Kölsch would have his biggest success to date with a track called “Calabria” as Rune RK in 2003. You know the one. Pitbull sampled it, and it became a Ministry of Sound anthem and worldwide smash when mashed up with Alex Gaudino and Crystal Waters’ “Destination Unknown”, with Waters' vocals and an ubiquitous film clip of scantily clad band girls blowing trumpets.
It was never intended as a hit record, says Kölsch. “I was trying to make a Balearic version of Jeff Mills, I was trying to do that minimal sound but with organic sounds. It was like, ‘How long can I keep this loop going without it getting really annoying?’ That’s down to interpretation, I guess,” he laughs, “but that’s what I wanted to do.”
He played around with radio-friendly music for a while after that, but felt boxed in by pop’s conventions. Better, then, to continue exploring with his glossy, dance-skewed productions as Rune RK and the pulsing, minimal techno he made as Ink and Needle.
It was the latter that caught the ear of Michael Mayer, who emailed Kölsch asking if he’d like to put out something on Kompakt. Upon discovering Rune’s last name - the German word for the Cologne dialect and for the local beer - Mayer “completely freaked out," says Kölsch. “It was like a match made in heaven.”
It’s under the Kölsch alias that Rune has met with the most acclaim, and it’s the only moniker he performs under today. (Until 2014, he was still putting out commercial club tracks as Rune RK with the likes of Steve Aoki and NERVO but "that’s over now," he says firmly.)
The string-laden, melodic deep house he plays as Kölsch has produced some of Kompakt’s biggest tracks over the past seven years. "The last three albums I've sent them, they’re like, 'It’s only hits! Could you please experiment a little more?!'" Kölsch laughs. His trilogy of records, titled 1979, 1983 and 1989 and released in 2013, 2015 and 2017 respectively, is inspired by Kölsch's youth before he started making music.