In early September, as Quinn Bachand was on a short music tour through Washington and Oregon, admissions officers at Berklee College of Music in Boston were trying to get ahold of him.
With Bachand’s first year of post-secondary officially under way and the university student not in class, he found out – after a performance at the Sisters Folk Festival in Oregon – that his attendance was necessary in Boston, otherwise he’d be dropped from his classes.
So Bachand jetted to school for a couple days to ensure he wasn’t dropped, and then returned to Washington to get right back to performing.
“These were gigs booked a long time ago. I love touring, but I want to get the most out of this (school) experience, so I know I’ll have to balance that now,” says Bachand from his dorm in Massachusetts.
The Victoria guitarist, best known for performing Celtic music alongside his fiddler sister, Qristina, earlier this year won a full-ride scholarship, valued at more than $250,000, to attend the prestigious university.
Now well into his first year at school, Bachand – who admits he can’t really read music – says he’s loving the breadth of classes he’s taking. He says he can already see just how great of an experience this will be.
“After grad, I wanted to go out and learn from people I want to learn from and continue the career that I have. Berklee was so appealing because I get that here. A lot of my heroes, people that I listen to on my iPod, have come here,” Bachand says.
The 18-year-old is already close to a decade into his music career. After first picking up the violin as a five-year-old, he and his sister started performing together before his age was in the double digits.
“It was like a natural thing for me to learn the fiddle, because my sister did it; I played the violin, and I’m really happy that was the case. It’s like learning another language. It’s like if I have been in French immersion, I’d be able to express myself in a different language. I learn violin and I can now express myself through music,” Bachand says.
He switched to the guitar around age 10, and that, he says, allowed for more musical growth for him and his sister. “It’s much easier listening when it’s a guitar and a fiddle, than two fiddles, because people like harmony. So we were able to do that, and I was able to really start thinking about what was happening musically on a chordal instrument while delving into something like Irish music, where there’s traditionally no harmony,” he says.
Through his teen years, Bachand learned to play a number of other instruments, including the banjo, bouzouki and mandolin.
This month, Bachand is expected to take another few days off school to attend the Canadian Folk Music Awards in Ottawa, where he’s nominated with his newest group, Brishen. With five nominations to his name (including Emerging Artist of the Year, Young Performer of the Year and Group of the Year), Bachand has more nominations than any other Canadian artist or act. “It’s really exciting. Qristina and I were nominated a couple years ago, and it’s a very fun experience,” he says. “I have a lot of friends who are also nominated, so it’ll be like a big reunion.”
See qbachand.com or brishenmusic.com