Virtuoso members will be familiar with DJ Q, who has had an exciting solo career spanning from the early 2000s to the present day. He has specialised in releasing music broadly in the UK Garage & Bassline styles (check out his course, Bring the Bassline). DJ Q has been producing since the early days of Bassline, so many of his tracks take on the wobbly 4x4 style that is commonly associated with early pioneers of the genre. With releases on records labels like Crucast, Night Bass, & his own label DJ Q Music, his tracks have reached a wide audience and kept many dancefloors thumping.
As well as his successful solo work, DJ Q is one part of the trio TQD, who tour the festival circuit each year providing some serious bass weight across some of the biggest and best dance music festivals in the world. TQD is made up of DJ Q, Flava D (another Virtuoso course presenter) and Royal T – all big names in the Bass music scene. The trio has also produced music together, with 2 singles and an album to their name. Despite each having their own artistry and solo careers, TQD are known as one of the most cohesive groups in Bass music.
How do they achieve such successful group artistry when their work as solo artists takes the forefront of their attention most of the time? It’s down to the way they collaborate to play to each of their strengths.
Playing to their strengths
As individuals, the members of TQD have slightly different specialities and styles. Flava D, for example, came from a Grime influenced UK Garage background, moving towards Bassline in the 2010s, and has recently been producing Drum and bass for Hospital Records. Royal T, on the other hand, has always been most involved in the Dubstep influenced Grime scene, with occasional UK Garage and Bassline releases. This eclectic blend of all of the bass styles in the 130-140 BPM creates the versatility in TQD’s productions.
This can be heard clearly throughout TQDs album ‘UKG’, which showcases a few distinct styles. Conventional Bassline wobbles feature in tracks like ‘Vibsing Ting’ & ‘A Letter To EZ’, courtesy of DJ Q, but we also hear some harsh basses and hype MC-ing from P Money in tracks like ‘Ghosts’ & ‘Touch’ which are a clear nod towards Royal T’s artistry and style. The album also prominently features more relaxed UK Garage tracks that channel the essence of Flava D’s early tracks, such as ‘Baked Beans’ & ‘Hold Me’. Throughout the duration of this album, you hear the style shift from track to track, showing clearly how the 3 individuals took on different roles in each track, and have allowed their strengths to complement each other within each track.
Bring it live
The trio takes this even further into their live sets. Whereas most duos or trios tend to take turns playing 1 or 2 tracks each during a DJ set, TQD often choose to allocate 5 to 10 minute slots to each individual DJ, with some overlap between each section. This means that instead of trying to showcase their personal talents in just 2 transitions, the artists get time to develop their sound over a longer chunk of the performance. It also leads to on the fly collaborative moments as the DJs are changing over between sections. The only time that you see all 3 DJs behind the decks at once is when they’ve prepared a complex transition or routine that requires more than 2 hands.
The trio’s attitude towards individuality has led them to great success in bass music. This is because the artists are all respected for their individual work and their different styles, so allowing this to come through prominently into performances and collaborations helps them to maintain their identity even within the trio. It also means that the group can continue to work cohesively despite spending so much time apart and working independently. They find a way to capitalise on their individuality even within the group.
What can we learn from TQD?
It’s easy to walk into a collaboration or group project thinking that everyone needs to be heavily involved in every decision in order for it to be a true collaboration but in reality, this isn’t the case. Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each person and allowing them to take the lead in specific areas is a great way to get the most out of every collaborator, whether this is live or in the studio.