The talent, perseverance and determination of QBoy is encapsulated in the title of his new album ‘Moxie’ and demonstrated by his already colourful career; over the past few years he has supported Boy George, remixed Kate Nash and interviewed rap legends Salt-N-Pepa – no wonder he was at the top of the ‘Young, Gay & Gifted’ section of The Independent On Sunday’s highly acclaimed ‘Pink List’ last year. He has graced 12 magazine covers worldwide to date, featured in everything from i:D to The Guardian, including posing vacuus induviae for the cover of AXM in 2006 and again for QX in 2008. Alongside his music, he has become somewhat a champion of causes, becoming a patron for many anti-bullying charities and having presented Channel 4’s powerful documentary ‘Coming Out To Class’.
He would call it “Elect-hip-pop” but it’s difficult to box him in any one genre as his musical interests and influences are wide; pushing on one side a very current electro pop/dance feel but backed with an old-skool conscious and often political hip-hop & soul style. It’s his unique voice and honest perspective, not to mention drive and energy is what gels his work together and inspires the listener for more.“My inspirations are pretty random. I first grew up and dancing to pop group 5 Star, Janet & Michael Jackson then suddenly along came 1989 and the radio stations were full of rap and dance as hip-hop met rave culture and I was buzzing off Neneh Cherry, Technotronic, Salt-N-Pepa, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Snap, Soul II Soul, Black Box, S-Express - there was so much stuff I loved about that period.”
This is heavily reflected in his taste behind the decks when he DJ’s, spanning his favorite ‘88 to ‘98 era of rap and old-skool rave classics to soulful urban hits and current electro pop floor fillers.
Poetic, confident, inspirational, honest and with such wit, his digestible lyrics, songwriting and clear delivery capture even the ears of those who normally wouldn’t consider themselves a fan of ‘rap’. QBoy has also matured into an exciting producer, producing 7 of the new album’s tracks that offer an upbeat pop and dance element to his sound, complimented as before with his social commentary and politicized soul revealing songs. In total, it’s a whole album with a whole sound – one QBoy is very proud of:
“I have been recording for this album for so long and once I had the opportunity to completely produce write and perform a track entirely myself from start to finish it took me to another level and before I knew it I had the album finished and it was better than I expected – I was better than I expected! My aim was to make a pop rap album that everyone would love – Salt-N-Pepa are my idols, they managed to make pop rap music that everyone could enjoy but also often had serious content and issue based lyrics which is the blend I try to achieve too”.
Having now performed in Australia, Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Croatia, Estonia, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, the USA and of course the UK, it’s easy to see QBoy has wide appeal and likeability. His best performances include the mainstages at EuroPride most recently in 2008 in Stockholm, Sweden, which attracted over 80000 people, and Pride London in Trafalgar Square 2007, which attracted over 600000 people.
The English-born but half-Spanish artist has managed to reach audiences all over the globe with his jaw dropping performances; QBoy’s natural flair to dance and entertain often encapsulates the viewers who are equally impressed with his lyrics and manner as shown by the thousands of messages of support from fans, many of whom hail of his good work he does in his community and in helping breakdown stereotypes.
Born and raised in Basildon, Essex to an English mother and Spanish father, he grew up in a difficult area where he was bullied throughout most of his school years, turning to music for comfort and in particular hip-hop for expression. He left his hometown at 18 to study acting and contemporary dance for four years at degree level. It was after this, in 2001 that he met up with DJ Mistermaker, creator of gayhiphop.com and recorded his first ever rap.
With Mistermaker and rapper Ill Form, they created Q-Form, later re-named Q-Fam; a gay hip-hop collective consisting of many singers, producers and QBoy’s DJ crew Pac-Man, and they creatively worked and performed together. As he started recording more tracks he also took over as editor of gayhiphop.com for 4 years, interviewing Mark Ronson, Princess Superstar, Beverly Knight, Nicole Wray & Blu Cantrell to name a few and was at the central hub of the then new sub-culture emerging, called ‘homo-hop’ which was captured in Alex Hinton’s revolutionary documentary ‘Pick Up The Mic’. The film featured QBoy alongside many of his American contemporaries performing at 2004’s gay hip-hop festival PeaceOUT East in NYC, USA and it was at the beginning of that year that QBoy released his debut release, the cheekily titled ‘Even The Women Like Him’ which spawned the music video ‘Quarter Life Crisis’.
