DJ Koze is one of the most talented producers in music. His ear for sound and ability to manipulate feelings through unconventional tricks and classic instruments is a gift he’s refined through decades of melody design and understanding.
His name first appeared on the Hamburg music scene with German Hip-Hop band ‘Fischmob’ in the early 90s. Before then he was DMC turntable competitor, who explored electronic music as a side passion. In the new millennium, Stefan Kozalla, DJ and producer, entered a new world of sound.
More recently, DJ Koze has exhibited his playful and uncustomary production style through the likes of Kompakt Records, Circus Company and his own Pampa label, which has developed a cult following thanks to releases from artists such as &ME, Mano Le Tough and Robag Wruhme.
DJ Koze is your favourite producers’ favourite producer. In no particular order, here’s a look at five of his finest releases and remixes.
Moderat – Bad Kingdom (DJ Koze Remix)
Monkeytown Records – 2014
A warm sound with eerie atmosphere helped by background vocals give it an intimate, no real build-up bassline melody, that surprisingly just explodes in with a piercing yet softened kick. Proper Koze style coming out of nowhere that’ll leave scratching your head and moving your legs.
The infectious synthesised melody Kosi composes here will gladly stick in your head forever. As the remix reaches its peak, Koze begins to build the background before crushing it entirely with that melody. As it thumps towards the end, it offers a period of respite, but you know exactly what’s coming. ‘Bad Kingdom’ is one of Koze’s crowning edits.
Gerry Read – It’ll All Be Over (DJ Koze Remix)
Pampa Records – 2019
Some loops can carry a song on their own. In this case, DJ Koze’s edit of Gerry Read’s Pampa debut EP release puts that catchy one bar vocal as the superstar striker of a Champions League winning house remix.
Tightly plucked strings meet uplifting percussion to create an ultimate feel-good disco-house anthem. It’s a vocal loop that will have you singing aloud after the opening phrase. Throw in a cowbell or two and you’ve got yourself a summer garden tune to keep annoying your neighbours with forever.
Låpsley – Operator (DJ Koze’s 12 Inch Extended Disco Version)
XL Recordings – 2015
If you didn’t know by the first two tracks featured: DJ Koze is pretty good at remixing songs. In this ‘Operator’ by Låpsley re-work, Kozalla utilises some groovy string-work and house music favoured piano notes to give the already superb vocals a body-moving push into funky disco territory.
Although the vocals are strong enough to fight their own, Kosi and his knack for shaping uplifting melodies helps bring this tune into household Spotify playlist heaven. Another one to add to your summer jam collection, if it’s not there already.
DJ Koze – Pick Up
Pampa Records – 2018
Just listen to that guitar riff. It makes the hair stand-up on your neck. Delicately add the perfect Gladys Knight sample and you’ve got yourself a Koze folk-inspired original for open-air dancefloors across the world.
The soft kick features throughout with a gradual build-up of energy until that final explosion, with layers of string and percussion neatly bundled together in such a masterful way. ‘Pick Up’ – released on DJ Koze’s critically acclaimed Knock Knock album – is one of his best pieces of work.
Matthew Herbert – It’s Only (DJ Koze Remix)
Pampa Records – 2012
Matthew Herbert’s Bodily Functions album samples real sounds from the human body. Well, this Koze remix of ‘It’s Only’ is the shit.
Here, Stefan Kozalla plays with the creepy side of his genius and creates one of the warmest, coldest, most uplifting, most frightening, most eerie, most reassuring masterpieces ever produced. Yes: it is a masterpiece and there’s no point writing more words. Just escape.
Which other Kosi productions do you prefer? And who would you like to see next in our Producer Showcase?