Jeremy Olander is a rare talent. The Swedish producer has come to embody the new breed of progressive house, as evidenced by his polished work over the years for imprints like Suara, Bedrock and his own, Vivrant.
There’s a certain poised quality to everything Olander does, whether it be the cinematic charm to his studio work or his elegant, extended DJ sets. Much of it stems from the fact that Olander isn’t out to impress anyone anymore. Having firmly established his name in the scene, he’s able to avoid many of the pitfalls of younger producers.
Olander caught his first major break as an artist on Eric Prydz‘s Pryda Friends. With an impressive six releases on the coveted Pryda sub-label, Olander found a receptive audience for his early house and techno creations. Circa 2015, however, Olander made the all-important decision to go out on his own and establish Vivrant.
The inception of Vivrant, Olander’s independent record label, marked an important transition for the Swedish producer. No longer beholden to another artist’s brand, Olander began truly making a name for himself on his own accord. With four consecutive EPs on the imprint — two of which arrived under his techno moniker, Dhillon — Olander had finally found the perfect outlet for his music.
It wasn’t long before Olander began opening the door to others on the label. Beginning with Eekkoo, Khen and Tim Engelhardt, Vivrant has been transformed from an exclusive hub for Olander’s music into a veritable tastemaking platform within the progressive sphere.
“All the guys that are now part of Vivrant are all artists that I have a lot of respect for and look up to for different reasons,” Olander says.
Now Vivrant is gearing up to celebrate its tenth release with a new three-track EP from Olander himself, titled Gattaca. “I think this EP is the strongest we’ve put out so far,” he says.
Billboard Dance is exclusively premiering the set’s title track, which is the kind of beautifully-woven progressive piece on which Olander has built his namesake. Patient, yet wonderfully impactful, it builds with a slow, cinematic energy across its near eight-minute arrangement. Listen here:
Ultimately, the new release only serves to underscore Olander’s transformation. No longer the new kid on the block, the Swedish producer has truly come into his own as an artist and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Gattaca is due out Oct. 13 on Vivrant. Read Billboard’s full interview with Olander below.
You seem to be pretty prolific in the studio, judging by the number of unreleased tracks you have floating around. What’s your creative process like? How do you stay disciplined?
I’m lucky in the sense that I get inspired by a lot of different things around me. People I meet, places I see, good movies. Anything. I do run into the occasional writer’s block like everyone else, but whenever it happens I try not to force it. I just leave the project and do something else for a while and try not to get stressed out about it. I’ve learned over the years you can’t force music. At least I can’t if I want something good to come out.
At the end of August I took a break from touring to make new music and the process since then has been about jotting down as many ideas as I can for a couple of weeks. Then I just let them sit and continue after a few days with whatever I feel makes the cut.
As far as discipline, making music is my biggest passion. Even if didn’t do it for a living I would still do it just because I love it so I don’t have to stay disciplined in that sense. It’s just a natural urge. The only thing I try to force myself to do is maintaining some kind of a routine to live a normal life when I’m not on the road. I try to get up at a reasonable hour, work during office hours and so on.
How do your track ideas come about? Are there larger themes you are trying to touch on with your music?
Mainly, it’s all about fitting them into my sets. All my songs fit at certain points of a set and whenever I feel I’ve been using one track too much I try to replace it with something new but in a similar vibe. I never produce something with a label in mind or think something I’m currently making has to fit on this or that EP. I’ve done that before and it doesn’t work for me. It stifles my process.
To force things when I haven’t been in the mood to product have really only worked once and that was when I did my first EP on Pryda. All three tracks were done from scratch after Eric showed interest in one track he felt was a great fit but not A-side material. Going from making them in my room bedroom and then hearing the lead track on Digweed’s show a few weeks after was very surreal.
Releasing an EP on Bedrock this year kind was a very special to me much thanks to John being the first guy that supported my music other than Eric. He’s been a massive influence throughout my entire career and someone I respect a lot.
You’ve mentioned before you are a big film fan. Do you think this has a large influence on your studio work? If yes, then how so?
Yeah I’m really into film and lately also photography. I stopped putting up the stereotypical pictures from shows DJs tend to post on Instagram. I have completely dedicated my account to tell a story of my life on the road and just post pics of things that catch my attention in between shows. I think it’s getting hard to tell I’m a DJ when you scroll through it now.
As far as film and its influence on me, I tend to go a bit dreamy and dramatic in my melodies to try and create an atmosphere that reminds a few film scores. I would love to try to make music with the intention of it being in a movie at some point. We’ll see if that ends up happening but the more long-form format of telling a story together with a visual component is very appealing to me.
You’ve mentioned before that you started Vivrant because you felt there was a void for your kind of sound. It’s always a tough question, but how would you best describe your sound?
