If you've been reading DAD since the beginning, you'd know we've been all about Oliver. They're affiliated with Fool's Gold, and have that quirky outlook on dance music that we love, while creating some of the finest retro-sounding grooves we've heard in a while, even if you're not rating them as highly as you should be. Don't worry, they'll just be remixing Mayer Hawthorne and Donna Summer while you wait. We told you that you needed to check their set out during Day 2 of this year's Electric Zoo, and we made sure we were there. We got a chance to ppick their brains about everything from being a part of Zedd's "Moment of Clarity" tour and their favorite Kubrick films to the 2013 disco resurgence and the possibility of a live Oliver show. The guys were more than gracious with their time, and gave us a lot to think about regarding their future.
So it's Saturday, day 2 of Made Event's Electric Zoo. Is this is your first time at Electric Zoo? Did you play last year?
U-Tern: It's all a blur honestly, but I think this is our first time.
Oligee: Yeah, I think it is our first time ever.
And although you played Zoo today, you guys just started a tour with Zedd and Alex Metric. How's that going---
U-Tern: You know it started off tragically, but these things happen, unfortunately…it was the very beginning--
Yeah definitely, although this isn't exclusive to this tour at all, and it's something we need to look at as a scene.
U-Tern: Definitely, like I said, it's tragic, of course, but these things happen unfortunately.
Right…and the show must go on. Are you guys all traveling on this tour together? How are you getting around, flying, buses, caravans?
U-Tern: Bus, we have a couple buses.
Do each of you have your own buses?
Oligee: Not really, we have a couple different buses, but we like to mix it up. Zedd and a couple of his crew guys have a bus, and then Alex and us and a couple of our crew guys have a bus. Then there's also another big truck that carries all the production stuff like the lighting, the LEDs and stuff.
So, now you guys are all going to be on the road together, can we expect collaborations with Alex and possibly Zedd?
Oligee: Not sure really! I know we've worked with Alex in the past and will continue to do that, and I'm sure there's a possibility we'll do something with Zedd at some point.
U-Tern: Yeah I can't say for sure if we'd do something with Zedd at this point, because he's obviously so busy and he's got a huge hit record right now. Obviously this thing, this Moment of Clarity tour, is very important to him right now but you never know! He's got his studio on the bus, so maybe we'll bang something out together, who really knows?!
Yeah definitely, and you mentioned Zedd's great success so far, but you guys have recently had your own success with your EP, for one, or like closing out the Underground Stage on the first day of HARD Summer in Los Angeles just a few short weeks ago. How was that?
U-Tern: It was awesome! Really, really cool and we love playing all the HARD events. Those are definitely our favorite.
Yeah and you guys have a working relationship with Destructo (Gary Richards, the DJ moniker/alter-ego of HARD Events founder) right?
Can you guys explain that dynamic a little bit?
Oligee: Well, you know we make music together and he also helps us and kind of co-manages us. He helps us out that way and books us at all his events--
U-Tern: Yeah I mean, we basically just help each other out. We help him with music and he helps us with getting bookings and stuff like that. So obviously getting that spot at HARD isn't something we could normally book so we're a little spoiled with that and we really are grateful for it.
Speaking of working with DJs, you guys also just did remix of Donna Summers with Chromeo and you recently did a remix for Mayer Hawthorne, so you guys are definitely not shying away from the popular or "mainstream" attention with your remixes, what's the plan there? Do you have any plans to work with pop stars?
U-Tern: Nah, we just wing it and get certain opportunities. Now we're kind of being a little more picky with what we want to do, but essentially if we get a song and we want to remix it like because we like the song, the vocal, then we'll do it. It doesn't really matter what it is. So something like Donna Summer, such a legendary and iconic artist and her work with Giorgio Moroder is some of the best and our favorite from that era, so some of those it's like a done deal and we have to do it.
You just brought up Giorgio Moroder and he's obviously come into some attention this year with his work on the new Daft Punk album. A lot of people, fans, bloggers, have compared your music, your sort-of "back to the future" sound to Daft Punk saying that had they progressed in the same direction with their sound, they'd sound a lot like Oliver.
Oligee: That's very, very flattering to say the least. We don't shy away from the fact that we're really influenced by all the French house artists of that era and not just of Daft Punk, but Alan Braxe and Fred Falke and just all those great records we grew up on as well as Giorgio Moroder.
