Meet QEEI, a Pop Experimentalist Raised on TRL Reruns

Courtesy of QEEI

Née: Tatiana Heuman
Raíces: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Sounds like: Dirty Projectors without the gimmicks.
You should listen to QEEI because: Futuristic avant pop that’s refreshing and catchy.

Multi-disciplinary performance artist and musician Tatiana Heuman is in constant search for new ways to channel her creative energy. The Buenos Aires-raised musician considers herself a drummer and performs as part of the no-wave/improv duo Ricarda Cometa, but she’s also worked as a sound artist for contemporary dance. Slowly, her production and commissioned work has overlapped, creating new sources of inspiration. Under the moniker QEEI, Heuman has been releasing maximalist and unconventional pop songs that are equal parts indulgent and introspective.

When Heuman spoke with Remezcla, she was sitting in a cabin in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca. To focus on her new album, she decided to travel to a secluded place, far from her home base. As she retraced her steps through the recording process, it revealed just how many layers there are to the project.

Her new single “Akira” is a collaboration with beatmaker Party Trash, released via NWLA’s new sub-label, Nuevas Tierras. In the video, QEEI dances and sings along into the camera, on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. The vibrant video recalls a childhood spent sitting in front of the TV, watching and taping TRL. “I was born in 1991. I am from the MTV generation,” she explains. “I was completely influenced by pop music and bling-bling when I was a little kid, even living in Argentina where our culture is not super close to that. I had this VHS player (I still have it); I recorded my favorite music videos, looking for the perfect moment to catch them.” Although it’s a cherished moment of her youth, Heuman uses her sound to question that upbringing, too. As she states in her bio, “Everything I believed when I was a child was completely broken.” Rather than reject that past, Heuman embraces it with the hopes of reinvention and contradiction.

Courtesy of QEEI
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The single title suggests a connection to the classic Japanese animated film Akira, but QEEI explains that only a few samples were taken from the soundtrack. As she put it, “I sometimes write lyrics moreso to provide melody than the actual words.” When writing and producing her tracks as QEEI, Heuman usually samples old recordings of folk and classical music. “I am a meticulous perfectionist and that works for and against me,” she explains. “Akira,” a disjointed pop track with a head-spinning time signature, is punctuated by Tatiana’s choral arrangements, evoking a less gimmicky Dirty Projectors. It makes for an intricate listen, even if it’s not quite designed for singing along.

Over the past few months, Heuman has also released a handful of fractured pop tracks through TRRUENO, the powerhouse Buenos Aires collective that’s been showcasing the avant-garde sounds surging out of the city’s electronic underground. In September, she unveiled “Prrosigo” for TRRUENO’s second compilation.

She also recently released a collab with TRRUENO’s Astrosuka for Choque, an Ensamble compilation that aims to raise funds for earthquake relief in Mexico.

QEEI stands out because she’s able to keep all of her abilities and skills at the service of her music. It’s maximal in many ways, but never too busy or unfocused. Her nomadic spirit drives her to travel as well as to push herself out of comfort zone, creating a constant state of flux; wherever she is now, she may not be tomorrow. Keep an eye out for her new album soon.