Earlier this month we introduced you Olsen, one of our favourite new producers at the moment, who is making a very intricate and atmospheric form of electronic music. The immediate comparison is Floating Points, not just for the sonic similarities, but also the way Olsen’s music has been carefully composed and arranged. To our surprise, appreciation of his talents seems fairly scarce on the net, so we felt duty-bound to fill the void, first with the Artist Spotlight, and now with a guest mix.
For the mix, Olsen has strayed away from the electronic beat and made us a Jazz Tape, giving us an insight into some of the influences for his work. A little different from what our Stamp Mix guests normally do, but we love it all the more for it! Listen to our picks below (including Olsen’s favourite, Ofelia, streamed from our Soundcloud), as you have a read through the Q&A, then get lost in a very special Stamp Mix. Tracklist at the bottom.
Olsen’s full-length, Totoro is out now on Super Recordings and can be bought on iTunes.
For those who aren’t familiar with Olsen, how would you describe the sounds you make?
Relaxed, light, calm.
Could you also give us a run down of your musical background? We’re hearing lots of different infuences in your music so it would be interesting to know what’s brought you up to this point.
I’m into a huge variety of music and have been for a long time. I love music that has a certain atmosphere or feeling behind it, it doesn’t matter what sounds or instruments are used as long as it’s got that feeling. Obviously my first encounters with music came from my parents. My dad is hugely into jazz and classical music. As this sort of music has been around me all my life I think as I’ve grown up it’s had much more of an impact on me. My first actual experiences with making music came from playing the guitar which I’ve done since about 13. I became quite obsessed with it and tried to write my own songs and form bands. After that I got a downloaded copy of fruity loops and found that I could create a full track using all my own ideas and on my own terms. I think that was the most exiting thing at the time – I could create something that actually existed outside of my head as opposed to just an idea.
What’s your process when it comes to making music?
I’ll make some sort of music any time I’m at home so it all depends on what I’ve been doing before then. I also really enjoy making music during the day and if the weather is right. What usually happens when I sit down at my computer is I’ll have an idea that I want to get out and I’ll try and do it but then what comes out is completely different. I’m terrible at making clean sounding music that’s perfectly EQd and compressed so I like to add a bit of dust over the top. In terms of a fixed process, I don’t really have a routine. I like to switch things up and use fresh samples and instruments as much as possible to keep myself moving.
And bringing that together in your album Totoro, could you tell us a bit about how that came to be and what you wanted to create when you started? Big congrats by the way, it’s one of our favourites of 2013!
Thank you, I’m very grateful. It started life as maybe two or three tracks and a handful of ideas, which then evolved and expanded into what it is now. I made a lot of tracks and ideas that never went on the album, which are almost certain to never be heard. I didn’t try to have any sort of theme or specific idea of what I wanted to make because I knew that if I did, I would hate it all. All I wanted to make sure of was that it wasn’t focused on the dance floor. In my opinion, albums full of dance floor tracks are often forgotten and sound dated extremely fast, and I didn’t want that to happen. I wanted to make something that would last longer than just a single.
What are your favourites off the album, and why?
I think Ofelia is my favourite. It’s probably the first piece of music I have made that I thought sounded like a real track. It also started life as a ten-minute piece that I just threw as many ideas as I could in, then after that I scaled it back into what it is now. I also like Svenska Gramafon because I originally thought it wouldn’t be on the album but as time went by it grew on me and I think it really has it’s own place within the tracks.
It’s quite unusual these days for an electronic producer to release a full-length as their first effort. How come you went straight for an album before putting out a few tracks to test the water?
Super contacted me originally and said they would like to release some of my music. I think at first there was an idea to do maybe a couple of tracks but none of the tracks I had, or was making at that time, sounded like singles. So then as time went by more music was made and a full album took shape. Because my music at the time wasn’t very club driven, putting out just a single didn’t seem like the right thing to do.
How did you get involved with the guys at Super?
I’d heard of Super before but I’ve never really been the sort of person that sends out tracks to people or labels so thankfully they contacted me. I have a very enjoyable relationship with those guys at the moment. They gave me some great ideas and advice while the album was being made and since then also.
With releases from Alunageorge and Bondax, they seem to have a pretty keen eye for catching talent early. Have you got grand plans with your music like the two above? Where would you like to be at this time next year?
They definitely do have a good ear for fresh artists. I think they are also very sure of what they want to put out and have great quality control, instead of putting out what they think sounds okay or what other people might like, it’s what they are really interested in.
As for where I would like to be in a year, I’m not sure. I think the more you plan anything and the greater expectations you have, the more you lose sight in what you enjoy or what you really want to do. Of course I’d love nothing more than to be able to make music all of my life but I think the best thing to do is to be relaxed and take things as they come.
What was the idea behind the mix you made for us?
I wanted to do something that would stand out a little bit. Because there has been a huge influx of new producers and DJs in the past few years it’s easy to get lost in a sea of house & techno mixes on the internet that all sound the same. Also I wanted to do something that people can listen to at home, in their car or wherever, because it’s not generally what you would hear or what I would play in a club.
Who have you been listening to a lot recently?
Similar to the music I put into the mix. I love artists like Miles Davis, John Coltrane & Fela Kuti. When you hear their music you know exactly who was behind it. They are also great to listen to in summer. There’s so much energy in their music. I also really love Air France. It’s perfect summer listening, the production and the way the music is written I think is wonderful. It’s so vibrant and has an amazing energy behind it and is very uplifting. They often get overlooked and only ever made two albums. Music like that is always very interesting.
What are your favourite 3 tracks of 2013 so far?
And finally, are there any up-and coming artists or producers bubbling under, who we should know about?
Dexter Wansel - Time Is The Teacher
Alice Coltrane - Ghana Nila
Miles Davis - Stuff
Pharoah Sanders - Colours
John Coltrane - Body and Soul
Ornette Coleman - Peace
Weather Report - Elegant People
Fela Kuti - Roforofo Fight
George Duke - Liberated Fantasies
Earth, Wind & Fire - New World Symphony