EDMTunes Interview: Jeremy Olander

Jeremy Olander has had a great year. The Swedish up-and-comer has already proved to the world that he is something out of the ordinary, and he has accomplished something that few other artists have managed to do… He has captured the attention of Eric Prydz, one of the most respected DJs in the world. After signing to Pryda Friends, a lot has changed for the young Swede, and EDMTunes took the time to sit down with him in central Stockholm to talk about his music, touring, his new single Bandersnatch and his plans for the future.

Tell us about yourself and your interest in music?

Honestly speaking, I got into the scene quite late. I wasn’t interested in House music in the 90’s if you know what I mean. I didn’t get into the scene until high school and I’m 26 now, so it has been a few years. Back then, I started to hear certain hits on the radio, such Eric Prydz ‘Call on me”, Benny Benassi etc, but I was not that fond of it at first. I was more into hiphop at the time. However, with time people started to show me more and more tracks and I started to develop a taste for it. At about the same time I had this friend of mine who showed me how to produce music. He used a Swedish software called Propellerhead Reason, and it was so easy for him to put something together quickly that still sounded good. That is kind of when I realized that you did not actually need a big expensive recording studio to make music. I got my hands on the same software as my friend, but I found it difficult to arrange the tracks, so at first I switched to Ableton. Ableton was easier for arranging, but I didn’t like the synths so I eventually I switched to Logic. And that is pretty much it, I just kept working with that. I just had a lot of fun with it, I didn’t really expect that there was going to come anything out of it really. It was just fun to be creative. I have always liked music, but I never imagined myself as a musician. However, with the years, my stuff just got better and better.

You have had a good year. You have been touring a lot and had a few successful releases. How has it affected your music?

It’s been inspiring seeing all these new places. Sometimes it’s hard to make music while you’re on the road, but I’m used to working with headphones. I’ve been doing it for so long so it’s not that difficult for me. I know many others who really need a comfortable studio to work in but it works for me, so it has been a great experience.

You have a new track coming out now, Bandersnatch. Tell us about it, the creative process and your goals with the track.

Well, I had been to the movies, and you see, generally when I start working on a new track, I want to have the whole day in front of me. I don’t like working on something for half an hour and then turn of the computer. I want to have time to really work on the track. This time however, it was different. I got home quite late, and this particular evening I felt that I would give the studio a try anyway and I had a really good creative flow. The essential parts of the track were finished in like an hour! Then, when you have the foundation done, it’s easy to work with it. I finished the track the following day and I loved the energy. This year, most tracks have been quite easy to digest, and this one is a bit heavier. The point is to give the fans a better representation of myself, because my music isn’t always that easy to melt. I wanted to show people a different side of myself. That’s the story behind it. I had planned to take in someone else to add a few more elements, but it felt so complete already! I sent it to my manager and he was amazed by it. Then we sent it to Eric’s manager and he was like “Who did this?!”. If they like it, then you know that you have got something good.

You have toured a lot with Fehrplay? Tell us about that. Are your working with anyone else?

We have released a lot of music under the same label, so our manager got this idea of us working more together and tour under the label’s brand. That way we could show who we are and develop our own brands. We have been a lot in the States, and I have been to India… The plan do a little tour in every major territory.

When looking at older interviews you have given, you do get a lot of questions about Eric Prydz. How does that feel as an artist? I mean, do you feel that you are in some sort of shadow that you have to get out of, or is it more like standing on the shoulders of a giant?

Well, I might be under his wings and to a certain point in his shadow, but eventually, I think I will grow out of it naturally. I just need to release more music that people can associate with me and my own brand. That’s how you build a fanbase. One song is not enough as long as it is not a number one hit on the radio. If you want a big fanbase, you need to give your fans a catalogue of great material so that they come back looking for more. It is just like my relationship to Eric’s music. The first song I heard, I liked a lot, but it took a couple of tracks before I became a real fan. I am ok in standing in his shadow right now, because I am still in the beginning of my career, but I can’t sit here in five years and still be dependent on him if you know what I mean. That’s why I need to do my own projects as well, such as the label. And still, even if I start my own label one day, it does not mean that I will stop working with Eric. It is just that I need my own “platform” to stand on. Right now I’m on his “platform”.

Another big track you released this year was the Petroleum remix you did for the Swedish rock band Kent. Are you a big Kent fan, and do you listen to a lot of Swedish pop music in general?

