As a sixth grader in Federal Way, Quincy Henry had the opportunity to participate in a week-long program called Outdoor School, which offered students “a magical journey of discovery exploring the diversity of people and nature.” The students stayed in cabins and studied river and forest ecology.
“It’s sad to me that many POC [people of color] look at being outdoors as something NOT natural, but being amongst man-made streets and structures—many of which [were] not made with the benefit of POC in mind—as something natural,” he wrote on Twitter. “In Tacoma, we’ve got people of all sorts of backgrounds struggling and [they] could benefit from getting into nature. A good hike and a campfire is as therapeutic as anything out there.”
“I’ve always been kind of an outdoorsy guy, but it didn’t really strike me that I was until recently,” he says. He and his family camp regularly: Cape Disappointment and Lake Chelan are among their personal favorites.
With his fourth album, Experiences of Adventurers, Dreamers, and Overachievers (A/D/O; self-released on August 3, 2018), Q Dot hopes to help those who might not have the means to get outside and go camping. “I feel weird making music just for the sake of making music,” he says. “I feel obligated for it to have some kind of social impact beyond the music: I want the art to reach out into the community.”
The album consists of 22 tracks of divided into four chapters, and follows the hero’s journey—in many ways, Q Dot’s journey—through struggle to redemption. “I just had this idea for it being set outside. It’s got to be something that’s still authentic, though,” he recalls.
“I didn’t write the songs in the studio: I wrote them at the Browns Point Lighthouse—which is by my parents’ house, where I grew up—or at Dash Point, or driving down Ruston Way. I tried to relive some of these outdoor moments.”
Chapter 1 begins with “Me,” a celebration of the lifestyle he’s worked hard to achieve, but it doesn’t take long for the devil to appear on his shoulder in “More.” “There’s got to be more—money, sex,” and at this prompt, the hero’s tragic journey commences. Chapter 2 begins with “Brand New,” the first single from the album (it’s got a video, too). Tragedy strikes at the beginning of Chapter 4: “February 6th” details his family’s involvement in a car accident. The final three tracks, “Free,” “Home,” and “Us,” articulate the family’s recovery and ultimately, peace.
In addition to the album, Q Dot has released a line of clothing that features a logo designed by a Tacoma artist and family friend. He’s also partnered with Puyallup-based Anthem Coffee to create a unique A/D/O blend. The coffee, a unique Dillanos roast, has notes of pine needles and peanut butter and jelly and provides a perfect complement to outdoor adventures. A portion of the proceeds from album and merchandise sales will go toward getting young people out into the wilderness to go camping, particularly those who might not see themselves outdoors.
Q Dot is still in touch with his sixth-grade teacher and his cabin leader, both of whom are on the staff at Camp Waskowitz in North Bend, and he’s looking to partner with them to make this project a reality. “It’s expensive—it’s like $400 for the kids to go, and that’s pretty pricey for a lot of families.”
“I’m also looking at finding a way to network with the state parks to get a site, and get these kids some tents and some sleeping bags,” he suggests. “If we went that route, my goal is to make it a weekend and make so the whole family can come out. We’d get them a tent, get them some gear, and teach them how to use it, and do some activities.” Ideally, he sees this turning into an annual outing.
“The goal is to be able to kick off next summer with this camp-out, and we’ll see how it goes for the first year,” he says hopefully.