2005 QBoy started a new venture. He promoted and organized PeaceOUT UK – the first gay hip-hop festival in Europe. The original PeaceOUT UK was a chance to showcase the talents of those artists who might not otherwise get the opportunity to otherwise at either regular hip-hop clubs or your standard gay club. This is where he first performed one of his most loved songs ‘A Deal With God’. The track originally cleverly embodied Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ and openly reveled QBoy’s experiences of homophobic bullying at school. This led to him being invited to talk and perform for the UK Government Home Office and Permanent Secretary for their Diversity Conference. It also led to performances for many youth groups and schools to help combat homophobia in the classroom, working closely with charities Schools OUT and beatbullying, of which he is a patron.
“This work is really important to me, to help stop other young people from going through what I went through. It was my experiences at school and then again when first starting out in this music business alone and obviously going against the grain that inspired me to write the title track to my album - ‘Moxie’ means courage, determination and bravery, especially in the face of adversity – I felt it was fitting description of my character and my life to date”.It was in this year he was nominated for Performing Artist Of The Year at the 2005 GALAs, alongside Will Young and Stephen Gately. Boy George also interviewed QBoy for Channel 4’s Queerest Moments, with George extending his support again some years later, inviting QBoy to open for him at London’s renowned Koko venue full of 1500 die hard fans.
In 2006 he repeated the previous years success of PeaceOUT UK with another festival of excellent performances by the up and coming new talent. He released the promotional street release ‘Remixes Don’t Count – the Mixtape’ containing bootleg cuts and club remixes of his material and shot his new music video for ‘Q.B.O.Y. (Is Just So Fly)’ with Australian director Jarrah Gurrie and fashion photographer Nicolas Wagner in New York, USA whilst he was with the ‘Pick Up The Mic’ film festival tour, playing in Chicago, L.A., and Philadephia. The film also featured in that years London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival which as well as attending the European premiere, QBoy was the key organiser of the aftershow party, which he also performed at to great success.
He returned to the USA in 2007, this time to take part in the ‘Homorevolution Tour’ – the first of it’s kind, where he travelled with 11 of his contemporaries through California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas performing a non-stop historical 12 date show.
It was in February of the same year he presented the much acclaimed TV documentary 'Coming Out To Class’ for Channel 4 where he looked at his own experiences of homophobic bullying at his school and investigating what today's young gay teens are experiencing and demonstrating the lack of support they currently have. The personal and political nature of the film prompted an immediate response from British Parliament the day after it's initial screening where an Early Day Motion was passed in favour to look at the subject brought up in the film. He supported the TV documentary with two radio podcasts for Channel 4 Radio that he also presented. Later that year he was on Channel 4 again to take part in a live TV discussion show ‘40 Years Out’.
In December 2007 he interviewed his long time idols, rap super group Salt-N-Pepa in New York City for a radio documentary he created and co-produced with Made In Manchester Productions that was aired on BBC Radio 1Xtra. He had previously presented a radio documentary on ‘The Rise Of Homo-Hop’ for BBC Radio One in 2005.
Over the years, as well as getting much interest from radio and TV he also started being invited to write for many magazines including Gay Times, The Pink Paper, Attitude and Boyz where he currently has a monthly column. He most famously interviewed soul superstar Mica Paris for Gay Times in July 2008. In late 2008 he toured the USA for three months, making New York City his temporary home where he shot the music video to his new single - again with previous director Jarrah Gurrie and played extensively with over 30 live dates in NYC, Seattle, Fort Laurderdale & Key West in Florida, and Chicago.
Now in 2009 QBoy continues his work in anti-bullying and homophobia by working closely with the LGBT Excellence Centre Wales, travelling into schools to perform and talk to young teens to break down stereotypes and prevent hate crime. Then of course QBoy is set to release his long-awaited album ‘Moxie’ on 1st June, with a host of hot singles and music videos that will premiered stateside on MTV’s LOGO in the coming months to support the release. In July he is booked to perform to a predicted 8000 strong turn out in Trafalgar Square for Pride London and then later that month QBoy will be hosting yet another PeaceOUT UK festival in the UK’s capital. Lastly his long time friend and artistic collaborator, photographer Greg Frederick will be releasing a photography book on QBoy capturing the past 8 years they have been working together via Bruno Gmünder publishers and the DVD release of the documentary ‘Pick Up The Mic’ is also due late summer 2009. The rest of the year he will be travelling back and forth from the USA to promote the album and music videos so it’s looks to be a very busy summer for the boy with a lot of Moxie.