In California #017: IN-Q and Sunset Sound

In California #017: IN-Q and Sunset Sound


“When I’m sitting down to write a piece, I always try to start with either something that annoys me, something that moves me, or something that inspires me. Because I feel like if you start there, and if you give it enough time and space, the rest of the poem will almost write itself. And I liked that concept of looking closer at the world around you, and the people around you.”



          That’s the poet and songwriter IN-Q reflecting on his poem “Look Closer”, which has enjoyed major success throughout the USA, and which feels particularly resonant right now.


          Raised by a single mother in Santa Monica, IN-Q has had words bouncing around his head for as long as he can remember. He started hitting open mic nights in his teens, performing his autobiographical poems with great gusto and conviction. His words connected. He soon became a major figure on the slam poetry circuit, and helped establish one of the largest open mic poetry venues in the US, called “Da Poetry Lounge,” held at the Greenway Court Theatre in Los Angeles. In 2017 he was named one of the top creative on Oprah’s SuperSoul 100 list. He’s collaborated with Miley Cyrus, Aloe Blaac, and Selena Gomez. His recent videos “The Only Reason We’re Alive” and “The Most Important Vote We’ll Ever Cast” went viral and have over six-million views combined.



          “Look Closer” originally appeared in an ad for A&E about culture and diversity. But the words are much more than an advertising message—they speak of oneness and unity on a grand scale. 


          Says IN-Q,  “The closer that you look, the more you’re able to see the humanity behind the imaginary differences that we have, and the details, and the circumstances, and the environments. Because we’re all going through the same journey and the same story, even if the specifics are different. So when we connect to that deeper truth, it allows us to have more empathy and compassion for other people, and then that allows us to have a different perspective on our interactions.”



          On a recent COVID Friday, IN-Q performed “Look Closer” at the legendary Sunset Sound. Founded in 1962, situated in a nondescript building on Sunset Boulevard, Sunset Sound is an aural palimpsest of some of the greatest music of the last half-century. The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Tom Petty, Louis Armstrong, Paul McCartney, Sam Cooke, Whitney Houston, Rolling Stones, Miles Davis, Elton John—the list goes on and on.



          “They told me that Janis Joplin recorded in that very same room on the same day that she unfortunately passed away,” says IN-Q. “So that was one of the things that sent chills up my arms, thinking of not only her and that moment, but of all the incredible artists that have touched that space, from the Beach Boys to Jim Morrison. I think Prince recorded a lot of the stuff there. You can feel that energy when you’re in the space. You know, creativity kind of sinks into the bones of the building. And so for me to be able to perform a poem there was an honor.”


          And without further ado, here’s IN-Q performing “Look Closer” at Sunset Sound…



For more IN-Q go to

To check out Sunset Sound go to

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