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Artists in Indiana: An interview with Fort Wayne's Former Vandal

by Baylie Clevenger Indiana is not exactly known for music production. While people like Michael Jackson and Matchbox Twenty’s Kyle Cook were born here, Indiana is no music giant. However, there are still artists everywhere working hard and producing work. Indiana is home to many incredible local artists. Former Vandal is a musical duo out of Fort Wayne, comprised of Quinn Wentz (vocals) and Christian Delzoppo (drums). Currently, on Spotify they have more than 57,000 monthly listeners. They also have popular songs like “Well Off” which has reached more than 700,000 streams, “War” which has reached more than 500,000 streams and “Good Kid” which has reached more than 188,000. They recently spoke with Byte about who they are as artists and what being an artist in Indiana is like.

Photo by Alison Resac

Q: Is there a story behind the name Former Vandal?

Quinn: When I came up with it I was 17 and melodramatic, so I’m sure there is but I don’t remember what overly philosophical meaning it had.

Q: Who are your biggest musical inspirations?

Quinn: I love any artists who are vulnerable and unapologetic. I’m a huge Prince fan and love how he pushed the limits, especially sonically. Christian: I would say it’s more so the people in my life. I’m good friends with alot of incredibly talented musicians, who push me to be better everyday.

Q: How do you you channel those inspirations in your work?

Quinn: I’m a sucker for 80’s drum pad sounds and Prince-esque guitar riffs, so I like to incorporate that aspect into as much as I can. Lyrically, I just try to write from a place of openness and vulnerability that I would connect to as a listener.

Q:  What got you started in music?

Quinn: My brother bought a guitar when I was maybe 11 and I always snuck behind his back and tried to learn pop punk songs. Singing-wise, church was big for me. Christian: My mom forced me to play an instrument when I was 6. I had a cousin who played drums, so that was the instrument I chose.

Q: What is your favorite project you have ever released?

Quinn: I’m more proud of the material we’re writing right now than I’ve ever been in my career, so I’d say the next one. Christian: In a few months, it’ll be the one we’re working on right now.

Q: What is the best part about working on a new project?

Quinn: I like building an entire experience. I work hard to make every release feel like it’s own world that has been created. Christian: As a drummer, I like expanding my body of work; it’s kind of like my musical resume.

Q: What are your favorite memories you have from being in music? (touring, album artwork, recording, making merch, etc.)

Quinn: Anytime I get to play shows is the best for me. I love getting to see people sing with so much energy and it just reminds me of how I feel in a crowd. The be able to be on the other end of that is incredible. Christian: Playing shows is my favorite part. The anticipation before, getting ready, promoting the show all culminates in the first few moments of playing on stage.

Q: What do you think your future in music looks like/what are your biggest goals?

Quinn: I’ll keep creating until it doesn’t fulfill me anymore. As far as goals go, I just wanna see the day where we headline a national tour. Christian: Professional drummer. I aspire to be one of the go-to drummers for major artists.

Q: Who is someone you would love to work with and why?

Quinn: I would actually die to work with SZA in any way, shape, or form. Christian: Anderson .Paak because I love him.

Q: What is the story behind your journey in music?

Quinn: I grew up in pop punk bands and always had a sweet tooth for pop music that I just couldn’t figure out how to translate into something I connected with. So in trying to figure that out my journey has kind of been all over the place and I just tried to make as much music as I could. Christian: I also grew up in bands but they were cooler than Quinn’s. Mostly metal bands and church drumming.

Q: Since Fort Wayne (and Indiana in general) is not really known for its music scene, what is it like making music here?

Quinn: Shows are sparse, locally, for artists like us, but it’s really made me appreciate a local show. It’s definitely taught me ways to build off an online presence. Christian: I think there are good artists everywhere. Making music anywhere is great when you find a group of artists who are going to make you better, work on what you do, and make you want to practice.

Q: Do you ever plan on going elsewhere to further pursue music?

Christian: Funny story… Quinn: Christian and I, along with my best friend Alison Resac, are moving to Chicago in the fall time. I’ve always loved the city deeply and Alison and I were planning on moving when we found out that Christian was, coincidentally, also planning on moving there. It worked out so perfectly because we’ll be able to play shows so frequently.
Photo by Alison Resac
Former Vandal’s Music can be found on Spotify as well as Apple Music. Keep an eye out for new music from them coming soon. Support local artists.
Images: Alison Resac Sources: Bandcamp, Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music