Bren Haragan

How QRTR Channeled Her Portuguese Heritage Into Her Debut LP

Jun 30, 2023

John Cameron

2 min read

Born and raised in Massachusetts, QRTR quickly demonstrated she had the artistic flair to make it in the Big Apple. At first, she went to school for film editing and sound design at NYU — but dance music stole her focus, and she never looked back.

One of QRTR’s landmark releases derived inspiration not from either of these locations, but an overseas one of personal importance. Drenched, her 2020 debut LP on LA-based tastemaker DOMEOFDOOM, saw her channel memories from her mother’s homeland of Portugal.

According to her artist bio, QRTR (real name Meagan Rodriguez) “learned how to use CDJs in a smoky discotèca an hour before DJing in front of a crowd of dancing Portuguese club-goers.” Her inaugural 2017 release was an EP titled Absinthe Party influenced by a pool of artists eclectic enough to include Caribou, TOKiMONSTA, and Aphex Twin.

Three years later came Drenched, which resulted from entirely different inputs. “My father was born in Puerto Rico and my mother was born and raised in Madeira, a Portuguese island off the coast of Morocco,” she tells Dancing Astronaut. “Waves and dance music have a lot in common, the way they provide release through repetition. I spent a lot of time on both islands growing up, and I can’t help but find myself returning to the way the ocean makes me feel, constantly trying to fold that sensation into my music—excitement, wonder, comfort, release.”

It’s easy to hear the aquatic influence in the eight-song album. Nearly every soundscape appearing on the aptly titled Drenched is submerged in rippling waves of reverb delay that diffuse the rest of the elements. Swinging polyrhythms splash against sparse yet impactful vocals in tracks like “All Of My” and “Little Pills” featuring Blake Skowron, with singles like “You Won’t Return” and “My Calls” falling on the clubbier end of the spectrum (yes, most of all the titles in order form a complete sentence).

Will Rodriguez channel influences from her Portuguese heritage into more of her releases as time goes by? That much is hard to say, but it’s clear that she holds memories of Madeira close to her heart.

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