Here’s Why DJ Koze is Still the Bomb

As longtime fans of Germany’s electronic music output, we’re also longtime fans of DJ Koze, the unmasked papa of Pampa Records. It’s been over two decades since the release of his first record as a member of Fischmob in 1994, and Stefan Kozalla is still going strong. So far this year he’s compiled a DJ-Kicks CD and announced a 12″, XTC, that’s due out on his own Pampa label on  June 15. Ahead of its arrival, he’s allowed us to stream the b-side, a cheeky track titled “Knee On Belly.”

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The alphabet according to DJ Koze

Born and raised in the northern German town of Flensburg, Stefan Kozalla aka DJ Koze has evolved over the past two decades from enfant- to savant- to the avant-terrible of German dance music. A runner up in the national DMC competition in 1991, he first made waves with Hamburg-based Dada-hip hop collective Fischmob before turning his focus towards minimal house and techno, releasing numerous 12-inches and LPs on Kompakt, Get Physical and, most recently, his own Pampa imprint. Koze’s trademark vocal tweaking has made him a much sought after remixer, cutting and pitch-shifting everyone from Hildegard Knef to Caribou. Photo by Hans Martin Sewcz. You can read more ABCs here.


Home of the sabre-toothed tiger. The angst aggregator. A built-in error in our mind machine. Totally redundant, but mighty nonetheless.

B as in BEER:
Bitches brew. Real men drink young coconut juice.

C as in CARIBOU:
A kindred spirit. His music struck a chord in me that kept on vibrating, and when I looked up, my desktop showed three mix versions of his tunes… made by me.

The It.

I shall prefer Estragon.

F as in FAILURE:
There is no such thing. You just do what you can’t.

“Sieg-sieg-siegiddy-heil.” That’s Mel Brooks, summing up “German” rap in the title song of his remake of Ernst Lubitsch’s To Be or Not to Be. Of course, it isn’t like that at all, but what do you care? Right, thought so.

H as in brain researcH:
It teaches me about blind spots, the creation of reality, the illusion of ego, and all that jazz.

I am very interested in psychogeography. Friends have mentioned that my music implies travel through the inner landscapes of my mind. I tell them that they don’t understand my music at all. My amygdala is working just fine—why do you ask?

J as in JEW’S HARP:
I lack any valid expertise in playing this instrument. Bear in mind that I was the renowned maestro of another discipline of oral pleasantries, though. See my track “Maulguss”.

K as in 20 years of KOMPAKT:
There’s no place like home. Then you reach puberty.

He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

M as in MANTRA:
The main ancestor of the sampled loop, obviously. The divine joy of repetition. Was the sampler invented in India? I don’t doubt it.

N as in NOISE:
… or as in Noise, Adolf. A twenty-first century schizoid man. The bipolar prophet of a future that never arrives. Not my words. Uttered by the other.

O as in OM:
You might argue that some of my music is the sound of the OM moment.

P as in POLITICS in music:
Everything is implicitly political, but explicit politics in music will never ever be my business. Like, ever.

Q as in QUO VADIS, remix?
If I knew I would tell you. I really would. There must be an opportunity to tailor a totally different, new dress.

I prefer kindness. Realness is generally unreliable. Each one of us decides our own reality. In hip-hop many make the mistake of confusing realness with honesty or authenticity. They also mistake this generally for a good thing. Just imagine Mel Brooks’ Hitler rap without the irony: “Don’t be stupid, be a smarty / Come and join the Nazi party.” Know what I mean?

S as in ST. PAULI, Hamburg:
We live in St. Georg, baby.

They call me the antenna of St. Georg.

U as in UDON:
After quitting music I will open an udon restaurant. The specialty will be kos(h)i udon with ume plum.

Again, I prefer kindness. But go tell that to the sabre-toothed kitty cat in my amygdala.

As if the Stieber Twins never happened. Deren Reime sind Schweine. [“Their rhymes are swines.”]

X as in XXX:
It means Kiss Kiss Kiss. Don’t you people know anything?

The electrolyte enhancer to start the day after. Or any day.

Z as in ZAPPA:
Big influence in my early days but too stressful for me today. Did I get old? ~


DJ Koze’s Amygdala is out now on Pampa. This text appeared first in Electronic Beats Magazine N° 33 (Spring 2013). Read the full issue on

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Philip Sherburne recommends DJ Koze’s <i>Amygdala</i>

Hamburg’s premier sonic prankster and dance music auteur has released his first album in seven years. It turns out that many wrongs really do make it right.


There’s a hidden message stuffed deep inside the folds of DJ Koze‘s lush, at times disarmingly lovely new album Amygdala: good taste is overrated. That message is right there on the surface, in fact—just look at the cover, in which the German producer’s face has been photoshopped onto the body of a man sitting astride a caribou; the wilderness a violent shade of algae pink. The rider wears a long robe of what looks like silk brocade and, for reasons unknown, a motorcycle helmet. This is not a “serious” image, and Koze’s is not “serious” music—not, at least, in the way that so much underground (or “underground”) dance music tends to be, with its shadowy affect, dour atmospheres, and tough pretensions.

That might sound counterintuitive, given Koze‘s uncommonly dulcet approach on silky, shimmering cuts like “Nices Wolkchen”, featuring muted vocals from the emo-as-ever Apparat, or “Homesick”, a campfire round (sung by Ada) masquerading as a shuffling R&B slow jam. The opening song features Caribou‘s Dan Snaith singing in typically limpid fashion over delicate kalimba plinking, and the closing “NooOoo”, featuring Tomerle and Maiko, is a Mellotron lullaby in the style of Tujiko Noriko‘s blissfully naïve electronica. The whole album brims with understated house grooves, jewel-toned samples, and contemplative melodies.

