The Quilter is the latest musical incarnation of Glasgow-based musician Stuart Dougan, who has previously been part of the bands French Wives and Smash Williams. Now solo, The Quilter allows him to provoke himself into any direction his mind may wander, and he guilds the path to that destination with glossy synths and emotions that emanate from his very core.
His latest song is called “Nothing To Lose”, and it comes out officially next Wednesday June 10, but today it’s available exclusively on Bandcamp to celebrate another day of waived fees. The Quilter introduces the song by saying:
“It’s a song that touches on themes of isolation and overcoming periods of anxious uncertainty, so whilst it was written long before the world was plunged into its current pandemic purgatory, it does feel quite fitting to release it during a time when so many are facing these challenges.”
While circling heavy themes, The Quilter keeps “Nothing To Lose” light and emphatic. There’s a loneliness to his manner as he introduces us to a life lived behind curtains in a quiet world, but he gradually fills up the empty space around him in “Nothing To Lose” with bright melodic interplay of synths that illuminate the atmosphere. They seem to guide him to a place of catharsis, as “Nothing To Lose” builds to a driving, confident and indelible chorus – where he seems to have come to a breaking point, and the only thing to do is to let it all out in musical mania.
Listen to “Nothing To Lose” below, or buy it here, then scroll down to our Q&A with The Quilter to learn a little more about him
You’ve released material with different acts in the past, for those just coming to your work, what do we need to know? (“Previously on, The Quilter…”)
I played in an indie-pop band called French Wives what feels like a life time ago. We released a record, toured a lot in the UK and once very briefly in the States, but unless you’re from Glasgow or happen to be a fan of a tween drama about Mary Queen of Scots that used one of our songs in it’s season finale, it’s highly unlikely you’ll have ever heard of us!
After French Wives, I had a project called Smash Williams that generated some interest online for around 10 minutes in 2016 but didn’t really get off the ground. Essentially i’ve been making melodic indie music for about a decade whilst, hopefully, getting incrementally better at it as I go.
Where did the moniker The Quilter come from?
It’s a bit of an odd one but essentially it’s derived from a decade-old private joke with my mate, Guy. We’d had a party in our flat and I went in to check on him in the morning, wrapped head to toe in my duvet. Bleary-eyed and potentially still intoxicated, he asked “have you come to vanquish me, quilter?” stating that I looked like a super villain, playfully referred to over the years as, ‘The Quilter’.
He’s literally my best friend and I think I’m saved as ‘Quilts’ in his phone.
What was the formative musical moment of your life?
When I was around 12/13 I used to sneak into my brother’s room when he was out and play his Playstation and work my way through his CD collection. He had hundreds of CDs so I’d initially pick stuff that I’d heard him play or talk about. One day I took a punt and randomly listened to Grand Prix by Teenage Fanclub and totally fell in love. I became totally obsessed with it.
I sometimes see Norman Blake out and about in Glasgow and get a bit weird and star struck. Hopefully he doesn’t see this!
Your previous projects have been with other band members – what’s different about working solo?
The freedom to work at your own pace is great, but it can be a double-edged sword as you’re reliant on being self motivated, which naturally comes and goes. I do miss the camaraderie of being in a band and feeling like you’re part of a special gang, but I’m fortunate to work with some amazing musicians when I play The Quilter live and also have a great collaborative relationship with Paul Gallagher, whose production and support has been completely invaluable to shaping the whole project.
The positives definitely outweigh the challenges that it presents, and even though it’s at a very early stage, I get a lot more satisfaction from seeing it all come together than I have in the past.
How does being from Glasgow, Scotland influence your music?
It’s a huge influence for sure. I absolutely love Glasgow and I’m proud to represent it anywhere I go. It has such a rich and vibrant musical history, so not only are you exposed to all these incredible bands from a musical perspective, but it’s inspiring to see how much of an impact bands from your local area can have on people all over the world. To have such a high concentration of great bands come from a comparatively small city is rare so it’s a real privilege.
Are there any non-musical influences on your work?
There almost definitely are, but I never really take much stock of what is or isn’t influencing my work. I think that the non-musical influences feed more into the overall aesthetic of The Quilter as opposed to directly into the music. I was conscious of the fact that it was a solo project, so I wanted to make it a proper creative extension of myself and draw from stuff I like whether that’s fashion, certain films, certain directors or certain individuals.
What’s been keeping you sane during lockdown?
I live alone so I’ve been making sure I talk to people regularly and not just fall off the map, whether it’s texting, calling, Zooming etc. I’m sure it’s not a unique experience, but it’s fascinating how the isolation has brought everyone much closer together. I have friends that live in various countries that I normally only get to see a couple times a year, yet we’ve been Zooming and having a weekly poker game, so hopefully that sort of thing can continue.
I’ve also been cycling a lot which has been really helpful for keeping fit and feeling like I’m not a total couch potato. Health body, healthy mind n all that!
Have you continued to write songs and stay creative during lockdown?
I’d been really busy in the first half of the year with recording and putting together the first few live shows, so I hadn’t had time to write for ages. When lockdown started I think, like a lot of people, I felt this great pressure to use the time for creating – which kinda drove me to inaction if I’m honest. I chipped away at it though, and after a couple of weeks got into a really good flow of doing at least a few hours a day which has produced some really exciting songs that I look forward to getting into the studio to finish when I can.
I also started making videos which I really enjoyed as it was a totally different application of my creativity and I think that’s something I’d be keen to do more of in the future.
What can we expect in the future from The Quilter?
I’m aware that gigs are pretty much off the menu for the foreseeable future unfortunately, but I have plans for something that will hopefully fill that space which should be coming in the next month or two. I’m also going to release a longer-form release in the second half of the year which I’m working on at the moment. The pandemic is awful but I’m trying to use the time it’s afforded me positively so I’m going to keep writing and releasing stuff and hopefully when it’s over get right back into playing live when I can!