She’s a bona fide Sagittarian: expressive and fun-loving, a knowledge-seeking wanderer of the earth and firmament alike.
Quilla, the performing name of Anna Luisa Daigneault, is a vocalist, songwriter, electronic music producer and performer living in Greensboro. She debuted her newest single “Boom Ba Da” on UNC-TV from the floor of Skateland’s rink on May 2, and on June 14 she will release “Sagittarius,” a new track celebrating the fiery sign she shares with so many women in her life, with an accompanying music video, in collaboration with UNCG Media Studies professors Jennida Chase and Hassan Pitts, and their third-year students.
“It has an undercurrent of joyfulness but that one sounds maybe a bit more like my old album [You Got It] because it’s kind of intense and dreamy but also quirky and a little bit silly.”
In other words, Sagittarian.
Though house music, world beat and downtempo are clear influences, Quilla’s work is increasingly experimental, reflecting not only her nature, but the wide-ranging soundscape of her childhood in Montreal with a tango-dancer mother and academic-turned-jazz-saxophonist father. Known for her prowess on the keyboard and ethereal vocal looping, she’s written songs for Tiësto and played sets at Burning Man.
Quilla also works remotely for the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, a small nonprofit, documenting endangered languages, a continuation of her graduate school work studying indigenous Yanesha’ women’s vocal chants in the south-central Peruvian Amazon.
“While my music doesn’t sound anything like their chants, I really got in inspired by the way they get inspired to make their music,” she says. “They get inspired from having these deep interconnected moments with nature: particular rivers, particular mountains, places in the landscape. Because I learned about that ancient tradition, that inspired me look at the landscape differently and to feel the essence of a place coming out, and feeling that music is not necessarily something that you compose, but something that’s coming through you, and that was a big eye-opener.”
Quilla released her first album Beautiful Hybrid in 2014, the year she began her own record label Ritual Fire Records in an effort to protect creative control of her projects and provide a platform for other women in electronic music, like local musician Johanna Breed. Quilla characterizes the aesthetic of the label as “bouncy, fun electronic music with a contemplative side.”
“I do think it’s important to have joyful fun music now because everything is so dark,” she says. “It’s like trying to get back to basics with some primordial, happy, pre-analytical, uncynical, flavorful, fun and inspiring music. What has occurred to me that’s been super positive since having a kid is that she comes first in everything, everything, everything. I’ve come to realize that not having myself as my top priority is super liberating as an artist because I’m not as concerned with my own ego and my own legacy and my output and my image. Before becoming a mother, my decisions would be based around What’s the right next step? Do I need to collaborate with this person? Do I need to tour? What does my sound need to be like? Now all that is out the window; I just do what feels good and I do what’s best for her. I feel like the tracks I’m going to put out this year are better because I’m doing them from a place of joy and excitement from having those few minutes to do the music rather than spending months on a body of work to analyze every technical aspect, every use of synthesizer.”
Quilla is also freeing herself of pressure to develop another full-length album for the foreseeable future. She released her last album You Got It during her seventh month of pregnancy in 2017.
“My daughter Camille was an active participant and knows all of the songs,” Qullia says. “When I put them on, she just kinda lays down.”
These days, Camille is learning her mother’s ambient experiments and a collection of lullabies.
“I started doing ambient music when Camille was about six or seven months old,” Quilla says. “They’re all instrumental and slow-building. They were all a product of being up late just working with headphones on and the baby being asleep and just trying out these different textures.”
She and director Stefan DiMuzio feature several of those unreleased tracks on a recently-released six-minute documentary “A Storm of Crumbs,” an impressionistic patchwork of videotaped footage of home life and performances, Quilla’s artful collages and tiny set animation.
“Stefan and I had this idea of trying to showcase something new: an electronic artist, but also as a mother,” she says. “You don’t see those two things juxtaposed with each other very often; it’s usually life as an artist, as this solo endeavor, and then there are a lot of female electronic artists, but you don’t usually see their home life. I thought it would be important to show motherhood.”
Though brief, the film is as richly layered as Quilla’s music, embracing the multitudes of a woman who is integrating sometimes competing duties to her family and to her sense of self, who is navigating the tension between the anxiety and ecstasy of raising a child, and cherishing the clarity, humility and creativity that can bloom from those challenges.
“To all the artist moms out there, I salute you,” Quilla says in the documentary. “Being a parent in this tumultuous age is not easy, but inspiration, even if just in fragments, keeps us moving forward.”
Learn more on Quilla’s website and look out for her new single “Sagittarius” on June 14.