Photo: Marie Staggat (Laura BCR)
Laura BCR is one of those people that form the backbone of the Berlin scene. Whether it was co-running the Bass Cadet record store in the mid-2010s, organising events under the On Board Music moniker as well as managing and booking artists, she is also a versatile DJ who in her sets seamlessly navigates between different fields of electronic music. Having just released her debut EP Initial on Something Happening Somewhere, she now steps up to the decks with a mix for our Groove podcast that integrates classic techno and adventurous contemporary sounds into an uninterrupted flow.
The acronym in your name stands for Bass Cadet Records, a now-defunct record label and former Berlin record store that was open between 2013 and 2016 and co-run by you. Looking back, what did your involvement with the BCR crew mean to you personally and as a DJ?
We opened the store in Neukölln together with my friend Etienne. Etienne and a few others had already started the Bass Cadet Records label a few years before we had the shop, so calling it like that seemed like the natural thing to do. We had both a record selection and a clothing section under the name DBR. I was in charge of the concept store part where you could find vintage, merchandising and a few other things. I was mostly doing promotion, events and bookings for BCR. When we started DJing for the store we were using BCR at the end of our names and I kept it – mostly as a reminder and a homage, as these were beautiful years in which everything began. Managing the BCR store has given me so much knowledge not only about music but about everything. When you work in a record store you get to know all genres and musics, labels, locals, etc. It was a huge source of inspiration that also helped building your own sound. BCR was the centre of our lives and a community for more than three years – a meeting point, a point of exchange. I miss those years, even if it sometimes has been very intense.
Though active as a DJ for several years, you have only recently debuted as a producer. What pushed you to finally take that step?
I’ve always wanted to make music but did not have any time – running the booking agency and taking care of all the artists was very intense before the pandemic in combination with the gigs I was playing, etc. I barely had time to breath. When the lockdown came, I started to play around with Ableton and a MIDI controller until I couldn’t stop and started spending hours on end with it. Then, I got some gear and I started to talk about the music I was making with labels and got positive responses, so I simply continued. I’m also lucky as I have friends that borrowed me a few things and let me use their studios and equipment. Some also helped me in the mixing process and taught me many things. Little by little. Now, a couple of books, many YouTube videos, plug-ins and so on later I’m completely addicted to synthesizers. (laughs)
Your first production was released on the first instalment of The Meaning of Time, a compilation series on your own On Board Music label that was launched in response to the crises brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. What was your motivation to start the series and what was its goal?
The Meaning Of Time is first of all a charity compilation series. The idea was to support the actions of Sea Watch in the Mediterranean Sea but also the artists during the first lockdown. We wanted to do a 50/50 split, but after the first compilation all artists decided to give their entire shares to the NGO. The first edition worked so well that we decided to continue it with the label. At that time, we wanted to gather artists and transformed the time we all had to support a good cause – keeping the label alive during the pandemic to support something that is important to us. It’s definitely a super strong experience, and it was amazing to work with all the artists. It’s been lot of work but I am so happy with the responses and the sales for sure. We just released the third volume now and we’ll start a vinyl series this autumn with some of the remastered tunes that were on the compilation. Some merch is also available on our Bandcamp!
On Board Music celebrated its fifth birthday last year. Before that, it was primarily a music agency and management firm, and later on you launched an event series of the same name. How do all these different enterprises tie in with each other?
Everything is quite linked and works well together. The label is also something I wanted to do for a long time and the name was kept very naturally. I think it’s also nice to be able to offer different things under a same roof and I honestly couldn’t manage too many different names at once on top of that. (laughs)
Your debut as a solo artist, the Initial EP for Nuno Dos Santos’ Something Happening Somewhere label, was released last month. How did the release come about?
I started to speak with Nuno at the beginning of the year or so, I think. I really like the label and especially the releases from Vand & Bas Dobblaer that I’ve been playing a lot. I started sending him some music and he was interested to do something together. It all came together very organically and I was super happy when he proposed me to do the EP!
Initial also features a collaboration with the Buenos Aires-based Forest On Stasys. What did your working process look like?
With Guido it was the same, we started talking about music a couple of months ago. I first proposed him to do a collaboration on On Board Music, as I thought that it could be cool to work together. I really like his productions and thought we would make a good match. He sent me a few ideas, I selected one and started working on the parts. It was a nice experience, I really enjoyed doing that. We might also continue in a near future on On Board Music, as that was the initial plan!
As a DJ, you have a monthly show on Rinse France. How do you go about programming the episodes?
It is always a super moment. I plan a program six months in advance or something like that and try to invite different profiles and artists I really love. In 2021, I had the chance to host IORI, Timnah Sommerfeld, Grant Aaron, Reka Zalan, Hiver, ASC and Patrick Russell. After two years of running the show, I finally decided to end it. Two years is a good cycle and I’m really glad Rinse France gave me this opportunity.
What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?
I haven’t been digging at record stores that much during the pandemic as it was complicated to do so on many levels. My initial idea was to go to my favourite recordstore in Berlin, Audio-In, and to get some inspiration there – to really have a good time at the shop and select music from there. I wanted to do a mix with classics and oldies, but also new tracks to offer a broad range of what I love mixing and what people can expect to hear when I play at a club. It ranges from an old Soma record from 1996 to very recent releases that came out in the last months on for example Oblique Music.
Last but not least: What are your plans for the future?
I just released a track on Molly’s RDV Music label. Some tracks are also coming out digitally on Accent Records and Paloma Records. I also have a track coming out on vinyl on the Out-Er ten years compilation. And last but not least, I have a track coming out on Semantica this autumn. I’m still working on music in my home studio with some new gear coming in. Finishing some new stuff. I have also started curating a monthly ambient series at Zenner in Berlin this summer with acts such as KMRU live, perila, Marylou, Claudio PRC and Polygonia, to name a few. I’ve just joined Paloma in Berlin as a resident DJ. Bookings are starting slowly to come back in, with a few gigs in Berlin or at Up To Date Festival in Poland in september coming up.
Stream: Laura BCR – Groove Podcast 302
01. Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement – Rains Coming Down (feat. Pacific Blue) (Hospital Productions)
02. Vera Logdanidi – Euphoria (Semantica)
03. Artificial DM – Alp02 (Alpenglühen)
04. Giorgio Gigli – Tempo (Prologue)
05. Ben Buitendjik – Zero Dawn (Oblique Music)
06. Percy X – Ady 3 (Soma)
07. Michal Wolski – Meionia Calai (Luigi Tozzi Rephase) (Monday Off)
08. Vand – Splinter (Oblique Music)
09. Oreste – Minas Mare (Polygonia Remix) (On Board Music)
10. Claudio PRC – Through The Lights (Prologue)
11. Andy Stott – Fear Of Heights (Modern Love)
12. Crossing Avenue – Controluce (System Revival)
13. Baby Ford – Messenger (Sender Records)
14. Function – An Optical Illusion of Consciousness (Tresor)
15. Sandwell District – Speed and Sound (Extended Z/Arts/Lab Version) (Sandwell District)
16. Laura BCR – Mute (SoHaSo)