JM#199 – O.Blom

In many ways O. Blom (previously Ra-shidi) has come full circle. She’s back in the spot where, for all intents and purposes, her DJ career started. It was here in our sauna, when still living in Tromsø that she made her debut in Oslo and the Jaeger Mix served as the introduction. A lot has transpired since then. A sojourn to Bergen, a new DJ moniker and the eventual return to Oslo, but some things have remained unchanged.

Just like her first Jaeger Mix, O.Blom’s selections pivot around “percussion heavy music” with glimmers of heady melodies sparkling in the upper registers. We gleam striking sonic curiosities weaving their way through measured rhythms that coax more than they hurry to the dance floor. There’s a serenity that undercuts the impulsion, carting the listener off into a trance-like narrative through this music. Snippets of vocal a capellas lifted from some unknown context emerge through miasmic textures and that all-defining percussive element.

Much of the same appeal of her original Jaeger Mix remains, while her natural evolution as a DJ has only fortified her abilities and strengthened her artistic identity as a selector. O. Blom’s star has only risen since, cementing her reputation as one of Oslo’s most sought-after selectors. We caught up with her to talk about changing her name, her experiences between Norway’s major music cities and just how things have gone full circle for the DJ.

Hey Olivia. Welcome back to Jaeger mix. The last time you were here was asRa-Shidi. What was behind the decision to change your artist name?

I changed my last name from Rashidi to Blom and decided I had to change my DJ moniker too. I like the anonymity of it and was inspired by old merchant signs where you’ll see the name written like “O. F. Hansen”; it reflects on how your occupation was so attached to your identity and name back in the day. DJing is not my main job but it’s something so essential about me too and this is kind of my way of owning it more than I have. The short explanation is that my name is Olivia Blom so O. Blom just made sense.

Besides that change, you’ve also moved to Oslo from Tromsø, then Bergen and now you’re back in Oslo. What is the major difference in terms of music between these musical cities and what is consistent between them all for you?

Bergen and Tromsø have very DIY electronic music scenes with lots of small and intimate hubs and gritty sound systems, but also some bigger venues and events offering international input and I feel the experimental scene plays a very active part in those two cities with EKKO and Insomnia being very present in the scene. Oslo, naturally, has way more clubs with the opportunity to book bigger international names on the regular. People also dance with bigger movements in Bergen and Tromsø; the audience is more low key in Oslo which is an interesting difference that I noticed the first couple times I played in the city while still living in my hometown.

Similarities are that the electronic scene is prominent and a staple for the locals all over. Norway has a richer history with the underground electronic scene than most people know of, it started in Tromsø and then spread out to Bergen and Oslo and it shows in all these cities that so many artists connected between these places. Looking forward to seeing how the scene is gonna grow and develop.

The last time you were with us, you mentioned your selections pivoted around “percussion heavy music.” I think that it’s still the case, but at the same time there’s a significant shift between this Jaeger mix and the last one. What has changed in terms of what you look for in music to play?

I still just look for music that has an authentic vibe to it and that I can feel something about, but stylistically I’ve changed and broadened my selection and I guess you can say I’ve acquired a more electro heavy sound the past couple years. I had just started DJing when I last did a Jaeger mix, I think you can hear I’ve gained more confidence and trust in my selection in this mix.

And what has changed in the way in which you put these tracks together?

Not much, I’ve never planned my sets whether it’s for a recorded mix or a club gig. Chaotic good and art by accident are the keywords here; I usually just make out a selection of tracks and decide on the first track and take it from there and this is the only way I prepare. Makes it really exciting to hear a mix afterwards cause most times I forget what I’ve played since I’ve been so in the zone and concentrated so hard. This way of playing is what allows me to let my selection be an extension of me and my mood.

You’re painting with a board brush with a lot of heady elements conspiring around a danceable beat. What was the central theme of the Jaeger mix?

It’s really a showcase of tracks rather than a club mix or just a full listening mix I think. Some tracks are from records of mine that sadly got broken while moving back to Oslo but thankfully I digitized them, so they’re in loving memory of the physical formats. The rest is a mix of all-time favorites, some tracks I’ve never gotten to play out but have had in my discography for ages and some are just a result of my randomness.

Was there a particular track or tracks around which everything else coalesced for you in this mix?

Chris & Cosey with Fantastique and RIKSLYD with oriented are the tracks that set the mood for me when recording this. And Kassem Mosse’s Untitled A3 has some melancholic elements that are present throughout the rest of the mix. My sun sign is Cancer so I’m forever a melancholic girlie, haha.

It seems that you are working through some kind of narrative through this mix, especially when you’re playing beat loops under those a capellas. What did you have in mind for the way you strung these tracks together and was this something that was influenced by the fact that it was a recorded mix?

Listening back I realize this was a very cathartic mix to play. Then and there I had a lot of fun and was surrounded by good friends in the place where my DJ career kind of started and it felt safe and joyful so the loops and melting of tracks made themselves organically. There are two tracks that are also in my previous Jaeger mix, which is my first ever DJ mix so it’s almost some full circle moment here; last time I also had a lot of good people around me but I remember very well how I struggled back then with fully trusting my own selection and intuition. The trend now is to always top the BPM and the only way seems to be up, but my style has never been like that and I appreciate taking things down in the middle of a set and having peaks and lows and it demands a different attention from the audience and I’m comfortable with that. I just play what I want and fully embrace my style and all the faults that come with it that gives it its human touch. Circling back to what I mentioned about owning my sound and style now, the narrative kind of made itself with this one.

It certainly had us engaged for the duration of listening to it. How would this differ to an O. Blom set at peak time on Friday or Saturday?

My selection is darker and ritualistic at peak time. Also more punk elements and some gritty tracks too to add some dirt.

Besides playing a few dates at Jaeger, what else is on the near horizon for O. Blom?

Playing KUNE in Copenhagen this summer, two b2b gigs with my dear friend Charlotte Bendiks soon, some streamed stuff and a couple more mixes in the coming months.