Since its inception in 2005 DJ Kicks has heralded the DJ mix compilation format, featuring an array of bands, producers, remixers and musicians all stepping up to offer their own contribution to the series. DJ Koze is one of the most respected producers, remixers and DJ’s of our times and to compliment this !K7 commissioned Stefan Kozalla to provide the 50th edition of the series. This conversation was conducted over Skype and offers a unique insight behind the makings of the compilation.
"In order for me to do it I’d make edits of tracks so that you can’t just download the original versions on YouTube."
How are feeling about your contribution to the DJ Kicks series?
Really, really bad. I hoped that it would come out much better, but maybe I’m getting old and my career is down and my creativity is not so good…. No, no of course not!
I was listening to your DJ Kicks the other day whilst driving back to London from a sunny weekend in the countryside – How did you go about this mix? – We don’t have many compilation CD’s left in circulation?
Well yeah it’s an outdated format. These days we have so many podcast, playlists and so forth on blogs, and Soundcloud, which are everywhere.
In the beginning when they asked me to do it, it didn’t make so much sense for me. I knew that it was a traditional mix series and I’ve known it from the very beginning of electronic music and I followed them from the beginning. So I thought about it and I realised that in order for me to do it I’d make edits of tracks so that you can’t just download the original versions on YouTube, so that you have to listen to the mix CD in order to listen to it. So I worked with that idea.
"I could then build up my own temperature and energy version, which only fits into the mix."
The edits which you have done have extended bits on them – what was your process for taking the tracks and editing them?
I needed to do the edits because I tried to create a mood for them, so they have a similar vibe but they are all very different genres. They don’t fit together normally and you wouldn’t find them next to each other in the record store. So it’s not so easy.
I realized that I need the artists to send me some stems to work with, so for example the Session Victim track “Hyuwee” I made a completely new remix of it. I could then build up my own temperature and energy version, which only fits into the mix.
"I was constructing it like a collage, a really difficult collage."
When you came to mix it together was it a case of using something like Traktor?
No I don’t have a sync button. I was really constructing it like a collage, a really difficult collage. Sometimes the tempo changes in-between the songs, which you might not realize, so that’s why I made recordings where I pitched the song only for three or four minutes, I really need to trick around it. I’m not so good, or professional with doing this.
In the end I avoided to mix too much in sync to improve the rhythm. Because I don’t need to listen to a mix, which is like in a club. It’s only interesting if you are dancing to it, but I don’t want to make a mix like that. It’s more to dance around at home and in your kitchen.
If you decide to mix it in rhythm then it’s really technical. The idea of the mix is bigger than the song. I wanted to be a selector.
"If two or three songs fall apart, then everything else breaks."
When were you invited to contribute to the DJ Kicks series?
It was in June 2014. I had loads of time back then, but in the end they really hunted me for the deadline – I was of course too late with everything – and it didn’t come out as I expected – I didn’t get the licensing for some of the key tracks and then I started to build a mix and then I realized that we didn’t get the songs which we wanted and the whole mix didn’t work together.
Some of the tracks only work together with their neighbor. If I put the Broadcast track “Tears In The Typing Pool” with another song such as Madlib or Marcel fFngler then it wont work, so it’s a really fragile process.
If two or three songs fall apart, then everything else breaks. At one point I was close to saying that I couldn’t do it. Like the Muppet show piano player ‘Rowlh’ “I can’t do it!”
"I did it in one take, with a hip-shake you know."
Was it a case of recording many different versions of it?
Yeah my hard discs were full and everything else. In the end I tried to make it sound like I did it in one take, with a hip-shake you know.
"I wanted to make something timeless; I was not interested in modernity and the freshest electronic tunes."
How did you go about sourcing these tracks? Are they your all time favorites or just random tracks?
Of course they’re not random. I’m a big fan of the Late Night Tales series, especially from the French band Air. They had Black Sabbath, Nino Rota, The Cure and Japan. They made a wonderful blend of interesting music with a long breath.
I wanted to make something timeless; I was not interested in modernity and the freshest electronic tunes. I wanted to make something that I can maybe give to someone in 10 years time, an older woman living in Spain perhaps. Someone who will ask me what kind of music am I into, I can then give them the CD so they can feel the music.
The mix has a playful sound to it, lyrics mashed with beats, building up to harder tracks such as Marcel Fengler’s track ‘Jaz’ – So I can see how a grandmother would appreciate it!
Yeah in the end the grandmother might think it’s too heavy for her, but in the end she might find it ok.
In my ideal world you put it on, then you drink something and then Marcel Fengler and Portable come on, and in the end you are ready to leave the house and head out to the club.
