Welcome back to the ninth feature from the Collective Series by The Idle Man. Where we meet up with interesting men who either work in the creative industry, or we just admire the work they do. Styled in our most recent collections, drops, and photographed by our Editor Cal McIntyre, read the full feature below as we believe it's more about what we do, rather than what we wear. This feature was shot in the Studio Apartment of the eclectic Whitworth Locke Hotel in Manchester amongst their tones of peach and mint green. To shop the products Sid is wearing simply click the images.
Meet Sid Quirk, a Manchester-based producer, DJ, classically trained musician and Agency Executive for Ad Hoc Records. Spreading himself across so many platforms, Quirk has quickly made a name for himself amongst the Mancunian music scene. Jumping in the deep end, the creative music producer is also the interviewer for the familiar Cluny MCR, who we have previously met the founders of in a previous collective. Being an all-around creative, Quirk has gained support from many different outlets such as Banoffee Pies and Manchester With Love just to name a few. Showcasing all his talents, Sid Quirk is only just getting started.
As Agency Executive for Ad Hoc Records, Quirks' role is all about exposing people like himself, giving the very finest producers and musicians in Manchester a platform to be noticed and recognised by the world. Known as Manchester’s electronic label, Ad Hoc Records has been going since 2016, still fresh on the scene they have been producing a variety of EPs which can be listened to via Soundcloud or you can purchase them on Bandcamp. As Agency Executive, Quirk is responsible for organising and running the label, making sure everything is flowing smoothly.
Some would consider that the Johannesburg born Quirk is taking over Manchester, his fingers around Manchester’s music scene and next contribution taking on the radio world. Hosting his own show named ‘Rent & Wax’ on Limbo Radio during the evenings, Sid shows his core interests in underground music. Limbo Radio focuses on high-quality underground music from Manchester, for the world.
Not only does Quirk give a platform for those looking to get their music out there, Quirk is a musician himself, writing and producing his own creative pieces. Putting all of his spare time into his own music, as a producer he enjoys publishing his unique sound on Mixcloud & Soundcloud and last February he even had one of his songs, Tid, produced by himself and Two Tail, released on Ad Hoc Records VA EP, Volume 2.
With such a busy schedule to compete with, The Idle Man sat down with Sid Quirk to discuss his roles within the music scene and why he thinks Manchester has so much to offer. Read the interview below.
I’ve always been singing along to this and that. From an early age my mum & dad, who used to buy loads of CD’s, would play music in the car and we’d always belt out David Bowie, The Smiths, Jeff Buckley etc.; electronic music came later. I’m a classically trained musician too, so instruments like the clarinet, piano, guitar and voice have always been a big part of my life. On top of that I’ve been singing in choirs for as long as I can remember. Additionally, I got a copy of Ableton Live when I was about 13 too and I’ve been writing and making music ever since. It’s only recently that I have felt as though I am at a good enough standard of technical production. I set my expectations very high, most of the time to my own detriment.
You play a variety of music on your ‘Rent & Wax’ show for Limbo Radio, but what genre of music would you say you listen to the most in your spare time?
The problem is that because my listening tastes are constantly evolving I can struggle to keep up. I am perpetually wading through music new & old to find even that one record that speaks to me and makes it all worth it. At the moment however, I'm relishing turn of the millennium 2-step UK Garage, notably labels like DFL (DJ’s for Life) & Gush Collective, as well as a lot of contemporary, dark UK electronic music: labels like Well Street Records, Youth & Cong Burn (0161 represent). Experimental and Glitch music too, people like Beatrice Dillon and Jan Jelinek. These are areas which currently fascinate me in terms of sound design. Also lots of 80s "New Wave” & EBM, and the last decade has seen some wicked compilations from visionaries like Trevor Jackson, Angular Recording Corporation and Walhalla Records released. Lastly, 1991 Hardcore: labels like Shut Up & Dance Records, Production House and their sublabel Blaag (which only did two releases but they are both killer). Anything past ’91/'92 bridges on Happy Hardcore territory, and whilst there’s a time and a place for it, it’s not my cup of chai. But who’s to say it won’t be in the future!
Having said that, my ear currently fetishes interesting production; I basically find merit in anything if it’s produced interestingly. I currently run a series on my socials called ‘Quirk of the Week’ where every week I present and write about an interesting cut from my record collection, whether it’s a brand new release or something I have been championing for time. I find it rewarding to cast light on underrated music that people might have missed or forgotten about.
I came here partly to study music and get involved in the music scene, partly to get away from home. It was an opportunity to explore new avenues, reinvent myself, fire off clichés... I have met countless prodigious individuals in this city from every walk of life. Furthermore, the legacy that Manchester has had on the music industry still rings true today, and the legend of Tony Wilson & Factory Records is one that fascinates me still. I am currently reading Chris Hewitt’s factual book on Martin Hannett: a detailed, personal account of the Joy Division producers' life. Loads of brilliant stories in there about a very blunt, subversive, yet visionary character.
What do you see for your future?
