Gregg Kaluza, senior communications major and Aric Blackledge, Boone local, first met while attending a Paper Diamond concert with mutual friends at Legends in January 2015. After the concert, the two began talking about making their own music. Kaluza has been DJing since he was 17 and Blackledge since he was 19.
Thus, QUARTz was born and has been gaining momentum since summer of 2015. The name QUARTz comes from the crystal’s ability to heal negative frequencies.
The duo wants to spread the healing power of music, Blackledge said.
“Quartz [crystals] heal your DNA at the core, and that is what we want our frequencies to do, and we are trying to spread that message with our music,” Kaluza said.
QUARTz began performing at Town Tavern last March, playing every Friday night and then expanding to gigs at house parties. Joshua Scott, QUARTz’s manager, started officially booking the duo last October for Thursday nights at TApp Room, for an event called “TrApp Thursdays.”
“Gregg and Aric have been good friends of mine for a couple of years now and watching them progress in their art has been an awesome thing,” Scott said. “Over the past couple of months with the emergence of TrApp Thursdays and the UNDRGRND, we’ve really dialed in a good [electronic dance music] scene in Boone again.”
QUARTz uses a digital audio workstation and the program Ableton to make their mixes, which Blackledge said is used by many artists.
As far as genre, there is unpredictability. Blackledge said his music could take a turn at any moment. While Scott said QUARTz’s style ranges from electro-funk to trap, Blackledge plays music that no one has heard of, Kaluza said. Kaluza plays oldies funk and popular remixes.
“We play good music, and occasionally hug toward sides of genres from rap to dubstep,” Blackledge said.
In accordance with their genre unpredictability, Kaluza and Blackledge rely heavily on the vibes of the audience and never plan a set list.
QUARTz has since played at River Street Ale House, performed with local hip-hop duo Pragmaddix and trap artist Samborghini. QUARTz also joined the concert series and DJ collective UNDRGRND, which launched July 2015.
On Jan. 8, they competed in the SOMA Entertainment’s Manic Focus Asheville DJ competition and won a slot opening for the groups Manic Focus and Psymbionic at New Mountain Theatre in Asheville on Jan. 15.
According to SOMA Entertainment’s Facebook page of the event, it was a close competition between Soul Candy and QUARTz.
“Since both artists put up such a fight we have decided to award both artists with an opening time slot,” the post said.
To win the competition each DJ group had to create a 30 minute mix, upload it to SoundCloud, name it and then send the link to SOMA Entertainment. The mixes were posted to SOMA Entertainment’s Facebook page and the group that gained the most likes won. Within 24 hours, QUARTz’s mix had over 297 likes, Kaluza said.
“The publicity was instant and later we found out we technically lost by five likes,” Blackledge said.
After finding success with the DJ competition, QUARTz landed a gig at the Sly Grog Lounge in Asheville on March 5. They have also been invited to play two sets at the invitation-only Hidden in the Hollow Festival on May 20 and 21.
QUARTz’s plans for the future include producing music via computer with virtual instruments as well as incorporating live instruments and beat boxing in their mixes, which Kaluza deems revolutionary. They are also working on original songs and looking to branch out more in Boone and Asheville.
“We always get good reviews,” Kaluza said. “One time at Ale House this guy was constantly dancing and after the show he came up to us and said, ‘I have been in Boone for almost six years and you guys are the best I have ever heard, no one plays music like you guys do consistently.’”
Garet Praska, fan of QUARTz, said their shows are fun and provide the sound of a large venue right in one of Boone’s several tiny bars and have a unique sound. Praska enjoys the “powerful and raw” hip-hop inspired trap sounds QUARTz brings.
“Having rappers spit over trap beats is a rarity and a treat. It’s nice to hear the sounds they provide which compliments the ever evolving realm of electronic music.” Praska said, “If you live in Boone and enjoy EDM do yourself a favor and go see QUARTz spin, you won’t be disappointed.”
Blackledge said that QUARTz’s following has extended beyond just friends and family, and now the duo meets the majority of their fans at shows.
“Every time I see them perform they’re always super energetic and into the music and it’s hard to not dance the whole time they’re performing,” freshman psychology major Chelsea Pipes said. “If you haven’t seen them live, I would highly recommend it because each show is always a different, wonderful experience.”
By: Katie Murawski, A&E Editor