INTERVIEW: Rune RK aka Enur (2008)
Calabria, the sax-driven tropical island delight with ragga vocals that is storming US airwaves, initially was a huge Ibiza hit as an instrumental track. With multiple versions over the past few years, Danish producer/DJ Rune added a sassy ragga vocal from Natasja Saad for the new 2007/2008 version. You might also know Rune as part of the group Artificial Funk, with his brother Johannes Torpe, who released the club hits “Together” and “Friend for the Weekend.”
DJ Ron Slomowicz: So, congratulations on the hit with Calabria.
Rune: Thank you very much.
RS: How was the track born?
Rune: Well, the original, which I made in 2002, was one and a half hours, a bottle of Coca-Cola and it was done. It was sort of a moment in time that just happened. Since then it’s been reincarnated about five or six times by different producers and different acts, and the latest one is the one that we’ve done ourselves, which is the ragga version.
RS: The first time “Calabria” was released in the US – it was the version by Alex Gaudino. Did he contact you before he did that version, or how did you hear about it? ?
Rune: Well, I’ll tell you the true story. We got screwed over by him really badly because his version was supposed to be a remix of our thing, and they cleared it behind my back. So if I ever meet him I’m going to have to punch him for it.
RS: So to go from the instrumental version to a vocal version, where did that inspiration come from?
?Rune: Honestly, it was Natasja. She sadly passed away in June last year in a car accident in Jamaica. But one night I just woke up and I thought, this is a good idea, with the horn and with the beat and her on it, because she was just such an amazing performer. I’m very, very sad that she’s not here to experience this great success with her voice. She would have been over the moon, because she’d been struggling for so many years.
RS: I have no idea what she’s talking about, the lyrics that she says. What do they mean?
?Rune: Basically they’re about this guy who makes her really horny. That’s the whole joke, you know. That’s as much as I understood, what she explained to me. I don’t speak Patois so I don’t really understand all of it. There are actually quite a few translations on the net so you can just look that up.
RS: How did Mims get involved with the track? ?
Rune: Honestly, I don’t know. Ultra set that up. So I wouldn’t really know, but I’m really happy he did because it’s a really good track.
RS: Why do you think the track is doing so well in the US, crossing over outside just the dance world? ?
Rune: I would say it’s because I’m talented, but I’m not going to flatter myself with that. I think it’s needed. I think America needs something fresh like that, and then also a lot of people – just the sound is such a mixture of influences. I think it appeals to a lot of different characters, and I think that’s an advantage of coming from Europe and not having to pigeonhole into some sort of genre. But honestly, it’s kind of hard for me to figure out. I’m just really happy that it does translate to so many different people.
RS: Its a big hit in the urban hip-hop clubs. Did you have any idea that would happen when you originally did the track?
?Rune: No, because when you think about it, it’s far too fast for an urban record. Normally hip-hop and R&B records are under or around 100 beats per minute and Calabria is 127. So I was really impressed that they actually dared to even play it, because you can’t really mix it with another hip-hop record.
RS: When you created it, it became an instant Ibiza hit, correct? ?
Rune: Yes, the original version was huge. For three years in a row it was probably the biggest.
RS: The name Enur, that’s your name spelt backwards, right? ?
RS: Your half-brother is part of the team also and the two of you are working on an album right now?
?Rune: We’re actually working on two albums. We have the artists album which is going out through EMI in Europe, and then there’s the Enur album which is going to be through Ultra.
RS: All these different names – why do you Europeans keep changing names? ?
Rune: To make it more fun – otherwise its too easy to figure out. Obviously there’s a difference, there are slightly different genre changes within the name. I release records as Rune, as well as Runer K and we have a label called Arty Farty. But as I said, it’s important not to pigeonhole yourself into a particular area. It’s important to keep things fresh and keep things alive. That’s what dance music is all about, isn’t it?
RS: What’s the difference between the Artificial Funk sound and the Enur sound?
?Rune: The Enur sound is more urban, ragga-oriented with more vocals. It’s not necessarily house music, whereas Artificial Funk is more of an album project. It’s home listening for clubbers, if you can put it that way. It’s quite a personal album that we did because our father passed away five years ago, and it’s very much about that whole grief process. It’s quite different. I’d say it’s more of a blend of Air and Daft Punk, stuff like that, which we’re very inspired by.
RS: I was wondering what the inspiration for the “Friend for the Weekend” track was.
?Rune: To me, it’s quite obvious. I play out every weekend in different parts of the world, and what I see everywhere is that people are trying to pull each other together, and find this brief moment of safety in the hard world of nightlife. You need the comforts which I think people are looking for. That’s what the lyrics are about anyway.
RS: And talking about comfort, what was the idea behind the bed video for the Artificial Funk track “Together?”
?Rune: I don’t know. I didn’t do that and it was horrible. That’s such a stupid video. They did that without my knowledge. It was just beyond words. I’m glad you know that, because it was just ridiculous.
RS: It’s actually kind of cool, I thought, the effects in it. ?
Rune: Well, it could have been worse, but still, it was pretty horrible in my opinion. There were so many things in the vocal you could have gone with, but this was just another excuse to whack in a couple of beautiful girls and this guy. It’s a classic English dance music way of handling things. It was just kind of stupid.
RS: Speaking of which, right now, what are you wearing, Gucci or Prada? ?
