Getting to Know: Jeremy Olander
Getting to Know: Jeremy Olander (Interviewed by Priya Sen.)
For some years now, this guy has been doing the rounds of all the legendary venues of the world under one of the biggest music banners to come out in club history. Producing tunes comes easy as cheese-cake for the handsome Jeremy Olander, who has one half of Indian roots in his otherwise blue blood Swedish nature…and so begins an exploration in to the much in demand Dj/Producer of the new brigade, who show-cases his vast talent under the prestigious Pryda Friends label. Eric Prydz’s endorsement of this veritable treasure trove, has made the Olander magic be heard far and wide. Who can forget 2011 for those mass shifting tunes such as ”Riots”, ”Evade”, and ”Chronic”, followed up by ”Fairfax/Rypamont”. He is also known for his formidable amount of floor shaping work with other giants like Toolroom, Drumcode and Sudbeat as well. Jeremy’s set musical expeditions which speak of much attractive dance floor appeal has attracted numerous releases and break the club gigs…In the here and now I is, stoked as hell to grill the wonder boy himself for Euphoric. Catching up with Olander’s serious meanderings during his first ever tour of India. As he got to Aamby Valley for his debut Dj set for the Enchanted Valley Carnival festivities….we talked about everything nice, happy and as well as address his musical influences, various projects and recent happenings of the much in demand performer..Ladies and Gents please give a warm welcome to Jeremy Olander…
At my unhinged excitement to know where the origins of the Olander journey began, he is quick to sear my mind with these deep thoughts- ”I don’t know which moments it was at exactly, that made me fall in love with the ideas and the business of music in general, but I do remember that I heard and what changed me was an old Steve Angello ”Ministry of Sound” compilation and I was happy to have found it, listened to it and I was really blown away. It was so experimental and interesting for me to hear. This is of course in the early days. I had also heard the likes of Benny Benassi, Eric’s early work and several other Djs on the radio”.
When I asked him to describe his early days of growing up, as to whether he was doing all the usual things that a youngster does, in terms of raving it up and being the cool dude around and also how his formative years led him to get down and digging in to music mode, he say’s- ”Nooo, I was too young. In Sweden you have to be 18 to go out and this was before I was of that age. I was born in the US, but I grew up in Sweden. So my first real experience of being taken away with music, was that CD. That’s when I started to slowly dig in to the genre and then following all that, my friend showed me a program where in you can make similar sounds from the computer. The process that makes all this. What was great is that I am a computer geek and I started to sit, all the while trying to understand what goes behind all of it, instead of doing the regular stuff teens do such as playing games etc. So it really sort of took off from there. I invested in a lot of Djing equipment and gear, very basic and for home use. Tinkering around with it at home was an unassuming beginning, but it paid off in a lot of ways”.
A secret weapon in his arsenal is revealed when one gets to know, that he is an untrained ear in the business, which to my mind lends him that extra edge to create music very unique and can work in favor of his productions hitting those never before strains. Validated by his response-”It’s funny, but my Dad tried to get me to learn Piano and he even got me in to a group, which to my mind was too big. Thereafter, he got me a private tutor but it wasn’t happening. Then he tried to get my hands on a Guitar and I wasn’t really going for it. And then he said to me- ”You’re going to regret it when you get older”, to which my retort was ”Why would I want to play any instruments, I like listening to it but why would I be needing training…let alone be a musician”. It’s really funny how it pans out, but my Dad I think was right I think also though in the same vein that it’s probably a good thing that I am not classically trained. When you’re trained then you tend to know all the scales, one knows the harmonies and I do not know all that. So to me I catch whatever sounds good to my ear, in an untrained way. There’s no classical cord progression going on. There’s a lot of analyzing of everything in these times, that can become very technical. Nowadays a lot of artists don’t know all that. Like for example Jimi Hendrix (not that I am comparing myself to him), he didn’t know those notes, but has gone on to become one of the greatest musicians on earth. So in a lot of ways it works for me, the freshness of ear and it’s going well for me. You just need a good ear for the harmonies to work”.
