Qbala
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Qbala

Fort Collins, Colorado, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | SELF

Fort Collins, Colorado, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2005
Band Hip Hop Funk

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Oct
18
Qbala @ Blondie's Trophy Room

Cortez, Colorado, United States

Cortez, Colorado, United States

Oct
17
Qbala @ The Dab Lounge

Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

Oct
16
Qbala @ The Whisk(e)y

Fort Collins, Colorado, United States

Fort Collins, Colorado, United States

Music

Press


On the court playing college basketball, Kalhie Quinones learned from her coach that it's about "the dash, not the flash."

It's a lesson she continues to practice on stage as Qbala.

"Each day is like — are you putting time in in the studio, are you hustling tickets, are you promoting on social media, are you networking out of the state, thinking six months out," said the Loveland-born-and-raised hip-hop performer, sitting next to a stack of fliers and a portable speaker. She's about to do a little marketing push in the middle of the Colorado State University campus.

"Check out some music," she says, offering a flier about her upcoming show to a young woman hurrying past. At first she is waved off — no thanks, she's gotten all the fliers she can stand this week — but Qbala (as she prefers to be known by) is persistent. "Here, please take one of these and scan it. I know it's still a flier but this is me," she says pointing to her name on the download card. "Check out some of my music."

This time the woman takes the flier with a smile. She might toss it the second she's out of sight, but she might just give it a listen. And that's all Qbala is hoping for.

During that one hour on campus, the Fort Collins-based rapper will interact with hundreds of potential new fans — handing out fliers and download cards, talking with students about her music, even putting on an impromptu performance. She knows that if she wants to make it to the next level, it's the "dash" she's doing now that will get her there.

The lessons players are learning on the court are not just about sports, but about life, said Tim Moser, Qbala's former basketball coach during her time at Otero Junior College in La Junta and later at the University of Alaska-Anchorage.

Some kids struggle with that, but Moser, now the assistant women's basketball coach at CSU, said he had a feeling that Kalhie wouldn't be one of them.

"She came to Anchorage to a losing program and went to the Final Four in her first year," he said. Known as a rallier on the team, Qbala would often start getting everyone amped up on the bus to games by screaming and drumming on the seats.

Moser said he was aware that she enjoyed music but it wasn't until he saw one of her Qbala show posters at a Fort Collins Berry Blendz that he realized she had turned her hobby into a career.

"Kalhie was always a leader; she was always a very driven young lady," he said.

"Driven" is a word people use a lot when they talk about her.

"We've worked together for about nine years, since 2005," said Qbala's DJ, Dominic Deadbeat Welch of the duo's first meeting at a show at the Aggie Theatre. "Ever since I've known her, whatever she decides to do — whether basketball or music — she's very driven."

That fiery spirit led Quinones to go full-time with music. The former Moe's Bar B Que pit boss hung up her apron last month but said she's busier than ever. Last month, she traveled to Minnesota and Wisconsin for a small tour, and after highlight performances at Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest and Saturday's FoCo Rising show at Hodi's, she heads back out to Minneapolis and Chicago for more shows. Next up locally, she's hosting her own showcase, HipHops: A Fort Collins Brew Tour, featuring two of the city's great loves: beer and music.

"Qbala is a force both on stage and off," said publicist Dawn Duncan, adding that clients like Qbala make her job easy. "When she's not performing, she is constantly working on booking and promotion. She doesn't stop until she gets the deal done, and her level of assertiveness is one to be envied and copied by other artists."

Qbala's day begins early at the computer and on the phone, sending out emails and texts about her available dates and press kits to promoters, venues and other artists, Duncan said. She also handles all her own merchandise — reordering T-shirts and hats to help get the word out. That doesn't even begin to touch on the time spent in the studio.

"She has transitioned from an athlete on the court to a full-court-press athlete in her career," she said. "This is a person who is the textbook definition of 'hustle.' Every day, morning until night, Qbala attacks her goals, nonstop."

While Qbala has slowly been building buzz since 2005, it was in the past year that she began a true "full-court press" after she and DJ Dominic Deadbeat Welch won the $10,000 first prize in the Colorado Music Buzz Battle of the Bands and later was named to local music support group SpokesBUZZ's current class of artists.

