You are here

Lissy Lü chats to... Kölsch by the waterside in Talamanca

The Danish DJ and producer's new album I Talk To Water drops after a run of Ibiza closing parties.

Few producers possess the studio alchemy in the same way Kölsch does. Seemingly contradictory, his use of melancholy, sometimes even mournful music creates unbridled moments of joy on the dancefloor.

The artist paints a layered and complex, but approachable and likeable character. Even before we met, I knew he would not be absorbed by his own sense of self-importance. As it turns out, he was even more charming and kind than I could have hoped.

It seemed poignant that Kölsch would choose to meet by the water's edge in the bay of Talamanca, because of the name of his forthcoming album I Talk To Water. After chatting with him, the symbolism would become all the more meaningful.

Immediately before his final appearance at ANTS and ahead of two further bookings at Pyramid (24 September) and the Afterlife closing party (5 October), we had an open and frank talk about one of dance music's most interesting personalities.

Lissy Lü chats to... Kölsch

Lissy Lü chats to Kölsch

We're fast approaching the end of another season here on Ibiza. How do you feel as we get to the final weeks? Are you happy to chalk off another or sad it's coming to an end?

"It's always bittersweet, isn't it? I have a deep connection with this island. I remember the first time that I was here, 1999. I'd been partying for six days straight, spent all my savings and I was like, 'I'm done with this place!'

After I got on the plane, immediately after take-off, it's like, 'wow, I want to go back'. It's crazy how much this place has a draw on me.

I'm happy that I was here this year and I'm chuffed to see how it has recovered from the pandemic, in the best possible way. I've had some amazing shows - not a single bad one this year."

ANTS | Ushuaïa

Although we're nearing the end, you've still got three more dates. ANTS later today, Afterlife closing at Hï Ibiza and Pyramid at Amnesia.

If we had to press you for the one you're most excited about, which would you pick? 

"Obviously, I'm most excited about my back-to-back with Joris Voorn today at ANTS. He's my best friend. We've known each other for, a guess, 12 years. We've been friends forever. We tease each other, we connect. I love DJing with him.

The only rule we have when doing a b2b is that, because we're both very quick mixers, we tell each other when we're allowed to mix out. Otherwise, it would just be pandemonium!"

ANTS | Ushuaïa

Then the next time you're in Playa d'en Bossa, it's for the Afterlife closing party.

Even though there's a clear overlap between your sounds, it came as a little surprise that this will be your first appearance at the party. Why has it taken so long to happen?

"I'm very good friends with the guys (Karm and Matteo from Tale Of Us) and we've been talking forever about doing shows and releases on the label and such. For whatever reason, it just hasn't worked out logistically until now.

A lot of time, it will be prior bookings blocking being actually able to play. There's also some island politics involved.

I went last Thursday to have a look around the club."

Afterlife | Hï Ibiza

Kölsch makes his Afterlife debut on 5 October

At Afterlife, you'll be playing another back-to-back, this time with Kevin de Vries. You've had quite a few booth partners in Ibiza this summer. It's clearly a format that you enjoy.

How are you expecting your pairings with Joris Voorn and Kevin de Vries to compare?

"It's always completely different, which is the beauty of a back-to-back. It depends on how you vibe with the person you're playing with.

I think the audience feeds off the enthusiasm we bring to the table. I enjoy there being no preparation at all. In the sense that, if say Joris or Kevin or Ida Engberg plays a record that I'm into but I haven't heard before, that produces a great moment.

It's like we're sharing a surprise, which I think is quite beautiful. It changes depending on who the person is."

"With Kevin, he's super joyful and energetic. We have a great time. I feed off that too. Whereas at times, we're on a mission together. We could play a record and it could be a bit lower in terms of intensity, so that we can end somewhere else over here, in four records' time.

It depends on the stage too. If it's a main stage set you need to bang it out immediately. Today, for example, I've got three hours with Joris. We've got a little bit more time."

IMS Grand Finale | Dalt Vila

Playing alongside Pete Tong at IMS Grand Finale in April

You're very versatile in terms of the parties you play on the island. How do you choose which parties to accept bookings for? Do you adapt your sound depending on the vibe?

"Absolutely. Each club is different, with a different atmosphere. I remember Privilege used to be super daunting to play, because it was so big.

There's a huge difference between playing Ushuaïa and playing Pacha. I've played a couple of shows with CAMELPHAT which have all been incredibleWhat I love about Pacha is the Balearic vibe. It's still there.

It's not a festival setting in the same way as Ushuaïa is."


Ah yes, you were recently spotted in the crowd at Pacha at CAMELPHAT. Is that something you get to do as often as you like?

"Yes. With Lucas (Vintage Culture), we went for a little stroll, which was amazing."

Do you get recognised when that happens?