But Koze, who came up in the hip-hop group Fischmob and the wisecracking trio International Pony before establishing himself as one of the Kompakt circle’s most unfailing party DJs, is too clever and too irreverent to get stuck in the rut of tasteful house—the kind of milquetoast, two-chord plodders that have become all too common in the latest deep-house revival. So he balances out all that seductive prettiness with subversive gonzo strokes. On “Magical Boy”, that means cartoonish jaw-harp twangs and Matthew Dear practically gargling his way through his cameo. On “Nices Wolkchen”, it means strange, dissonant bleeps that worm their way through Apparat’s velvety vocals. “Ich Schrieb’ Dir Ein Buch 2013” takes a song from the German chanteuse Hildegard Knef and suffuses it in feline mewling and wailing. “Marilyn Whirlwind” is a full-bore rave-up of tension-building guitar riffs and nagging, dentist’s-drill buzz, while easy-listening kitch garnishes the warbling “Das Wort”, which finds Dirk von Lowtzow muttering indistinctly like a B-movie villain before crooning, “We are all sensitive people, so much to give,” his voice breaking for added effect. In fact, Amygdala is a profoundly sensitive album; it’s just cheerful enough to be able to poke fun at its own sad-sack tendencies.

The record opens with a nudge and a wink at electronic music’s druggy connotations, sampling a snippet of film dialogue in which two men ooh and aah: “That pill should be kicking in right about now, is it?” “Yeah.” “Yeah?” “Oh, yeah.” “Can you feel it?” “Oh, I can feel it. It feels like I’m leaving my body.” The reference is surely tongue in cheek, but the brilliance of Koze’s class-clown behavior is that you’re never entirely sure when he’s joking or not. That the album’s title refers to a portion of the brain that’s central to memory and emotion suggests that Koze’s real interest is in the neurochemical reactions sparked by song and sound; the brilliance of the album is in his ability to tweak our synapses in such a way that even the wrong notes—especially the wrong notes, in fact—feel like “Eureka!” moments.~


DJ Koze’s Amygdala is released today in Germany and early next week in the rest of the world via Pampa Records.

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Videodrome 88 – This week’s best videos

Hello, again. Well, the video game is certainly not boring in 2013 and while most of you know how hard it is to find something as simple as a working video on YouTube here in Germany, you also know that you can count on us to track down the hidden backdoors and clever shortcuts to any given video that we deem worthy. This week’s Videodrome is brought to you courtesy of Julia KentLemieuxRihanna and a whole bunch more. Take that, GEMA.

#1 Sunless ’97 – Aurora I, directed by Tom Walker

This will be big soon, no doubt. The clip will keep you going until you get hold of the whole album, which will be out soon via Moshi Moshi. Synth pop isn’t dead, just in case you were wondering.

#2 Ghost Loft – Seconds, directed by Ends

New video for “Seconds” which was actually released last year. Kudos to directors Daniel Iglesias Jr and Zack Sekuler who’ve edited something pretty together for Los Angeles-based producer Danny Choi.

#3 Lemieux – Bass Unit, directed by Robin Smeds Mattila

Swedish up-and-comer Lemieux has only just dropped the audiovisual accompaniment for this already outstanding track. I like this a lot.

#4 Antoni Maiovvi – Darkroom, directed by RS Haysom & TJ Lee

Incubate 2009 artist Antoni Maiovvi has released his new music video for the track “Darkroom”. Watch the slightly NSFW video above.

#5 Drake – Started From The Bottom, dir?

Here’s Drake’s new single “Started From The Bottom”—you might need some watches, but then it works fine.

#6 Isolée – Allowance, dir?

Rajko Müller aka Isolée is back with his first single “Allowance”, taken from the Allowance EP. It’s out February 13 via Pampa.

#7 Wet Nuns – Broken Teeth, dir?

Don’t be afraid to watch this just because its rock—it’s rad, well-made and guaranteed to distract you from whatever it is you don’t want to be doing.

#8 Julia Kent – Tourbillon, directed by Levin Haegele

We continue this week’s ‘drome with some astonishing work from Canadian cellist Julia Kent. The video premiered earlier this week over at Self-Titled while Character, Kent’s full-length, is scheduled for released on March 5 through the Leaf Label.

#9 Au.Ra – Morning

Australian duo Au.Ra just dropped their video for their single “Morning”—get your postcard here for $1.

#10 Rihanna – Stay, directed by Sophie Muller

Rihanna ft. Mikky Ekko ♡ Stay (Full Version… von wonderful-life1989
It’s not too bad to end this week’s Videodrome with Ri-Ri alone in her bathtub, right? I’m not sure if this was meant to the published like this, but hey, that’s the internet.

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Dntel sheds a ‘Bright Light’

Dntel sheds a 'Bright Light' Dntel will release his first album since 2010’s After Parties 1 and 2 on June 5th. Not only that, it will also be the first album of new material since 2007. The producer, who you might also know as Jimmy Tamborello, is dropping Aimlessness on Pampa, the record label run by Marcus Fink and DJ Koze. Especially exciting is the news that dreamy, ghostly pop kids Nite Jewel and Baths would be contributing to the record as well, with Tamborello contributing some of his vocals as well.

Check the tracklist below, and stream ‘Bright night’ here.

01. waitingfortherest II
02. Jitters
03. Still
04. My Orphaned Son
05. Bright Night
06. Retracer
07. Puma
08. Santa Ana Winds
09. Trudge
10. Jitters (Geotic mix)
11. Doc (Dntel mix)
12. Paper Landscape

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