Over 15 years after his debut release, Stefan Kozalla is finally having his stint in the sun.
Coming up with German hip-hop click Fischmob, Kozalla – alias DJ Koze – has spent the last decade-odd establishing himself as one of microhouse’s canniest, classiest operators. A productive period with Kompakt, a genre touchstone (2005′s Kosi Comes Around) and a rewarding remix collection (2009′s Reincarnations) have incrementally built his reputation. Recent years, meanwhile, have seen him turn his focus towards his excellent Pampa imprint, responsible for releases from Isolée, Lawrence, Die Vögel and Dntel.
New LP Amygdala – a kaleidoscopic collection of soft-focus dance and machine-tooled psychedelia – is his richest full-length offering to date; boasting guest spots from Caribou, Apparat and Matthew Dear, it feels like the breakthrough record Kozalla has long deserved. With Amygdala on the near horizon, Bjørn Schaeffner caught up with the German producer (and seriously entertaining interview subject) to chat Ricardo Villalobos, the tourist trail and, of course, clubland’s restrictive “no cows no goats” policy.
Stefan, you spent a month in India. How was it?
“Really interesting. I went inside myself.”
That sounds fitting, since we also know you as the mock-guru Swahimi The Unenlightened. Still – were you looking for a bit of meaning in India?
(Laughs) “Yes, I found some meaning. But I’m a long way from illumination.”
And what meaning did you find?
“Oh, now this conversation is kicking off properly here! What kind of meaning I found? Hmm. I can’t wrap it in a simple formula. In any case it was an excellent experience. A welcome break.”
For the westerner, India is a bit like heaven and hell.
“That’s right. When you’re not feeling well, you can’t bear it one second; when you’re fine, you just embrace it and get this feeling of awe, that India is the cradle of humankind. Nowhere have I seen so many laughing people – people who are so incredibly poor, but they laugh at you without any hint of scepticism. What an overwhelming stream of impressions! This infinitely complex causal chain running through everything. It’s difficult to assess it. India just goes on and on and doesn’t care about you. You can just step into this stream and try to register the abundance of impressions.”
“Absolutely not. Zero. For the first time in years. I listened to so much music before, I wanted to clean out my ears. Which doesn’t come easy in India with all the honking going on.”
India is filled with sounds.
“The country clearly has its own sound. When you visit temples in Kerala in the south west, you hear these muezzin-like preacher sounds echoing over the rice fields, but you can’t place where they are coming from. There are these diffuse oriental mantra sounds which are constantly in your ears. And it’s got something meditative and contemplative. The whole chaos makes more sense. Also, the fact that cows and chickens run on the streets makes a lot of sense to me. It’s strange to think that our society went so far to call this an absurdity. We must be doing something wrong then. Goats and cows should be roaming freely about. That would be much preferable. It feels cozy.”
Animals are frequent guests in the Koze cosmos. You’re a nature boy by heart?
“I get the feeling that urban spaces don’t make me happy. Though I’m not sure if I could live permanently in a village. But nature, anything that is rural, a life far off from any hipster streams makes me much happier. Actually, the very reasons why I moved to the city, the cultural offerings, the shops, the record shops and clubs, I don’t really partake in that. As soon as I’m in the countryside, happiness starts flowing. It took me a while to realize that. It wasn’t always like that. When I was 30 years old I couldn’t picture myself in the countryside.”
The visuals accompanying your album portray in you in various rustic disguises. Which is your favourite role? The elk rider, the goat shepherd, the oriental farmer or the painter?
“Well, this represents just a day in the life of DJ Koze. I stand on a meadow, ride with the elk to my studio, later slaughter a goats and then I’m bloated with food later.” (laughs)
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