Beyond The Booth 015: Jeremy Olander's deep passion for cinematography and Korean gangster films – Dancing Astronaut

Beyond the Booth is a feature dedicated to the hidden side of artists that exists outside electronic music— a side rarely discussed with those outside their immediate circle. We venture “beyond the booth,” so to speak, and dive into their deepest passions that tie into their unique personalities. After some self-introspection, each participant then returns to the booth, and we cap off the discussion with a mix. 

It seems Sweden is a veritable hotbed for talent across the dance music spectrum. Eric Prydz, arguably a world leader in progressive house, hails from the country. However, it’s his former protégé Jeremy Olander that is leading the charge in cutting-edge progressive coming out of the Swedish underground. Branching out from the distinctive formula used by his colleagues, Olander uses an array of influences to craft crisp, driving, and melodic releases with a dark twist. This quality is what landed him on Bedrock and Anjunadeep — two huge institutions — in the same year.

Perhaps the best place to get a sense of the Olander sound, however, is his label, Vivrant. Approaching its third birthday, the imprint is home to some of his most sought-after IDs over the years, released alongside fresh new cuts in series of EPs. Not to mention, he’s also demonstrated his keen ear for the next generation of talent. Khen has released an EP on the label, with Tim Engelhardt and André Hommen also making guest appearances.

Beyond The Booth doesn’t explore an artist’s musicianship, though, and Jeremy Olander’s brilliance stretches far beyond his musical talents. For one, he’s quite the historian. Not to mention, a solid photographer to boot. It’s this love for all things visual that have tied into the topic of this edition of the series: film. He opens up about his love for the Korean gangster genre and gangster movies as a whole, why he finds certain directors appealing over others, and movies that got him hooked into film while growing up. We’ve opted to use a reconstruction of one of his sold out label showcases as our featured mix.

How did you get into film/ how did your passion for cinema start?
I don’t know [exactly]. I guess, it kind of came naturally. You watch a lot of films when you’re a kid or whatever, and that was what I did when I was younger, so I would spend my time watching movies and then eventually it became something more than just, “watching movies.” So I actually started to analyze what people meant in films.

I looked at the photography of film too. That’s kind of how I got into photography as well.

I don’t know, I guess it just comes from watching a shitload of movies, you know?

Which movies stood out to you the most when you were younger and starting to get into it?
That’s a tough one..because you don’t really know when you’re starting to analyze stuff — it just starts happening kind of naturally. I think, to be fair, it’s just become something that I’ve recently realized — that I’m analyzing a lot. So I don’t know, it started with Terminators 1 & 2, and James Cameron films, Jurassic Park. Predator stood out to me as well; I think Predator 2. I had a friend who showed me all these R-rated films (he showed me hip-hop too) like Predators 1 & 2, The Shining, and all these other movies when we were kids.

Would you say at that time that it was more of a situation where you didn’t quite know what was going on, but you thought it was cool and inspiring?
Yeah, I knew it was cool — like, it gave me an emotion [for sure]. Like, watching The Shining when you’re young can really be something, for example. That movie is horrifying!

Yeah, especially when you watch it when you’re older and have a whole new outlook…
Even as a kid that kind of stuff messed with your head! It was a different kind of horror film. Because I used to watch stuff like Halloween, which was freaky in a certain way. But The Shining? That’s psychological. It really fucks with you, you know?

Kubrick doing his thing was really impressive [to me], and Jack Nicholson was obviously a genius to me as well. But seeing that as a kid, even though you couldn’t understand what was going on, you could still appreciate the greatness of what they were doing.

Definitely. Movies like that can certainly strike a chord no matter the age.
Yeah because people can say [for example] that, “Jack Nicholson was really amazing because of blah blah blah…” but when I was young he touched me without me knowing anything about him or anything about Kubrick as well. His work truly all emotions.

Going off of that, what are your favorite directors today? Actors?
I really like Denis Villeneuve — he did the new Blade Runner movie just now. I knew he had something great going on with that film because I saw Sicario, which really talked to me in a certain way. The way he directs and the angles he captures is really appealing to me. I guess it’s kind of cliché to say his name now because he’s directed Blade Runner, but honestly I loved him even before that. He did Arrival as well, Incendies, Prisoners. I just really like his style; I know he’s kind of the “talked-about” person at the moment.

