dj AbStract: Concrete Music

The disc jockey is the true artist. The records and performers are the disc jockey’s instrument for expressing his own identity. dj AbStract is a concrete identity.

Dj Abstract

His name is Olle Løstegaard (1972). His skin is white, but he has a beautiful, black soul. The blacker the better. And every Saturday evening he can be heard on the radios of 200,000 starving Norwegian listeners. Last year he mixed fifteen of his favourite records to make the 75 minute 51 second-long rhythm and mood odyssey Tracks on CD. This year’s follow-up and transit port is called II.

dj AbStract is a DJ, but much more than a DJ. When he mixes the sets on some jobs, he’s a DJ in the original sense of the word: he plays records for people who want to dance. When he mixes the sets on other jobs, he approaches the role of the producer. The audience sits down to listen, they have come to hear not only the records but how dj AbStract mixes them and builds up the evening musically. When he works with instrumentalists on percussion and piano keyboard, he approaches the role of the artist. The DJ with the turntables and mixer desk improvises with the musicians. The circle is complete when the finished product meets acoustic instruments.

In dj AbStract’s vocabulary they are called organic instruments. He’s not unfamiliar with them, thanks to his musical education. His mother is a music therapist and the only white music he understands is classical. Naturally he’s not too keen on electric guitars, and naturally he hasn’t the faintest idea who Jon Bon Jovi is. His background is from the anti-drug movement and the local radio stations which filled the air-waves with heavy Chicago, Detroit and Washington funk in the mid-80s.

Much of the pioneering spirit from that period is still present. He is Norway’s leading “bedroom DJ”, pointing out on the records that they were mixed at home. And he’s not very interested in opening his “bedroom” to all comers.

Out on the job, he plays two CDs per 200 vinyl 12-inchers. The most interesting music comes on vinyl, it’s the medium of the underground in limited editions where everything flourishes before the established companies distribute it to the masses on CD. The innovators’ music is then made available to the followers. Innovator dj AbStract is not particularly interested in availability and consumption, although a lot of people want his name on posters advertising major raves. Playing to an ocean of eight to ten thousand dancers is a clinical job, something he does for money. On this scale, market forces reign supreme and it’s obviously funny when the branded goods producers blindly believe that this is “new”, “youthful”, not forgetting “oh, so innovative”.

dj AbStract’s real medium is for a narrower circle, the innovative few who understand the methods and appreciate what he does. This type of seance takes place unannounced, based on the jungle telegraph model. Small, colourful flyers announce the name of the DJ and the club. You simply have to know all the other information. Those who know come; those who don’t know don’t find it, or can go to bigger raves in this week’s new threads bearing the right labels. His two mixed CDs and the radio shows make him more accessible to a public that can’t be physically present but prefers to communicate in a different way.

In comparison with other Norwegian DJs and mixers, dj AbStract is approaching musician status. He is seeking and experimenting and the II CD is rougher and more jazz-influenced than the first CD. And he wants to work more with musicians, such as classically educated percussionists and jazz pianists. Or he dreams of a DJ duet with Harald Are Lund, Norway’s John Peel, a meeting between dinosaur electronics and youthful daring. What does it sound like? Different every time!

Translation: Virginia Siger ©
Printed in the music magazine Listen to Norway, Vol.5 - 1997 No. 2
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