I’ll be working in sound for sure. I’m also dealing with integrating my voice into electronic music. It’s a difficult line to walk because I want my vocals to come across simply as another part in my tracks, but the human ear instantly picks up on the voice and it can draw focus away from intricate instrumentals. I can see myself precariously balancing this for the foreseeable future. My aim is to narrow the gap between instrumental and vocal music and to express myself through original, interesting music. This is why I look up to people like James Blake (maybe less so with his latest album *don’t get me started*) who seamlessly straddles both. I am also very much on the way to getting a label started. I have big plans for the first release so as to grab peoples attention, but there’s been a lot of complications along the way and it might be a while before it comes to fruition. I’m in no rush though.
The freedom to play whatever I want, and I appreciate the Limbo boys for taking me on from the start. I had only just started DJing and putting my productions out there when they gave me a residency, so it’s testament to them believing in me really. Limbo Radio shows and after hours mixes at their gaff and with my current housemate, Jude de Buitléar aka Dame, are where I cut my teeth as a DJ. It's also a privilege to play out music that hasn’t really been heard before from friends and acquaintances. I befriended a producer called Ekhe in the last year or so who has been making some bonkers music and is currently in Uganda on some mad recording project. He sent me stuff he has been making recently and it ranges from Pinkman-style EBM to Hardstyle/Gabba. One to watch out for. He has a track called 'Octopush' which Jude found that blew us away, proper Percy that one.
Would you like to work on more music produced outside of Manchester?
Yes. Localised scenes are a bit of an anomaly now compared to previous years, mainly because of the rise of the internet and social media, which is why current, flourishing scenes like Peckham’s Jazz culture and Bristol’s UK Techno sphere are so beguiling. A significant proportion of the musicians and producers that release on the labels from these places aren’t necessarily locals either. The internet and your local record store represent a source of endless inspiration that isn’t confined to one city, so you would be surprised how much creative overlap you can find when working with people outside of your area code. There’s countless recording studios that I would love to visit and work in too, from Sun Studios in Memphis to Devon Analogue Studio.
With the little spare time you must have, how do you like to spend it?
I think I give off a busy vibe but honestly I never feel like I’m doing enough. Nonetheless, checking out the plethora of musical talent from and visiting Manchester is definitely one of them. Been to some wicked nights at Soup Kitchen, White Hotel and Partisan of late. I help out where I can at Limbo Radio as well.
If I’m not working on music, I’m digging for it in record stores and online. I like keep to active too: I play football and go swimming twice a week, and I'm normally off on my bike somewhere; Manchester is very flat you see. I enjoy writing in notebooks, whether it’s quips, lyrics, schemes or things I read that intrigue me. I also like watching stand-up comedy (Stewart Lee is one of our favourites), sitcoms and films with my lovely housemates, all of whom are musicians. It’s a strident household to say the least.
Well, the music industry can be horribly backward and insular, but it is certainly a love/hate relationship. However, football is a BIG part of my life and has been since my dad indoctrinated me from an early age into supporting the best team in North London: Arsenal FC. Match of the Day is my favourite TV show. Not even kidding. I also really enjoy spending time with my friends. It’s really nice to see people that mean a lot to you achieving. Art too, especially modern. I studied History of Art in sixth from and did my final essay on Man Ray. Mixing metaphors is something that I have found amusing as well: Too far down the can of worms; fishing for kettles...
Music and fashion often find themselves crossing paths, how would you describe your own style?
My oldest friend Magnus set himself a mantra a few years ago: dress smart, be smart. I’ve had it in the back of my head but I feel like this year especially I am trying to stick by it. I’m fairly functional and don’t accessorise all that much so I like the simplicity and sharpness of streetwear and 50’s fashion. I also wear a lot of hats because my wavy hair annoys me greatly. Shaved my hair off recently after a home dying session left me with piss-coloured locks: not the one. Oh, and of course: white socks only.
What’s been your toughest challenge so far?
Keeping it simple: I’m constantly adding another this, another that, another spice, another reverb… I have found myself craving the minimal. It’s been a difficult concept to wrap my head around, but I am starting to be able to channel a less complicated and more subtle aesthetic both creatively and practically.
Physically however, climbing Mt. Rinjani in Indonesia when I was 19: 3,726m. 3 day climb. Gruelling, but sweet Mary was it worth it.
As well as goals for a career in sound, I have some physical releases in the pipeline, one of which is a song on a Various Artists EP coming out on Bristol based Banoffee Pies’ original imprint. It’s a track I made this time last year that I’m releasing under a moniker. I’m not going to tell you what name I used but I will say that it should be out by the end of April.
I also want to be more honest with myself and to trust my gut. I was very down at the end of 2018 and the way that I got out a rut quickly was to get a plan down, make it routine and to trust in myself. I’ve got a really strong idea of what I want to get out the remainder of my youth and I hope that as the year goes on I won’t stray away from my goals, albeit realistic ones.
What would you say your biggest weakness is?
Imposter Syndrome: "the dark side of the gift”. It comes across as modesty but really I am a perfectionist when it comes to putting my name to something.
With that in mind, what would you say your biggest strength is?
I have been told by my peers about my determination and focus, which is pleasing to hear even if I don’t see it myself.
Photography by Cal McIntyre, shot in the Whitworth Locke Hotel