Seminal German trance producer Ingo Kunzi recorded under numerous aliases including DJ Tandu, Intrance, D-Sign, and Karuma, but is perhaps best known for the classic 1996 track "Ayla," recorded under the same name. Kunzi started making music when he was just five years old. Influenced by the likes of Supertramp and Pat Metheny, he started out in the rock scene, building his own studio in 1985 and engineering demos for rock bands before discovering electronic music via the likes of Cosmic Baby and Talla 2XLC's Moskwa TV project. His first success was as part of the group Intrance, which hit number 16 on the German singles chart in 1993 with the seminal techno/trance tune "Te Quierro," a considerable feat at a time when electronic dance music was still in its infancy. The singles "Always," "Dosta," and "Visions of Love" followed, before Intrance split up. In 1994, Kunzi launched his DJ Tandu alias with the "Acido" EP, his first foray into full-on trance, with a hard, psychedelic sound. The EP went on to sell over 10,000 copies.
The Ayla project was born in 1995 when Kunzi set about recording a new song, which he named after a girl he met in the studio. Feeling that its lush, hypnotic, ethereal sound did not fit his DJ Tandu alias, he decided to release it under a new project with the same name as the song. The tune was an instant hit, smashing the German dance charts. Its success was due in part to the euphoric, high-energy remix by his friends and fellow producers Taucher — aka Ralph-Armand Beck and Torsten Stenzel — and remains the best-known version of the track. Re-released in 1999 on a remix single by powerhouse dance label Positiva, it went straight into the U.K. singles chart at number 22. It remains Kunzi's biggest chart success to date. The track was used in a McDonald's commercial, and appeared on the soundtrack of the British comedy film Kevin & Perry Go Large.
Ayla's second release was the single "Atlantis." Four further singles followed: "Ayla, Pt. 2," a collaboration with Beck and Stenzel that cracked the German pop Top 40; "Liebe" ("Love"), a cover of the Cosmic Baby classic; Kunzi's self-confessed all-time-favorite Ayla track, "Angelfalls," and "Into the Light." These tracks, "Atlantis" excepted, were collected on the successful debut Ayla album, Nirwana, released in 1999. The harder singles "Singularity" — a cover of the Brainchild classic — and "Sun Is Coming Out" followed the album. In 2002, after problems with his record company, and feeling it was time for a break, Kunzi put Ayla on hiatus to focus on other projects. It was not until nine years later, in 2011, that he returned with the long-awaited second Ayla album, Unreleased Secrets. In 2015, he teamed up once again with old friends Taucher (now Beck solo) and York (Stenzel) for the progressive house single "Free Yourself." As of 2016, he and Taucher were working on a collaborative album. ~ John D. Buchanan