Yeah, that’s a tough question! I think for the original material I release is best described as melodic, dreamy and atmospheric. Then all the other guys that we’ve signed stuff from touch on one or more of those points but have their unique twist. Khen and Tim Engelhardt are great examples of that.
That doesn’t necessarily apply to artists that we commission for remixes though. I think our approach there is different from most labels. We like to reach out to artists we feel have a sound that differs from how the original. Guys that have the ability to take it an a completely new direction. We have, for instance, Ejeca doing a remix for us that will drop as part of a remix EP early next year. He might not fit the classic Vivrant sound mold, but he’s perfect for reworking that particular track. My perception is that in a lot of other cases people commission, for example, straight techno guys for remixes on straight techno tracks and so on.
Is there an underlying ethos or belief behind Vivrant? A central theme driving the label?
I think the ethos as far as who we work with really comes down to chemistry, integrity and admiration. All the guys that are now part of Vivrant are all artists that I have a lot of respect for and look up to for different reasons. Partly because they’re great artists, but also because they dare to do their own thing rather than trying to adapt to what’s hot or what sells. I’ve realized that if you make music to get the approval of others you’re really doing it for the wrong reasons and probably won’t last.
I really love when others play Vivrant tracks in their sets. Whenever that happens, it brings a smile to my face, but it’s really not the purpose of the label’s existence or why I make music. The music we put out mirrors what I like to play in my sets, what talent I think people should pay attention to and what I feel the people that follow and support us will like to hear.
Vivrant has become a platform for some powerful new artists on the scene, such as Eekkoo, Khen and Tim Engelhardt. What draws you to these artists and their styles?
All three are extremely talented with different styles but very similar at the same time and fit the bill of what Vivrant sounds like. Eekkoo has this pretty analog, dark style, crazy samples and sad melodies. A lot of my stuff has a melancholic touch to it too so I guess that might be one reason why I’m drawn to him.
Khen has a bit of the classic Israeli progressive heritage in his sound but he’s transformed it into something unique. You can hear bits and pieces of techno, ’90s trance, Chicago and other non-electronic genres in his music. He grew up with electronic music around him since he was super young and that really shows.
Tim is amazing at creating his melodies, arrangement and an overall soundscape. He’s a special case since he’s so young and hasn’t listened to electronic music for as long as myself and Khen yet he sounds like a seasoned producer that has been doing this for 20 years. I am very happy that all three decided to release on Vivrant.
You’ve mentioned how 2018 will open the door for even more new artists on Vivrant. How do you go about selecting new artists for the label?
We’re actually not done for 2017. We just signed an EP from André Hommen that will be coming out in December. He made some amazing music just for us and we’ve been fans of his for a long time so it made sense to get him onboard before the end of the year. He’ll be playing a few shows with me in January too.
André, Khen and Tim really epitomize the kind of new talents we want to work with and help. I’m very excited to see where we can go from here and I think the foundation that we’ve built with our first ten releases is really solid.
As far as finding new talent, it’s honestly really tough to sift through demos. Not just because of the volume that comes in, but mainly because most of it is either very poorly produced or worse, it’s poorly produced and doesn’t remotely fit our sound. I think Butch wrote on his Facebook a while ago that it seems like anything with a kick drum is considered for a release these days. Sometimes it feels like it he might be right.
Every signing so far has come about by way of either someone recommending the artist to me or my management that run the label, or us approaching an artist we’re really big fans of. Khen and I have the same manager so that happened through that, but I played his stuff way before he released with us. With Tim, I was a big fan of what he was doing, so my manager approached him to see if he had any unsigned stuff, which lead to us getting a dialogue going about doing a project together.
Everyone in the team actively look for new, interesting stuff on Soundcloud they come across too. I’m lucky to have people around me with great taste that understand the Vivrant profile. I’m hoping we’ll find someone that has never had a release ever and help him or her start a journey in music.
Where would you like to be in 10 years as an artist? Where would you like Vivrant to be?
I hope it will come to a point where are shows aren’t necessarily be so closely associated with me. I want to be able to put on a showcase with just Tim and Khen, for instance, and people still being into it because they’re into them and associate Vivrant with always delivering a good time. On second thought, even better, announcing a showcase without revealing what lineup is going something we strive for. All of us that release music on Vivrant are representatives of the label and wave the flag as much as I do.
Other than that as far as what I see Vivrant encompassing, in the future it will go beyond music. It’ll be a versatile creative platform that can house different artistic expressions. Photography, apparel, events and music, for instance.
I think I will still be doing the same thing as I do now but in new and exciting ways. I see myself developing as a live act, producer and in all other aspects of my life. It still feels like I just started doing all this.