Few travel as widely or often as a touring DJ, traversing the globe between festivals, clubs, and parties. With this in mind, the German photographer Linus Dessecker, together with Berlin’s iconic techno club Watergate and the Cosmo Hotel (a favorite crash pad for visiting DJs) posed the same seven travel-related questions to some of today’s top beat-makers, selectors, and producers, whom he also photographed. The resulting material was released in a slick volume titled Sound Travels: DJs in Transit, Berlin 2012-2017. We’ll be excerpting the book over the coming months, beginning now with German techno producer DJ Koze, Dutch-Cameroonian house denizen William Kouam Djoko, and Finnish eclecticist Trevor Deep Jr.
His vivid, dreamy, spectacular new album, “Knock Knock,” which came out this May and features guest vocals from José González, Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner, and Róisín Murphy, has thrust DJ Koze into the international spotlight. But the Flensburg-born DJ and producer whose given name is Stefan Kozalla, has been something of a legend in the German music scene for decades. He was part of the German hip-hop act Fischmob in the 1990s, while also recording under the name Adolf Noise. He took on the DJ Koze moniker in the 2000s, releasing music through the German electronic label Kompakt and later on his own label, Pampa Records, which he founded in 2010.
Q: Approximately how many gigs do you play a year? Precisely 64 gigs per year.
Q: How many flights do you need to take for your annual bookings? According to my Lufthansa statistics: 4.539 circumnavigations of the earth. Well that’s just with Lufthansa. I guess another two times to the moon and back with Ryanair.
Q: What equipment do you typically use; what do you pack? A Pioneer 900 mixer and three CDJ-2000 players.
Q: What does traveling mean to you; are you still able to enjoy it? Travel is the ‘school of life’. I prefer it less in the summer, more in the winter.
Q: What do you miss most when you’re on the road? Calm.
Q: What’s the best, weirdest or even the craziest situation you’ve experienced on your journeys so far? A crazy thing happened to me once in Beirut…
Q: How do you keep your life balanced? By embracing fantasy.
WILLIAM KOUAM DJOKO
A former dancer raised in the Hague by a Cameroonian father and a Ukrainian-Dutch mother, William Djoko’s roots are reflected in the range and showmanship of his productions. After working his way up as a resident DJ at legendary Amsterdam venue Trouw and releasing singles and EPs on an impressive array of well-regarded underground labels, he hit it big with his “OMG” single on legendary New York house label Strictly Rhythm. Today the Amsterdam-based DJ plays some of the world’s top festivals and venues, like Concrete in Paris, Warehouse Project in Manchester, and the iconic Printworks in London.
Q: Approximately how many gigs do you play a year? I play six to seven gigs each month on average.
Q: How many flights do you need to take for your annual bookings? I take approximately 50 flights a year.
Q: What equipment do you typically use; what do you pack? My equipment depends on if I play a live show or DJ. For Live shows it’s a laptop, several controllers, a mic, and FX. When I DJ it’s my trusty vinyls and two flash drives.
Q: What does traveling mean to you; are you still able to enjoy it?Of course I enjoy traveling. I mean besides being in airports and sometimes flying ungodly hours it’s the best part. Every time I meet all these different people and cultures. I love it cause it enriches me on a lot of different levels. From music and food to worldviews and jokes.
Q: What do you miss most when you’re on the road? As corny as it sounds, I probably miss my own bed and the smell of home most.
Q: What’s the best, weirdest or even the craziest situation you’ve experienced on your journeys so far? I think ranking high up there, lonely at the top is doing a skydive to my show and playing a four hour set at Kudos Beach Festival in Mamaia (RO).
Q: How do you keep your life balanced? When I‘m at home I work out a lot. I really need this to balance the crazy weekends; to keep both my body and mind in sync.
Once I’m on the road it‘s important to keep my diet in mind.
TREVOR DEEP JR.
Heavily influenced by jazz, funk, and hip-hop, the Helsinki-based house DJ Trevor Deep Jr. blends classic Chicago house, Detroit techno soul, the underground sounds of New York City, and the moody soundscapes of his hometown Helsinki in his sets and productions. His releases on labels such as Amsterdam’s Delsin, Berlin’s Nsyde and his own HPTY imprint show a love for analogue synthesizers and hypnotic loops.
Q: Approximately how many gigs do you play a year? We play somewhere between 30 and 40 gigs a year.
Q: How many flights do you need to take for your annual bookings? I can’t really say how many flights we take because we’re just starting to travel more—hopefully many more.
Q: What equipment do you typically use; what do you pack? We travel with a full load of vinyls and we carry USBs—also in case of back up. We‘d love to bring more vinyls to the gigs but traveling light is much more mellow.
Q: What does traveling mean to you; are you still able to enjoy it? Our journey is just beginning, so traveling means a great deal to us. We definitely enjoy traveling. Sharing the music is so important. Meeting new people and experiencing different party cultures vibrates back to the production. We sincerely hope there are many more countries to visit and many more parties to jam at before we’re done.
Q: What do you miss most when you’re on the road? Kids, most definitely our kids are the biggest thing we miss. There are always moments when you’re far from home when you feel exhausted and just by looking at some pictures of our families you can carry on through the journey. Obviously souvenir shopping is a great hobby while abroad and it takes away yearning.
Q: What’s the best, weirdest or even the craziest situation you’ve experienced on your journeys so far? So many crazy times and stories happen on every trip—not. I think often people think there’s craziness all the time when traveling, but that’s an illusion. Usually nothing special happens and it’s all very professional. Depends on your party mood though.
Q: How do you keep your life balanced? To stay balanced you need: good food, relaxation and record shopping, period.