A journey through the years: behind the scene with the unstoppable Quenum
- Published on Thursday, 22 August 2019 15:06
Quenum is surely one of the longevous acts in the electronic scene. His first steps as a DJ could be dated in the 80s and since then he has been an unstoppable train in continuous movement, taking part as a co-founder to the legendary Cadenza and giving life to the AZIMUTE project alongside Cesare vs Disorder and co-owning with him, since 2016, the prestigious Serialism label.
Your first track is dated in 2003… I was only 7 years old! How do you feel about having such a long and prolific career compared to the new generations and how do you see the evolution (from the parties to the music prod) of the whole electronic movement?
That's so funny! Actually, I was already DJing professionally in the 1980s. You know I never had a career plan, I just started DJing because I went a lot to clubs, I was a dancer and it was natural for me to be in music. I never thought this would last one year or 20 years, I just go day by day because I love it so much. In this new generation, there's a lot of good stuff and with social media and the Internet you can find out about it, everything is so much easier to access. But the problem is that there's a lot of hype and fashion and people who are in this business for the look, for looking cool on Instagram but they have no depth. That doesn't take away from all the young generation dudes who are doing very good stuff, better than ever. I don't know where we're going really, there are so many people doing electronic music, it's so easy with the evolution of technology. Today we work much faster, at the same time we have so many new things to manage.
The 1993 track is was talking about is also actually the first EP on yours and Luciano’s Cadenza and we know you have such a good relationship with him. Did you expect at that time the success that the label would have had and the importance that Cadenza had (and still has) for all the house lovers around the world? We can still talk about a “Cadenza-ish" style so I think that it really set the standards.
Actually, the tracks I was doing in the 90s were my own tracks, as part of a project called Access 58. Luciano and I met in Geneva in 2001, and we started working together in the studio. "Orange Mistake" came out in 2003. It's one of those classic crazy music stories. Luciano and I contacted many labels to release the track but nobody wanted it, and we got impatient. So we were hanging out one day together, with his sister Amelie, and the three of us said why don't we start our own label and then we don't have to deal with this nonsense. Hahaha. So we started Cadenza and our first release was Orange Mistake, and the rest is history. Of course, we had no idea what we had started. We both love music and love working together. It's been a while, but there is a surprise coming soon.
"Orange Mistake" is actually #3 in your Beatport chart! It seems that people still love your roots! How do you feel about that?
I'm super proud of this track, it's incredible for an artist to have this happen, to have your creation receive so much love and attention. I love what we did, I think the date doesn't matter, as much as the quality.
Will we have the chance to see you again on Cadenza?
Actually, I released an EP on Cadenza in 2016, called Solitaire. It felt really good to be back on the label. For the moment I have no plans for releases on Cadenza.
You have reduced your music output during the last years, on how it depends on this? Did you focus more on other stuff?
Yes, my style of working has changed a little bit. Before I spent so much time in the studio, I was also super open to doing remixes and collaborations with many people. Then I realised I better take care of business too, today there are so many things you have to do with social media, meeting people etc. Also, I've pushed myself in a musical sense, trying to learn new things and explore new ways. So, for example, I've done a solo album, I've worked in the studio on an album with a group of musicians, including some very talented jazz musicians, I've worked on the score for a television series. Of course, all those experiments take time away from the studio, but it makes me very happy because it enables me to grow as an artist.
How’s your relationship with Switzerland? Talking about your country, I only know Caprices Festival, Breakfast Club and Luciano, but it would be sick if you want to introduce me and our readers into more Swiss parties and DJs.
I moved to Switzerland around 1988, I was already working as a DJ (lol). Since then I've moved around, lived a long time in London, then again back in Switzerland. I'm there quite often and it's where I keep my studio. I love being there, I have good friends. For sure there are lots of talented people. Check out Stade, it's an electronic music project with my good friends Pierre Audetat and Christophe Calpini, both music geniuses. The Attias brothers and their label Visions Recordings, great stuff. Also DJs like Dachsund, Ripperton, Laolu, Garance and Reas, all in different styles and so good.
You’ve also started a project with Italian Cesare vs Disorder. How did you guys meet and how did you start the project, despite having already a nice image as a solo artist.
We met because I was in Berlin in a recording studio with my friend Sierra Sam and Cesare was there. I was talking about releasing my solo album and was not sure which label to approach. Cesare listened right there in the studio and loved it and he gave me such attention and freedom as a label boss, I thought immediately I want to be there. And then we hit it off and became good friends. We decided to start collaborating and that's how our project Azimute was born. We went on tour all over the world, especially in Asia and Australia. That brought us very close. Both our families love each other, and we're always looking for new ways to extend our work. So now we are organizing parties in Sao Paulo and London.
The Cristi Cons for AZIMUTE's "The Secret" on Cocoon was one of the highlights from last year. Any anticipation for the future?
For sure, I love what Cristi Cons did with the track. And also we had great support from Cocoon, always love working with them. So thanks for that! Azimute keeps ongoing 100% and we're currently working on new music. We play together at the Serialism parties we do in Brazil and the UK. Right now we're focusing on work we did for our album, trying to finish it.
Personally, I really like the project of Serialism: from the music to the artwork and the whole idea behind the project. I see you guys are doing a lot of parties in Brasil. How’s the scene/movement in there?
The scene in Brazil is captivating. It's a young scene, so it reminds me of the energy in New York and London years ago. There are great parties, in unusual places. You can still find places like old industrial or warehouse buildings that you can take over to do a party. It's more free. The youth there is very energetic, it's a young population, very cool. I love it. We're very lucky that Fernanda, the wife of my partner Cesare, is a talented graphic artist, filmmaker, designer. Incredible. So she's done all our posters, flyers, promos, album covers, videos. We're just so spoiled to have the best artist in-house (lol).
We know that you're such a healthy person (and I love to run too). Can you tell us more about your hobbies and interests?
Yes, for sure! Apart from music I'm really into sports, especially running. More than an interest, it's my survival, my balance, my happiness. I'm totally addicted to running. And I love food too... so I better continue running!!!!
Words by Francesco Quieti