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OLI XL: ”It’s hard to speak about a future when we have a total absence of anything resembling a scene”

This Swedish producer, DJ and visual artist wants to create a platform for people who don't have their own thing going on.

Words Stefanie Ravelli Photography Fredrik Andersson Andersson

”I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you kill me?” Beck’s 1993 "Loser" lyric has been interpolated in the track "Clumsy" by Stockholm’s underground club genius Oli XL, on his debut album "Rogue Intruder, Soul Enhancer" (July 2019). At the age of 18, this producer, DJ and visual artist released his first record – with three EPs and one album – Fact Magazine named him an artist to watch. When asked how he would define himself he blames his Swedish legacy. I’m too Swedish to define myself with a title unless it’s self-deprecating — so let’s say I’m an imposter and a fraud, he says.

But there’s is nothing fake about Oli XL. The producer’s standout list of work is impresive: For example his contribution to the PAN and Posh Isolation compilations, his appearance as part of Varg’s Nordic Flora showcase at Berlin Atonal, alongside Sky H1, Swan Meat, Ecco2k and W-I, Oli’s former label that has been a key voice in the leftfield club sphere. After leaving W-I, he recently started his label Bloom where the first release was his album. The label is also an outlet for both music, art and other projects. — It’s in a pretty early stage, but my idea of it is kind of an "anything goes" mentality. I want to release a lamp... I wanna work on a short film, I wanna do a school uniform.  I’d really like to continue the Relic project I started with my previous label — it started with this album where the physical release was in shape of sculptures with audio jacks so you could plug in headphones to listen to the album. I mean there are many amazing artists out there, but I'm more into the idea of providing a platform for people who don't have their own thing going on already.

You released your debut "album Rogue Intruder, Soul Enhancer" this summer but you told me that you are already tired of it. How come?

— It’s not a big deal, I’ve simply heard it way too many times. Right now I’m trying my hardest to avoid listening to it for a year, so I can kinda have the feeling of listening to it for the first time. I've run out of a club several times when other DJs have played the album. I couldn’t be more happy with it though, I’ve said before that the lyrics on it don’t hold much weight and are mostly there for me to have a voice to use as part of the sound design, but with so many ideas and emotions put into all the different sounds, the album is still deeply personal to me. For anyone reading that hasn’t heard it, I really recommend it if you’re into music.

What are you obsessed with right now?

— A lot of things — been really into manga artist Taiyo Matsumoto, there’s so much inspiring shit going on in his style, everything from how his scenes often are drawn as if they were shot with a ultra wide angle lens, to his completely crazy character designs which to me seems completely void of any obvious reference points (especially in his series No.5) — some of the characters almost remind me of Kiko Kostadinov [fashion designer] looks, which is someone else I’m pretty obsessed with these days. Also super inspired by Towa Tei, Laurel Halo, Wong Kar Wai, Sion Sono’s Love Exposure, Wales Bonner, George Rouy & Basement Jaxx (as always).

What are you most proud of?

— My album may be an obvious answer, but it’s probably true — also that I’ve been lucky enough to get the cutest, most intelligent, coolest friends around me.

What does the future hold for Scandinavian club music in your opinion?

— In Scandinavia I can only speak for Stockholm — it's hard to speak about a future when we have a total absence of anything resembling a scene. There are a lot of really talented people but they’ll be playing around the rest of the world before they get any opportunities or recognition here. I think the problem is the lack of spaces for kids to put on shows or club nights or any other projects themselves, the few club spaces we have left are curated by old people who are stuck in whatever they thought was exciting 10+ years ago when they started out (which often is the most dull business techno or business house). So the few young people actually doing interesting shit and pushing the culture forward won’t get a real spot in those spaces to cultivate a scene together.

Photography Fredrik Andersson Andersson Styling Martin Persson Make-up artist Elvira Brandt Hairstylist Jacob Kajrup Stylist Assistant Elca Heinebäck