Greek-born, Berlin based DJ and producer Quell joins us this Saturday for another edition of Lovehammer. Hot on the heels of the release of his debut album Them Crowd Kids on Ibandan Records, his laser basement set promises to be a journey through his expansive taste in techno, house and beyond. Ahead of the party, we caught up with Quell to find out more…
Name your top five tracks of all time?
This question is kinda impossible, so I will try to randomly pick some of my favourite ‘autumn songs’ off the top of my head, since autumn is just round the corner, that I was simply never able to get over. I guess that’s also the definition of “of all time”.
1. The Fall – Hotel Bloedel
2. And Also The Trees – The Sandstone Man
3. Van Morrison – Have I Told You Lately
4. Womack & Womack – Teardrops (12″ extended)
5. Joi – Cravin’ (Joe Claussell’s Deep House mix)
Lots of artists make the move from London to Berlin to give their career more freedom to grow- what benefits have you directly felt since moving?
Well it all boils down to two things; it’s dirt cheap here, especially compared to London, there is almost no pressure coming from the city itself in everyday life (also the mere 3.5 million people living here as opposed to London’s 8 million is also a very important factor) and therefore a lot of artists who don’t earn a decent living out of their art, manage to get by and survive here and at the same time work on their projects. For the exact same reason, and for those who are more focused and realised, artists are able to thrive here right now, especially in what we do i.e. dance production and DJ-ing of this sort.
For me personally, Berlin really helped me to grow as an artist. But I was also, and remain to this day, very determined as well. And furthermore, I have some wonderful people by my side supporting and living around/with me. To be honest, I find that once someone working in the arts gets something substantial going, London is the place to really blow up and take things to the next level. London (compared to Berlin) is a metropolis, way older and more ‘mature’ in terms of music industry etc. At the moment things are happening all over Berlin, for sure; there’s a sense of ambition and naivety in the air, which is great, and it seems like everyone’s moved here… but as far as the more “business” side of things goes, London is, was and will always be the epicentre in Europe.
Why does eclecticism work so well for you?
I must admit I feel a little iffy about the term “eclecticism”. People use it in very cavalier ways; they’re just throwing the term around. Someone is a house DJ and throws in a couple of disco and/or reggae records and everyone rushes to characterise them ‘diverse’ or ‘eclectic’. Try telling that to Gilles Peterson, Mr. Scruff, Andrew Weatherall etc.
Sadly “eclectic” has become a dirty word, almost, when it should be the norm I think. This is also partly why this mentality is embedded into my path in music. Because I really try hard to do my homework, I like to be very thorough and hopefully perceptive enough so that I can have good criteria to choose and diversify in music as both a fan and a professional DJ/Producer. You see people like the aforementioned Andrew Weatherall for example, who has, deeply and through sacrifice, dedicated his music legacy into acid house, techno, dub, ska, indie and punk/ post punk respectively. That’s just astonishing to me, heroic even.
Considering your diverse taste, what inspires you?
In any walk of life, style of music etc., what always inspired me and still does to this very moment is perseverance and a rare (these days) work ethic and discipline in music making. Leaving a decent legacy behind. It feels pretty much like most people are rushing: always in a hurry to put out material, DJ or perform as a band long before they’re really ready. You have to go through the motions, eat shit, then get up again and still keep at it year in and year out. If you’re worth your salt you will succeed. I don’t want to sound romantic or too certain, but so far in my life and in my career I’ve found this to be the case 99.9% of the time. Dance music especially, changes style every 3-4 years, so it’s of paramount importance to me to leave something behind as opposed to just releasing quickly forgotten about singles/EPs here and there.
If you could go back in a time machine to any dancefloor anywhere anywhen, where would you be setting the dial to?
Paradise Garage, Music Box, today’s Panorama Bar (if you were to ask me 30 years from now) obviously, Fabric at the turn of the century (around the NYE of 2000), Danielle Baldelli’s heroin-fuelled tribalistic disco nights down in Italy and possibly a lot of the Body & Soul parties.
You’ve just released your debut solo album Them Crowd Kids on Ibadan, what’s the title a reference to?
The title is stolen from a film. It was a line talking exactly about the kids waiting in the line to get in the club and dance, drink, flirt and indulge themselves in everything and anything a good club night has to offer. That, with a little romanticism/ daydreaming of what house music nights used to be like in the ’80s / ’90s and the way Ibadan Records songs and tracks have sounded in clubs throughout the world all these years (two decades almost now).
If you can pick one track, what track on the album are you most proud of, or is your favourite for whatever reason?
Hmmm, I honestly couldn’t pick one. I put a lot of myself in all these tracks, I’d rather divide the album into some sub-categories and pick some favorites, so as far as composition goes I’d say Man About Drown, Rossiya, Root Effect and Blind Opera, and as far as ‘dancefloor value’ goes The Regular, Some Time, Forgive Me and All I Have.
What can we expect from Quell at Lovehammer?
Expect the unexpected… just kidding! Well, I always feel some special kind of freedom when I play for English crowds all over the country, so I really let go with the music. I feel very comfortable so I can go pretty far. Energy, emotion and memorable moments are key elements I strive for every time I stand in a booth to play!
Join Quell this Saturday 31st August at Lovehammer from 9pm – 3am at Dalston Superstore.