Rune: I’m actually not wearing any of them at the moment. I’m wearing (something from) this guy, Henry Ribscoll – a Danish designer, and he’s got a really cool jacket. I’m wearing some really weird, fancy Italian pants, and I’m wearing Eight O shoes, the cow hide shoes. I’m big on fashion but I’m not big on Gucci or Prada. That “Koochi Koochi” track a joke anyway, so you know.
RS: I sort of gathered that. Were you making fun of how ultra-fashionable people try to be?
?Rune: Yes, exactly, exactly. The whole point is, it’s an observation of what’s going on. You see yourself, and then some people are just too much – you know, all these Gotti brothers look alike, with the spiky hair and all that. It’s just ridiculous, it’s such a joke, isn’t it?
RS: Pretty much. Going back to Friend for the Weekend, was there a sample you used in that?
?Rune: There was, but I can’t tell you from where. I trashed it up really well, so they probably will never find out. But basically, I didn’t sample a whole loop. I did sample a chord from an old record and I changed it and I pitched up and down and double layered it, so there’s no way they’re going to find out. But it’s not so much a sample. It’s more the sound of a sample that has a certain charm to it that I really love.
RS: Yes, it had a very – I don’t know if you know about these people – it sounded very Galleon to me. ?
Rune: Yes, exactly. I know those guys, but I think what we were going for was more like a Daft Punk-ish / Stardust type of thing. But it’s the same genre anyway, isn’t it?
RS: Going back to videos – the Enur video for Calabria – were you involved with that video?
?Rune: Not at all. And honestly, I’m not too keen on that video either.
RS: Well, if you were to do a video for Calabria, what would it look like? ?
Rune: You know what, I think I’d just stick to what I do. What I’d love to do is, I’d love to illustrate what’s going on in the nightlife, because I think a big problem with music, and house music in general, is that it doesn’t have any identity. It does when you go out somewhere, and you see a lot of young people going nuts in a club. I want to do that. You know these classic stadium rock videos you had in the 80s, with the band playing in this big stadium and people going nuts? I’d like to do that with a house record. That would be so good because it would be so clear. It would just be that going on, and people could relate to that in a much better way than all these bikini videos.
RS: Yes, those bimbos in bikinis videos are becoming just a tad cliché. There’s such a buzz on so many Dutch trance DJs and Dutch DJs. What can you say for the people of Denmark, all the Danish musicians? ?
Rune: You know what, I’m sorry to say so, but they’re better. DJs in Denmark are ridiculously good because they have to be. Denmark was a really, really big rock country, so I’d say there was never any respect for DJs. It was all about ‘where’s the guitarist’ and ‘where’s the singer’? We really had to work hard and a lot of DJs in Denmark do so many tricks. And talking of myself, I was named the professional of house music many times in Europe where I play around, because we had to work so hard to get the attention of people. People don’t do any drug because it’s a beer country. People drink a lot so you have to work really hard to get their attention. From the technical side of things, they are extremely, extremely good DJs, and musicians as well. Do you know Trentemoeller?
RS: Of course, Rykettid rocks!. ?
Rune: Yes, he’s a Danish guy, and he’s fantastic as well. He’s doing really, really well. He’s a friend of mine, too.
RS: I interviewed him last year. You also did something with MTV and some TV competition? ?
Rune: Yes, I’m the judge on the new MTV Selective tour. It’s a competition in Northern Europe for the next big DJ. It’s a bit like the Heineken things and that sort of stuff. They’re doing this big competition, and I’m the judge on there.
RS: Very cool. In the Danish scene, what would you say is the big musical trend coming from there right now? ?
Rune: I’d say we’re going back to more vocals. We’ve had minimal and we have this whole electro house thing, of course. At the moment, vocals are coming back, but not like classic house vocals. More tech-y stuff, but blended with a bit of funk, and then the vocal on top of that. A good example would be John Dahlback’s “Everywhere.” It was a huge hit in Copenhagen and Denmark. So the vocals are definitely coming back, but they’re coming from a different place. All the minimal DJs in Germany are also playing vocals now.
RS: Are there going to be a lot of vocals on your album? Who are some of the people you’re working with on the album?
?Rune: I can’t really tell you that because it’s not confirmed. But there will be some really, really, really big artists on there, if I can get away with it. This is a fantastic opportunity to approach my heroes from back in the day. I had a big record in the US, and there’s so many, especially within hip-hop and rap, that I admired for so many years. I’m going to try and get quite a few of those people on there.
RS: In the hip-hop vein, what was it like when you heard Pitbull sample your record? ?
Rune: Well, I don’t think his version is that good, to be honest. But I’m honored that he did. It’s a great approval – Pitbull, Lil’ Jon. That’s just another tap on the shoulder for me as a producer.
RS: With all the different versions out there, Calabria has been called the new Planet Rock. ?
Rune: That’s a compliment. If anybody thinks of anything I’ve ever done in terms like that, that is probably the biggest honor I could ever achieve in my lifetime.
RS: What would you like to say to all the fans of Calabria out there?
?Rune: I’d say you should look forward to the album. It’s going to be very good. We’re looking to get some really big acts on there. It’s going to be a really, really good album. It’s a new blend, very interesting, in my opinion, taking influences from hip-hop and R&B and then whack it together with this up-tempo stuff. It’s really working out very well.