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Todd Terje - A Space Disco Odyssey

Author: Cyclone
Monday, February 9, 2009

Scandinavian disco deviant Todd Terje admits to 3D’s Xyclone that he doesn’t feel at home in Berlin – but we’re sure he’ll feel right at home when he plays Future Classic’s new night, Discoasis at Nevermind.

Todd Terje may not be as big a name as that space disco superstar Lindstrom, but the Norwegian DJ/producer is impressing hipsters. “Todd” Terje Olsen – the “Todd” is a tribute to New York garage don Todd Terry – is anticipating his return to Sydney.

Olsen has built his profile with epics like 2005’s Eurodans as well as a remix of Lindstrom’s neo-Balearic Another Station, not to mention countless re-edits as Tangoterje. He’s even ventured into the mainstream, remixing Jose Gonzalez. Alas, Olsen has made little progress on an album project he canvassed in 2008. “I moved to Berlin and I was just completely unable to work there, so I’ve had a really dry period in the last half year,” he confesses. “Right now I feel it’s kicking off again, but it’s still just talk, so don’t listen to me – it’s just mumbo jumbo! But maybe in half-a-year’s time or something I’ll be a bit closer – hopefully.”

Olsen didn’t relocate to Berlin for music. He accompanied his architect girlfriend. Now back in Oslo, Olsen admits that, while enjoying the vibe in Berlin, he couldn’t immerse himself in the electronic underground. “It was cool to move to a city where everything’s happening, and Berlin is definitely happening, but it’s happening in a different genre to what I’m used to. I come from a city where people think that it’s happening disco-wise, so I don’t really need to move around as much... There was lots of cool stuff happening there, but it was more in the minimal techno scene.”

Olsen, originally from Mjondalen, studied piano growing up and subsequently enrolled in an Oslo music school. However, the course wasn’t to his liking, offering limited jazz tuition, and so he switched to science at the University of Oslo – despite having no predilection for physics. Olsen has deferred his studies but intends to eventually complete his degree, with one semester remaining.

Olsen was already dabbling in electronic music production at school with his chum Dolle Jolle. Reputedly he had a go at jungle. Towards the end of the ’90s, Olsen fell in love with disco. In 2001 he befriended Prins Thomas, who was working in a record store, and Thomas encouraged his studio endeavours.

In 2009 Olsen is lauded worldwide as a leader of Norway’s cosmic disco – the so-called Nor-Wave. The Norwegian contingent craft beautiful yet very uncommercial dance, but share a not-so-secret love of pop and Euro kitsch. Still, like Lindstrom, Olsen isn’t convinced that a space disco ‘movement’ actually exists in Norway, although he concedes that they have something. “My feeling is that we were never good at making pop music in Norway, as they are in Sweden, for instance. We don’t really have to rely on commercial success to make music. Of course, that makes it a bit more free. I don’t know if that’s true, but it sometimes feels like that, because no one is making money off music in Norway. So you might as well have some fun.”

WHO: Todd Terje
WHAT: Plays Discoasis at Nevermind
WHEN: Friday 13 February