Barcelona where we had a few recording sessions at the now extinct Nómada 57 studio, where many of the best jazz acts in Spain have recorded their music. It was an awesome experience having that studio to experiment with all their equipment and listening to the crazy stories from the owner and engineer. If you wanted to be a studio runner there, bringing a nice bottle of wine would’ve highly increased your possibilities of getting in haha
Tell us about a few artists you respect and look up to? Saw you vibin with Mr Tom Misch on your Instagram page!
At the moment I am listening to many different genres and artists that I think are doing really good stuff such as Hiatus Kaiyote, Ben Howard, Maribou State, Snarky Puppy, Jacob Collier, Michael Kiwanuka… I’m also really looking forward to Bonobo’s next release. Of course there are many classics and legends that I look up to, but I equally like to keep it actual and discover new modern acts.
Yes! I had the chance to meet Tom and his awesome crew last summer. I’m a big fan of him and as a producer I have taken many ideas from his music. I guess that since we are both guitar players who love soul, jazz and that “dilla” swing we come up with similar music. He is a really chilled and cool guy too!
Guitar face = Sex Face – true of false?
Why not both at the same time!
What guitars do you prefer? Geek out and talk about your favourite pedals for a while.
When I was younger I used to like having 12 pedals in a massive pedalboard for all sorts of crazy effects and stuff. But now I like to have maybe 3 or 4 very well thought off pedals and focus on my playing instead. I started out with an American standard Fender Strat that belonged to my uncle many years ago and that I have been using it as my main axe for more than 10 years. I absolutely love that guitar, it has a very high personal value for me but I’m looking for a thicker sound now and this one is on a very well deserved break haha.
At the moment my main gear is a Gibson SG Derek Trucks Signature, a Marshall Bluesbreaker overdrive and a Way Huge Aqua Puss delay to a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. It’s basically a clean signal with a bit of reverb and delay to smooth it out and an overdrive for solos. Pretty straight forward.
Of course when I’m producing I love to play with other sounds such as the Qtron Micro envelope filter that makes my guitar sound sort of like a wah wah and a synth. I also love the Hendrix Fuzzface from Dunlop for a nastier sound for solos or the classic Ibanez TS808, but these are for very punctual moments for now.
Hard but…. Your 5 top guitarists of all time … and why please?
Oh man, if you ask me tomorrow the answer will probably be different, but here is today’s take:
Jimi Hendrix for his creativity and rhythm playing
Wes Montgomery for reinventing jazz guitar
Robben Ford for his phrasing, tone and jazzy feel
John Mayer for modernizing blues guitar and making it relevant again in pop culture
Derek Trucks for making his guitar sound like an amazing soul singer and being the best slide player of all time.
Pretty bluesy, but if you ask me again some other time I’ll change them haha
3 Blues albums you would recommend to the uninitiated?
These are to me the best classics of all time:
Eric Clapton – From the Cradle
BB King – Live at the Regal
Stevie Ray Vaughan – Texas Flood
And this two may not be purely blues, but could be a nice way to start:
John Mayer Trio – Try!
Tedeschi Trucks Band – Revelator
Am I right in saying you were living in London for a while? What were you up to in the big smoke?
Well I don’t really know if we could say I was living in London, but I definitely spend a lot of time of the year in the city to visit family and for work. Every time I find a good gig (that happens too often) I pay a visit and spend a few days, so I technically haven’t lived there but it feels like it.
This is Mr Scofield (one of the best fusion guitarist of all time) explaining the modes from the major and jazz minor scale to Berklee students. The theory is pretty easy, then you need to practice to apply it into your playing.
It consists on creating new scales that create different sounds by changing the order of the notes. For example C major scale is:
C D E F G A B C
The second mode (which is called Dorian) starts and ends in D:
D E F G A B C D (check Miles Davis classic “So What” for this sound).
An it goes on with all the other notes. Pretty easy right!
They are really useful as you can do so many more things with the same notes in different chord changes. The video is a great explanation of all these, so if you are interested in improvising listen to Mr. Scofield!
Loved your last EP, biggups! What do you have in store for us next?
There is a lot of material coming up. A few remixes and collaborations with artists that I really like and some other stuff that I can’t reveal yet. So this will be a busy end of the year!
But the biggest one is the release of a vinyl LP containing both of my previous EP’s (Stoneage as Side A and The Soul Chapter as Side B) through the German label Vinyl Digital that will be out at the beginning of 2017. Pretty exciting to finally release my music on vinyl.
There is a lot planned for next year in term of releases and to start doing more gigs in the UK, so keep an eye on the socials!