Artist Spotlight

Jeremy Olander

Sweden

Swedish artist Jeremy Olander had an auspicious introduction to the international dance music scene. His 2014 release “The Jackie EP” was the first release on Pryda Recordings not produced by Eric Prydz. His ability to translate the nostalgic energy of the late 90’s progressive house into a modern-day context was refreshing. He stood out amongst Swedish producers who pushed progressive towards the big room. Olander is inspired by what made him fall in love with dance music. He forged his path with dreamy and emotive melodies that still groove.

His first official Soundcloud release in 2010 is ripe with the influence of authentic progressive. His moving melodics illustrates a Swedish longing for summer through long winters. And also have inspiration in his early affection for love songs.

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“When I started finding my own music I remember buying this collection CD with like the hits from the 50s and 60s, you know, all these love songs. Very happy, upbeat, that kind of stuff really spoke to me. I guess I was like a little bit of a hopeless romantic when I was younger, always falling in love, never getting never getting it reciprocated.”

His childhood was a jumble of musical influences Nina Simone, The Doors, and popular Indian music from his mother. He got heavy into East Coast hip hop in high school. Yet with all that diversity, he didn't immediately latch on to dance music.

“I just didn't get it at all,” he explains. “I think next for me was when I woke up, and I heard it in a club setting. I think that's when you can really give dance music justice... I haven't looked back since.”

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He was a regular at Grodan Cocktails Club in Stockholm an intimate club with a capacity of around 150. In that small space, he felt that he was getting a personal education from some of the world’s greatest purveyors of dance.

“They had like, Richie Hawtin, Felix Da House Cat, Swedish House Mafia playing there before they were big. I couldn't have asked for a better place to get to understand the music. I'm having all these really talented people show me what it's about."

His early love for emotional music and his foundational experiences with legends of the scene coalesced as he started to produce. And by the time he released “Stage Two” on Soundcloud in 2014 his sound had evolved into a gorgeous amalgamation of soaring synths, chugging basslines, and crispy clean drums. His authenticity and dedication have been unwavering for over a decade, even when progressive morphed into big room EDM. Olander has been among the few that have pushed the kind of progressive that defined its very nature over two decades ago.

“I don't really get super inspired by new stuff. When I look for inspiration, I look at stuff that I listened to when I first got into dance music.”

He tells Gray Area that staying unattached to trends has been advantageous, especially now that progressive has returned to form.

“It's been fun to see that, you know, it's gone like full circle. The whole progressive genre went through the Swedish House Mafia, Avicii stuff. And that was kind of annoying in a way, because to me, that wasn't progressive at all. That was more, I don't want to say EDM, but it was big room. And now progressive is finally progressive again.”

Eric Prydz's early support was monumental for Olander. Jeremy can now pay that feeling forward. His label Vivarant - A name inspired by Q-Tips hip hop classic “Vivrant Thing” and a nod to his musical past - has quickly become a hub for young progressive artists. Yet he doesn't always recognize how powerful his seal of approval is.

“It's weird, I can't really put myself in that position to feel like I'm doing what [Prydz] did for me. My manager kind of has to remind me that. But it feels great. And especially like trying to bring out people from from the Swedish scene. It's great to that they also look at me in that way, it's very humbling."

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He wants to create a sense of community amongst his artists. The label’s recently held writer's camp, Vivrant Winter Camp was a sojourn into the Swedish wilderness for a small group of Olander’s favorite artists. The community-building project for the label also revealed the power of collaboration to Olander.

“I was a little bit insecure about how it is to work with other people. I'm very used to just working on my own. So, just learning to be comfortable with other people in the studio sitting next to you while you're working. Yeah, just that was enough for me, too, for all to be worth it. I didn't realize how much fun and fulfilling it is to to work with other people."

He's learned a lot because of the pandemic. Olander’s family grew one more in December 2020. It’s been a blessing to take a break from constant touring and spend more quality time with his girlfriend and their two children. Their relationship has been strengthened. And he doesn’t want to miss out on anything going forward.

“I learned that I'm probably going to try and be more selective with, with shows that I do. I definitely want to spend more time with my family.”

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