"At 17, when I was writing just to ease pain, I never thought of it as a business," Qbala said. "Then you have all these people noticing and you realize that 'I can live this and take it the next level,' and last year was that moment. That's when I said this is gonna happen.

"It's not easy," she said. "I don't ever expect it to be, and I think that's what I really thrive on ... having challenges in front of me... This is just another chapter and I'm ready to attack it."

HipHops: A Fort Collins Brew Tour

Qbala's next local show will be hosting the HipHops Fort Collins Brew Tour. Catch a video sneak peek to learn more about the artists by clicking on this story at www.coloradoan.com/entertainment.

When: Oct. 2-4

Where: Crankenstein, 215 N. College Ave., and Pateros Creek, 242 N. College Ave.

Information: See the HipHops Fort Collins Brew Tour page on Facebook - Stacy Nick


It takes a lot to scratch any kind of surface in the music business. Dedication is only the beginning, and nobody knows that better than Qbala and her main man Dominic “Deadbeat” Welch, the dj behind emotional, potent rapping that took the Bandwagon 4 crown on April 14.

The eclectic duo packed the Lava Room at the Reserve Casino Hotel for each of their three performances in the competition, displaying nothing less that immaculate hard work, and promotional mastery, to take home the prestigious title and $10,000 in cash.

“We met at the Aggie at a show,” says Welch. “I saw her opening up and doing her rehearsal at sound check and I thought she was on tour. Then, all of a sudden, the DJ comes up, and I know the DJ.” Not a bad was to meet. “I secretly plotted in my head to steal her,” he laughs.

Their original meeting took place in 2005. “He had asked me to listen to some beats of his, and I was like, ‘man these are awesome!’ and he played a set with me; it was on from then,” says Qbala. Shortly after, she moved to Utah and then Anchorage, AK, to play basketball at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The team made it to the NCAA Division II Final Four following a 30-5 season. Following the season, she returned home.

“I played in a combine in North Carolina and made a team to go overseas, and I fractured my ankle hooping with a buddy,” Qbala says. “I made the decision that I’m tired of being injured. What do I really want to do? Do I want to continue to play basketball the rest of my life, or do I want to do something that I really love doing, that I’m just as passionate about, but allows me to be myself a little bit more? As soon as I came back and we played our first set, it felt like a puzzle piece that was missing. Now it makes sense, it feels right, and we’ve been killing shows.”

Some of the first places they got into as a performing duo were the former Starlite Theatre in Fort Collins, now Hodi’s Halfnote. The Aggie Theatre, Mojo’s, Road 34, and many other Fort Collins venues were also among the first places they performed. Down in D-Town, they broke into Casselman’s and Cervantes.

Efficient networking has been the key factor to their success. “It comes down to networking,” says Qbala. “That’s the thing I love about music; you meet so many people, and there are so many different opportunities out there, and when you take advantage of them, things are endless. You get not just your hometown behind you, you get the state behind you.”

Qbala and Welch used their people skills to secure two dates on last year’s Vans Warped Tour, being scheduled in Portland and Seattle. The Seattle date ended up falling through due to equipment factors out of their control, but they rocked Portland, then headed to Montana to perform at a festival before ending up back home. They have aspirations of more touring if the right opportunities present themselves. “Until we are at a point where money is coming in, and we are being asked to go on tours, I think it is really important that we build from within Colorado and get the support of a lot of people,” says Qbala. “I feel like that is a little ways down the road, and we have so much room to grow. What we have is so young, and I love it. I’m looking at it like the sky is the limit. We can keep working, continuing to put better music out. I like giving away our merch for free. People pay to come and support and watch us, and they should get something in return.”

Working hard to not let their fans down is extremely important to Qbala and Welch. During the second round of the competition, Welch’s first child was born two days prior to their performance. He left from the hospital to come do the show, then headed back to his family immediately afterwards. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to make it at first, but it worked out,” he says. “It was good. I was tired. Thanks to Red Bull, I was pretty lively on stage.”

