Photo credit: Goswin
A lover of music in all its forms, QUENUM has an established 30-year career and has gained the respect of techno pioneers as well as the following of the younger generation. Cadenza and Access 58 co-founder is also a classic DJ whose primary concern is to bring the dancefloor alive and ensure everyone leaves the club happy and fulfilled. His love for the groove was nurtured in his music-filled Afro-Caribbean home. When the hip-hop wave first arrived in France, he went crazy for it and became one of the country’s most skilled break-dancers.
We caught up with Quenum to talk about his latest music projects, new release ‘We Are Together’, and life during the quarantine.
Electronic Groove: Hey Quenum, hope you are well and safe. Where are you right now and how you have spent the quarantine days?
Quenum: Yeah I’m good, hope you too. I’m in London with my family. Self-isolation means I spend a lot of time working on new music, no distractions. I also run a lot and thankfully we can still do that in London.
EG: Congratulations for your latest release ‘We Are Together’ on Davide Squillace’s label This and That. Can you explain what’s the EP name meaning and the inspiration to produce it?
Quenum: That’s how I felt making this EP. I’m a super-social guy and that’s one of the perks of being a DJ, is meeting new and cool people. I gave the EP that name before this whole crisis started, and now we see togetherness and solidarity are more important than ever.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly one thing as my inspiration. It’s decades of listening to great music, all kinds of music, and working in music. And always remaining open to discovering new beautiful sounds.
EG: What was the process to get this release signed on his label? Also, you invited your son Zac Quenum to be part of one of the tracks, how this idea came to reality?
Quenum: I’m always open to new sounds. And it’s great being surrounded by young people, they show you a lot of new and great stuff! My son has been doing tunes since he was a teenager. He just released an album a few weeks ago, check it out here. I’m super proud of him, he taught himself the piano in 2 years and is now going to go to a conservatory to study classical composition. He’s way ahead of me!
Davide and I reconnected a few months ago at a party in London and hit it off. I told him I was working in my studio and he said to send him some tracks. He liked all of them and released this EP super quickly. It’s great to have this kind of support, everybody at This And That has been super-organized and friendly, I can’t thank him enough.
EG: What can we expect from Quenum in 2020?
Quenum: I’ve had the best time these past few months working with producers who are not only at the top of their game, but also my good friends. I was in Berlin in February working with Mathew Jonson in his studio, he has such an impressive collection of machines, and he knows how to work them! He’s a real virtuoso, on top of it we had the best time together.
I also worked with Luciano in his studio in Switzerland, another mad collector of equipment, it’s still a work in progress. With Rich NxT it’s a bit easier as we both live in London. Very cool to be working with Rich! Also coming out in the next months:
· One EP on AdMaiora (on vinyl) with remixes by Cristi Cons and DeWalta.
· Remix of Mathew Jonson’s ‘Decompression’ track, on Freedom Engine
· EP on Damian Lazarus’s label Rebellion (planned for June)
EG: Are you also working on an album and can you share more details about that? When are you planning this material to be out?
Quenum: Yes, I’m working on my solo album right now. It’s still electronic music, but not as much oriented for the techno dancefloor. I want to explore different sounds, different possibilities with musicians and vocalists. The release is planned to be out in 2021.
EG: You are the co-founder of two different labels, Cadenza and Access58, what would you say is the difference between both imprints?
Quenum: Access58 was my first label with my partner Paulo Nascimento. We were in our twenties and it was a different time too, we were so naïve. It was a learning experience, we had no business plan, didn’t calculate anything, just went with our emotions. Still made some mad tracks!
Cadenza also started in a crazy way. Luciano and I founded the label because nobody wanted to release ‘Orange Mistake’. We just wanted our music to be out there and we loved it. Anyway, we were proven right because tons of people loved it too! So producers out there, do what you feel is right and good. The great thing about meeting Luciano is that we made beautiful music together and we’re still mates 19 years later!
EG: Can you mention some of the challenges label owners could face on their management
Quenum: I think it’s becoming more and more complicated. When I started Access58 there was the usual stuff with contracts, money, quality of music, etc. Now you have to add social media and tons of other stuff. It’s too much for one person, especially if you’re producing music and DJing. So my best tip is to find good people. Surround yourself with honest, smart people who can help you go forward. I’m lucky I have a great team with Tribes Agency.
EG: Moving back into the uncertainty of the current situation with COVID-19, the music industry could face some tough times, more specifically clubs and events. Do you forsee a new direction of the business side of it?
Quenum: Listen I don’t have a crystal ball. All I can say is that getting all your money from gigs is bad when there are no gigs. Our industry went that way, not paying artists for the music they made and that’s not good, as we can see today.
“Surround yourself with honest, smart people who can
help you go forward”
EG: Is this time giving you more time to reflect and do other stuff aside from music, or are you more driven into producing music?
Quenum: I do spend time thinking about where we’re going. Hopefully, we can get rid of some of the bad things, like egos and super-individuality. Our current situation is a good opportunity to rethink our world and shift our priorities, to maybe find a way that’s good for a lot of people, not just a few.
EG: Can you name 3 tracks that have marked the last 5 years of your musical career?
- Four Tet, Jamie xx (Lion) remix / Text records
- Flight Facilities by Two Bodies feat. Emma Louise (Robag Wruhme’s Endara Wassby Remix) / Future Classic records
- Stimming, Tanz Fuer Dreioriginal Mix T / Dynamic records.
Quenum’s ‘We Are Together’ is now available via This and That. Grab your copy here.