A few words with Olski

Words by Matthew Scott

Hello Olski, thank you very much for speaking to us. Are you well?

Yes! A lot of great stuff is happening in my life right now, both creatively and on a personal level. I’m feeling blessed.

Firstly, can you introduce yourself to your readers, and tell us where you’re from and in your own words describe the sort of music you like to make?

I hail from Stockholm, Sweden. I’ve been making music in different genres throughout the years but mainly DnB. I’m really passionate about DnB so obviously it’s within that genre that I tend to write the most of my music. The sort of music I create really depends on what mood I’m in and what impulse sparked my creativity on that particular day.

Tell us a bit about your early years, how you first became interested in music and how you came across drum and bass. Was there a moment where you listened to some DnB and thought ‘yes, this is the sort of music that I want to get into’?

I’ve been into music in general for as long as I can remember. I played in various bands (mainly on the drums which is my main instrument) from the age of eleven until my early twenties. I got really into DJing and buying records in my late teens, and through that I got inspired to produce my own music, mainly hip-hop to start with. A friend of mine then introduced me to Calibre and the early Hospital Records stuff a few years after I started experimenting with Adobe Audition as a production tool, and I thought ‘yeah, this is it’. I’d known about Goldie, LTJ Bukem, and so on from before, but it wasn’t until I heard the early liquid that I really felt it was a logical step from the sample based stuff I was doing at the time. After that I got more and more hooked. Ordering a lot of records from Redeye and visiting London to buy records, and of course going out and experiencing the music and culture first hand. In the first years of producing DnB I was involved in this duo SKV18 with this talented guy Christian Lundqvist (who also makes tunes as Tjackhora and now by himself as SKV18). The first tune we finished together was played by D-Bridge on the legendary Autonomic podcast. From that point I realised that there was an chance that some people would actually enjoy my/our music, and took it more seriously.

We first became aware of you when you dropped that lovely tune on Peer Pressure called ‘Look’, which we reviewed and absolutely loved. How did that release come about, and how did you start working with Peer Pressure in the first place?

Alex (Facing Jinx) got in touch with me after my debut EP on Soul Deep was released. I had heard his stuff and absolutely loved it so we started to send some ideas back and forth. After meeting Alex and Phil (Philth) in London I decided to send my stuff to them first hand because they are top blokes and we share a lot of thoughts and inspiration when it comes to music. They signed the tunes they liked the best basically.

Now, we’ve got two brand new tunes alongside Blaztiks: ‘The Promise’ and ‘Carrier’. First of all, can you tell us about Blaztiks? We recently came across his tune ‘Innocent’ which is absolutely delightful. Is this the first time you’ve made music together or are you long-time friends and collaborators?

It’s funny because I have actually never met Blaztiks in person even though we live something like 30 kilometres apart! I don’t know why really. So all I can tell you is that he is a young and really talented producer. The vast majority of the ideas he sends me are really good. I think we have a similar approach to writing beats and that our styles mix very well. We did something like five tunes together and finished the best ones. I think I speak for the both of us when I say that we really enjoyed writing these tunes so you can expect more music from us in the future. I also know that the forthcoming tunes from Blaztiks will be some of the best tunes that will ever have been released by a Swedish DnB producer, so I expect a bright future for him. Big up Blaztiks!

The two tunes carry on from where ‘Look’ left off, two slabs of dark, grooving DnB that simultaneously have a touch of soul about them too. ‘The Promise’ reminds us a little bit of Skeptical’s earlier work like ‘Desire’ and ‘Blue Eyes’, while ‘Carrier’ is little bit more ‘liquid’ but still absolutely delicious. Can you walk us through each track from your point of view? What were the ideas behind them and what was the process of making them?

Thank you! It’s really an honour to be mentioned in the same breath as such a groundbreaking producer as Skeptical. Blaztiks is really productive so he had sent me a batch of ideas and I worked on the ones that inspired me the most. ‘Carrier’ had a more complex bassline from the beginning but we decided to really strip it down to leave space for the vibe. Once we had that down it was easy to just roll it out, but it took a lot of sending back and forth to decide what direction we wanted it to take. That tune is all about the vibe and is something of a subtle musical journey.

‘The Promise’ was the first tune we did and is really the prime example of our styles mixed together. If we were a band he is the piano man and I’m the bass player/drummer. I love playing it out because of the gritty bassline, but also because it has some melancholy depth at the same time. I think that living in Sweden unintentionally affects both of us creatively and that might be one of the reasons that our styles mix together as well as they do.

What has the response been like to the new single so far? Both from DJs and from fans?

I can’t tell you too much about it at this point since it’s only just come out, but from what I’ve heard from the people that have listened to it so far, it’s been overwhelmingly positive!

Alex has been making tunes for a long time as Facing Jinx, as well as running Peer Pressure. How important has he been in helping your music reach a wider audience in the UK? Like we said before, ‘Look’ was the first time we’d ever heard your music, and a few of our friends also heard that tune and sort of went: ‘Wow, how’ve we never heard anything from Olski before?’