U-Tern: We're just students of that and it's ingrained in our musical brains, so it just happens naturally and it's what we like to make.
Definitely makes sense and I think that's evident in your music. Now this is a little off the wall, but have you heard Drake's new single "Hold On We're Going Home" and what do you think of it?
U-Tern: Yeah, yeah I've heard that for sure.
Oligee: I actually haven't heard it but people have been saying that it'd be amazing if we remixed it.
Now that you say, I would definitely agree with that although I was going with a little different direction with it. The track definitely has a bit of an '80s/disco vibe to it---
U-Tern: Yeah totally, definitely does.
It also has that R&B kind of style as well, and we already mentioned working with pop stars and the "right" opportunities, so if an opportunity like that, to work with more mainstream artists or rap artists or even straight up pop stars like Katy Perry, where do you see yourselves fitting in? Porter Robinson has spoken publicly about his refusal to work with pop stars while others have jumped at the opportunity, where do you fit in?
U-Tern: Well, it's sort of the same thing as a remix for us. If we think it's an artist that'd be good to work with, we go in to the studio and give it a try. Sometimes there's just a natural vibe, where it's organic and really good off the bat, while there are other times that there are no vibes. It almost kind of doesn't matter who it is just as long as there is a good musical connection and we can come come up with something original.
Oligee: We like to say really open-mind to all kinds of music whether it's the biggest pop record in the world or the most underground track that no one has ever even heard of.
U-Tern: Yeah definitely, we stay open minded so if Drake came knocking on our door we'd definitely say "why not?"
I think that's the most reasonable answer anyone could expect from that question. Now forget Drake and pop stars for a second. I mentioned a "back to the future" dimension to your sound and we discussed Giorgio Moroder, and your music definitely has a cinematic vibe to it at times, conjuring up vibes and inspiration as well as possible imagery from films like Bevery Hills Cop, Scarface, or even Miami Vice, so my question is, if you could work with any director that you can think of and score their movies, who would it be?
Oligee: That's a great question… [says to U-Tern] I'll let you take that one---
Let me preface that question actually, do you guys want to score movies?
Both: Yes! Most definitely.
Yeah I figured, that's a pretty common thing for the true musicians---
U-Tern: I suppose something like Bladerunner or something like that.
Oligee: Well for me personally, I'm really into cult-horror films like Italian Dario Argento and stuff like that.
What's your favorite one?
Oligee: I mean Susperia is the obvious one, and any of those, but you know I'd love to do something like that. Maybe one day we'll put out a weird record, that's like that.
The B-sides possibly?
Oligee: Yeah, just like super old-school soundtrack-y stuff, but we do that anyway just for fun. So I think maybe like a Kubrick film--
U-Tern: Yeah Kubrick definitely, that's a no brainer. I'd like to do Mad Max.
Oligee: Yeah! Good call!
What's your favorite Mad Max film?
U-Tern: Roadwarrior, that's my shit.
Oligee: Same, that's it.
U-Tern: The first one is great too, but Roadwarrior is definitely the real jam.
What's your favorite Kubrick film?
U-Tern: Favorite Kubrick film? Oh jeez..
I know, I know, if you just had to pick one?
Oligee: The Shining.
U-Tern: Yeah, I'll second that. That's still the scariest movie ever, at least to me. It's just brilliant.
Oligee: The pacing, the tension, just everything.
So nothing is scarier then that?
U-Tern: Nothing, really.
So nothing is more scarier, not even playing to crowds of thousands upon thousands? What about the first time you played to a big crowd? Was that scarier or was The Shining?
U-Tern: That's a different kind of scared, it's more of a nervousness and uneasiness, kind of anxiety scared. Terrified.
Do you still get that way?
U-Tern: Not as much any more and when you do a tour like we're doing and you're playing every single night, you don't really get as nervous. It's essentially the same show over and over again just in a different place with different people, so it's more when we're out of our comfort zone that we get nervous. Sometimes playing for small rooms is more nerve-racking then say thousands of people as it's more intimate.
Oligee: Yeah, I think it's tougher to please a small room and you'd be crazy not to be at least a little nervous for any kind of show and we're always slightly a little nervous on some level for any show.
U-Tern: Yeah once we get up there and a few songs in, the groove is good, and it all washes away.
What's your go-to set opening track?
