With more than three decades of experience under his belt, Quenum has cemented his reputation as an esteemed talent in the electronic music sphere. Cutting his teeth alongside Paulo Nascimento under their Access 58 alias in the late nineties, it was in 2001 that the Swiss-based talent teamed up with Luciano to produce the iconic Orange Mistake. This resulted in the pair forming Cadenza, a label that continues to release to this day. Fast-forward to now and Quenum has continued to delight fans the world over, with productions landing on Sven Vath’s Cocoon and Pan Pot’s Second State in recent years. DMCWORLD checks in with the main man as he releases his brand new single ‘Little Secret’…
Hi Philippe, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. How are you and where are you based at the moment?
I’m in Geneva right now. I have my studio here, and since I’ve been mostly working on music the past year that’s where I am. On top of it it’s a really nice livable city, small, surrounded by nature, with a beautiful lake where you can go running and walking, super nice.
It’s a strange time to be alive with everything going on in the world. How have you found the past year and how have you been spending your time?
To be honest after all gigs were cancelled last year I had a bit of a down moment, and then I thought I can’t let myself get depressed, so I got into working on my music, making EPs and an album. You know making music was a way to avoid feeling depressed, and actually self-expression is meant to be helpful for your mental health. Everything stopped so suddenly, that now looking back I think I made the right decision. I’ve been releasing a lot of music these past months, and that’s because I was working hard all of last year.
You have a new release on Crosstown Rebels off-shoot label Rebellion called Little Secret. Can you tell us more about the release.. how it was created and what was the inspiration behind it?
To be honest I can’t really talk about inspiration. This happened during the first lockdown in London last Spring, I was working on music, researching sounds and that’s how I got started – it was my exploration into sounds. I started working on it in London, but I only had my computer there, so I finished the project when I got back to my studio in Geneva last summer.
Yulia Niko is also on the release to provide a remix. How did this come about?
Having Yulia do the remix was Damian’s idea. I had heard her name but didn’t know her work that well. I trust Damian, he said she would be great artist to do the remix, so I was totally into the idea. It’s always interesting to see what another artist does with your work, that’s always exciting and I’m super happy with what she has done.
You have had previous releases on Rebellion over the past few years. Do you have a good relationship with Damian Lazarus and do you create tracks specifically with the label in mind?
Hahahahaha what do you think? Of course I have a great relationship with Damian Lazarus, going back many years. First of all, I like his labels and I think it’s a good home for my music. On top of that him and his team are super professional. If I send him a track he will get back to me quickly and when he decides to release it it’s super fast. I really like his enthusiasm and his support for my music, that’s kind of special.
It would be great to get an insight into your studio set up, could you tell us a bit about your favourite pieces of kit?
My favorite piece of gear is my mixer, a Midas Venice F16. I find it gives my tracks a lot of warmth, I use it for maybe 90% of my production. Can never let it go. And you know what? Compared to other similar mixers it does a lot for less money.
Outside of music we hear you like to keep fit. Do you do this just for physical fitness or do you find it helps mentally also?
Well it’s mostly for my mental health. At the same time I have to keep looking good, because there’s a lot of competition from young good looking DJs! I think it’s so important to have some kind of physical activity, whatever it is you like doing, to feel good especially now that it’s such a difficult moment. It’s helping a lot of people not feeling too depressed.
You have such an impressive career that spans over 30 years. You must have some amazing stories to tell. Can you tell us any memory or memories that stand out?
I’ll tell you a funny one from my days in London with Access 58. My partner Paulo and I were told by a promoter that we got a booking to play at Ministry of Sound. Wow that was huge, we were so excited. You have to remember in the early 90s this was a top venue. So we get there, and we go to the main room and we wait and wait and we’re a bit surprised because the DJs are all drum and bass. Then we go to the second room, but we’re still not on the lineup. Finally, we figured out we were in the third room, all the way in the back, empty.
I’ll give you also one of my best experiences ever. I organised for Robert Hood to play at The End in London sometime mid-90s. So my wife and I pick up him and his wife from the airport and we end up spending time together, having meals and hanging out. On the night of the event he played this incredible set, with his wife singing live, which was a total surprise, it was magic.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. One last thing, can you let us know one track that you will be playing in your next gig when parties are back up and running properly?
I’ll be playing We Are Together, my last release on This and That, because I’ll be so happy for all of us to be together again! Thanks for having me on DMC World!