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Touching The Waters With QT

Talking plant essences, vertical alignment and stickiness with your new favourite pop cipher.
This article originally appeared on THUMP Australia

We don't know QT by many things. We know her by 'Hey QT', the solitary artefact of music she's put into the world on XL Recordings – a jubilant piece of rave pop taking signifiers from dance music and adjusting them, making them slippery and unrecognisable despite sounding more or less the same. Same way I pretend to understand four-dimensional space: You can give me the explanation, but I'll never nail down the essence. We certainly know her by her be-chipmunked, exultant vocals, purifying the experience of "thinking about someone, but they're not there, but it feels as if they are" into a weird, futuristic transcendence. We know her by her associations, the track was produced by anonymous objects of speculative fascination Sophie and PC Music's AG Cook. We know her by her similarly elusive eponymous 'energy elixir' ("looks fizzy, tastes bouncy"), which is just as elusive as the music. We do know she's a construct of some kind, it's just terribly hard right now to work out what kind and in what manner. But to that I say Jeff Koons and Karl Lagerfeld aren't what you could call 'real' people in a lot of senses and they're still pretty fucking interesting. I talked to her on Skype and tried not to be seduced by her measured, soothing, transatlantic manner of speaking.

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Kane Daniel: Do you have any plans for what you want to do in your time off in Australia?
QT: Oh, I'm glad you asked. I hear that there's a really amazing garden in Perth.

Sophie's been quite elusive. What do you think people should know about Sophie? Or, what does Sophie want people to know about them?
Well, I can tell you a few things about Sophie. I would say Sophie is very tricky. They're always showing up in different forms. So, that's something that I really like about Sophie. Another thing about Sophie is, Sophie's quite sticky. I think it goes without saying that his tracks are very catchy and that often you leave with them stuck to you and listening to them. He is also really picky. He's super, super picky about materials. In my experience he likes to make his own. So, that's something that we have in common.

What do you mean when you say materials?
Well, the thing about Sophie is that he often creates entire environments out of materials that don't exist. So a lot of that has to do with fabricating new textures, different relationships between materials. Yeah, creating new substances that don't really have a place here, yet.

Would you say Sophie's more of an artist or more of a scientist?
Ooh, that's a good question. Tough to say. I think that he identifies as someone who mixes different things together. So, maybe more of a scientist in that way. But, yeah, if we're talking about creating new elements, yeah, scientist, which I also identify as, so.

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Was he involved in the production of the QT energy drink?
It was all me but he did come visit me in the lab quite a bit and had some good ideas in terms of it being more fizzy, less fizzy, stuff like that.

You say your lab, and I was wondering do you have a home or do you have a place that you call home?
Good question. I'm actually between cities right now, so it really depends on what I'm working on where I am. I guess, mainly London, that's more about mixing. There's a garden that I work out of there, getting different essences and distilling them. So, that's quite useful. In New York, I also have access to a lab there but it's quite limited in terms of the different plants you have access to.

And do the plants have a part in your music as well as the drink? How do you use the plants?
Well, I guess, the drink is made up of a lot of different ingredients, but I feel really inspired by the way that different smells and photosynthesis and how plants interact with other elements.

I was wondering what your relationship to the Internet is and whether you want to bring some of that sort of chemical essence to the Internet somehow?
Yeah, I guess, I really am interested in the Internet in term of it being this liminal state, it being a location that's in between other locations, like not physical, not metaphysical, that it exists as this other place that people can go to and communicate in. I guess communication is really important to me and something that's of interest.

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Do you think communication on the Internet is a different kind of communication to real world communication?
I think in some ways it's heightened. It's nice because there is a level of anonymity there. You're not really limited by your identity when you're online.

Why has anonymity been so important to Sophie and to you in some ways, right? It feels like you control what people know about you, which is a kind of anonymity, isn't it?
Yeah, I guess, though, I don't know if I agree that there's more control online than there is IRL, because online it seems things are more permanent. But, I guess, also kind of limitless, like you can enter entire worlds and be sustained within environments that are not grounded in reality. I guess that's really liberating.

Are you trying to create a world for people to live in and exist in?
I would say the drink does that on its own. Or that's definitely been my experience with people who have tried the drink, they feel or they seem to become uplifted and feel more connected and I guess vertically aligned. So, that is exciting to me. And I think that that is also a byproduct of what happens when people listen to 'Hey, QT' as well.

And they should be enjoyed together?
I prefer it.

A lot of people are really focused on trying to figure out what you and Sophie are about. Is that something that people should even be doing? Is that important?
I would say, no, that's not very important to me and I don't think that's so important to Sophie. I think it's more about just the sound, just about the environments created through the music rather than the identity of the person creating it.

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Sometimes energy drinks can have negative connotations, of kind of being associated with aggression and that doesn't seem like something that you're about. Is it hard fight people's expectations of energy drinks and how different your drink seems to be?
Yeah, I guess, historically, energy drinks have been very gendered and also towards productivity and sort of becoming sub-human even, you know? Never feeling tired, instead consuming these drinks that make you kind of beyond human or part machine. So, I was really interested in how energy was being used in that way, and creating a product that re-positioned energy to be more about self-care, personal growth, vertical alignment, things like that. So, I don't think that it is necessarily more feminine. I think it's kind of post gender in that way. It's just a more holistic approach, maybe.

Connected to that, how should people prepare to go to your shows in Australia? How should they prepare to be in the right frame of mind?
Oh, that's such a sweet question. How should they prepare? Oh, I guess just come as you are, there's nothing else needed. Just excited to get to communicate with other people. And like I've said I've never been to Australia, so I can't wait to meet everyone and get an opportunity to speak with people from Down Under.

What do you associate with Australia?
I'm totally fresh here. So I'm really excited to learn about those things. Oh, I guess I did hear something about Australia before I came that I was really excited about. I'm really into water, different bodies of water and different liquid forms, and I heard that there is an incredible shark population here, which I find really exciting and interesting. I'm also really looking forward to, I hope that there's time before the show today, I think there will be, going to the coast and touching the water and thinking about what's inside of it. I'm excited.

Sophie and QT play Melbourne on Dec 19 and Sydney on Dec 20.

You can follow Kane Daniel on Twitter, immediately regret it and then spiral into a more general despondence about all the dumb decisions you've made in your life.