Music Issue 2016: A Q&A with QueenofEx

click to enlarge QueenofEx - Brian Mahar
Brian Mahar

QueenofEx (Carter) originally moved to Tampa Bay to go to college for fashion and marketing, but a music career that bloomed in her native Greensboro, N.C. took hold after QueenofEx finally settled here and brought her original creative waxings to the stage in an open mic battle showcase. Her name has been popping up on bills all over town in the few years since, her commanding surefire raps leisurely and studied, or faster, sharply placed and full of free-form word associations, all set against soulful experimental hip-hop production. Succinct new bravado-fueled joint “Doppleganger” taps the eerie violin riff from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (à la Busta Rhymes’ “Gimme Some More”), and is available for free download on her Soundcloud page.

Next show date: July 16, STRT TRBL Pop-up Shop accompanied by Roger Lanfranchi on drums, with Sam Stan, Freeman and Gatsby, at New World Brewery, Ybor City.

RIYL: Missy Elliott, Rah Digga, Erykah Badu

How did you shift from passive music appreciator to active participant and creator?: "I've been a rapper for many years. I've always been actively creating content over the years but I started out with a cover band named Imagine in NC. When I moved back to Tampa I entered an open mic battle showcase and I've been actively doing live shows since the performance."

Steps you've taken to put yourself out there on a local level? "On a local level I've been showed a lot of love with several different invites to local events that I've accepted/said YES to over the years. I don't want to exclude any events because they've been a great help with exposure and I'm appreciative."

How she builds her audience outside of FLA: “Just recently I traveled to perform in Atlanta, and was showed a great deal of love. Before I started performing, I’ve gained an online presence with music I’d released through music forums and blogging. I have fans across the U.S. and internationally. Just to have people aware of me from that perspective is major.”

The hardest thing about making a career of music: “Having the right team of people to understand your vision, and madness.”

Ultimate goal or desired outcome: “Music is definitely one of my many tools for healing. It’s all about sharing energy and conceptually being great. And when the time is right, I’ll travel the world and share my light, life, and creativity. I’ve learned to keep it very simple with goals and reaching those who feel me is an ultimate high.”

Has it changed from when you started to now? Yes, it has changed. Initially, I wanted to be the best lyricist and I'm still clever in that sense, but I've challenged my creativity with live performing; best lyricist has become secondary to writing the best songs."

What’s the most recent album/single/mixtape you released? "The latest track that I've released is named 'Doppelganger.' I currently have an album in the works that is highly anticipated but currently not ready for release. I respect my craft and the integrity of my creativity to only release it when it's ready."

Any big news? What’s coming up? "Traveling is No. 1 on the list and once things are in place I will share with everyone."

What songs get the most positive feedback in a live setting? "I don't know because during my live shows, I believe people like the SET as a whole. And I always do something different every SET/show."

Favorite song to perform? "That changes A LOT. Currently it would be a track I've written called “Atmosphere.”

QueenofEx's favorite Tampa Bay artist(s)? "My favorites currently would be LKMP and TXP Bandesla. They've both produced several tracks for me and worked on my current release “Doppelganger” pro (LKMP); both are thought provoking and visionaries. I thrive off of people who get me without explanation and these two understand me."

Favorite show you’ve played in recent memory? "Hands down Hiphoppalooza 3. I've performed that show every year since its genesis and I was accompanied by two singers, Aja Lorraine, Chucky Sandoval and the drummer from Samurai Shotgun, Jovan Lecaro. We have an incredible energy together and we served magic that evening. We basically improved that entire set!"

Favorite venue: “Crowbar in Ybor City is like being at my home on stage.”