Apart from him, I’m really into Korean films.

Why is that?
Same as him [Villeneuve] — there’s just something there for me. I love Asian style and culture. Have you seen Old Boy? It’s part of a trilogy that’s about revenge. The director’s name is Park Chan-wook, and he’s also done another film called The Handmaiden, which is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen. There’s something about the cinematography — the way he shoots is just ridiculous.

Apart from that, Korean Gangster films is another genre I’ve gotten into. I just like the way they dress up, and they’re hanging out in these restaurants in suits before they start fighting. There’s just something very appealing to me.

So it’s kind of like the design, the style, and the architecture that all tie into your love for Korean films?
Yeah — there’s a whole movement online that I’ve seen of people who are into Korean gangster films. I’ve downloaded and watched a lot of the ‘Top Ten’ type films listed on sites online, and they’re very good. I’m very into that stuff.

They are very dark. And the funny thing is, all these directors like Quentin Tarantino and the like get a lot of inspiration from Asian filmmaking. Asian filmmaking in general is very high quality.

What do you think draws you to gangster films in general as opposed to other genres?
I like that there’s something bad/illegal about it, which really appeals to me. I’ve always been into the “underworld” of stuff. I’ve [actually] tried to explain this to my mom [before], and came to the conclusion that if it’s forbidden, it’s interesting.

Kind of like when you first start drinking…
Or getting away with something you’re not allowed to do!

It’s the adrenaline rush.
Yes — the adrenaline rush. I guess I’m an adrenaline junkie or something. But I’ve always been drawn to doing something bad, you know?

On a random note, is that why you like to tap into the Dillon side of you?
Eh, I don’t know about that anymore…it’s so hard to differentiate what is Dillon and what is not. So nowadays I’ve given up on the whole, “putting stuff into different genres” thing. Now I just like to follow whatever it is that I feel like doing.

Back to film, let’s talk about eras of cinema. Is there one in particular that you think was really strong?
That’s also a hard question, because I have a hard time watching films that are too old. A lot of my friends are into 70s & 80s films, and there’s just something lacking for me in those times. So for me, I prefer newer, post-millenium shift films. I guess it boils down to the kind of cameras you can use and the way you can capture stuff on camera — after all, photography is my other interest. What they’ve been doing cinematography-wise for the last 15 years or so really appeals to me.

Do you think it’s the effects, or the clarity? Or simply the way they capture emotion or action of any sort on film?
It definitely has to do with the quality of the camera, and I guess that it’s also kind of a stylistic/filter thing that I really enjoy a lot more than let’s say, before the 90s. Something about it that I just don’t enjoy watching.

Some people are more moved by plots in films, but it seems like you’re definitely a more visual kind of guy in your appreciation for the art. Is that correct?
Yeah, for sure. I look at the visual side of things. I think a lot of people are getting more into that as well. If you look at the way Villeneuve has become big and what he’s done, it’s just very good looking. And all the other directors too like Ridley Scott and the like are all amazing at angles and photography as well. It’s just astounding.

True – a lot of directors are known for the ways they capture and put a picture together.
For sure. It plays such a big role in making movies, and I don’t think that people realize how much it actually does. And that’s what the Koreans are so good at, to go back to that.

Well, we’ve covered quite a bit on film so far — let’s wrap our discussion up with some career questions. What’s going on in the world of Olander?
I’ve been trying to keep it low key for awhile and staying in the studio, trying out new things. So we’ve got to figure out what to do with all the new music I’m making now, and what direction I’m heading. It’s a more experimental time right now, I guess you can say.

Before doing so, you had been digging up quite a few favored IDs of yours that people have been wanting for years. So thank you for doing that!
Yeah! That’s the beauty of having my own label. I can just do whatever the fuck I want and release what I want. So that’s really a testament to how nice it is to run your own label and have that freedom. I’m glad that people are enjoying it!

Do you have a specific process of choosing what becomes a release? Or do you kind of go into your old collection and pick at will?
I definitely look at what my followers enjoy. It’s hard to think, “who’s going to support this,” and stuff like that. So I just look at what I like, what my fans like, and I take it from there.

Thank you for again for joining us, Jeremy!

Photo credit: Facebook / Jeremy Olander