On The Couch With… Dj Koze


Music journalism in this day and age has become something of a machine, not least of all for the artists who are forced to trot out the same line over and over again. I was with someone only this morning who said that [name removed for legal purposes] the artist that he looked after refused to even answer email questions he was sent anymore and just had 50 stock answers that he – as a manager – copied and pasted into questions posed.

It has become in many cases; 'a churn'.

Whilst not trying to posit that we're above this, with the Random Facts series on R$N it's always been an attempt to deviate from these stock Q's. Sometimes you come across an individual however who doesn't feel like these facts are something that reflects what they want to talk about.

When we sat down with DJ Koze we didn't realise it'd turn into a cathartic counselling session between the two parties… but it did. And on The Couch was born.

What follows is a stream of consciousness between the two of us…

Hey, not sure what happened there and now I can't get through again. I really don't understand why our technology doesn't like us!

Me neither. People jump from the stratosphere, fly to moon but we can't even telephone!

Ha! No we can't. It's a shame as I wanted to do something more interesting as I know how much a lot of people hate doing interviews.

I don't feel a need to talk too much. I could talk about hypochondriac terms?

Great! Why don't we do that?

That's my topic.

I just wanted to do something that you feel comfortable talking about it. i know how boring/difficult it must be to talk about yourself all the time. I hate to talk about myself. Let's do hypochondriac terms then! 

"The hypochondrium is the anatomic area of the upper abdomen just below (Greek "hypo" meaning "below") the cartilage (Greek "chondros" meaning "cartilage") of the ribs. Hypochondriasis was thought by the ancients to be due to disturbed function of the spleen and other organs in the upper abdomen." Sometimes referred to as health phobia the term refers to excessive preoccupancy or worry about having a serious illness. Do you have hypochondria?

Yes but actually I really have the things. I am so sensitive that I really feel the things, a little pain or strange feelings, and i think it could be the beginning of a deadly desease.

Oh no! 

I mean, not too seriously but I'm always nervous when i feel something going on. Normal people don't mind so much but when I travel on longer trips half of my suitcase is full of vitamins and medical pills, immunsystem etc. The other half is my own bed sheds and pillow and 2 usb sticks.

I imagine it's difficult playing late nights and travelling so much?

The biggest problem is that I can't sleep on flights or after gigs, if I don't drink too much I am fully awake and then I have to travel back again only few hours later. Many of my colleagues have this problem but some don't and I'm always jealous.

Of people who don't have that problem?

If we travel together and they're already deep asleep in the cab I am madly jealous and try to wake them up. But not too obviously. I'll whistle or touch them gently.

No, not really. The tough side of this job is not to play music for some hours in front of an audience, that actually gives you energy and it's often very nice. It's the travel to this place and away without being sure you will sleep. Sometimes it takes 30 hours to get somewhere and if you have bad luck or a non-stop shaky flight you are still awake. But people pay the entrance fee and they don't want to know how you got there, they just want to see a DJ motivated to deliver his best on point. And create special moments for everyone. Magic.

So does this inform/influence the way you make and play music?

I don't know, you have to find methods to deal with that and in the best cases not let it influence your music. Many of my colleagues are neurotic, I like it.

You like neurosis…or?

For me, there's always a strange feeling if people can cope with all that without being stressed or even a bit neurotic. I think it's a health sign at some points, like fear. If something is really not right you should be scared and it's ok to be scared.

Is this why you don't play incessantly all over the world? Or do you quite like the stress/neurotic nature of it at times?

At times I like it and in the summer season I'm doing lots of gigs but after some weeks you lose yourself and it makes you not happy anymore. Recently I got homesick, I've never had that feeling before. It's the pattern that many good producers/DJs are stuck in because you earn more money in 2 weekends than with your album you've worked on for years. So you don't stop taking gigs and you don´t find the muse to visit the studio anymore.

So technology has caused all this? When people bought music, you didn't have to play so much.

You want to include your technology talk by any means possible!

I thought I brought it round nicely there! But what I mean is the trick to live somewhere where the cost of living is less so you don't have to do so many gigs? So you can continue to make music.

The trick is maybe not to want all the money. It's for some abstract future insurance, we don't even know what our future will be like.

Sure, but you enjoy making music though? So you need to find ways to sustain that in some capacity.

Yes, in the end I think it's more important to release music which stays rather than creating a nice night that maybe also stays in the memory but you can't recreate the exact feeling. Or to give it away as a present. Balance is difficult to find. 

So you create music which is not necessarily for a nice night out and more for a lasting memory?


It's interesting what you say about this. You want the music, not the fame or the adulation which is so important in this thing.

Technology is for cats. Now we have our headline.

Brilliant! Has technology helped you in any way?

Of course, in the beginning I was eager to get all the magazine about sound and equipment because I thought that I'd find secrets in there for making better music with a better sound. After all the years I lost interest because with a comouter, Ableton, a MIDI keyboard and a microphone you can make the best music until the end of days. Of course, new gear inspires but in the end, the ideas are what counts, as well as your way of presenting them.

Sure, of course, and it's futile constantly creating more and more things.

Technology can also be an excuse.

If your ideas in the first place aren't good, absolutely.

They can be small and sounding weak but touch your heart more than everything else

But that has always been the case with music, or anything for that matter. Some of the most simple ideas are the most beautiful.

Yes and difficult to get or experience. We are in our own head too much while we are sitting in front of a screen.

Sure. it's such a difficult thing to escape these days too. People are living their lives through other people's experiences contained online – photos, videos etc. but on the plus side of technology, your music would not be as well known perhaps and you may not have got these opportunities to play all over the world. It's also helped break down the music mafia in one sense.

Yes, I agree. It's a blessing and a curse.

Completely, it has enabled me to do what i do now and yet it has ruined my life in another sense because i am chained to this thing…

What do you mean?

My girlfriend sent me this, this morning. I think she's trying to tell me something! I love music, have done all my life and I loved reading about it. Things like Jockey Slut, Faith, The Onion etc. I always wanted to start a 'magazine' and have been blessed with an opportunity to do so with R$N.

This is good. Passion against boredom.

Yes, 100%. I feel driven with it every day to keep pushing but as with you it is very hard to make a living from just the words. So I have had to find other ways to, and I hate this word, 'monetise' it so that I can pay other writers. So my partner and I, who is probably the best developer I have ever met, spend evenings and weekends building things like this. I just want to keep building stuff now because it's really exciting to create 'good things'.

Always a good thing to do, creating good things. Even if it's subjective.

Yes, sure, but what I think my girlfriend is trying to say is that technology has consumed my life. See how i brought it back there?

Sneaky! Technology has ruined my life and I love it – alternative headline.

Sub-header. It's such a difficult thing to contend with though. Technology has certainly helped both of us is all I'm saying

Yes, for sure. So yes well this worked alright in the end. It's been like a counselling session for both of us!

On The Couch. That's what I'll call this piece.

And there it is… 

DJ Koze plays secretsundaze this weekend. More info