Michael Mayer asked him to do some tracks for Kompakt using his last name, as ‘Kölsch’ is also the name of a famous German beer made in Cologne. “I’m half German and half Irish, so it was a match made in heaven,” Kölsch chortles. The new project permitted Kölsch to dig into his childhood memories, and all the track titles on his new ‘1977’ album — named after the year he was born (“My parents were hippies, and my upbringing was unconventional to say the least”) — reference his early years growing up in Germany.
So bleepy electro zig-zagger ‘Opa’ is Kölsch recalling his grandfather, while piano soundtracky prog cut ‘Der Alte’ is about a classic German TV detective show. “All tracks are very dear to me, and they all have been part of a very therapeutic process of rediscovering lost memories, and illustrating them with sound,” Kölsch tells DJ Mag.
DJ Mag tells Kölsch that the album comes across as accessible but without resorting to crass clichés and horrific builds and drops that you might find in mainstream EDM. “I don't think much about how accessible my music is,” he counters. “Maybe it is in my nature to make records for the people? Melodies and emotion have always been my favourite tools, and generally the results are more ‘musical’ than a lot of records these days.
” The album fits perfectly on Kompakt, a label that isn’t afraid to flirt with electronic pop. “That’s exactly why they are still on top of their game,” Kölsch believes. “The amount of trust they give their artists is amazing. Michael always tells me to go crazy, and do whatever I want.” He tells the story of when he sent Mayer deep EDM piece ‘Zig’, and how he wasn’t sure at first until playing it to the Kompakt office — and then the club later on. “That’s the genius behind the label,” he offers. “They are constantly looking for longevity and quality, and they trust their artists' judgement beyond genres.”
Kölsch is quite taken by DJ Mag’s Gui Boratto-style ‘deep EDM’ tag, which he rightly doesn’t take as a diss, although he says he prefers the term ‘romantic techno’. “If I can spawn a ‘deep EDM’ scene, that would be a huge privilege,” he says. “As a kid I always struggled to find my place, and when I discovered electronic music in the early '90s, it was a revelation. The first time I heard a techno record, I couldn't believe the energy. It was as if the music spoke to my body before my brain. It was impossible to find the music back then, so the only way to experience it was to go to illegal parties and listen to it.
“Finally, I found a place where I felt at home and could express myself without the boundaries of conventional instruments,” he continues. “Since then it’s been a very long journey, and the album has been a welcome opportunity to explore my background and my early influences.”
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