Jeremy Olander’s music and sets are a visceral experience, charged in emotional depths and executed in eloquent melodic passages. A DJ and electronic music producer that rose to prominence through the Stockholm scene where the likes of Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso and Eric Prydz paved the way, Jeremy Olander found a voice in the harmonious corners of 4-4 club music. It was at Prydz’ Pryda label where Olander would make his first impressions on the circuit in 2011, and he’s been releasing at least two EPs a year since his first release while touring the world extensively as a DJ.
After an unprecedented six releases on Pryda Friends and one on Pryda, Olander eventually set up his own label, Vivrant, from which he would exclusively release his own music, between releases from artist friends. His next release finds Olander capturing the sound of the label for another imprint in the form of a career-first mix album coming out via Balance. The album contains 14 unreleased tracks from Olander across three monikers, as well as label affiliates and friends like Tim Engelhardt, Locked Groove, La Fleur and Ejeca.
To accompany the release, Olander will be touring around the globe from Sweden to Australia, with Jaeger and Oslo his very first stop on the tour. As an extension of the new mix album, the Vivrant tour will see Olander serve up some of his unique melodic infused club music with a specific focus on the Vivrant sonic aesthetic. We reached out to Jeremy Olander ahead of the tour to ask about his early influences and how he might have arrived at the music he plays and makes today, but after receiving a shortlist, we were pleasantly surprised by his selections.
Born in America, to an Indian mother and Swedish father, and raised in Stockholm, Olander has had a multicultural upbringing that should undoubtedly have made for some interesting musical influences in his formative years, but when we asked him to share a few, we were excited to find that a cinematic connection started to emerge. We called up Jeremy Olander at his home in Sweden, where he is currently enjoying some downtime before he heads out on the tour, to ask about how this theme emerged and how this particular form of music has resonated with him.
What a great compilation of music. I don’t think I mentioned that there should be any concept to this list, but you stuck to this cinematic theme and it’s great.
I think it’s fun to try and do a theme, to tell some sort of story.
And why specifically music for film?
I like listening to it, and the aspect of storytelling. A lot of dance music does the same. A lot of the music I play doesn’t have any vocals in it that tells you a story, so you have to tell it through melodies and vibe.
Operation New World OST – Big Sleep
I randomly watched this movie years ago after a friend recommended it. It’s one of my favourite movies (never leaves my iPad) and it catapulted my interest and love for Korean film making. I’m surprised Hollywood haven’t made a shitty remake of it yet. The soundtrack fits the movie like a glove and is kind of reminiscent of The Godfather theme song in a sense. Very gangster-esque.
This is a very mournful and emotionally charged song. Is this something you look for in music?
Yes, I like the melancholic kind of tracks. I don’t want it to be too happy-go-lucky and I don’t know if that’s just the Swede inside of me.
The music you make also relies on a similar melodic emphasis. Do you feel you have to be in some kind of emotional state to make music?
It depends and I’ll go through different stages. Sometimes I have to wait for it to come. At the moment, I’m having a hard time forcing it. It’s more about taking some time off and finding some ideas. You never know when it’s going to strike, you’ll just have to wait for it.
Do you listen to a lot of film scores when you’re at home and enjoying some time off?
Yes, I would say so. I think when I listen to most of the music I listen to, it’s when I’m taking my dog for a walk or going from A to B. When I’m at home and I’m not working on music, I don’t tend to listen to music.
The Land Before Time – The Rescue’ Discovery Of The Great Valley
I think a lot of people born in the mid to late 80s watched this movie growing up. It really is an incredible film, albeit a bit sad, that I can’t wait to watch with my kid. The soundtrack adds another layer of emotions that takes me right back to childhood as soon as I hear it. James Horner really was one of the greatest film music composers.
Why this particular moment in the movie?
I don’t know, it’s something that speaks to me about that part of the film and the music. It really strikes a chord with me. It’s a very sad movie all the way through, but there’s also a kind of hopefulness as well.
You say you have a kid. Has that changed your perspective on DJing and clubbing?
Definitely. I can’t really stay away when I’m on tour like I could before. It’s a little bit crazy, but that’s the life I chose.
Do you think it has an effect on the way that you DJ, because you don’t have that same relationship with the club anymore?
I think I’ve settled a little more in what I do. You see a lot of younger people going out, they’re very up to date on the trends. I still think I stay informed on what is happening, since there are so many news outlets covering dance music. I still try to go digging, but it’s not what it was like when I got into DJing with all the blogs and parties.
The Thin Red Line – God Yu Tekem Laef Blong Mi
The Thin Red Line came out during the same year as Saving Private Ryan, which obviously stole all the limelight in terms of war movies. It’s kind of a shame because what Terrance Mallick did was really, really good. It had a great cast and the music delivered by Hans Zimmer was on point. It’s one of Hans’ lesser known pieces but definitely a favourite of mine. I played this as last song in a set in Buenos Aires. The crowd looked very confused.
