What do Vince Gill, Robin Williams, Zac Efron, Betty White, and Kermit the Frog have in common with the band Boho Chapeau? They’ve all recorded songs co-written by Kevin Quinn, lead singer/songwriter for the Los Angeles based indie/folk band. Quinn’s material has appeared in television, film and commercials, and has been nominated for numerous awards, including an Emmy.
A native of Los Angeles, Kevin has taken the multi-cultural aspects of growing up in Southern California and crafted them into colorful vignettes of the American Experience. “Boho Chapeau’s” sound is earthy and natural, with an artsy edge. Incorporating ebow, a variety of percussion instruments, acoustic guitars and bass, the songs are performed with “perfect imperfection”, leaving space for innovation and improvisation in every performance.
After many years apart Los Angeles-based Boho Chapeau has reunited to bring a fresh indie folk sound to fans and critics alike. Led by singer/songwriter Kevin Quinn the band boasts some of the best players in the country.
The band also features guitarist George Keller from Monterey, California by way of Tokyo. An Army brat constantly moving during his formative years, GK’s musical muse is influenced by an eclectic variety of music including classic rock, jazz, classical and blues. His first professional experience was long-time accompanist for guitarist George Cromarty, co-writer of the classic “Plastic Jesus” folk song.
Bassist Fred Hammon is a jazz influenced musician who also designs and manufactures his own line of Dark Star bass pickups. He’s also bassist for the popular blues band “The Priests of Love”.
Lee Ann Harris, percussionist, hails from Ardmore, Oklahoma, and is a graduate of University of North Texas’ prestigious music program. She is both a seasoned performer and an in-demand session player. Her work has appeared on numerous film scores, albums and television programs.
After recording an album as Among The Living in 1990’s that never saw the light of day Quinn and company parted ways to work on separate projects. Years later, at the urging of his teenaged son, Quinn began writing new material last year which lead to an impromptu reunion of sorts with the rest of the band.
As things began to come together and the material started to flow, the band decided to master and release their previous work in the form of Shadows of Another Time. Released at the beginning of 2011, SoAT has tickled the fancy of critics, who have applauded many tracks including the funk heavy “Waiting for the Equinox,” and the decidedly introspective “No Sign of Intelligent Life.” The heavily acoustic offering takes cues from jazz, funk and blues to make a cohesive album that appeals to rock and folk fans alike.
For Quinn, writing and recording again has gone hand in hand with a very important life revelation. “I used to have a real difficult time balancing my life writing for television and writing for myself. I used to feel as though they were somehow in conflict with each other and now I realize that that is just not true. I’m embracing my past as opposed to hiding from it.”
Thankfully fans of Boho Chapeau (named so because Quinn likes to wear hats and the band shares bohemian sensibilities) will not have to wait long for the group’s next album. The band is currently recording the as yet untitled album which is scheduled for release later this year. Quinn sums up the projects content as being highly inspired by “the absurdities of life.” Who can’t relate to that?
How do you describe your music to people, Kevin?
It's a semi-psyhedelic-neo-bohemian-acoustic-folk-rock kinda thing...
Boho Chapeau is really about a feeling. It’s like a hat that just… fits. The songs are akin to dreams… little vibey vignettes… some serious… some silly… occasionally surreal and puzzling… but always genuine. And always comfortably performed with “perfect imperfection”.
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
When I was about 10 years old my parents got my sister and I a plastic Eminee guitar for Christmas... both my sister and I learned to play from a Mel Bay songbook. We started performing folk songs... Peter, Paul, and Mary... Pete Seeger, Dylan etc... then moved on to the Beatles. We used to spend summers and weekends at my grandparents cabin in the desert near Joshua Tree, CA and it was there that we started dabbling with songwriting. Around the time when I reached adolescence... Joni Mitchell and James Taylor came on the scene and I was hooked... that's when I really started developing my own style...
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Playing... music, golf, spin the bottle... nah... just kidding... kind of... Actually I'm a real foodie... There's nothing I love more than sharing an expertly prepared 6-9 coarse gourmet meal with fine wine pairings... and of course good friends and family! Unfortunately my pocket book doesn't always agree!
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
Right now I suppose the toughest thing is learning this newfangled thing called "Social Media"... I started pretty late so I feel like I'm always playing catch up... plus the fact that it's always changing!
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I knew at a pretty young age that I wanted to write and play music...
In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
Being from Los Angeles... I've definitely been impacted by the film and t.v. business... and of course theres a zillion terrific songwriters and performers in a wide range of styles here... my time spent at the desert as a kid certainly influenced a number of my songs... living in earthquake country has had an effect... I think the biggest thing was being able to see great artists in classic venues like the Troubadour, the Whiskey, Madame Wongs, the Lighthouse, the Roxy, and the great outdoor venues like the Hollywood Bowl and the Greek... I just always had access to cutting edge and legendary performers at real intimate type places...
What other artists out there do you love?
Still a big fan of Van Morrison and Neal Young... Jakob Dylan has impressed me... and his dad...
What does your future hold?
Hopefully a lot of live performances... It's been 15 years since we've played live so I'm anxious to get out and connect with people again. I suppose Boho Chapeau will mostly be playing as a duo... with me and our guitar player, George Keller... mainly because the band is pretty spread out at the moment... but I do really look forward to finishing the new record and playing out a bit with the whole band. It's really exciting... and a bit scary... I feel like we're starting over again at square one!