Exclusive Interview: Five Minutes with Quenum

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Swiss DJ and music producer Quenum has released his latest EP Valley Of True People via Damian Lazarus’ Rebellion imprint. Making his mark on the techno  music scene since 1996, Quenum has worked with critically acclaimed music labels like Supernature, Serialism Records and Cadenza, along with his imprint Luciano. Between 2013 to 2019 Quenum toured with renowned DJ Cesare v Disorder across  Asia, Australia and South America. This year saw Quenum working on exciting  solo projects.

We find out more about the Techno sensation in this exclusive.

What is your inspiration behind your “Valley Of True People” EP. 

Well I started by making the title track, ‘Valley of True People’. It’s funny because a lot of people react so well to this track, but when I made it I thought it would not be so popular. I made it to please myself, I wanted to do something melodic, not focused on the dancefloor. And then I thought the other tracks better be more punchy. Rebellion, for example, has a more intense rhythm. For that track I had an idea, to use a repetitive vocal that would get your attention and stick in your head.

Set the tone for us. Why the arts? 

Because I didn’t like school, I was good at dancing and that brought me to music. I didn’t think too much about it and I didn’t have a career plan, I just followed what I loved.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea? 

Neither, what comes first is my feeling. Then the idea. I am inspired by many different things, music and other.

Does your material feature any collaborations? 

Yes, lots of collaborations, because I am very social and I love meeting people. Collaborations create friendships, and you will always learn by working with other artists. Each one of us has a different way of working. My music has evolved thanks to these encounters and discoveries.

You’ve previously stated that collaborations are an opportunity to learn and share your passion with friends. Tell us about some of your favourite past collaborations?

Obviously one of my most famous tracks is ‘Orange Mistake’, which was a collaboration with Luciano. I’m very proud of it and it’s one of my best memories, we had so much fun doing this and we were not scared. Like deciding to start our own label, Cadenza, because nobody wanted to release that track.  Another collaboration I will not forget is working with Paris the Black Fu, we did an EP together. We had so many laughs, that guy could be an actor he’s so funny. He’s a brilliant artist, and also a kind and humble person. I would work with him any day! You know I’ve been happy with all my collaborations, I chose to work only with people I like and love to spend time with.

What’s on your current playlist? 

If you’re talking about DJing I don’t have a playlist, I go with what I feel. If it’s about listening, this is what I’ve been playing nonstop: “OKT4V”, the latest album of my mate Christophe Calpini, brilliant!

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage. 

That is very important, because you’re there to share a moment and to give something back. Fans give us a lot and that’s why you want to be there for them too. That’s why I love small venues where you’re more intimate with the crowd and you can have a direct connection.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound? 

I would not say that I have a particular technique. Over the years I’ve been trying out stuff and experimenting, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s experience. I can be in the studio for hours experimenting, trying to find new ideas and none of this will ever be released. But it’s by trying that I will find what I want.

Tell us about your experience with the Cadenza label? 

It was an incredible experience because we founded the label to release ‘Orange Mistake’, and that track just blew up the scene and we never planned for that. It was a learning experience in terms of the music business because nobody wanted to release our music so we created Cadenza, we were so confident. I learned that you can’t always listen to other people, especially the negative stuff, and the good thing about having your own label is that you take your own decisions. Then Luciano left for Berlin and I went my own way, we didn’t work together for years. But we’re close friends and we’ve already started working on some ideas, we just have to find the time to be together in the studio.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

I often start by listening to a lot of music, different stuff not just techno or electronic music. All types of music inspire me. I try out a lot of stuff and ideas. I have two friends who are my studio neighbors, so sometimes I take a break and go hang out with them. Then I get back on the page and keep working. I can work nonstop and finish a track in a day. Other times I stop after an hour if I don’t feel any inspiration, but over the years you build a work routine and that happens less.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”? 

When I started going to clubs as a teenager. First I was a dancer (jazz, breakdance) and then I figured out that was going to be very tough and I would rather be the guy in the DJ booth. I’ve always been comfortable in the creative world, with dance and music, I grew up with music.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set? 

A gin and tonic and a small towel to wipe myself because I get sweaty.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

In February I was at a beautiful party in Martinique, on the beach, where I played with a young French DJ called Djena. I found that his productions as well as his set were refined and groovy. I like that he has high expectations for himself, I think he’s one to follow.

What gets your creative juices flowing? 

Running

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression. 

I’m going to be honest, when I started with Access 58 I went gear crazy, but I got rid of everything over the years. Because I have more ideas when I have less gear, I feel a lot more productive and more focused on developing the ideas.

Any side projects you’re working on? 

Yes, my solo album.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry? 

First by spending a shitload of hours working, then learning by collaborating with others. In the past few years I’ve also made an effort to be more organized and to take care of business and paperwork. I hated that, but artists today need to know how to do that too.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year? 

Lots: an EP on AdMaiora with remixes by Cristi Cons and DeWalta, another EP on Diversions, a project with Rich NxT on Infuse, another collaboration with Mathew Jonson, and more.

On a personal note, we see you are also an avid runner, averaging around 60k’s a week. What are a few of your favourite running spots you’ve discovered while travelling? 

I love running in parks, and my top one is Central Park in New York. Over the past years I’ve gone quite a bit to Brazil and I love running in Ibirapuera Park in Sao Paulo. 

Famous last words?

Thanks for inviting me and for supporting my music!

Follow Quenum:

Facebook | Instagram | Soundcloud

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