Let us introduce you to our favorite songstress of late, Quay Quinn-Settel, vocalist of local band Slowdance and all-around superstar. Quay told us all about her eccentric childhood and the story behind her name, plus the scoop on all the latest and greatest from the band. And, of course, she taught us a lesson or two about style; this is a girl who's struck that delicate balance between high-end trends and discerning vintage, perfectly mixed with a generous splash of her own personality. And, as per usual, a great wardrobe leads to a great place to keep it. Quay's Brooklyn apartment is loaded top-to-bottom with gifts from her many friends and antiques found in Paris and around the East Coast. Read on and swoon with us!
Photos by Dan McMahon
Getting caught in the rain.
First off, what's new with you and Slowdance?
"Mostly shows and recording our EP (which we still do not have a name for!). We're hoping to do some touring when it drops... We also played our first festival (Northside) and got some free shoes for being in a lookbook."
"See those rings on my left hand? The big gold snake is a family heirloom, belonged to a great uncle. It's made of hefty gold, and the snake's belly has very fine scales carved into it. Jewelers always notice this ring and ask me if I will let them cast it. I usually say no, but I did let Sam (drummer for Slowdance) cast it in silver. He also designed the thin silver ring I wear on the same finger. He often sets tiny diamonds on the inside of his rings."
Where are your favorite spots in NY to perform? Go catch a show?
"Glasslands all around, hands down. 285 next door is a great new-ish venue, go for the sound and the homemade arcade games. And of course, on the same city block, Death By Audio is a sweaty and raucus good time. Wierd Night on Wednesdays at Home Sweet Home is great if you like synthwave, lasers and fog machines. And we actually played one of our most energized shows in the basement of Milk..."
Quay wears a Mary Meyer color block maxi dress, woven belt from a vintage shop on Rue des Rosiers in Paris, and gray suede open-toe booties from Charlotte Ronson. The gilded ivory necklace was a mystery gift.
You reference lots of French sounds in your music—do you find yourself dressing more Francophile than Brooklynite?
"Brooklynites are francophiles, no? I do love certain trends from the French 60's (stripes, scarves and trenches), but I will say that Brooklynites seem to take certain liberties most Parisians would not... and I fully support this. Bolder colors, bolder patterns."
"These scribbles are actually lyrics to a Tony Castles song, Stealing From The Future, off their new 7" Juice. They asked me to sing back up for a recent show and gave me two days to learn the parts. I still visualize this napkin every time i hear those songs."
Quay with her keyboard.
What are your five style staples? (The things you find yourself wearing, and buying again and again?)
"Onesies, "orthopedic chic" shoes (as my friend Sarah always says, still not sure what she means), navy-white striped shirts, red lip stain, and bags with recognizable animal parts."
Quay in Won Hundred black boots with hook-and-eye back.
What's your favorite cheap score of late? What about something you're saving up to buy
"I found a pair of Proenza Schouler pumps for $200 at Century 21, and an incredible 80's flared ski suit for $10 at Goodwill. I'm saving up to buy an enormous sheepskin rug by the time the cold returns."
Quay in a brown crop top by friend Mary Meyer, high-waist jeans straight out of the '70s, Franco Sarto sandals and thrifted belt.
Tell us about your experience with music when you were younger.
"I should mention that both of my parents are musicians of the Zappa- and Beefheart-loving variety. The kind that name their daughter Quayar and nickname her Bean–short for "one red bean stuck in the bottom of a tin bowl" (Beefheart lyrics). So I grew up listening to some pretty unusual tunes... most beloved were Peter Gabriel, Bon Jovi, a band called Dali's Car, George Brassens and Serge Gainsbourg, to name a few. I also considered classical music SUCH a chore. Whenever I went CD shopping with my father, he'd only buy me the IAM or Spice Girls CD I wanted if I agreed to accept and listen to Chopin's waltzes. At some point I dropped the rebellious anti-anti schtick and started to appreciate the wealth of music I was exposed to."
