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December 02, 2021

Questlove's digital series in partnership with Balvenie investigates the creative process

The four-part "Quest for Craft" will wrap up its first season on Dec. 9 with guest Malcolm Gladwell

If there's one thing Questlove knows, it's the creative process. The Philly native artist, musician, and filmmaker partnered with whiskey brand Balvenie this fall to host "Quest for Craft", a four-part digital series in which Questlove talks with celebrities and other creatives about their art and process. 

The series wraps up on Dec. 9 with guest Malcolm Gladwell, an author and journalist who has written for The New Yorker since 1996. Gladwell's episode is all about practice and he talks to Questlove about his infamous "10,000 Hour" rule, and how important it is for creatives to improve their craft. 

The first season premiered on Balvenie's YouTube channel on Oct. 28 with guest Michael Che. The comedian and writer at Saturday Night Live spoke on chaos in creativity and comedy. 

"Especially when you're performing in front of an audience, you always feel like you want it to be ready for them," Che said in episode one. "And there's parts of chaos that I'm comfortable with that I'm not sure the audience is comfortable with, and I don't know that they're having as much fun as I am in the chaos." 

Episode 2 aired on Nov. 11 with songwriter and producer Jimmy Jam, where the two spoke about meeting their creative partners at a young age. Questlove, who met Black Thought, fellow member of The Roots, while they were both attending the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts in 1987. Jimmy Jam also met his creative partner, Terry Lewis, while they were in high school. 

The most recent episode aired on Nov. 25 with guest and musician Patti Smith. The series is filmed inside the Electric Lady Studios, where Smith recorded many of her iconic albums, including her most recent live EP, "Live at Electric Lady" which was released on August 26. 

The musicians spoke about the history of the studio, and the concept of time. They also discussed the impact of the Harlem Cultural Festival, and Smith's reaction to seeing Questlove's award-winning documentary "Summer of Soul" for the first time. 

"I spent the last few days watching 'Summer of Soul' in tears, over and over again," Smith said. Referencing a Nina Simone quote, she continues, "I felt that hope and mourning... I just want the present to be good." 

The web series is the second project Balvenie has done on their YouTube channel, following the three-season run of "Raw Craft" with the late Anthony Bourdain. In it, Bourdain and Balvenie travel to showcase the intricate work of craftspeople across the world. 

That series, which ended in 2017 and then returned for one special episode in 2019 following Bourdain's passing, garnered over 500,000 views per episode, and sometimes over 1 million.

All episodes of "Quest for Craft" are available for free on Balvenie's YouTube channel. The season one trailer is available below.