Are You Ready for an Organ Solo?
New Orleans' Quintron and Miss Pussycat entertain the Land of Enchantment
Mr. Quintron is an inventor, organist and one-man band. Miss Pussycat is a puppeteer and musician. Together, as a married couple and an artistic team, they posses the gifted imaginations required in the creation of something truly original. In New Orleans the duo is an acclaimed part of the city's music and art scenes. In fact, next year the New Orleans Museum of Art will feature their work in a three-month exhibition. Meanwhile, the two are making their way across the country along with a Drum Buddy (the photoelectric rotating drum machine of Quintron's invention) and a bunch of murderous puppets. They appear in New Mexico this week. The Alibi spoke with each of them as they prepared for the expedition from their headquarters in the Ninth Ward.
Your music is kind of creepy, organ-heavy garage-psych. It seems distinct to New Orleans.
I've never thought of my music as creepy, but I guess organs by their nature have a connotation of creepiness, and there's a religious quality about the sound of an organ. It makes you feel like you are desecrating something sacred by playing or listening to a certain kind of music with it. New Orleans definitely has the whole voodoo thing, but I'm not into all of that. I don't cut up chickens and put them on my porch.
“The Stax rhythm section, you could say that's swamp pop, in a weird way.”
One journalist called your music “swamp tech.” Do you agree with that?
Yeah, I think it's a perfect term. It's a combination. “Swamp pop” basically means hard R&B. I'd say the first swamp pop artist is Fats Domino—even though swamp pop is usually associated with white R&B that's imitating black music from south Louisiana. The Stax rhythm section, you could say that's swamp pop, in a weird way. So, it's that hard R&B sound mixed with ghetto tech, which is just super-fast booty beat.
Can you explain your one-man band setup?
I have an organ and a Rhodes stacked on top of each other. The organ is on top; I play that with my right hand. I play only bass lines with the Rhodes with my left hand, á la the guy from The Doors. With my left foot I play high hat. My Rhodes is always going through a wah-wah pedal, so I kind of tune it and dial in the cue with my right foot. And I sing at the same time. When my right hand isn't playing organ, I can play Drum Buddy and turn the drum machine on and off. So it's a big contraption of stuff all around me that I've built. I'm always refining it.
Can you tell me about the show?
Well, the puppet show is a new show, and it's called Drops. It's about Shadow and Eve, and they're cloud farmers and they raise clouds that make drops. So that's basically it in a nutshell. And also, everybody should know that the puppet theater can now talk.
“Typically when I'm creating a soundtrack it's really fun. On this one, for a good hour one night I was just breaking glass and recording it.”
How do you make the soundtracks that accompany your pieces?
I use a Tascam 424, which is a cassette four-track, and that has a lot of pitch control or tape speed variation, and you can also do backmasking. And I'll use MiniDisc recorders, a sampler or synthesizers, and typically when I'm creating a soundtrack it's really fun. On this one, for a good hour one night I was just breaking glass and recording it, and for another scene I'm just screaming over and over, or throwing pieces of wood, or running water.
Have you released albums?
Frosty and The Unicorns back in the ’90s put out three albums of their own—that was a puppet band. All the puppets are in bands. They're all really good at playing guitar, and kissing and killing each other. That's what they do best.