Oliver Koletzki has cemented his name as one of Germany’s most beloved electronic producers. Much of this is due to the acclaim of his homegrown label, Stil vor Talent, which, over the past 13 years, has become a steady fixture of Berlin’s thriving underground scene.
When he’s not scouting talent for his imprint, Koletzki can be found devising eclectic dance albums which run the gamut from electronica to deep house and techno.
For his latest album, Koletzki sought inspiration outside of Berlin, traveling to South Africa with frequent studio collaborator Niko Schwind. Together, the pair set up shop in Cape Town’s coastal suburb, Noordhoek, where they spent four weeks drawing influence from the region’s roaming scenery and native culture. The result is an expansive, multicultural dance album from the pair, aptly titled after the region.
Where Noordhoek succeeds is in its ability to blend Afrocentric percussion and mystic soundscapes with a tasteful German deep house sensibility. Album standout “Kasai,” which Billboard Dance is exclusively premiering, is one such example, nestling a variety of tribal hand drum rhythms over an understated beat, further punctuated by a smooth saw synth bassline. Listen to it below.
Oliver Koletzki and Niko Schwind’s collaborative album Noordhoek arrives on Stil vor Talent on May 25. Pre-order it here, and read an exclusive Q&A with Koletzki below.
The releases on Stil vor Talent are very diverse, yet there’s still a consistency to the label’s sound. How would you describe the label’s sonic style or aesthetic?
Stil vor Talent has now been running for 13 years and I’ve been A&R’ing for exactly the same time. Of course there have been all kinds of different musical focal points over such an extended timeframe, not least because my own private taste always changes slightly. Fundamentally we have always moved between the genres electronica, house and techno though. Rather than exploring just one genre, I’d say that our label’s sound is shaped by certain characteristics that are important for tracks: we don’t want the songs to be overloaded, they need to possess a dramaturgy and an arc of suspense, they have to be clever and the production itself should be of high quality.
It seems like Stil vor Talent has made a conscious shift towards albums in 2018. What inspired the change?
Actually, we have consistently been releasing about two to three artist albums for the past eight years. The “album” format is incredibly important, since its longer scope enables the artist to tell a story and to invite the listener on a journey through their idea of electronic music. Moreover, it’s musically sustainable and helps the artist move forward in their career.
You set up shop in South Africa to write this new album Noordhoek. How did the geography and geopolitical landscape of South Africa influence the sound of this album?
I was very moved by the time in South Africa on a personal level. There is a lot of poverty and you can still feel the Apartheid everywhere and there’s also a shortage of drinking water. Still there is also a lot of joy too. Musically, the country’s stunning landscapes and it’s incredible sunsets had a massive influence on us — which I think one can definitely hear on the album.
How is the electronic music scene in South Africa? What is unique about the scene there?
At the moment the scene over there is really developing very very fast. There are lots of new festivals popping up, as well as many good clubs. Aside from big artists like Black Coffee and Lazarusman a lot of newer acts have been able to establish themselves more recently. Culoe de Song, Floyd Lavine and Stab Virus are just a few of many promising newcomers of the past years.
You visited AfrikaBurn as well when you were there — could you tell us a little bit about what it is and what your experience was like?
I have to say, I am in love with AfrikaBurn. It’s like a more relaxed version of Burning Man. Everything is a little fresher, more down to earth and in an exciting stage of development. I found that the festival already had three excellent stages in the form of The Lighthouse, The Central Station and The Spirit Train in 2017. I’d wholeheartedly recommend to anyone to go on the journey to experience it for themselves. It really had a big effect on my and helped me to move forward in my personal development.