"So... ever since I was little, I have had a "box problem". I have been much better about it in my adult years. A "box problem" is a little like being a "pack rat", but the items I save are few and very small and are stored in boxes. This box is where I store most of the things I find nowadays. Inside: shark teeth, tiny pine cones, shark eggs, old flints, a metal tadpole, a glass eyeball, old keys, a tiny pencil, and more."
Quay wears a paisley Charlotte Ronson mini dress with sheer short sleeves and Won Hundred black boots with hook-and-eye back. "This is a victorian mirror, a housewarming gift from a dear friend and godmother of sorts, Alice Nash. It is always the centerpiece of each apartment I have lived in since she gave it to me years ago. The iron shelves in the background were welded and assembled for me by my father. A design flaw makes them lean very noticeably to the left. At first this made me nauseous, now I am sort of attached to it. "
Any dream collabs you'd love to do?
"Blank Dogs, and if I am allowed to bring someone back from the dead, Delia Derbyshire."
"There are handfuls of hidden animals around my apartment, taxidermy or plastic. The alligator was gifted to me by Luke (keys in Slowdance). He used to walk my dog every day, and on my birthday he left it on my dining room table for me to discover after work. This alligator now hides out in a microjungle I am cultivating in one corner of my studio."
Your hair is goddess-status. What are you secrets for keeping it so pretty?
"Haha! What?! I am a volume fiend so I guess I stay away from products that weigh my hair down. When I shower I condition a "ponytail's worth" of hair, never the scalp. I also had my bangs washed before a show once, professionally, because bangs will turn you into a neurotic like that."
Quay wears a white T-shirt with writing by Barking Irons (her friend Michael's company), leather and knit vest by Charlotte Ronson, and vintage green raw silk trousers. The turtle shell purse is Native American craft that Quay's friend Alice, who teaches Native American Studies at UMass Amherst, brought back from a pow-wow.
What are you favorite jams to slow dance to?
"I haven't unironically slowdanced in years. Back then it was all about Celine, Whitney and Mariah, even in France. If I were to slowdance to a more recent tune it might be something off of JJ's Kills album...wait, what are people slowdancing to these days?"
Bottom shelf from left to right: Laredo, Won Hundred, Gianvito Rossi, Charlotte Ronson, smushed Franco Sarto sandals, Steve Madden, "Carlos" by Carlos Santana, Charlotte Ronson.
Quay in a striped shirt.
What's your favorite thing to wear on-stage?
"Full-body onesies. There was this one particular black ballet unitard I would belt and wear to so many shows, but had to toss on account of an unfortunate rip. It has not been replaced."
"Le chien. The dog. A gift from a friend who knows how much I love les chiens. Behind are some records. I have been listening nonstop to my friend's band Regal Degal's 12"."
Quay catches a breath outside her apartment.
Who are you inspirations, both music- and style-wise?
"Musically, Gracie Slick and Kate Bush for the power vocal style, Debby Harry for the sass, Françoise Hardy for the coy. Style-wise...it's a tough call, but I have always been drawn to the effortless 1920's bohemian riviera look à la Sara and Gerald Murphy. Women wearing pants and pearls, men wearing straw hats."
"In college I worked in an antique shop called The Grist Mill (Amherst, Mass), where I was paid in antiques. This pocket change dish was probably worth 30 minutes of labor."
Taking care of her babies.
Are there any artists or bands whose careers you especially admire?
"There are many tales of rags to riches I should probably cite here (Edith Piaf, par exemple), but there is a more contemporary career I'd like to highlight: John Maus. He makes incredible music and teaches philosophy and lived in Hawaii and doesn't seem to give a shit. I just...wow. Yes."
"Jewelry looks great on walls, too."
Quay travels off the beaten path.
If you could have a theme song, what would it be?
"''Go For Gold by Girls At Our Best"