From left: Fin Gerrand, Felix Asare, Tom Joashi, Gabriel Duval and Reece D'Souza DANIEL HILTON WITH PERMISSION FOR VARSITY

Encyclopedia Britannica happily informs me that the definition of Quasar is, “an astronomical object of very high luminosity found in the centre of some galaxies. The brightest quasars can outshine all of the stars in the galaxies in which they reside”. This interesting naming convention is clearly a nod towards former band member, saxophonist and astronomer Matt Nixon.

Quasar burst onto the scene post pandemic, evolving from the band Syzygie (another astronomical term, as you can tell there is a theme), occupying a unique place in the Cambridge band scene. I sat down with band members Felix and Fin to chat to discuss where they saw the band’s place in Cambridge, and how the band’s unique blend of Hip-Hop and Jazz is subtly taking Cambridge by storm.

“The band’s unique blend of Hip-Hop and Jazz is subtly taking Cambridge by storm”

What immediately struck me was the academic diversity within the band from a medic to an architect, to a PhD physicist, the band perhaps reiterates that within Cambridge you often find yourself interacting with people you may never have encountered otherwise. Whilst the photoshoot was perhaps a logistical nightmare to organise, it is clear to see that when you remove the chaos of a Cambridge timetable — the band perform with an ease and relaxed nature that can calm even the most frantic of Undergraduates.

Sarah O’Callaghan Quasar's singer performing at a gig ALEX PC WITH PERMISSION FOR VARSITY

Felix has an impressive background in the Cambridge music scene, usually if there is a Hip-Hop society, Ensemble or Jazz Orchestra, Felix may have only been a stone’s throw away. Felix’s organisational skills clearly play an important role in galvanising the band as well as playing guitar and keys. Fin also happily moonlights as the drummer in the Ilfords, demonstrating that there is a musical pedigree running through Quasar.

Post-Covid, Felix and former Syzygie members felt the need to reset the band, and when the opportunity arose to have not just one, but two rappers, they jumped at the chance. Admittedly, one of the rapper’s (Vince) is on a year abroad, but having seen the band perform after headliner’s Rudimental at John’s May Ball last year, I can confirm that the band’s unique blend of rap and lyricism produces a delightful result, especially with two rappers. The full list of band members include: Fin Gerrand on Drums, Gabriel Duval on Bass, Felix Asare taking up both the Keys and Guitar, with Tom Joashi on Saxophone, Sarah O’Callaghan as the Singer and Reece D’Souza being the band’s Rapper.

At most May Ball’s renditions of “Valerie” seem to be perpetually played, however Quasar have carved out a place for themselves. Felix noted that there is definitely a place and demand for more Hip-Hop in Cambridge but when looking for another Hip-Hop based band to perform with, the other acts are not necessarily there.


Mountain View

Is it really ‘better down where it’s wetter’?

When listening to the band perform, the Ezra Collective immediately springs to mind. There is an ease to the flow and blend of the arrangement, with Reece’s bars being impressive and seemingly never-ending. On asking about how the compositions come into being, Felix noted that the band improv a lot together and Reece will rap over the top with, “an infinite well of bars”.

It is this limitless nature unique to Quasar, that allows the band to perform in a style that is refreshing on the Cambridge landscape. The band’s distinctive style also allows them to perform at different events when covers of Amy Winehouse would be a little dated. By performing what they want to play, Fin and Felix noted that they wouldn’t become necessarily bored of what they are playing and offer the audience perhaps tracks that they would want to hear.

It will be admittedly rather cheesy of me to say but akin to the definition of Quasar itself, the band perhaps outshine the other bands on the Cambridge scene. Due to perform at the Beyond Borders gig on the 21st of February at Revs, it would be a worthwhile endeavour to undertake in Week 5.