A chat with Laura BCR
Berlin music lovers might recognise Laura BCR from Bass Cadet Records, a vinyl outlet and clothing shop on Neukölln’s Weserstrasse which she ran with friends until late 2016. The shop’s closure sparked a relocation for the now Barcelona-based DJ, though she still retains a close connection – musically and personally – with her former home base.
As she prepares for another move, this time back to her native France after the coming summer, we caught up with Laura about her many creative projects, from running the booking agency and record label On Board Music to organising club nights at venues around Europe.
Your DJ sets are versatile and vinyl-only, spanning techno, house and electro. What can we expect from your upcoming set for the Patterns of Perception Two Years party?
I’m trying to build something different every time. It takes me lot of time to prepare a DJ set. It’s important for me to create a story. That’s also what I’m trying to do with the records on the label because playing records to play records doesn’t really interest me. I love assembling things. And of course that really depends on how my mood will be. So it might be something really trippy. It would be cool to get a smoke machine though!
Take us back a little bit – how did you first discover electronic music and get into DJing yourself?
I discovered electronic music super young. My sister, who is 12 years older than me, has always been into music. She travelled a lot and would bring some treasures from abroad. Also, I starting going very young to free parties in the south of France and I bought my first turntables super young too, though I was not really mixing, just collecting. It took me a while to really start. Then I met my best friend Etienne and we started to organise parties and playing. I would say it’s only five years I’m really mixing more often. It was difficult for me to step up and start to play in front of people. I’ve always been surrounded by really good DJs so it’s not always easy to say, ‘okay I can do it, this is not such a big deal, just do your thing and play what you like, everything is gonna be fine’.
You’re playing at parties around Europe, organising your own club nights, and running the booking agency On Board and associated label On Board Music. Do you consider yourself a DJ, label boss or producer above all else? How do the different aspects of your career complement each other?
Yeah this is a lot! I’ve always worked in music. First as a production manager then store co-owner then booking agent. DJing is a passion. Same as (collecting) records. Managing all this together and playing I would say is an accident motivated by passion. I’ve always been hyperactive since I was really young.
For your label On Board Music, you’ve said that you’re not interested in releasing club music. What releases would you most recommend for a lazy Sunday spent at home?
I listen to a lot of different stuff, from jazz to ambient, also rock to folk. My boyfriend is from Argentina so we also used to listen to a lot of folk music from South America. Violeta Parra is a must, in terms of ambient all classics from Warp, Autechre, Alva Noto, Susumo Yokota. I heard Acid Mt Fuji would be re-edited soon thanks to Midgar – that’s great news. Of course Aphex when I need to be mellow, Paolo Conte, Lucio Battisti. Everything from Tom Waits and Dr John, I’m a super big fan since always. Lots of Miles Davis. Mixed stuff coming from Honest Jons and Macadam Mambo like the latest Abschaum LP too. Jan Jelinek. I also love some records from Music From Memory, especially Gaussian Curve. Also the series from Anthony Child recording in the jungle and obviously the beautiful K or The Loud Silence from Donato Dozzy and his work with Cio d’Or. My favourite mix so far is the Phunkast with Donato Dozzy and Nuel. I listen to it at least once a month. All the mixes from my talented friend F-On, probably one the best guys out there.
You have a long history with Berlin, having been part of the team running the now-closed Bass Cadet Records store in Neukölln. Was it a difficult decision to leave the city for Barcelona?
First of all, I stayed three months in Lisbon, which didn’t really work out, then we tried Barcelona. It was difficult to leave my friends, the Vietnamese food (for those who know) and also Berlin’s vibes. I was kind of stuck in my head when the store stopped. I needed to go forward. The last moments were super difficult. We lost so much but well, it was also a great experience and we only think about the positive we got out of it. In the meantime, we were happy to open a new page and face some new adventures. My best friend Etienne is now a father and is travelling. Same for me: I lived in several countries, discovered new horizons and met cool peeps. I met a lot of people in Berlin and to me this is unforgettable. I’m so happy every time I’m coming back. This city will always be my second home.
We’d love to hear more about the scene in Barcelona. How do you find the city compares to Berlin in terms of the type of music you hear played out or the general attitude people have towards partying? Which parties or clubs are really on your radar at the moment?
This is completely different. I’ve had some cool and bad experiences here. I saw Arpanet in front of 20 people and half of them didn’t give a shit about what he was doing. This experience hurt me; you would say it happens but honestly I was shocked. But well, I really enjoyed to play at Moog which is for me the best club here. I’ve met a lot of cool and really passionate people: Bruce Lee, owner of Rhythm Control; David and Ruben from Lostracks; or Gerard from Discos Paradiso. There are good record stores in town, too. People are also making good stuff over here and they are super edgy. To be honest, I didn’t really go out anymore, mostly at Moog to see people I know playing. And of course at Paral-lel Festival where everyone should at least go once. Best experience ever.
I’m leaving Barcelona after the summer to go back to France. I choose to go back to my roots in a smaller city, Nantes, and I’m super happy about the move. I’m getting old and I need peace.
You’re running regular parties at Razzmatazz in Barcelona, plus some parties in Berlin and Paris. What do you look for in your lineups? Do you approach the lineups differently depending on the city?
It’s definitely influenced by the city, and also the budget and the crowd. In Berlin, as a promoter, you have the freedom to book edgy music and smaller, talented artists. You always have to find a good balance between headliners and artists who are a bit less known. It’s cool when people can discover a new DJ. We are now starting to do a couple of nights with ://about blank – I’m super happy about that. Our next one will be in July and that’s a collaboration with Paral-lel Festival. In Paris, I enjoy doing stuff at La Rotonde, even if that’s not a proper club I would say but it’s cosy and always full. It’s not a techno club but you can play what you want honestly. For the next one, we are inviting Luz from Room 4 Resistance and Portuguese talent Caroline Lethô. Will be a good one.
Lastly, which records have you had on constant rotation lately and why?
The latest news, I’ve really enjoyed these last weeks: Jacopo does an incredible work with Midgar – the 2 Eps with Wata Igarashi are pure gold. Also I just heard the new Tikita from Neel & natural/electronic.system – I’m going to play each track for sure. And of course, everything from Alexis Perälä – can’t get enough of this guy. The latest Spazio Disponibile with Crossing Avenue and Acronym on Semantica. VC-118A on Frustrated Funk is really cool, too. I also really loved Answer Code Request’s latest LP, it’s really strong and emotional. And Kilchhofer’s LP The Book Room for some tribal beats – really cool.
All photos taken by Irwin Barbé.