In the beginning you’ve included some voice-overs. Is this really your neighbor?
Yeah it’s my neighbor and the child is from Pippa Middleton.
Is it not Kate’s newborn Charlotte?
No, no, that’s too young. I really like Pippa Middleton though…she’s really nice.
"Maybe do some break dancing and celebrate the tracks on the mix tape."
What was your first ever mix CD or cassette when you were a kid?
I don’t know but it was a really big thing. We made our own mix tapes back then. We made them so that we could get drunk and listen to them. We put on the music and we couldn’t wait to play it on a ghetto blaster in the countryside and get drinking. That was my youth. Maybe do some break dancing and celebrate the tracks on the mix tape.
We had a hard time as we were only four guys in the countryside, where I’m from, who were into hip-hop. All the other guys were into AC/DC and The Kings, The Who and other stuff.
We always tried to get some time on the ghetto blaster but they didn’t like it. We tried to argue that there were good lyrics dealing with racial issues within the music, but they always argued that they could read about that stuff. This was a big time for mix tapes, it was wonderful.
Were there any tracks that you couldn’t get cleared for DJ Kicks?
Yeah I really wanted to include the Jose Gonzales version of Arthur Russell track “This Is How We Walk On The Moon”.
This is wonderful but I couldn’t include it and there were some other issues, which I forgot.
"I think it’s happy and melancholic too. This is a recipe for good soul."
Were the guys you were hanging out with, making mix tapes back in the days with, and do they have anything to do with International Pony?
No, no they’re a different crew.
The mix CD does have a similar sound to that album you released all that time ago. It’s playful and has some kind of pop element to it.
I think it’s happy and melancholic too. This is a recipe for good soul.
Do you feel that your contribution to DJ Kicks is better late than never, or that the mix CD format is now past its sell by date?
I don’t care so much; I did something with love and passion and took a lot of care about the 70 minutes. Now I am finished with it and I’m happy that it’s available and if people are into it then I’m happy.
Homeboy Sandman “Holiday” is a Kosi and Fink Edit – Its got some interesting singing on it, is that you and Marcus singing?
It’s the son of Marcus and his Grandfather…I can’t explain too much as it takes the mystery away.
How long did you spend on the exclusive track?
I spent a long time working on that – I ended up making three new songs and in the end I realized that they didn’t fit so I made some new music.
"I don’t like the idea of having two or three rooms. I’ve never liked it. I don’t like too much opportunity."
Do you have any plans to celebrate the release of the record in London?
I’m not sure yet – I am coming to England in July for Farr Festival but we’re working on other plans.
What do you think of London venues?
It’s not easy to find a nice venue in London. I mean it’s difficult to say. I like London of course and the people are nice but it’s hard to find a good venue, you know. All the limitations I don’t like, and I don’t like the idea of having two or three rooms. I’ve never liked it. I don’t like too much opportunity.
You want it more focused on one DJ then?
Yeah exactly, in one room. You don’t have the option to move rooms, because you don’t like a track, maybe that track is being played to calm down the atmosphere so that it can explode again later – but if you do it in a club with two or three rooms, people go to the next room and you have all of these tourists coming and going. It’s not like you can corner some person from your vision or trip… you don’t go into the cinema and go to the next cinema, because of some boring dialogue.
Photo by Gepa Hinrichsen
DJ Koze: DJ Kicks
15the June 2015
1. DJ Koze – I Haven’t Been Everywhere But It’s On My List (DJ-Kicks exclusive)
2. Dimlite – Can’t Get Used To Those? (Kosi Edit)
3. cLOUDDEAD – Dead Dogs Two (Boards of Canada Remix)
4. Strong Arm Steady – Best of Times
5. Homeboy Sandman – Holiday (Kosi & Finks Edit)
6. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Shame
7. Mndsgn – Camelblues (Kosi Edit)
8. Broadcast – Tears In The Typing Pool
9. Daniel Lanois – Carla
10. Hi Tek & The 2 Bears – Modern Hi Tek Family Bears (Kosi Mashup)
11. William Shatner – It Hasn’t Happened Yet
12. Marker Starling – In Stride
13. Session Victim- Hyuwee (Kosi Remix)
14. Frank & Tony – Bring The Sun feat. Gry (Kosi Edit)
15. Marcel Fengler – Jaz (Kosi Edit)
16. Portable feat. Lcio – Surrender (Kosi Edit)
17. The Gentle People – Superstar
LABEL: !K7DJ Koze!K715 June 2015DowntempoElectronicHome Listening