My curiosity at whether he started off as an aspiring Dj playing the local scene is squashed, as he turns around and gives me a different take on the initial days of being a musician- ”No, I wasn’t doing that. Well I decided pretty early in my career not to start out as a local Dj. I saw the local Djs at that time and they were really struggling to get somewhere. So I started to focus on a lot of my own sounds, as I saw the ones who break through are the ones that have their own sound. That’s when the production side of things kicked off and I still have my Djing equipment, but I began to focus a lot on the making my own sounds, getting inspiration, listening to a lot of Eric’s sounds, listening also to a lot of Dj sets such as Sasha & John Digweed, I got in to Adam Beyer. I used to go to shows, stand in a corner listening and analyzing what these artists were doing. I had some friends who were running clubs and they sort of invited me to come and play. I played, though was horribly nervous, even if it was a small club. I was really very nervous. But anyway, the Djing really took off when I started working with Eric Prydz. He just put me in front of a huge stage, he brought me onboard when he was doing the first ”Epic” show in London. I opened the venue with my set. It turned out to be my very own first big platform and my nervousness hit all the high notes :)”.
When asked as to how many years he’s been hitting the spot with his Djing excurisons, he rambles on in a clear tone with– ”I think it was 2011 so almost 3 years now. So yes, production goes first, Djing second…cause that’s the kind of act I am. I play mostly my own stuff, because you want to separate yourself from any other artists and I like to play my own productions, that way you won’t get to hear it anywhere else”. Jeremy is trigger happy at where his base is from, as Sweden is where he lives and travels from– ”At the moment I live in Stockholm”. Does it give him joy to visit other parts of Europe, namely Ibiza during season time– ”Well, I didn’t play there this year because I played there last 2 years and the shows that I did there, were with Eric. This year he wasn’t there that much. And as it so happens in Ibiza there is a lot of show-casing going on. People have their certain nights and I don’t release music through other labels to get me in”.
As we get comfortable and seat ourselves deeper with the delving in to Olander’s many thoughts, the million dollar question in my head runs to…as Jeremy Olander, we all know that his entire musical package has received an astounding amount of positive reviews, but is it to do mostly with the fact that it may be for a better word being curated by the Eric Prydz brand values, to which he intones- ”Well, It’s kind of. Although I am totally free to release music anywhere. As the big picture stands I will always have that particular sound that is close to the brand and am also developing in other directions. Such as my current scene is , I am also spending time listening to House music from the 90’s and getting very influenced by it. It’s always changing. Lot of artsist nowadays initially have that breakthrough record and more often than not, they get stuck in that particular sound, get scared to try different stuff out thereafter. Having said that, I am fortunate to be slowly building a foundation and if you do it slowly, then one can look to make a journey in many creative ways. Surely I am not going to veer off in to Hip-Hop, but am happy to make different sounding work, and moreover at my own pace. Also a lot of performers now, want to get big overnight and don’t think about the consequences. I think if one gets big overnight with one particular sound, that is all people are going to expect other than if you’d built up a slow and steady foundation in you’re creations. And the same artist then tries to do something different, after being such a bang…then don’t get accepted and people rant that this is bullshit. Here’s where the typecast lands you in to. Like for example…(here I am giggling) then he quips na na No I am not going to give any examples, I think people know who they are”.
As part of the talented lot of Djs/Producers of these times, I have always wondered if the fast bending Djs of today, tried their hands on Vinyls, and I pose the question to Jeremy and he is pretty tongue in cheek about his experience of getting his hands on the previous form of play– ”I’ve tried them yes. And they are really hard, I tried playing on them very early in my career. My friend had a set-up, so I went and gave it a shot, it’s very hard. I have a lot of respect for the Djs who still stick to it like Sven Vath”.
At my exclamations of whether Dj performances nowadays is relegated to more pomp and show plus the never ending usage of technology driven machines and new tools that indeed present mixes flawlessly.. but to it also lending an overly robotic vibe, Jeremy agrees to the pattern– ”Yes very much, the technology takes away the feeling of a Dj. When I started going to shows, it’s not about lights, CO2, it’s about what the Djs doing that can make me dance. I think all these elements are coming away from the Dj performances based on music alone. I’ve heard about the raves in the UK during the 90’s, where you go in to this ware-house and the only lights around are the ones at the console for the Dj and that’s it. I do hope that we can go back to that kind of minimal setting where things can get back to becoming more about the Dj and his music and really respect the Dj culture. To build up the vibe. It’s funny when you look at these huge acts today (again take no names) there’s a reason why their sets are so short. They are paid huge amounts of money to play an hour and a half. But there’s such beauty in long sets, I love them. These Djs just come and play banging tracks for that short period of time, can you imagine anyone of them playing banging stuff for 3 hours, it would be so stupid. I wouldn’t want to stand there for those many hours and just go mad. There has to be a build up and a mood set and that’s what a Dj should do”.