Welch first got into music back in the nineties. “I just kind of fell into [DJing] back in the goofy rave scene of the late nineties,” he says. “A friend had some turntables, and one night of partying and drinking I took my old drum coordination and applied it differently. I figured it out that night, started scratching right away, and I kept just going back to his house to do it.”

The talent stuck with him, he has put out multiple solo records, and intends on continuing to make music at one level or another for quite awhile. “A lot of people quit and start again and quit,” he says. “I’ll probably always be around in some sort, making music of some kind, until arthritis kicks in and I can’t scratch anymore.”

“I’ve always had a passion to perform and entertain,” says the 30-year-old Qbala. “When I was a kid, whether it came down to singing other people’s lyrics or just dancing around, I was always passionate about it. I first started writing around the age of 17-18. That late nineties rave scene into 2000, a lot of eye opening experiences that I wasn’t sure that anyone else felt, and to be able to get them out, I would write it down on paper. Then all of a sudden I started listening to beats, and it started to progress into hip-hop and I really started pushing it. I was like, ‘wow I can put these lyrics to these beats!’”

Qbala’s lyrics are deeply personal. She went through the struggle of coming out as a lesbian while being a musician, and writing lyrics helped her express her emotions and thoughts in a personal matter while making it relatable to a listener. “It was empowering to me,” she says. “You have a lot of stuff bottled up inside of you. You are sharing things on a stage that you might not be able to say in a conversation.”

Even today, with that behind her, she prefers to keep her music personal and intimate, exposing herself in a way that might not be possible otherwise. “Through the years, that has progressed. The things that I have talked about have gone as far as sexual commentary, to things that I have achieved in my character,” she says. “Always personal stuff. I think that is important. I think it has helped me be more me. Being able to share those things with people feels so good. It allows me to walk around and be myself.”

The money they walked away with from Bandwagon 4 is going towards purchasing more (and newer) recording equipment so the duo can continue to progress their sound, and put out higher quality music on their own schedule. They also hope to get some new merchandise to put into the hands of their fans.

Catch them opening up for Big Boi at Cervantes May 7. Other than that, they plan on getting a lot of recording done this summer. They are being selective about the shows they take on, not wanting to oversaturate the local market and ruin their draw. “Networking with the right people, you’ve really got to make sure you are moving your chess pieces wisely with the people you associate with,” Qbala says. “For a while there, I felt we could play any show we wanted to, and now I feel that we’ve really got to think about who we’re working with and if you want to take that next step.”

They also plan on making their already immensely entertaining live performances even more awesome. “Our live set is very live,” says Welch. “I’ve worked with a lot of rappers in the past, and this is definitely the most energetic. It’s definitely worthy of being seen by the masses, but it could always get better. Once you get content, then that’s when you fall off.”

Don’t count on Qbala and Deadbeat to fall off anytime soon.

Online: www.facebook.com/qbala.music

Author: Tim Wenger - Tim Wenger


Qbala chats with Quentin Young at Second Story Garage in Boulder, Colorado.

When you make your lyrics deeply personal, every performance leaves you vulnerable. Fort Collins rapper Qbala puts the hard facts of her life in her lyrics, and she’s the kind of performer who doesn’t shrink from the emotional charge of the words but uses it to power her delivery.

Qbala — aka Kalhie Quinones — might have had a career as a basketball player. She played for the University of Alaska Anchorage and contemplated playing overseas after school. But her real passion is music, and now she has a winning record as an MC. Last year she took top prize in a Colorado Music Buzz band competition. She was one of the local acts at The Denver Post Underground Music Showcase this summer. And she has a reputation for hustle and hard work. Earlier this month, she organized a night of hip-hop in Fort Collins to coincide with the Great American Beer Festival. She called it “Hip Hops.”

Qbala often performs with a DJ, but for her Garage session she took solo command. She performed her tracks “It Takes More,” “Mind’s Eye” and “News.” Listen to the lyrics in “News.” They’re intense. As was her explanation of the song during her interview with Quentin.

