Oli XL

Children today grow up with the secrets of the world at their fingertips, linking with each other and entertaining themselves in just a few clicks. This generation reinvented the way certain movements work, like today’s worldwide and versatile progressive club scene. It’s a scene in which Oli XL manages to stand out. He and the others on his label W – I (think: Chastic Mess, Celyn June) are bringing a refreshing take on experimental club music with a pop sensibility. With three coherent EPs under his belt, Oli XL’s groovy syncopated drums continue to make him instantly recognisable. Oli has, however, decided to bring label W – I to an end, and the time to move on draws near. His new label, Bloom, will, ahem, bloom in the spring of 2019 with his own debut album. In anticipation, we caught up and talked jungle music, Beavis & Butthead and alternative music formats.

Interview by Dennis Meersman
Photos shot by Oli XL & Uber driver in a car


What’s behind the name?
Well I played a lot of SSX 3 growing up, and the best track in the game obviously is Emerge by Fisherspooner (Junkie XL remix). Thought Junkie XL was a cool name so I stole it.

I did talk to a few labels about future music, but I’m pretty set on starting a new label now, along with my next release

You’re based in Stockholm. How’s life over there?
I mean – there isn’t really a lot going on here, I’m basically living as a recluse these days, haha. Honestly don’t have that much to say about Stockholm!

The Soundcloud page of your label, W – I, says it’s inactive?
Yeah, I ended the label maybe 2 months ago! It just felt fully concluded.

In what sense did it feel concluded?
I started it when I was around 18 to appear more ‘serious’ when posting music on Soundcloud haha, but since then it became so much more and there are many things I’d do differently if I’d start a label today. Like the name! The name sucks! It was first called Worldwide International as a dumb joke (small experimental label with a big corporate name… not that funny), but quickly shortened it to just W – I, which doesn’t sound that fun said. It’s also two very boring letters to stylize in any way. Anyways, for a while I did talk to a few labels about future music, but I’m pretty set on starting a new label now, along with my next release.

Yeah, I read something about Bloom? How will it differ from the previous?
Oh didn’t know that was out haha! Well, I hope to make it everything I wanted W – I to be, but not always could because of lack of time, or experience etc. Like the Relic project I started along with the Celyn June’s release Location. A Relic is a physical music format in shape of sculptures that second as music players; basically I thought I could make them on demand, instead of making a batch before the release. Also, I had this naive idea that I wanted the Relics to be an actual alternative to vinyl, and wanted the price to reflect that. So I sold them for like €30! Material alone was more than €20. I’d sell them for at least… 5 times that the next time around.

Lately I’ve been having these Beavis & Butthead thoughts that are probably gonna influence my music in a horrible way

You announced your debut album! What can we expect?
Guess I did… Just wanted to force a deadline haha. And I’m not sure! I feel like I know what I want these days! I don’t have any formal music training or know much about music theory… That’s not interesting or peculiar at all, just stating it, haha. But I guess I think about music in a pretty ‘theoretical’ way, but instead it’s my own completely made up rules I try to follow, often with silly analogies. Like judging the rhythmic vibe – it’s like some dude walking a wire between two skyscrapers… no one wants to see someone just walk flawlessly back and forth, dude needs to look like he just might fall! Lately I’ve been having these Beavis & Butthead thoughts that are probably gonna influence my music in a horrible way. Like the other day I thought it would be pretty funny, and then became obsessed with the idea of having a voice just negging/bullying the music on every track on the album haha. ‘brooo that snare SUCKS’ ‘laaaame’

You describe your music somewhere between Source Direct and Basement Jaxx. Could you concretise this?
Well I strive to – it’s another rule! I think you’re gonna end up with pretty dope music if you pick one track of each as your inspiration source. Rooty was the first CD I owned, and probably the first piece of music I could really enjoy the way I enjoy listening to music today. Came back to it a few years ago and appreciated it even more – every track has so many ideas going on that sound like nothing else but still manage to sound so pop. And Source Direct still feels like Black Magic to me…

What holds the future for club music in your opinion?
Iono man I barely go out!!


Oli Xl
7 Dec – Beursschouwburg (Slagwerk + Perron Zes), Brussels
22.00 – €8 – free for members until 00:00
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