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Interview: Jesse Oliver

Feb 13 2014

Multi-genre, Finnish producer, Jesse Oliver is no joke. Typically sailing the waters of international House and Nu-Disco music with his co-captain, Jay Lamar and dropping tunes on globally respected imprints like Discotexas, this month sees Oliver’s second, solo release for the Moulinex and Xinobi helmed label. As a force in the local Helsiniki scene, Jesse pulls double-duty as bass player and producer for local rock band, Vanity Beach, who’s sound is somewhere between Duran Duran and Ministry.

I caught up with the young producer last weekend to chat about his various projects and the horizons of 2014:

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RiCHARD.GEAR: Hey Jesse, thanks for joining me. Could you describe your musical background for us? What are your influences, formal training, how’d you get started, etc.

Jesse Oliver: I played recorder from age 7 until 8 and moved on to saxophone when I was 9. Played the sax until I was 12 and to be honest it wasn’t really my thing. I never practiced enough. I didn’t do anything significant, music wise for a couple of years after playing the sax, but then I started Djing a bit and playing bass just before hitting my twenties. Been a bassist in a few local bands and toured a bit too since then. I did piano lessons for a few years and would like to study it further, I have a nice Rhodes at home to practice on. Did some music theory and finished a music production program about two years ago.
I’ve always been a fan of Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim, Depeche Mode, Massive Attack, Interpol and The Cure. Of course I listen to loads of electronic music too, even Rotterdam Hardcore and Goa Trance as well. Maybe it’s because I’m gettting older and “wiser”, but I’ve been enjoying housier stuff from more recent labels like Exploited, Off Recordings and Local Talk.

RG: How would you describe the Finnish dance scene? Its DJ’s, it’s producers, it’s clubs, parties and festivals… what’s your general impression of the environment?

JO: There are different kinds of parties/scenes here in Helsinki. A bit of everything for everybody. It sometimes feels like there’s too much happening during weekend, considering Helsinki being such a small town. When I go out I normally end up going to Kaiku (http://clubkaiku.fi). There’s a lot of producers and Djs hanging there. So, I guess in general Helsinki is doing quite fine. I wish the club hours wouldn’t be as restrictive as they are, though.

RG: In your studio, what’s you go to piece these days? Something that you can’t do without when writing a new tune.

JO: Logic and iMac. I’m still running Logic 9 because I don’t like the color scheme of Logic 10. Going to update at some point, but we’ll see when that happens. I might make the move to Ableton, I like to change my workflow from time to time. I do have some nice hardware too… I love my Api 2500 for drum bussing.
Synth wise, Moog Voyager and Juno 60 are my favorites. To be honest, gear doesn’t matter that much because I tend to “sound like myself” no matter what tools I use.


RG: You have a new solo EP coming on Discotexas, but you normally co-produce with Jay Lamar, what was the inspiration to go it alone this time?

JO: I’ve always written tunes alone, I wrote ‘Piece by Piece’ after a club night because I realised I was missing that kind of a tune in my repertoire.

RG: And how did you get connected with Discotexas?

JO: We, Jay Lamar & Jesse Oliver, sent some tracks to Discotexas and they liked them. Later on I sent some of my own tracks and the Discotexas crew also liked them and wanted to release my solo stuff.

RG: Aside from your solo work, you’re a member of the Finish dance-rock group,Vanity Beach. What’s your role in the band?

JO: I play the bass mainly. We just started working on an upcoming album, which I’m going to record, mix and produce.
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RG: What can we expect from you in 2014?

JO: Hopefully more “Jesse Oliver” releases, in addition to the EP on Discotexas. I did a remix for Intricate Records which should be available soonish. The new Vanity Beach album should be done this year too.

RG: Open Mic! Anything you wanna plug? shameless self-promotion!!

JO: Check out my Soundcloud! Also, I mixed and recorded a local punk band, WHC. According to Finlands main alternative radio station they are “hipster friendly old school punk”.