What she brought us: Her University of Alaska basketball jersey. - Quentin Young


With camera’s rolling Kalhie Qbala makes her entrance into the party. She’s got swagger like she owns the place, a blunt in her hand and every word nailed down tight to the backing track for “My State of Dementia”. In front of the camera Qbala has the confidence and poise of any veteran musician. It’s like she’s made multiple music videos and maybe even had a reoccurring role on some police drama. I wish I could say the same for myself but with Hodi’s Half Note supplying two kegs of New Belgium’s new seasonal beer Snow Day and a Bacardi Girl anchoring this party down, I might have lost some of my poise. Luckily for me my beautiful girlfriend came with and made up for everything I was lacking. Everyone in the crowd looked great and brought the ruckus to the video. Even local rappers Mr. B and Aklock made an appearance at the party. I love Kalhie’s work ethic and that she spared nothing to create a classic Hip Hop video that represented her. New Belgium, the different locations and even the Bacardi girl carrying a lit up bottle of Bacardi, all solidified the classy Fort Collins vibe, while DJ Dominic Deadbeat and scenes like the smoked out room or the confrontation with another girl, made this video classic. No matter how many takes were needed for any scene, Kalhie finished like a determined basketball player, straight to the hole. Just killing it the whole night, she never lost the energy she seems to rock daily in life.

Kalhie expressed that her lyrics represent who she is and that Fort Collins is a big part of that. She took the idea for the video straight from the lyrics of “My State of Dementia” and wanted to show off Fort Collins in the process. She tried to incorporate everything the town has offered to her, from local businesses to the many unique people. The sweet custom bike Kalhie rides around old town was made by her friend Adam. In fact out of the five locations used for the video( Pizza Casbah, Hodi’s Half Note, College Ave, her house and a private residence) the party scene at the private residence seems to be the only location lacking any sentimental notation. Kalhie keeps a strong connection to the owners and past coworkers of Pizza Casbah, right now everyone she lives with has worked at the restaurant at some point. Hodi’s Half Note, a local venue and what Kalhie describes as her home court is were you’ll find her regularly playing shows as well as kicking suckers out (she’s a bouncer there). Keeping everything local Kalhie hired website www.hyphytek.net to shoot the music video. It’s been fairly recent that the site has been getting involved in the local music scene, hosting a free download by local band ‘Press’, as well as videos and photos of multiple other bands. The music portion of Hyphytek.net seems to represent a visual catalog at this point, done for the love of music and filming. Hyphytek founder Kevin Lawley has already filmed Qbala’s live performances multiple times. He’s been a long time fan and jumped at the chance to shoot her first music video. This was their first music video but Kalhie pointed out that Kevin and his partner Andrew were incredibly professional and helpful in the creative process that happens on set, helping to find different angles, perspectives and all the while keeping the camera’s rolling. I was able to catch up with Kalhie and find out some of her inspiration and ideas for the video. Our conversation was great and I ended up obtaining way more information than I needed for this piece. Please check back in the near future for a video interview with Qbala. From their mouths, really is the best way to learn about your favorite artist! - Hyphytek.net


Discography

My State of Dementia - Released December 9th 2011 StyleFree Records

UNFINISHED BUSINESS - Released May 23rd 2014 (Digital Release) - Qbala Music

Dark Side of the Rain - Released December 7th 2014 - Qbala Music 

Photos

Bio

This MC's delivery and flow have been described many ways. The emcee out of Northern Colorado has a strong message, a relentless ambition, and an insatiable need to reach the masses. Hailing from Loveland, CO, this emcee brings a raw fresh mix of old school/new school hip hop/boombap to the shows that have become a mainstay in the Colorado hip hop scene. With the 2011 release “My State of Dementia,” Qbala anchored a spot in the ranks of seasoned performers, offering up lyrics on everything from sexuality to hustling for a name in the industry. Followed by the underground project, “Unfinished Business,” which released digitally in 2014.  Moving through more intricate beats, punching statements, and the “in your face” messages that Qbala Music has become associated with. With the 2014 EP release right behind her followed by another 2014 release “Dark Side of the Rain”, Qbala jumped right into 2015 releasing “Battle Cries,” EP which was highly anticipated with a major positive response. As 2016 begins, Qbala moves into a new realm of more poignant, personal, and memorable lyrics.The world waits to see the next quick move from this prolific MC.

Band Members