David Schrier, professionally known as Broken Quote, knows a lot about triumphing over hardship; hailing from Houston, Texas, the multi-instrumentalist and producer has had a penchant for creating music ever since he was a child. At a early age, Schrier wrote song lyrics in his head, connecting them to the contours and textures his active mind would present, well before ever learning any theory, scales, or even touching an instrument. Of this extremely influential time he says: “Music opened up a part of me I didn’t even know was there. It taught me lessons, comforted me, scared me, challenged me and brought focus to my life, helping me grow as a person. Writing music is how I process my experience.” Enjoy our interview with Broken Quote below.
What life events and experiences led to the writing and recording of the five songs that make up your new EP “Foreshadowing Sunlight”?
“The first song (‘Ghost Crowd’) came from feeling isolated in public places and seeing other people experience the same thing: groups of people interacting but not really connecting. It’s also tied to some past drug experiences, for a similar reason. The last song (‘Mispronounce’) is about two things; part of it came from the realization that no matter how much I love writing and feel that I can get across a more nuanced communication in songs than in daily conversation, words are ultimately limited and only some of what we’re truly trying to say gets through. It’s also about leaving places of fear and pain and going after what you really want to do in life, even though taking that chance is usually the thing that scares people to death. The three instrumentals that make up the middle of the EP are a kind of reflection, a mix of colors, emotions, and textures that were in my mind.”
“There’s a tangible feeling that something is really happening in Houston right now. I grew up here and there was a thriving underground punk/hardcore and metal scene when I was in high school, as well as the dirty south style hip hop tapes that we are more nationally recognized for. There was a period of time, though, where it kind of felt like dead air. The hip-hop scene was still making things happen, but outside of that, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot happening. That’s really changed in the last 7 or so years. There has been a whole myriad of interconnected music and art happening and growing, and there’s a real sense of community between diverse musical landscapes. On any given day of the week you can go to a show at one of the various venues around town (Fitzgerald’s, Warehouse Live, Alley Cat, Last Concert Cafe, Mangos) and regularly hear experimental, electronic, southern metal, hip-hop, indie rock, punk, synth pop, and jazz (and many others). I really enjoy playing and going to shows like that, where there’s no preconceived artistic boundaries. Houston is largely a transplant city, mostly because of the energy industries, and thus we have people from all over the country and world here. The Houston music scene has been described as a “well-kept secret to the rest of the country”, but I really think that’s changing.”
Could you describe your sound to someone who has never heard your music before? Who are your biggest musical influences? How are they presented in your work?
“It sounds like colors ricocheting off of triangles (this is what I usually tell people when they ask me this). People respond in different ways: some get what I mean and find it funny, while others think I’m just joking or trying to be clever. I actually mean it more than they think, and I’m trying to get a point across about art classification and the senses we use to experience art. Music is visual and textural to me, physical as well as auditory. I also hope describing it that way leaves people open to hearing my music without any genre preconceptions. As far as influences, I’ve had so many from so many different styles of music. I’ve always felt naturally inclined towards the style of composing/production that doesn’t put any boundaries on art and draws from a wide range of influences; artists such as Frank Zappa, Bjork, John Cage, Beck, Brian Eno, and Parliament Funkadelic. Similarly, many experimental hip-hop producers and lyricists (also inspire me), because of the large sea of influences they draw from while also embracing and using technology in interesting ways. Lyrically, the writing within experimental hip-hop is a lot of what I gravitated towards. They are just the best poets around, in my opinion: Eyedea, Slug, Dessa, Sage Francis, El-P, MF DOOM, and P.O.S. The things I’ve learned from these different artists show up in random combinations and deviations of what I do.”
“I’d actually never heard of Napoleon Hill until the gentleman tasked with writing my bio started it off with one of his quotes. I guess he is a fan and felt one of his quotes fit my story well. As far as achieving my dreams goes, I haven’t. I haven’t overcome adversity either. What I’ve started to learn in dealing with years of depression issues and physical illness is that you change your relationship to pain, be it emotional or physical. That doesn’t mean you don’t take action to mitigate or cure it, (it deals with) how you experience it and use it when it is there. In my teens, my parents and I butted heads a lot; it was hard for them to understand what it was like dealing with depression at a young age. I grew up in a household with great parents who didn’t pressure any of their children to believe one way or the other (religion-wise). My dad was always experimenting with visual/conceptual creative projects of his own when I was growing up. My mom was a teacher and always encouraged my random interests and curiosity as a young kid. A neighbor was always trying out some creative idea she had as well, so I think being around all of that at a young age shaped how I approached music a little later on. My ambitions and dreams are to keep growing and creating honest and interesting art that I care about while finding the people that connect with it.”
“You can look at the phenomena of art and commerce in the internet age in different ways. Essentially,when it comes down to it, I want it to reach and have an effect on people in the same way music had an effect on me. I’d be lying, though, if I said I didn’t want to be a full-time artist. It allows for more opportunities to reach people that connect with what you do. I offer it for free on my website and have it on iTunes, Google Play, and Bandcamp (among other outlets), for $5. There are different channels and ways to reach people. Artists and fans have different options and ways to support each other today. I know that there are people that want to support artists they connect with monetarily and feel it’s only right. I also know that there’s some kid out there that might not see it that way, but is struggling in life and just needs to connect with other people that know what it feels like. I want what I do to reach and connect with both those people because at different points in my life, I’ve been both.”
“Like with most things, a combination of nurture and nature. I didn’t find out until years into my experimenting with random instruments that one of my grandfathers played multiple instruments in jazz and “big band” groups in New York City. So,to an extent it was in my blood, but I think nurture, necessity, and hard work played a bigger role. I’m the kind of person that gets inspired easily, so I’m always looking to try new things, whether it’s an instrument or a perspective. I can be pretty obsessive and determined when I’m fascinated by something. I seem to learn best through experimentation and I’ve put in a lot of hours of trial and error exploring and practicing. I didn’t know any other musicians that wanted to mix all the kinds of music I was into growing up, so I ended up playing all the instruments not only out of curiosity but also out of necessity.”
“I was invited to play by a friend who likes what I do just a couple weeks before and was told it was on the main stage. I was understandably nervous. The combination of the size of the stage, that level of sound equipment, and being able to rub elbows with some national touring acts I grew up listening to made it all surreal and really fun.”