Yes I do. Ted Gärdestad, Mando Diao, Kent… You name it! Detektivbyrån is another great band. Swedish music is great. We are good with melodies and it is impressive that we are actually the third biggest exporters of music in the world after the US and the UK. Think about it! We are a country of less than ten million people. There are more people living in the city of New York than in this whole country, and still we have reached that third spot.

How does a track like Petroleum work internationally? I mean it is in Swedish after all, and very few people understand it.

You know what, it works surprisingly well actually! I did it for a Stockholm gig a while back, and it wasn’t meant to be anything other than that. But then I sent it to Adrian Lux who happens to know Joakim Berg, and he sent it to the band. They really liked it, so I met with them and we decided to make a Pryda-release out of it. A lot of people have heard it now, and I see fans commenting on twitter, being all like “I don’t get a word of it, but it’s SO BEAUTIFUL!”. I hope that people start discovering Kent in other countries as well. They are such a great band!

Your sound is very different from what the Americans refer to as progressive house. You are very far from the Big Room thing, but your sound still seems to work over there in the States?

Yeah, I thought a lot about that the first time I went over. I was like “what if they don’t like it, what if no one shows up for the gigs”. But, it is just like in Europe in the 90’s… I mean for them It is Big Room, for us it was Euro Dance. It starts like that with an easily accessible commercial sound, and after a while, people start to diversify and dig deeper into the scene. I think that is what is happening in the States right now. they have had the commercial boom, a lot of people have scratched the surface of the movement, and now they are finding more music that they like. I think our timing was perfect over there. Its something fresh for the Americans. The US is becoming more like the European scene. I mean look at it, Carl Cox is playing the main stage at festivals!

Is it a big difference between touring the States vs touring Europe?

Yes. I haven’t toured much in Europe lately, I’ve been more in India and other stuff, but there is definitely a difference. In the US, people are generally quite new to the genre. There are people who have been into it for a long time, but it is not like in Europe.. I mean, we are a bit spoiled over here. We have had so much to choose from for so long, and I am somewhere in between worlds. I mean I am neither 100% underground nor 100% commercial… And that can be tough in the European climate. It’s usually easier for me to play my music in the states because the scene is still maturing.

What is country has been the coolest one to tour?

I have been to Japan, and it’s probably the coolest place I have ever been to. Kenya was awesome too, but Japan… I mean It is so futuristic and everything. I’m going back next spring and I’m really looking forward to that.

Speaking of Kenya, how is the scene in Africa?

Kenya is a bit like South Africa. They have a pretty strong economy and it’s a scene that is up-and-coming. There was going to be an Ultra festival over there, but they had to cancel it for some reason. Still, the fact that they were planning it it is an indication of what is coming. I mean when I was there… Right before me they had booked Mat Zo, and I saw that they had booked a bunch of Techno acts as well. It is on the rise. It is a nice country to play as well. I played a club that was right by the entrance to the national park in Nairobi. It was awesome. I was playing and I could see monkeys and other wild animals from the stage. It was extremely cool.

What is the greatest thing about touring?

Traveling. It’s amazing. It’s definitely the coolest thing with this job. You get to see so many places and so many people. you get to know all kinds of cultures.

In your studio, what equipment do you use? You mentioned Logic? Do you use any hardware synths?

No not really. It’s all software plug-ins. I have tried some hardware synths as well but I don’t really like working with recorded audio files in that manner. I like working with Midi. I feel more in control when I like that.

So what happens now? What is up next for Jeremy Olander?

Well, I am going to keep touring with Eric Prydz. He is still my idol when it comes to house music. He quite unique in the sense that he is very well respected on the underground scene and still manages to have mainstream success. He holds such a unique spot on the scene, and I am so happy about being in the position that I am, under his wings. It has helped me so much as an artist.

Other than that, I’m also planning on starting my own label. I have said so for quite some time now. I wanted to start it last year, but I think I was a bit too naive back then. It’s not that easy to start a label now. It isn’t like it was back when Steve Angello and the rest of them dudes put up their labels ten years ago, now you need a more solid foundation to stand on. You need a fanbase. The climate is more competitive today than what it used to be, so the plan is to keep building ,my brand under Eric, and eventually start my own label and release music. I know a lot of talented people who deserve to be heard, and I would like to help them out as soon as I am in the position to do so.

Jeremy Olander’s new single Bandersnatch is out now on Beatport.