This is the only piece of music with a vocal in it. Was that intentional?
I chose it, because a couple of years ago, I started listening to that song a lot. I thought it was funny because I played it once, and it was a bit of a curve ball for the audience. I don’t think they were expecting to hear that kind of piece.
Do you think people might not have the patience for putting in that kind of a curve ball in a DJ set today?
I think you can still do it here and there and it depends how long you’re playing as well. If you have a one hour festival set, that’s probably not the best place to do it. If you have a longer set, I think it’s almost expected. When it becomes too perfect and too linear, it’s playing it too safe. I’m guilty of doing that every now and then, but I try and push myself.
Getting back to the vocal aspect, I notice the music you make, tends not to have vocals in it as well.
I find it hard to use it without it becoming too cheesy in a way. Since I already like to put in a lot of melodies, adding some vocal hook is difficult. It will have to be stripped-down track to make that work, but I don’t make that much stripped-down music.
Does it also relate to your DJ sets, do you tend to steer clear vocals?
Yes for sure. It’s a little bit boring. It’s easier to play a track I grew up with, but with the new stuff… I don’t know why I’m so hung up on it. There is a lot of great dance music with vocals in it, but it becomes too much of a moment.
Do you feel that there should be a relationship to the music you play out and the music you make?
It all depends on the vibe and the night. I try and keep it fresh, because there might be people coming to two shows in a short period of time, so I try to play different from the last time they saw me. I try to play my own music and I know which tracks work well with other ones. I tend to go through my older songs as well. For me it’s more about showcasing my own music and throw in music from friends. A lot of it is stuff that I made or put out on my label.
Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones – Across the Stars Love Theme
You can say what you want about the trilogy that George Lucas directed, but the score that John Williams wrote for it is some of my favourite pieces of music. It’s kind of crazy how important he has been not only to the music world, but the film world as well. What would Jaws be without that taunting score, Star Wars without its iconic melodies and Jurassic Park without its theme song.
It’s all music that is either orchestral or formed from some organic sources. Is this something that you naturally gravitate towards?
I wouldn’t say so. I listen to all kinds of music. I can appreciate everything.
Ok, so it was just for this particular selection?
Yes, it might come from me really loving that movie, and maybe that’s why it made such a big impression on me. It suits the movie and the vibe, but there’s nothing about the choice of instrument or anything like that.
This is a very or orchestral track.
Yes, I was trying to avoid any obvious dance music references like Blade Runner. I thought it would be fun to share a little more unexpected stuff.
You mentioned Blade Runner there and the first thing my mind goes too, when it comes to soundtracks is Vangelis.
It’s never been a soundtrack that made a big impression on me, but I can understand why it did on some people. I was more of a Star Wars guy when I was younger. I obviously loved Blade Runner, but I don’t have that same nostalgic feeling for the movie.
Lord of the Rings – Main Theme
The Lord of the Rings books will always hold a special place in my heart. I read them during a great period in my life being a kid, soon turning into a teenager. I was skeptical when they announced Peter jackson was making the trilogy considering his previous movies, but obviously he blew it out of the park and completely delivered. Going to the cinema to watch those movies (me and my friends would stand in line for hours before tickets were released just to get the first showing at midnight) is some of my fondest memories. The music really added to the epicness. I feel like rewatching all of them just talking about it.
Do you think if this music simply existed on its own, without the visual aspect, it would have made the same impression on you?
Probably not. They both work hand in hand. The music is made to elevate the feeling in whatever is happening in the movie without taking up too much space. I don’t think I would’ve felt the same about it if I heard it out of context.
You mentioned Lord of the Rings had some influence on you as a teenager. Was that when you were starting to make music as well?
No, this was before that. I think, apart from the first song and the Hanz Zimmer one, the thing that they have in common is that they are very nostalgic for me. I think nostalgia is one of the best feelings you can get from music.
Do you have the same relationship to electronic music you were exposed to at that age?
Some of it for sure.
What were the early influences that encouraged you to start making music?
Well I grew up in Stockholm and it was during that time when Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso were coming up. They became local heroes for people and me included, I guess. Then it felt less far-fetched as something that you can do. When I was into Hip Hop before I got into dance music, you would go to a concert and it just felt like that’s not something I’m going to do ever. But when you went to a sweaty club with 200 people in your hometown, they just show up like everyone else, going through the main entrance, you think; “maybe it’s something I could do.” Because I was into music and into computers as well, I thought I should try it out.
I think I should wrap it up Jeremy, and there’s only one burning question. If you would be asked to soundtrack a film, what film would it be?
It would probably have to be something that takes place in space or some sort of Science Fiction. Here again the obvious one would be Blade Runner, but maybe Arrival would’ve been cool.