JM#209 – Olle Abstract

Olle Abstract is back  at the Jaeger Mix, and after indulging his varied tastes between Ambient and Techno he returns with a mix of unadulterated House music. The mix follows shortly after his last Lyd session, Olle’s monthly club concept featuring new Norwegian music and DJs perpetuating the sound of House music in Norway.

As an elder statesman of the scene he has played a vital role in bringing electronic club music to the fore both in the clubs and in the radio, and he continues to play a pivotal role in our scene. He continues to be an interminable force both on and behind the scenes through his LYD podcast and even a recent hip replacement couldn’t keep him down for long. While his LYD podcast reflect the radio broadcaster side of the DJ, this Jaeger mix session is strictly a club session as Olle picks through his latest dance floor killers.

It’s been a while since we had the chance to talk to Olle on these pages, and we took the opportunity to ask him about growing older, sobriety and from where the name Abstract originated.

Hey Olle. We’ve seen many different facets of your musical personality through your various Jaeger Mix visits. What aspect of your musical personality is coming to the fore on this occasion?

I wanted to show what kind of house music I’m into these days. It’s a mix of a lot of new music. Both from Norway, Europe, UK and America. With some new edits of old favorites as well. Most of the stuff is from this side of the pond. 

Was there any specific inspiration you drew from in this mix? 

I was inspired by the people dancing at Jaeger while I mixed it. I tend to feed off the vibe from the floor. 

There’s an energy here that I associate with a Saturday night at Jaeger at one of your LYD nights. How has playing to that crowd affected what you wanted to do with this Jaeger Mix session?

Yes. I guess the vibe is quite similar. I love the vibe at Jaeger. The intensity and purity of young club kids mixed with a few older heads. There are as always a few goodies from Norwegian producers in my mixes. This time  an unreleased mix from Of Norway and the Prins Thomas mix of Trulz and Robin. As well as favorites like Luke Solomon, Whirl, Spencer Parker and Make A Dance. And a few re-edits of old favorites. 

I noticed that you introduce yourself quite prominently right at the beginning of this mix and I realised I’ve never actually asked you in any of our previous interview sessions, where the name “Abstract” came from. I always thought it was a reference to Q-tip and/or a Tribe Called Quest.

The intro of the mix is actually a drop from the reggae/dancehall/dub legend, Lee ´Scratch´ Perry. Recorded by journalist Marit Karlsen when he visited the Quart-festival in 1998. She did an interview for NRK P3 and he made me a jingle for my show at the same radio channel. That vocal drop is very precious to me. My DJ name comes from the fact that Q-tip is and will always be my favorite rapper. He calls himself Q-tip `the abstract´ in a lot of lyrics.  I’m a big fan of ATCQ. It’s also a reference to my childhood. I spent quite a few years doing graffiti. The three last letters was one of my writing names, Act. 

As a DJ that’s been there since the beginning of Norway’s House scene, what do you make of House music in the modern context?

I think that good house music is in a quite healthy state at the moment. There is a lot of good music being released. There are also a lot of new producers coming up. It seems like they look back on the history of our music to be inspired for their own take on the music. New sounds. New equipment. Better sound. Raw energy. 

You continue to offer a platform for young Norwegian artists like Meera and Nillas through LYD, both the night and the mix concept. Why do you feel the need to highlight the next generation?

Our culture will not survive without new talent. They are the future. It’s very important to give them a proper platform. I’m in a position where I get to hear a lot of good stuff very early. I’m blessed. I want the crowd to experience all this good music as well. I feel this is my mission.  I get a kick out of discovering new music. I guess that is what’s been a driving force for me since I was a kid getting kicks out of discovering new sounds and music. 

Does listening to this new generation ever influence what you do in the booth today?

Definitely. All the time. It’s so inspirational. 

We know you just had a hip replacement and you’ve maintained a period of sobriety for health for the past few years now. As people like you, that first generation of DJs now enter their fifties and even sixties, what are the challenges you face in the booth?

I think I would have more challenges If I continued partying to be honest. I’m a lot more inspired and on the spot than I was 10 years ago. I treat my gigs as serious work. Preparing properly, get enough sleep and being focused. A sober life is actually quite nice after 30 years of night clubbing. I don’t want a lot of people in the booth with me If they’re drunk or high anymore though. It’s my working space. I need that space to dance, observe and do my job. It’s not a big challenge to tell friends to party on the dance floor instead of in my face. 

You hardly had a break after the hip replacement and you were back in the booth. What motivates you to keep doing this and with this much fervour? 

I’ve been on sick leave for a few months focusing on training in order to get the best out of my body. I’ve only done a few club gigs. I guess sharing the good music I like with a crowd is my passion. That is why I started DJing in the first place. To see the energy on the dance floor. Feed off it. The symbiosis between the crowd and me can be magic. After I quit alcohol and other bad habits I get my highs from music mainly. And love. I need to do this. 

How do you maintain that connection with a younger generation, and what is that crucial element in DJing that spans generations in your opinion?

After all these years I have a feel for communication with the crowd. I feel them. I see them. I reach out with my selection, if they respond we have something going. I build from there. I think it’s a good thing to be humble and open. Be kind and let people in.  But in the end It’s just music. The most important thing of the unimportant things in life. I always try to remember my first years as a club kid. The way I experienced the music and the way I felt on the dance floor. You should never underestimate that feeling. 

The Jaeger mix is very much entrenched in that old school sound of House (even if some of the songs are quite new). What makes that sound timeless in your opinion?

All of the songs in this mix are actually quite new. The ones that are old school sounding are also new. There are a lot of producers making edits of old tracks with their take on them. Some of them are in the mix. But yes. The sound is very house in its best form. As I see it. 

Is there a track in this Jaeger mix that sums it all up for you? 

The second last track BDK ´All I Want´ is one of the tracks that I’ve been playing the most in 2023. An intense disco cut up from an underground producer in Belfast. Great sample and a heavy beat. All I need.  Also important is  Prins Thomas remix of Trulz & Robins `This Is Love´. An epic mix of a great track. 

And before you go, what else is on the horizon for you musically or otherwise?

Our LYD night will continue at Jæger with loads of new music and talent. I will be doing more retro vinyl sets in small places. There will be a lot of club gigs all over Norway. A few summer surprises and some great festivals, I’m also looking forward to experiencing a lot of nature and outdoor activities with my new hip. And there is always a lot to do up in my property in the mountains. There is hopefully room for a lot of love this year as well.