It’s remarkable how much you can reconfigure existing songs and even improve them, which Quinn Oulton has accomplished on the Deluxe Edition of his latest record Alexithymia. Originally released in May 2022 as his debut album, the singer-songwriter has taken six tracks, reinvented them, and included the original tracks. Due for release tomorrow via DeepMatter Records, there is also a special packaging to accompany the release, offering a few hints of what’s to come in his musical future.
For this Deluxe Edition, Oulton has used it to expand his musical horizons, partially through connecting with new collaborators. He wanted to approach the songs from a different angle by stripping the original production and seeing where he could take them with a slightly different approach. When he originally focused on writing and recording Alexithymia, Oulton went through an intense time of personal and musical growth and development. That ultimately inspired him to do this reworked record, and in doing so, he impressively illustrated that he is a musician with great range, versatility, and certainly creativity.
To further explore these reworked tracks, we connected with Oulton for a track-by-track rundown in which he discusses doing these songs all over again.
1. “Clashing Colours Reworked ft. Monica Martin”
“The original album was very much a personal project, and whilst it had a few features, the majority of it was built up piece-by-piece at home alone. My background in music, though, is rooted in playing live alongside others. I wanted to have a few things on the deluxe album that showed this side of me. I booked a day in the studio with my good friends Jack Robson, Seth Tackaberry, and Brooklyn-based Jake Sherman, who was in the UK touring at the time. Through Jake, I met Monica (who I had heard of from her song ‘Go Easy Kid’ alongside James Blake, and I already adored her voice).
“This recording happened so naturally, and everyone brings something unique and personal to the table. Jake has the best feeling sense of time of anyone I know. On this recording, he’s playing the piano plus a piezo pickup kick pedal. Jack Robson, who’s playing the drums, has no bass drum in his kit. This was a bit of an experiment that paid off, as both of them play off each other so nicely, and there’s a great sense of fluidity in the beat. To sing alongside Monica is a dream; her voice is so effortlessly rich.”
2. “Better (Acoustic)”
“My usual process when writing songs is to toy with sounds and textures on my laptop to spark inspiration. Writing ‘Better’ was different. I sat at the piano and composed the song in just under an hour before taking it to my laptop and adding further elements. It’s now one of my favourite songs. I’m presenting the song as an acoustic version here to show you how it started. It is nice to reinterpret a song like this once it’s been out for a while, as I found myself making new harmonic and textural decisions in the moment, without having to think too much about it like you do when producing.”
3. “Never (Reworked)”
“The original version of ‘Never’ was one of my favourite songs from the album. At the time, I was writing songs that take you on a journey within themselves, with a huge arc of energy and story. ‘Never’ was this but to the extreme, with five distinct sections that ebb and flow into each other. Following on from the album I’ve been pushing myself to do the opposite and treat songs as one smaller part of a bigger arc.
“With the rework of ‘Never,’ though, I wanted to push it to the extreme before I moved on. Each section was flipped on its head, with certain parts feeling uncomfortably close and dry, and others being hyper-stylized like something from a horror movie. It feels like a send-off from this approach of writing and production for now, and I love it.”
4. “Next Time (Ella Grace Version)”
“I met Ella at the end of 2022, and we had a few sessions writing and producing together. I knew I wanted to do something with ‘Next Time,’ and as I got to know her voice, I thought it’d be a really interesting addition to the song. I haven’t ever had someone else sing my lyrics on a recording before, and I like how it takes the story from my personal experience and opens it up to a whole new interpretation.
5. “Clashing Colours (Hemai Remix)”
“I met Hemai last year through a writing session. We ended up releasing a song together on his most recent EP, Leisure Trip. I absolutely love his detailed and immaculate approach to sound design and drum production. The original version of ‘Clashing Colours’ features my good friend and legendary drummer, Moses Boyd.
“I didn’t give any specific directions to Hemai when asking for his take on it, but I was blown away by how he interpreted Moses’ intricate drumming into a new context using his samples. When he sent me the draft, I immediately knew that I wanted to re-record the vocals to glue them together and fit the sound, and I love the result.”
6. “Royalty (Acoustic)”
“This was another track where I wanted to show more of the live and interactive elements of my music through my recordings. This was a live session recorded at World Heartbeat’s new venue, Embassy Gardens (World Heartbeat is a music charity where I grew up learning and teaching music). They have built a state-of-the-art concert space, with immaculate acoustics, and a Steinway to match.
“Jay Verma is on piano for this recording, and we spent a long time trying to interpret the janky, uneven groove from the original into something that works with just piano and voice (and saxophone). Jay’s playing is beautiful and we really fed off each other rhythmically.
“The original version has a lot of quirkiness and character through its production choices, and I wanted to incorporate some of this into the live version. I toyed with width and modulation in the vocal, giving a sort of watery, ghostly feeling. The sax solo is accompanied by a space echo-type delay being ridden to create subtle flourishes and texture. I wanted it to be that when you watch the video of the performance, it feels live, yet when you close your eyes, your mind starts to create its own ideas of the space and world that the song exists in.”