Oligee: We play one of our songs, "Night Is On My Mind" from our Mechanical EP because it's kind of a slower track and if the people before us are banging it out, we bring it back down and build it back up from there. So we start with that one a lot.
What's your go-to secret weapon track?
U-Tern: Ah, there's one track I've been playing for like the last year and a half by Sharooz, it's called "Hysteria" and that one is a weapon, a go-to weapon. It's kind of the stuff we like where it's really got a disco influence, but it works for the kids now because there's good tension, a good build-up, so that's definitely a secret weapon. It always works and people don't even know that one.
I'll take pride in the fact that I know and really enjoy Sharooz!
U-Tern: Yeah, he's great!
Now we've touched on this, but point blank, is disco back?
Oligee: It's hard to say. I mean we kinda don't really pay attention to musical trends like "oh, nu-disco is back now," and we just don't listen to any of that shit. We just do what we do and we don't think about something being trendy or not.
U-Tern: Definitely, but as far as, is disco back? To us, it never went anywhere and will never go anywhere, so we don't really care. I mean, these things always come and go so right now the Daft Punk thing, and Bruno Mars, and the Drake song, so everyone is saying "oh, disco is back!" but in a year from now it'll go away and we'll still be into it.
Oligee: I think the fact that somebody like Daft Punk has put out a straight-up live disco record makes people in the industry more receptive to this sound. It definitely helps us, like if you want to use that particular sound in a more of a pop setting, people would be more receptive to it.
U-Tern: It is a great time right now because I do think people are more open-minded to it and it wouldn't be crazy to make a disco song and send it to Rihanna or something whereas like a year ago that would have been like "uh…excuse me?"
Oligee: I think the thing about disco and nu-disco for me is that there are a lot of different angles you can take to approach a disco record and so many different records from the past that we can reference, and I think what happens is that it gets a little stagnant and a lot if it starts to sound the same.
What's your favorite disco record of all time?
U-Tern: That's a real tough one, but it'd probably be Chic's "Good Times" just because it's so iconic and it's the one that kind of really set all of this off. It set off hip-hop, disco, the basslines --it was the record. It created hip-hop.
Oligee: Rock bands started doing it like that and if I had never heard that record before and heard it now, I'd still be like "holy shit, this is so good!," but it's just one of those things that's just burned in us now, but still sounds fresh today.
U-Tern: Yeah, it's one of those things where you know we've heard that record millions of times now so it doesn't have the same impact but I do remember the first time hearing the bassline and thinking "what is that? I want to know what that is!"
Yeah definitely, we've all got those. You guys mentioned that you don't really follow trends, but you are DJing essentially night-in, night-out, reading crowds, digging for new records, so you must know and see what's going on.
U-Tern: Yeah that's true, we definitely have to.
Right, so there's definitely a big room phase right now with hardstyle-influenced distorted kicks, if you had to guess, what do you think the next big thing is?
U-Tern: The next sound, huh; yeah that's really hard. It's been the same thing for a little while now, but it's really hard to predict. It's especially hard to predict right now because it seems like it's going a million different directions and in a sense, a lot of things have been done already.
Oligee: What happens is: you take something that's currently happening and just kind of twist into a something a little bit different then what's out there, combine a couple of different genres that are out there and sort of new.
U-Tern: Yeah that's usually what it is, like trap music or something. To me, that's not a wildly original thing, it's just taking something that was there and doing it from a different angle. That's really all that is. It sounds like southern hip-hop with 808s.
But couldn't you say that about most music?
U-Tern: Absolutely, I'm just using that as an example.
Whatever the next "thing" is, it won't and arguably can't be wholly original---
U-Tern: Yeah, yeah, yeah
Oligee: It's always---
U-Tern: You've got--
Oligee: You kind of mix two things together that you wouldn't normally hear.
Yeah take The Partysquad, for example, with hardstyle and dancehall/reggae.
U-Tern: Yeah, definitely, and it's super hard to predict man, because it takes a few artists, the right timing, the right promotion; all the stars really have to align like that and it's not always about the actual music at all, so it's hard to predict.
Oligee: This is what I think, too, and this is why guitar-based music and live instrumentation will start creeping in a bit more.
Live disco, maybe?
Oligee: Whether it's disco, punk, or rock, more elements of real songwriting will come into it. If you think about Zedd's song "Clarity," which is a Top 40 mega-hit, I guess it's under the umbrella of EDM, but really just it's a well-written, great pop song with a great melody and lyrics and I think that's probably what's going to transcend festivals, and that's what's going to last. The stuff that lasts is going to have a good song written on top of it.
