Features
THE QUESTION OF Q

The year is 1991, electronic music is rapidly gaining momentum and there is a young writer who turns up at the club you're at, and tries to sell you a copy of his book. The next night you see him reading extracts from his book to the sounds of a DJ. You pick up the book and begin to read it. As you turn each page, you are startled by the revelation at hand; the characters, the environments they inhabit and the music they are listening to, is familiar to you. You can understand and relate to them. His book titled, 'Deadmeat' has been inspired by a culture that is currently enveloping you. This writer is known to you by only one initial - Q.

Little is known about the elusive Q. His biography in the back of Disco Biscuits simply consists of two sentences - "Q is a Londoner. His first novel Deadmeat was published in 1997". Simple, straight to the point, without revealing anything that may give us an insight into Q's mind. He has aided in fuelling this mystery, refusing to reveal his real name.

For the majority of Britain's epic electronic music followers, Q was first brought to light via the highly publicised 'Disco Biscuits'. This collection of short stories written about club culture, featuring the likes of Irvine Welsh, Jeff Noon and Nicholas Blincoe, was instrumental in creating a new wave of 'chemical inspired' literature. For 'Disco Biscuits', Q constructed the ominous, 'The Sparrow'. This poetic tale of the new urban drug wars sweeping London's dance scene, was a highlight. "The DJ has them in her hands they are lambs being led to slaughter".

Q has always been light years ahead of his colleagues, pioneering avenues in which to publish his work, setting a precedent for others, including Irvine Welsh, to follow. He says this innovative approach to book publishing resulted because of the existing constraints in the publishing world. "By serialising it, doing it like a record, taking it into clubs and selling it like a white label; I was actually letting the audience decide. The way the publishing industry was structured before, they would just pick up a big major act and would determine if they were a success. At that time they weren't really gearing the market to a younger audience".

It was precisely this attitude that first led Q to pursue writing, saying that his choice of career developed from need, rather than notions of grandeur. This 'need' provided the subject matter for his first novel, 'Deadmeat'. "That's what the whole Deadmeat lifestyle is about. If I didn't do what I did for myself, I wouldn't be here now and I refused to be Deadmeat" he says. "I refused to let someone else decide my fate".

Q is a strong advocate for the way technology has rapidly reshaped our society. It is one of the issues he feels passionate about, suggesting that it has helped spearhead yet another movement in history. He sees enormous potential for young people to utilise technology, particularly the internet. "The internet is like electronic literature, electronic film. Once you allow technology to get into people's lives, it means that people who are disadvantaged can pick up on the tools and overcome prejudice, racism, oligopolies all the different structures".

It's not surprising then, that the man known by only one letter, has once again applied his forward thinking approach to taking Deadmeat to the world. He is back in clubland, complete with a travelling roadshow of dancers, singers.... and a Rock 'n Roll band. "I've put loops into Deadmeat, like 'soul, soul soul, you've got to have soul soul soul'. It's very simple, they can either be playing a Drum n' Bass beat, a Rock 'n Roll beat and then I just do the same stuff with it. I beam in my website which means the place I am in becomes the Chameleon Club. Which is the club I talk about in my book, so basically it is virtual fiction. It doesn't matter where I am in the world I can always beam in that club and therefore the people in the club become part of the book".

text - Melissa Myers