And to the medium he uses to play up musical storms, he unabashedly comments- ”I use pen drives. I think a Dj’s job is just not to stand and the people I’ve looked up to have put on a great vibe, an intimate coming together that comes in when you play extended sets. They build it up, they trickle it down is how it should be. I also think even they are sick of what they are doing right now. I am sure a lot of these Djs must be wanting to play longer sets, they want to go deeper, but they are probably stuck in this kind of playing festival type of sets where one just comes and bangs it, in clubs as well. It is quite ridiculous to my mind”.
On a great positive note, there’s a huge section of Olander followers who are quite enthusiastically looking forward to his music releases and here he brings up his other alias that’s going to mark his artistic mirror as much as the other– ”I have a lot of unreleased music, that I want to bring out. I have another psuedonym called ”Dhillon”, which is Techno oriented. And it’s very much a Live project. I know it’s been a long time, since I said I’d do a release, but I am still working with Drumcode with a 4 track EP, I just have to get all the right tracks in there. Beyer is very picky about what tracks you choose, just like Eric Prydz. I am kind of tied up through my Techno alias as well to DC, and will stay true to that. I really love what they are doing. I’ve talked a lot to Adam about what we are doing and he has said that do whatever you are doing with ”Dhillon” and I am quite happy as I think I’ve found my home with both the brands around me. Then I have a track that I think I am going to release under Jeremy Olander in 2014, it’s a track that I made a long, long time ago but never saw the light of day”.
In his busy schedule yet unhurried amiable nature, does he ever plan out his Dj sets before performance time and he answers good naturedly– ”I never prepare. I just maybe plan 2 to 3 tracks in my head, but the rest I just take it from there. Plus, festivals are quite different than a club setting, the former maybe you just come and get banging from the word go, but I prefer doing longer sets where you can build up a vibe. So I tend not to plan, I usually used to get nervous earlier on. But now I am much more confident, so I just do it on the fly”.
When I ask him about his impressions of India; namely the food, people and living- ”It’s a very interesting culture. Well I’ve heard from my mom, she’s Indian. I’ve been to Goa as well and seen a little bit. I actually just ordered room service, as I came in very late yesterday. I can’t say I’ve seen much, but I am really looking forward to being here, having a couple of extra days instead of going back and forth”. To my queries of whether he ever goes out listening and partying to other Dj events– ”I do go out, but I have a schedule. In Sweden, there are not so many shows that interest me so. Every once in awhile there is something that I do or would like to go to, Sweden has gone commercial. I can see in the US, they are really getting mature with the sounds. I was apprehensive about playing my sounds there, but am happy to see that they have been very receptive. Hopefully it’ll spread in other places”.
And if he can explain in his own words to a lay man what sounds he represents- ‘‘I play Progressive sounds. It goes in to Techno as well. I have a wide spectrum of sounds. I can do Vocal, I can do mellow”….
As I bid 2013 adieu along with all the readers of the magazine, I’d like to share that I ended up witnessing a fabulously slap the brains and tingling the spine set at Enchanted Valley Carnival outdoors, and quite an opposite set at Blue Frog, Mumbai the following weekend which is heart warming to watch of the debuting youngster. I thank him on behalf of Euphoric to take time to talk to us, on the other we celebrate Jeremy’s breaking down the boundaries visage, his ideologies behind mixing, layering and beat grabbings to make the music he has come to be known for, all the more powered and differently so…Here’s wishing Jeremy Olander all the very best, as his glossary of work is seemingly getting stunning and quite beyond my reach, I’d also like to make a special mention of Prateek Pandey from sLick! for this thoughtful choice of an artist being introduced to our Indian shores. Although he is a fresh funk man in the dance music horizon, I would like to ask myself, does all this make me wanna go for his shows and jump right on the minute he releases his productions..? Hell, YEAH!!