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?