"Yes. I think the hat is the giveaway (!) There's a now legendary photo of me, Joris, Nic Fanculli and a bunch of the crew in the crowd for Andrea Oliva's set. Joris was wearing my hat at the time!"

We need to see this! Let's talk music. Yesterday, you announced your new album called I Talk To Water. What can we expect from your fifth album on Kompakt?

"The album is about the passing of my father. That happened exactly 20 years ago, this year. He was a musician - a guitarist and singer, but he never released any music. He focused all his energy on the family. He worked with detoxing drug addicts for 25 years, which was a crazy job.

Although he never released any music, he would record stuff in his own studio. I never had the guts to listen to it. It was a bit of a daunting process because it was so emotional."

Lissy Lü chats to... Kölsch

"During the pandemic, I finally dug out all of these old recordings and I thought I wanted to do something with them. I've used a lot of his guitar and his vocals on the album. It's kind of beautiful to release his music 20 years after his passing.

The rest of the album is about his passing and obviously also about how you can use that sorrow as an energy, as a push to drive yourself forward. Realistically, if it wasn't for his passing, I wouldn't be here today. I wouldn't have had all this success in life.

Not that it's directly linked to him, but the whole process of feeling, having to dig through your feelings and figure out who you actually are as a person."

Lissy Lü chats to... Kölsch

Your father inspired you musically from a young age?

"Very much so. I was thinking about it yesterday, how much of his musical taste has influenced me. That's something you kind of don't want to admit it when you're a bit younger. Quote Robbie Williams, 'When I'm drunk, I dance like me dad'. (laughs)

I think, even more so now after years, I have a bigger interest in more folky music. I'm drawn to lyrics in a different way than I used to be."

It's quite an intriguing name for an album. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

"Basically, my father was cremated and laid to rest in the ocean. So when I speak to him, I go and speak to the water."

Lissy Lü chats to... Kölsch

How did you get yourself to a place where you were able to confront this sad time in your life?

"I don't think you have to relive it, really. The human brain has a weird way of remembering things completely differently. I'm sure, if I were to sit down and rewrite my first three albums again now, they would sound completely different, because time has passed.

Your mind changes. It constantly evolves, all of the time.

I think, with my father, I needed a bit of distance because for many years hearing his voice was so extremely difficult. The distance was healthy. Also, the situation with Covid meant I hadn't a clue if I was a dead man walking or not. Nobody knew if any of this was ever coming back.

That was a daunting situation to be in as an artist. The doubt, being in that situation made me realise it was time to revisit those things. It was the right moment for it."

Lissy Lü chats to... Kölsch

Why did you decide on the track An Amazing as the teaser for the new album?

"It's a funny story. My dad was a buddhist. He wanted one of two things for me: get an education or be a monk. He took me to his lama when I was 11. Not the animal, but a buddhist teacher. We went there and sat down and he asked, 'what do you want to do with your life?'

I replied that I wanted to make music, much to my dad's irritation. The lama said, that's the best thing you can do with your life because you'll make many people happy and I figured that was true. The lama didn't speak English very well. He used to say 'you're an amazing.'

I love that sentence. It's wrong, but yet it's right."

"It's funny because I think music is the only thing that gathers people together that doesn't have a cost. Like, take a football match, someone has to lose. Go for dinner, something has to die. With music, there is no sacrifice. I think that's incredible."

1977, 1983 and 1989 were a trilogy of albums that documented your upbringing. Is I Talk To Water part of another trilogy with 2020's Now Here No Where? Or are these two stand-alone projects?

"I would say they're two stand-alone albums.

Now Here No Where was very much a comment on the situation we were in with social media. I felt like I had to talk about that at the time. I Talk To Water is a separate thing.

I think the trilogy ended with my early teenage years, 1989, which was a sad time. I guess that's true for everybody... Your teenage years are pretty shit. (laughs) But I love the idea of documenting what happened before I really started making music.

When I turned 14/15, I really got into making music. I produced my first record when I was 17."

Lissy Lü chats to... Kölsch

Now that you have a new album's worth of material, do you have any plans for a new live show or will you be concentrating on DJ sets for the foreseeable future?

"There will certainly be a lot of touring. That's odd to say, seeing as the Ibiza season is coming to a close but my calendar is full until next year, which is nuts. As for live shows, we haven't decided yet. A live show is a bit of a weird concept, in a way.

Obviously, visuals and such are very important, but does anybody really care if it's a live show or not? I'm not so sure. We'll see."

Lissy Lü chats to... Kölsch

I Talk To Water is out via Kompakt on Friday 27 October and will be available to stream and download at all reputable download stores. You can preview, pre-save and order here.

There's just one more opportunity to catch Kölsch on Ibiza this summer.

Tickets for the Afterlife closing party are on sale now and available below.

ADDITIONAL WORDS | by Stephen Hunt

Related content

Select date