Suite Grooves – Influential Tracks #2: Jamie Olsen (Roti & Schnauzer/Rephrase)
Hello and welcome to the second instalment of Suite Grooves Influential Tracks. Your host for this episode is Jamie Olsen. Jamie has been involved in music from a very young age. I first met him when he was part of a Byron Bay based band called Kaleidavibe. He’s probably best known as Rephrase, an electronic music and beats producer with 3 albums released during the first decade of this century, and a whole lot of remixes for artists and acts all over the world. He was also part of dBChills releasing an album called Broke n Sound on the Offworld Sounds label in 2002, and in 2015 he released The Action Figures EP as Beds. This month Jamie and long time music partner Sam Gregg released their debut album as Roti & Schnauzer. The album will probably be on high rotation on Suite Grooves for a while. If you haven’t checked it out yet I highly recommend that you do, it’s so diverse, and Jamie will take us through the key moments in his life that influenced his style and approach to music production.
My name is Jamie Olsen. I’m an Australian music producer. I produce under the aliases, Rephrase, and Beds. And with a friend of mine, Sam Gregg, we go by the name of Roti and Schnauzer. Sharif has asked me today to list my top 10 influential tracks of all time. This wasn’t easy to do actually, now I think about it. But I had to be honest with myself and pick the songs that set me on my musical path, I suppose.
Number one, is The Theme from Shaft by Isaac Hayes. I would have been probably about five years old when I heard this, my parents record player back in the 70s. My dad’s collection was all sort of country and western sort of stuff, which I really didn’t gravitate towards, but my mum would have a pretty sort of cool taste in music, you know, like, Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and stuff like that. But she had this one record, which was the soundtrack to Shaft and I remember hearing this, the theme, for the first time the high hats and then the wah guitar came in, and the horns and it just blew my mind for a young kid. I just go, ‘What is this?’
1- Isaac Hayes – The Theme from Shaft
Number two is Michael Jackson, Billie Jean, it’s, you know, you hear that drum groove come in. And that’s it for me, man. It’s like, it’s like a linear groove. And with a pop song on top, and that’s sort of the basis of most of the music I like is groove based music with, with the sort of song on top. I always write in that way and gravitate, gravitated towards that sort of music.
2- Michael Jackson – Billie Jean
Number three is Run DMC. It’s Tricky. When I was in primary school, my older brother had a driver’s license and he used to come and pick me up after he’d finished high school, and we would wait at the bus stop basically, and he would fly in, in this little mini and the sparks would hit the curb on the way into the into the parking lot and his music was blaring out of the speaker system out of the small little car and I jump in there and I remember hearing like the Raising Hell album, Run DMC It’s Tricky and yeah, all my mates thought I was the coolest guy.
3- Run DMC – It’s Tricky
So that leads me to a similar experience with number four, Peter Gabriel Sledgehammer. So, one of the other cassettes he used to have in a car was the So album and I remember yeah the intro to sledgehammer with the flute sample and kicking in, that was a killer groove.
4- Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer
Number five it was hard to pick because I like a lot of Beastie Boys tracks but I went with So What’cha Want. Just Mario’s C is like crazy producer and like the rawness of this. That album and this song is just like that just amped me up when I heard that I just liked him but that this is crazy, you know, like this is really cool.
5-: Beastie Boys – So What’cha Want?
Number six, Directions In Groove, The DIG Theme. I played sax during primary school in high school and I was lucky enough to audition down at Lismore and get into the contemporary music course on saxophone and around this time the acid jazz movement has started to boom and one of the big Australian bands to do this was Directions In Groove, DIG. I remember seeing them at the Lismore workers club and just watching Terepai Richmond on drums and Sam Dixon on the bass, it was like a rhythm section made in heaven. And then you got Rick Robertson, saxophone on top and Tim Rollinson and on the guitar and Scott Saunders on keys. It was just because like I knew then what I wanted to do with music.
6- Directions In Groove – The DIG Theme
Number seven is Stereo MCs Connected. When I first heard this song was around, probably 95/96 and it was at a house party and what can I say? It was probably the first time I took ecstasy and this song came on. And it was, it was amazing. It was just this rolling groove and it was is I can still I can still hear it. still smell the room. I can still picture everything when I heard that track.
7- Stereo MCs – Connected
Number eight DJ Shadow Midnight In A Perfect World. I was living with a mate of mine called AJ goes by DJ name G-SON and he was sort of just maybe just starting out on turntables or he definitely had decks at home and he was buying a lot of MoWax records and then like I’d hear him practicing his scratching and he played me this track by this guy called DJ Shadow, it was Midnight In A Perfect World and I said like, that’s insane. It was like really cerebral sort of hip hop and took you to another place you know, I was like, it was a real game changer. And I remember asking AJ like, so like, who’s playing all the things he was like? No, it’s one guy and he’s cutting up different records. He’s putting them together like a collage. Oh my god, like I’ve been trying to learn how to play every instrument myself at this stage onto a little four track cassette recorder. So that was a big game changer in terms of production for me.
8- DJ Shadow – Midnight In A Perfect World
Number nine, Fatboy Slim, Rockafeller Skank. I was living in Bondi at this stage, the band I was in, had just broken up, we were from Byron Bay originally. And the girlfriend, I was seeing we also split around the same time. So, I had this really long hair, and I went to the hairdresser and I just asked the guy just shave it all off, you know, like, start fresh. And he just looked at me, ‘Sure you want to cut all this hair off?’. I said, ‘Man, just do it.’ And around this time when he started get the buzz cut going, this song came on the radio, it was Rockafeller Skank by Fatboy Slim, and then the bridge, basically, with that, the big wind down and the wind up with that siren is just like, I felt all the goose bumps on my arm go up. And as this guy’s cutting all my hair off and all that, like, that’s it, I got to do something like this. And within about a week or so I went out and got a bank loan and for about 10 grand and I bought myself a home studio setup, and, and I was gonna make everything myself. That was it. I didn’t have to rely on bandmates or whatever. And that’s that was the start of my sort of real music production career.
9- Fatboy Slim – The Rockafeller Skank
Number 10. I’d have to say Music Sounds Better With You by Stardust. I could have picked any of these, any French band around this time. Yeah, I was big, big fan of Air Moon Safari, Daft Punk obviously, and Stardust is one part of those guys. But that track I heard that at The Q Bar would have been sort of late 90s or whatever. And that, it was just so much superior sonically on a sound system than any other track at the time and it was so simplistic, but it just had a hook, it just had the vocal hook and it was just repetitive and it was it was just meant to be. But I could go on to list more tracks but that’s basically in terms of my taste in production and music. That’s how it all started.
10- Stardust – Music Sounds Better With You