Moi Quinn of Tomorrows Bad Seeds Turned a Challenging Childhood into a Passion for Performance

Beach meets streets.

  • Category
    Arts, People
  • Written & photographed by
    Kat Monk
  • Photographed at
    Total Access Rehearsal Studio

Hermosa Valley School’s sixth grade talent show was the first time Moi J. Quinn ever sang in public. He informed his teacher, Mrs. Eichenlaub, that he wanted to perform a Whitney Houston song a cappella. “My teacher thought I was trippin’,” remembers Moi, who today is the lead singer of the band Tomorrows Bad Seeds. Although he might have been nervous, he nailed it and, to everyone’s surprise, delivered a stunning, unforgettable performance.

Growing up around R&B and classic rock, Moi learned how to sing by listening to Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Sade. “I followed the musical runs and tried to copy them,” he explains. 

Moi has led an extraordinary life—the type that typically inspires a television series. His dad is from Mexico, and his mother is Scottish. Their relationship did not last very long. When he was young, Moi’s mom agreed that his father could take him and his younger sister to Mexico for two weeks. That two-week trip lasted five years. Afraid his children would take life for granted, his father—formidable at the time—demanded his kids be exposed to his influences and culture. 

Those five years in Mexico were hard on Moi, as he didn’t speak Spanish and was often bullied in school. The stark differences between the United States and Mexico, especially the extreme poverty, made an impression on him. He came back to the Hermosa Beach school system a changed boy. 

“I like to say my life is one foot in the beach and one foot in the streets.”

After those years in Mexico, Moi experienced bullying again—this time for his deficiencies in the English language. But he takes pride in his complex upbringing, acknowledging that his life experiences helped shape who he is today—a tenacious go-getter who makes things happen for himself. “I like to say my life is one foot in the beach and one foot in the streets,” he says. 

Moi credits “b-boying,” or break dancing, as giving him the confidence that he needed to return to singing. He joined a hip-hop team and became well known as a member of the West Coast Rockers. Break dancing inspired Moi to share his voice with the public again. 

Moi didn’t sing consistently until he tried out for a reality television show that looked for singers during the end of his high school years. Popstars, an international reality competition show, was short-lived with only two seasons, but Moi was one of six winners during the second season signed by Warner Brothers and put in a house in Sherman Oaks to work on a record. Unfortunately, the perks evaporated for various reasons, including the economic impact resulting from the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001.

In search of a new direction, Moi went home to regroup. While surfing at the break wall in Redondo Beach, he met guitar player and turntablist Matthew McEwan. They bonded over their recent breakups and soon started jamming on songs by Bob Marley, Steel Pulse, Slightly Stoopid and Sublime. Tomorrows Bad Seeds was born and quickly became a staple in the Southern California music scene. 

While performing on the main stage at BeachLife Festival 2021, Moi gave his Uncle Mike a shout-out. Uncle Mike is his #1 fan. When Moi was young, Mike introduced him to the beach culture including surfing and reggae music. 

“I am so proud of where Moi is in life, and I tear up every single time I see a Tomorrows Bad Seeds show,” explains Mike. “I am very proud to be his uncle and love him very much.”

Now there is no looking back for Moi, who is equipped with the talent and confidence to pursue his dreams as a singer. “I enjoy performing and working hard,” he says, “so I do what I love, and none of it feels like work.”