Alex and Phil have been really important to my career as far as guidance and inspirationgoes. I really enjoy working with Peer Pressure and we are working more closely these days. They are really passionate about what they do and have helped me a lot. I’m really bad at promoting my own music so I really need these guys. I find comfort in knowing that they are not greedy about music and want nothing but the best for me. I have releases out on Dark Manoeuvres and Soul Seep as well so if you like the newer stuff you should check that out. Also, me and Alex (Facing Jinx) are working on some tunes together at the moment that I’m excited about to say the least.

Is there anyone else other than yourself and Blaztikz we should be keeping an eye on from the world of Swedish drum and bass?

Like I said, I used to be in the duo skv18 and Christian (the guy I was producing with) is now a solo artist under the same name (skv18). He released a 12′ on Hidden Hawaii last year which is absolutely amazing! I urge everyone no matter what style you like to check that out. Future music! A special mention also goes out to the duo Modual. They make this really soulful vocal electronic music with their roots in drum and bass. 2stars is making noise in the jump up scene at the moment, his tune Alaskan Dub (released on Muzik Hertz last year) is huge! Lastly, there’s Dissent who makes really dark and deep sort of stuff. We’ve been in the studio a few times and he’s really good to work with, so check him out as well!

Lastly for this section, a bit of a strange question. Do you have a philosophy to making music? There is a German philosopher Schopenhauer who wrote two hundred years ago that the reason music is so special is that it allows us to express our innermost feelings without even realising we’re doing so. Do you think there is a deeper meaning to the music that you make, other than it just being fun and enjoyable?

I sometimes feel that making music is more of a necessity than a hobby for me. So of course there must be some deeper meaning to it. My mom’s husband is a composer and we could sit at the kitchen table discussing the philosophy of music until sunrise back in the day. DnB sometimes feels like a narrow suit to wear musically speaking because it can limit you to a certain tempo and key, but that can also be a good thing. Having said that it was very liberating to write music for film. Last year me and my oldest friend made a documentary together and I scored it. It was liberating not having to worry about what frequencies would sound good on a big system for instance. I went in all Swedish melancholia and wrote some stuff that reflected the deep woods of northern Sweden. So writing music for films is something I really want to keep doing.

The questions we ask everyone…

What is the most prized record in your collection?

It is almost impossible to answer that question! But Superfly by Curtis Mayfield, What’s going on? by Marvin Gaye, Portishead by Portishead, Illmatic by Nas, Ready To Die by Notorious BIG, Second Sun by Calibre, and Donuts by J Dilla are just a few. All on vinyl of course. I stopped buying most DnB on vinyl a few years back and am now focusing more on collecting classic records on vinyl that have stood the test of time. Recently I have been buying the records by John Coltrane that I like, and listening to them while drinking ale in front of my living room speakers like an old man…

If you could have been in the studio for when one tune was being made, what would it be?

From a historical point of view it would be cool to experience some mythical session like There Is A Riot Going On by Sly and the Family Stone, Beggars Banquet by the Rolling Stones, or Heart of the Congos by the Congos. Other than that Atlantis (I Need You) by LTJ Bukem.

What is your food heaven and food hell?

Well, hell is when pubs charge you 15 Euro and over for food that is barley edible, something that is unfortunately fairly common here in Stockholm. Heaven for me right now is Asian flavoured pork belly and ribs.

What one piece of advice would you give to anyone who wants to start making music?

It doesn’t matter what DAW you use. Just pick the one that suits your needs. Trust your instincts and don’t focus too much on technical side of production from the beginning. Use YouTube for help but be critical: some tutorials out there are really good while others can do more damage than good. When it comes to mixing, trust your ears and practice EQing without an analyser present.

And finally…

Do you have any other upcoming releases to tell us about, either on Peer Pressure or on other labels?

I am currently working on a EP for Peer Pressure but don’t have a release date for that yet. I’m also going to release a single on Chimera’s new label Ronin Audio sometime this year. I also might give away some tunes for free sometime this spring. Apart from that I am also involved in this hip-hop project with French lyrics, and hopefully we will release an EP from that soon!

Very lastly, what do you get up to when you’re not sitting in front of your computer making tunes?

Apart from a full time job, spending time with my girlfriend, family, and friends of course. Me and Mikael Sjöberg (the guy I made the last film with) are working on a new documentary about a Swedish rapper. I also love cooking and would argue that that’s the hobby that I have that is most similar to making music.

That’s everything. Thanks very much for speaking to us, and all the best for the next few months and for your upcoming releases!

‘The Promise/Carrier’ is out now on Peer Pressure Recordings, and you can purchase it directly from the label by clicking here. And don’t forget to give Olski some love on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, and Instagram too.

Photography by Mikael Sjöberg.



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