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DJ Kaos interview: Hello Stranger

Author: Guido Farnell
Friday, March 17, 2006
Berlin-based DJ Kaos is one discerning cat when it comes to rocking dancefloors - he won't play Tiefshwarz as it's 'too obvious.'

Spinning his way round the country at a leisurely pace, Berlin's DJ Kaos is headed to Honkytonks this week to work the wheels of steel. Kaos started out as Terranova's turntablist with his roots in hip hop beats. Yet despite collaborations with the likes of Beans and The Antipop Consortium, Kaos surprised many with 'Hello Stranger' which many critics listed amongst the best dance albums of last year. Awash with punk funk, italo, disco and house influences Hello Stranger features an all star roster of guest artists that included Captain Comatose's Khan and Snaxx, Nicole Morier from Electrocute, Daniel Wang, Erlend Oye and the Rapture's Matty Safer amongst others.

"'Hello Stranger' is all about my own personal evolution," advises Kaos from his hotel room in Sydney. "The '90s were so full of this techno rave music that it was hard to produce this kind of music and stand out from the crowd. Terranova's slower beats got us a lot of attention. I remember being on the German MTV music awards and Chase The Blues was hugely popular in Germany. It even charted and made rotation on MTV playlists. The Ghost Cauldron project arose from hanging out in New York and hooking up with Beans. I was listening to a lot of indie rock like Tortoise at the time and was surprised to find that the Antipop Consortium were also listening to a lot of indie rock. I guess Ghost Cauldron was my attempt at indie rock. It was not very popular but surprisingly we managed to license a couple of Ghost Cauldron tracks to the Lord Of The Rings soundtrack - so someone liked it!"

"'Hello Stranger' takes inspiration from my work as a DJ and the types of music I enjoy spinning. I have a monthly residency at the Panorama Bar in Berlin and tend to play straight up techno. It all depends on the club. Sometimes if the crowd is right, I will do a disco set. In Australia I am planning on mixing up both styles. I have a lot of exciting new techno and some old Detroit classics. I also have a lot of leftfield disco with me that kind of has a Paradise Garage vibe. Italo is also a big influence but I like late '70s italo, you know the cosmic sound of people like Daniele Baldelli, Mozart DJ, Klein MBO and Tantra. Italo got very cheesy in the '80s and to me this isn't really what italo is supposedly about. I am currently putting the finishing touches on a mix for Rough Trade. It's a mix of 22 tracks and features artists like Tantra, ESP, Omar-S, Seraphine, The Residents and Logic Systems. I guess it is a very twisted selection of music but it reflects where I come from and what I do now."

Kaos seems to understand what keeps discerning dancefloors grooving but also knows what works in larger clubs. "I like to keep things exciting and full of surprises. Of course you have to entertain people. If you have a big audience and you play cosmic disco all night it is clear that everyone is going to get bored quickly. By the same token I am not really the kind of DJ who goes to the shop and buys a heap of big new tunes and simply plays them one after another. That is way too obvious. I love Tiefschwarz. They are good friends of mine but I cannot spin their stuff because again it is too obvious. Too many DJs these days just play straight sets and you know anybody could do this. I like to take a risk and take the audience on an excursion. I always have a great time listening to 2 Many DJs but they play like a jukebox and I come from a very different background."

"When I get down to Melbourne I hope to play some exciting new edits of Can tracks and a recent remix I did of Roxy Music's Angel Eyes. It was a hard call remixing that one because it is already so close to perfect."

No doubt Kaos will also treat us to selections from his new record Cerebral Tremolo that is out towards the end of this month on Kitsune in Eur