101 with Quarion

Quarion first emerged in 2006 with the spellbinding debut Karasu EP, which became the secret card up the sleeve of house heavyweights like Âme and Dixon. A solid reputation as a deep-digging selector has followed Quarion since the very beginning and taken his DJ sets to many corners of the globe. He held a long-term DJ residency at beloved Berlin nightspot Tape Club while running the tiny but mighty Retreat parties in a small basement club in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district.

DJing and touring occupied his nights, as bookings at About Blank (Berlin), Rex (Paris) and Womb (Tokyo) followed, alongside tours of USA, Australia, and New Zealand. You can catch Quarion regularly in venues such as Panorama Bar (Berlin), Concrete (Paris), and Zukunft (Zurich), where he takes the stage for a passionate DJ set or one of his hardware-only live performances. 

What was the funniest / most bizarre request you’ve ever had while playing?

I’ve definitely had my share of funny, weird, or even sad requests but I somehow remember this one particularly: it was at the turn of the millennium when mobile phones were still a novelty and I was playing in a small club in Geneva. At some point during the night, a guy in a suit walks up to the booth, tells me that he has lost his mobile phone, and wants to use my microphone to ask the crowd if someone found his phone.

I told him that a) I didn’t have a mic and b) there was no way I would let him hi-jack my set so that he could ask the crowd about this phone. Of course, he insisted and came back at least twice after I initially send him off, each time a bit more drunk and less coherent!

Can you describe your studio setup for us? 

I like to switch my set-up once in a while and at the moment, I use the Elektron Octatrack alongside the Akai MPC3000 as the main hubs for connecting my synths (Roland Juno 6 & SH 101, Moog Minitaur) and FX (Strymon Big Sky & Timeline). It’s a more hands-on approach where you need to trust your ears more than your eyes and this method suits me quite well right now. Because I spend so much time on the screen during the day, I try not to use the computer when making music and I employ Ableton Live more like a multi-track recorder than a proper DAW.

Could you tell us the story about your first gig? 

My first public gig was for a Hip-Hop event in 1996 with two live groups and two other DJs. I remembered that I practiced a lot for this night and also that I prepared a little “history lesson” with a selection spanning 2 decades of Hip-Hop. 3 records into my set and a guy walks up to the booth to tell me that he also respects the old school but that he came to party and hear the latest hits hahaha!

I also had to bring my own mixer and someone managed to steal it after my gig while they were clearing out the stage! I was, of course, furious and very sad but thankfully, the promoters managed to get some funds from their insurance and I was able to buy a new mixer a few weeks after the gig.

Name three artists that currently inspire you. 

The Alchemist, ASC, and my friend Ripperton.

Recall the worst experience of ‘killing the vibe’ in the club. 

It’s a weird thing because sometimes you know deep down that you’re not playing well but the crowd is still feeling it while other times you’re building an amazing set but the people seem to not care at all. I’m no stranger to clearing a dancefloor and I think one of the most interesting situations was a gig at the Dachkantine, an exceptional club in Zürich from the early 2000s.

I’ve already DJed there a few times and on that particular night, I played a very deep and melancholic set with many Detroit Techno tracks. I absolutely cleared the floor in about 15 minutes except for a handful of dancers including the promoter. I didn’t even try to win back the rest of the crowd and (stubbornly) stayed in this deep and melancholic vibe for the whole set because the very few people on the floor were enjoying it so much! This must-have left quite an impression on the promoter because he kept on inviting me to perform at the Dachkantine after that.

What do you do before and after your set?

I really enjoy coming to the club an hour before my set so that I can get a good feeling of the environment and the general vibe of the night. I also like to hang out after I’ve finished playing but I usually don’t stay very long. I can feel quite tired physically (and mentally) after DJing so I’d rather just go home instead of hanging around.

I otherwise don’t have a “routine” before and after a gig but I make sure that I take enough time to prepare my set, eat dinner, and have a relaxed evening with my family so that I don’t arrive stressed out for the gig.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

I don’t remember how that came about but for a few weeks when I was 20/21, I was helping out a section of the justice department in Geneva and had to sort out papers for judges and lawyers. I worked in a small, windowless room and I was just surrounded by folders and files, doing an extremely boring job. The only motivation for it was that I would be able to buy an MPC 2000 with the job salary and that really kept me from quitting!

What are your favourite labels at the moment? 

I would say ALC records (The Alchemist’s label), ESP Institute, Phonica, and Madlib Invazion.

Imagine a cold winter, a fireplace, and two glasses of wine—what song would you play? 

That’s just too difficult to answer and actually, I don’t like to fantasize about a situation while already planning the music for it in my mind. I usually prefer it the other way around: I take part in the situation and whatever soundtrack is played during that situation will always remind me of it later on.

Last but not least. What's the best advice you've ever received?

I’m afraid this one is also too difficult for me to answer! I’m just very grateful and thankful to have met so many people who shared their knowledge with me when our paths crossed (be it for only an hour or for decades) and inspired me to readjust my journey.

By Saša, edited on 20 February 2021