Tea at the Zoo

# 014 | Qu-Zen

It’s Thursday February 12, 2015 – this is the 14th TEA at the ZOO, after Europe and South America we’re yet discovering another continent, Australia. W/ Qu-Zen from .zenroom | Sydney, we got a real lady on techno-fire. So open your ears and hark to what she plays and has to say:

Where are you from? Sydney, Australia

Where are you living most of your time? Currently living in Sydney. I’ll be relocating to Berlin in September this year.

How old are you? 29 years young.

When and why did you start DJing? I started DJing in clubs in 2010. There was never a significant moment when the decision was made, it happened organically. I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t drawn to music and the dance floor has always felt like a second home to me.

Which equipment/set up is your favourite and why? 1 DJM700, 3 CDJ 850s. I find using 3 CDJs more challenging and layering/mashing tracks is just way more fun. All my podcasts are recorded using this set up as I really enjoy mixing and wouldn’t record any other way. With production I use Ableton Live with a Roland Aira TR-8 and Akai APC mini controller.

How would you describe your music? I love all styles of Techno and I always try to add a little bit of everything into my sets – that being the more delicate and intricate sound where you can just smile and let your mind drift, the funky stuff that gets you dancing, some acid thrown in for good measure, the deep and dubby groove you can bop to, as well as all things gritty and industrial where all you can really do is move side to side and stand there with your head in your hands because it’s so good it’s melting your mind and you don’t know what else to do [hahaha]. I pretty much go by my current mood and how I’m feeling, music is my therapy.

 Who are your idols? Speedy J. I was lucky enough to support Speedy J at Chinese Laundry and it was a very memorable night. He just makes me dance to the point where I never want to stop. One of my all-time favourite sets is one by Zeitgeber for 7 hours at Trouw and it’s quite a beautiful journey. Floating ambience at the beginning, not knowing what was going to happen next and casually growing and piecing together a place in my mind, I like that about music and I love that about Techno…the way it draws you in. I really admire Dave Clarke’s technical skills behind the decks, he’s always doing something to keep things interesting and the crowd never gets bored. A little flick here and there, and cut in and out of that, then tweak and tweak and TWEAK…….then BOOM! *crowd goes nuts*

 Where do you get your inspiration? Inspiration is in everything. My creative process is natural and not something that can be forced, I wait for it to come to me. I always have something playing in my life which helps keep the process flowing whether it be techno, dub techno, drum & bass, rock or classical. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of African tribal drumming, I have this growing obsession with percussion rhythms and I love the way it can faintly build intensity in your mind and make you move. Dino Sabatini’s work is always inspirational to me, listening to it originally was what sent me down the path of production. I taught myself how to DJ by watching others and I still do this today. Watching DJs connect with music, watching how they use the mixer, when they use their headphones and try to keep up with what they’re doing, how they move, how they react – all of this excites me and inspires me. Kate Doherty who’s a Sydney local is always a joy to watch, she has this infections energy and it helps me to being a little more animated and playful at my own gigs. Andrew Wowk is one of the most creative and smooth DJs I’ve ever seen and watching what he does makes me want to go home and try the same. Environment is so important to me for inspiration as well and this is what’s encouraged me to move to Berlin. My time spent there previously was so powerful and I’m looking forward to making the permanent move there in September.

What was the first vinyl you bought? I actually purchased a random milk crate of vinyl and remember there was a lot of Carl Cox.

What was the last vinyl you bought? The Beatles – Abbey Road

 Do you have any residencies? I’m a resident at .darkroom which is run by Gav Whalan. Our focus is on local DJs and the hardest techno in town. .darkroom is like my home and playing there surrounded by so many friends and Sydney’s biggest Techno heads is always ridiculous amounts of fun, and I never hold back!

Where was your first gig? My first gig was in 2010 at a long running party called Plastic. The promoter went berserk with the decorations and it set the atmosphere perfectly, I remember the DJ booth was surrounded by tin foil madness and I felt like I was operating a giant machine of some kind. It was loads of fun and I just didn’t want to stop playing.

Where did like it the most to DJ and why? Tresor in Berlin. The atmosphere was intense, the place was red, red and RED! I got to play alongside Damon Wild and 88UW which was very special. The dance floor was jam packed and I’ve never felt so much energy in one room before, it was a little overwhelming and my favourite gig so far. It was truly an honour playing down in the vault. That room holds many stories and so much history that even just being there was so influential. I was lucky enough to play in Globus as well for Electric Monday and that gig was just as momentous. The crowd’s response to my set kept me smiling from ear to ear for days after and that sound system is simply amazing!

What was the funniest/craziest thing that happened on a gig? I seem be a magnet for cutting the power or blowing a speaker in nightclubs and it’s happened on a few occasions (must be the techno [hahaha]) I remember one night at .darkroom the fire alarm set off during my set and when I took my headphones off I thought the alarm was part of the track because they sat quite well together, and I thought “oh, I didn’t know the track did that, sounds cool” and then just kept playing.

Upcoming gigs? In February I’m actually playing my first Drum & Bass gig at Afterlife which should be heaps of fun! I also have some international support gigs coming up that I cannot reveal as yet…stay tuned!

 Are there any upcoming releases or recently released stuff? I put some of my music up on my SoundCloud for free so download away if you enjoy. I also have a monthly Podcast series on Fnoob Techno Radio called .zenroom, these also get uploaded onto my SoundCloud for your listening pleasure.

What are you plans for the future? As I mentioned earlier, I’m making the big move to Berlin in September this year. With a little luck I hope to play through Europe and take advantage of the fact I’m not 21 hours away from everything here in Australia. This is also a great time to dive even deeper into production. I’m going with an open mind, open heart, lots of Techno and that could lead me anywhere.

What is your favourite animal? Black Panther.

Try to catch Qu-Zen playing one of her forward pressing sets, it was a pleaser doing the interview with her and listening to her set. So don’t forget to say hello from us!

– Larry

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