Interesting insight, but now that we're on the topic, has there been thought to a live Oliver show?
Oligee: Absolutely, yeah, we think about it all the time.
What can you tell me about it?
U-Tern: It's not really a priority for us at the momen,t as we want to have a lot more records out; we want to do a lot of EPs, maybe an album, and then when we're in the position where there's a demand and people want to see it--it's a lot of work to get something ready and especially for us, because it'd be a different thing. We definitely want to do it, but we're not really taking advantage of our musicianship, especially Olli, who's an incredible live musician and could play a bassline all the way through perfectly in time, and people don't know that because he's up there DJing with me and we're just jumping around like idiots.
So you're naturally a bassist?
Oligee: I'm a little bit of everything, but I learned piano when I was really young and then I started playing guitar and I played it for a long time. So keyboard, guitar, drums--
U-Tern: Yeah he's played in bands and I've been DJing since I was like a kid so that's basically what I do. Over the last few years though, I've been playing a lot of keyboards and stuff, getting better at that, so i''m almost at the point I would feel comfortable where I'm playing live, and I've never been in a band. The thing is, it's going to take us some work to figure out what we want to do and it has to be special and it has to sound good, so it's going to take some time.
Oligee: Yeah, if we end up doing an album, then we need to go out and support that record.
Like a concept album?
Oligee: Exactly, so I think everything will feed into the concept of that album. It'll happen with the live show, all the visual stuff, and that's when and how it'll come together.
Like Zedd is doing right now?
Oligee: Yeah, but we'll be doing a lot of live stuff. With all the technology available for trigging loops, MIDI-- we'll be able to find a really good balance between the both of us.
U-Tern: Basically what we want to accomplish in the end, is being able to do a live show where it's really spontaneous and every show is a little bit different; do it on the fly, have fun with it and so it's not scripted - that's kind of what happening right now with a lot of sets, with no room for improvising.
Why do you think that is? Why do you think a lot of DJs are going by the script?
U-Tern: Because it works, y'know? It's the safe way to go. It also does make a lot of sense, too, because a lot of guys have really elaborate lighting and LCD and visuals, and stuff like that and for it to work properly, it really needs to be tight with the music so that's why a lot of these guys come out and basically do a pre-mixed set.
Although there are guys like Feed Me and Armin who have demonstrated on video that they can do an entire show live and have their visuals synced-
U-Tern: Yeah, it can definitely be done but I think a lot of guys are just doing that because it's the safe and easy thing to do. It's effective when you go out and play and people are going crazy for it, why would you want to change that?
Oligee: And there's nothing wrong with doing it, I just think for us to really enjoy it ourselves there needs to be a little bit of danger.
U-Tern: We never plan out sets or know which song is going to play next after the one that's playing. Sometimes it's great, sometimes you fuck up and I think that's way cooler. I'd rather see someone up there working hard and fucking up once in a while because then it's like "ok, they're actually doing something."
Oligee: It keeps a little bit of the rock & roll aspect of it all
So you guys released your Mechanical EP earlier this year on Fool's Gold, and you mentioned that you want to do more EPs and an album, so when can we expect the next Oliver release and what label?
Oligee: When we get back from tour, we'll have a couple months where we're just focusing on writing original songs, so depending on how that goes and how much we get done--
U-Tern: I will say that we're working on something that is pretty big.
And you can't tell me what it is?
U-Tern: Nah, I can't give you any details on that, but we're not really thinking about that. We just want to make the music and then think about the label and what it's going to be afterwards. Right now just got to focus on the music.
A label, is that something you guys are thinking about starting?
U-Tern: Yeah we have talked about that with some other people and I can actually see that happening pretty soon; just because especially in America there's not a ton of labels that are kind of doing what Fool's Gold doing and is that diverse and they're taking chances with the music. It's not about the radio or that it has to be successful or an artist gets booted off, so we'd like to do something like that just on the West Coast.
Oligee: We have so many friends who are struggling to put out music and get it heard, so it'd basically just be us and our friends putting stuff out.
That sounds awesome, looking forward to hearing more on it. Well I appreciate the honesty and candidness, so one last question before we end. Do Androids Dance?
U-Tern: I think so. Pretty sure they do.
U-Tern: Yeah, absolutely.