Quadrakey is the talented DJ/Producer duo founded by Kero and Tanja. Their journey began when fate brought them together at a club during their student days. Their encounter forged a partnership that would shape their destinies.
Fueled by their collective love and vision for house music, Kero and Tanja also helm the renowned Tooman Records, which focuses on deep, gentle and charming house music. Tooman Records provides a platform for upcoming talents and well respected artists from all around the world. House music with a deep passion.
Quadrakey spoke to The DJ Cookbook about their latest EP Flowers 4 U, their favorite family recipes and their musical journey.
Q: What have you guys eaten today?
A: We visited our favorite Vietnamese restaurant today, a place we frequent weekly. Vietnamese cuisine always offers a delightful culinary adventure that never gets boring.
Q: Who does the food shopping, and where do you buy food from?
A: Most of the time, Kero does the grocery shopping, but only when he has a grocery list from Tanja. We usually obtain all the items from a regular grocery store in the neighborhood, but we rely on a local vegetable vendor conveniently located at the corner for fresh vegetables.
Q: What is your favorite meal of the day?
A: Our favorite meal may vary depending on the day or mood, but the most important aspect is sharing it. Fish and salads frequently make appearances in our meals.
Q: Who cooks most, and who cleans the kitchen after?
A: Tanja is in charge of cooking most of the time because whenever Kero cooks, we need to call a cleaning company afterwards.
Q: What do you enjoy cooking? Any favorite dish or recipe that you would like to share?
A: Our go-to meal consists of pan-seared salmon atop a bed of spinach, avocado, tomatoes, and red onions, all complemented by a lemon vinaigrette. It's a light, filling, quick dish, ready in 15 minutes.
Q: What kind of music do you listen to when cooking?
A: We need a positive vibe in the kitchen, often jamming to funk or house music while cooking.
Q: Do you ever find yourselves listening to the different sounds that cooking produces? Is there a particular sound that you like and a sound you don't like?
A: The sizzling sound of eggs, onions, or potatoes in the pan is one of our favorites in the kitchen. The squeaking noise from the microwave is the worst.
Q: Where are you from?
A: We were born in Russia. Kero is from Tula, a city approximately 200 km away from Moscow. Tanja comes from the northern part of the Komi Republic, above the Arctic Circle.
Q: What is your hometown's most famous dish, drink, dessert, vegetable, or fruit?
Tanja: Shangi is a term from the Komi language that means open round cake, typically filled with lingonberry, cheese, or potato, reindeer meat, fish pie, all kinds of berries, and mushrooms.
Kero: Tula Pryanik - baked goods made from honey dough with a jam filling and imprinted with different patterns. They have been made in Tula since the 17th century and are considered an art form.
Q: Favorite food memory from your childhood?
Kero: The memory of savoring fresh milk from a cow with cookies at my grandma's farm still deeply resonates within my soul.
Tanja: Grandma's fish pie and fried potatoes with chanterelles were terrific. Cloudberries are also my favorite.
Q: Have you lived in different cities or countries? If yes, what was the traditional food like?
A: We lived in Russia and moved to Germany in early 2000. Russian cuisine is very diverse, depending on the region, and influenced by many national cuisines and cultures within the territory. Traditional Russian dishes are Bliny (pancakes), Pelmeni (dumplings), Herring Salad "Herring Under a Fur Coat, "Okroshka (cold soup), sour soup Solyanka, and many more. Traditional German dishes are often rich and almost always include meat. Popular original dishes are Eintopf (one pot), Schnitzel, and Flammkuchen (something between a pizza and a flatbread).
Q: Let's talk about your musical journey now; how did music become a part of your life?
Kero: As a teenager, music became a form of self-expression and identification; I resonated deeply with each song and artist. As I grew older, I realized there were only two paths: diving deeper into the music world or remaining less engaged on the coast.
Tanja: As a child, I discovered my love for music and noticed how its beauty, harmony, and rhythm could impact my mood. I could spend hours listening or dancing to my favorite songs. Touching a record, placing it on the turntable, and experiencing the music come to life.
Q: What were your musical influences as children/teenagers?
A: Oh, that was a funny mix of Eurodance Hits, Technotronic, Grandmaster Flash, Michael Jackson, Run DMC, Nightcrawlers, and Robin S.
Q: Do you remember your first concert? Who was it, and what did you feel? Describe your emotions.
Kero: I can't remember the band, but there was so much excitement and a myriad of emotions. I enjoyed the atmosphere; it was like in a movie!
Tanja: I was a child, and my parents took me to a concert of diverse pop bands. The moment the lights went off, the music started, and the artist who appeared on stage was superb! But it was strange that people were sitting in chairs without space for dancing.
Q: Do you play an instrument? If yes, which one?
A: Tanja began playing the piano at the age of 7. She took the initiative to join her city's music school alone, which surprised her parents.
Q: When and how did you discover house music?
A: Mainly as teenagers, through the hits "Show Me Love" and "Luv 4 Luv" by Robin S, also Nightcrawlers' "Push The Feeling O" "and later in a night club, we discovered lots of incredible house tracks and fell in love forever.
Q: When did you start DJing?
A: Tanja started learning how to DJ in 2000 and got a residency in a local house club the same year, and Kero began two years later when he moved to Germany and got his first turntables.
Q: How extensive is your vinyl collection?
A: It is small but includes many house and deep house treasures from the 90s and early 2000s. In total, something around 2-2,5K.
Q: What is that one record that is dear to your heart to this day? (The record that has the most memories for you).
Kero: Laurent Garnier - The Man With the Red Face
Tanja: It is Planète Noire - Children Of The Ghetto (Original Version)
Q: As adults, can you describe your musical taste?
A: It isn't easy to describe, but it should be something in the track that captures. It touches me emotionally, makes me dance, and inspires me to share those feelings.
Q: When did you decide you wanted to dedicate your life to making music?
A: We never imagined or planned that our life would be dedicated to music. It happened naturally as music has accompanied us throughout our entire lives.
Q: How did you meet?
A: We met in a nightclub in Russia 1999 when we were both students. Coincidentally, we lived on the same student campus near that club.
Q: Was music a connection between you?
A: We became best friends when we discovered our love for the same music. Only later did we both realize there was something even more profound than friendship between us.
Q: When did you begin producing music together?
A: In 2007, we began playing together, and approximately a year later, we tried to produce our first tracks.
Q: How is the musical dynamic between the two of you? Who does what when producing?
A: We do it together, but Tanja contributes more to the production process. She is responsible for melodies and harmonies and plays the keys in our tracks.
Q: How did the idea and name for your record label, Tooman, come about?
A: The name "Tooman" means fog in Russian. We decided on this name due to our shared fascination with clouds that seem to touch the ground.
Q: Tell us about some of the artists releasing on Tooman.
A: We have enjoyed releasing EPs from incredible artists on Tooman. Manuel Sahagun from Argentina, who has been making house music for over 20 years and is known for his distinct sound, and the talented Monosoul with his timeless Early Bird EP, was among the first artists we featured. KaySoul from Johannesburg, a great house producer influenced by the legendary Larry Heard, and Henrik Villard from Norway graced us with his warm, deep, and beautiful Someday EP, and we can't forget the brilliant Witchcraft EP by Swiss artist Replika, which remains one of our favorites.
Q: What goes into choosing a release, the sound, the concept, or the relationship with the artist?
A: When it comes to artists, we prioritize a combination of talent, strong personality, and also originality. The name is of little importance compared to these qualities.
Q: Let's talk about the visual aesthetic of your releases. For the first ten releases, nature and animals in black and white were a running theme; now, you've taken a new art direction featuring people in color.
A: Initially, we believed the visuals should reflect the label name, as Tooman (fog) is associated with greyness and gloom. Additionally, using 1c labels was a cost-effective choice for pressing records. However, we soon realized that house music, like life itself, encompasses a broad spectrum of colors beyond simple black and white. As a result, we began collaborating with the talented collage artist Niels Kalk, whose incredible artwork now graces the A-Sides of our releases.
Q: This brings us to your upcoming release Flowers 4 You. Is the cover art a representation of your musical relationship? Tell us about the concept behind it. The EP cover is lovely.
A: Thank you! It's remarkable how perfectly the collage aligns with the EP and represents our relationship. The moment we laid eyes on it, we were 100% sure it would be the perfect fit.
Q: When did you begin working on Flowers 4 You ?
A: Each track on the EP was created during different periods and in various emotional states. "2 Reasons" was made in 2020, "Moreless" in 2021, and both "Overnight" and "Flowers 4 You" in 2022. We never produce tracks for a particular EP; we bring them together later. "Moreless" reflects a challenging period filled with numerous ups and downs.
Q: If you were having a dinner party and were serving four courses, which song from your new record would you pair with each dish? What would you serve, and what kind of meal would it be?
A: It would definitely be a bbq dinner. We'd begin with grilled summer veggies accompanied by "Flowers 4 You." Next, we'd savor grilled shrimp with Chimichurri sauce, complemented by "Overnight." After that, we'd move to Chili-Rubbed Grilled Ribs paired with "Moreless" and, at the end, "2 Reasons," a glass of wine, enjoying the beautiful sunset.
Q: Last but not least, what does house music taste like?
A: Like a cheesecake with a crispy base, smooth and creamy filling, and a fresh strawberry or cherry on top.
Q: Quadrakey, thank you so much for being a part of The DJ Cookbook!
A: It was our pleasure. Thank you for the interesting questions!
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Listen to Flowers 4 U