Interview: Five Minutes with Dorian Concept

Dorian Concept, born as Oliver Thomas Johnson, is a composer, producer, and keyboard extraordinaire from Austria. He adopted the alias as a teenager, in reference to the Dorian Mode or Doric Mode, a musical scale that has been used in many different cultural settings. Pushing boundaries with his work, the producer creates electronic music that carries a wide range of influences, from jazz, funk, hip-hop, ambient, and soundscape music.

The Austrian electronic artist has just premiered his latest single, ‘Toothbrush / Booth Thrust’ via Brainfeeder. He is set to release a strictly limited translucent orange 12” edition of these two previously unreleased classics on August 2, 2019.

Hi Oliver, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. It looks like you’ve had a good year so far. What’s been your favourite part?

Hey, thanks for taking the time to prepare these questions! It’s hard to say what my favourite part was, but there have been multiple great and formative moments. I think going back to playing the piano more has been one of them. It’s had a really calming effect. 

How would you describe the progression of your sound over the years and what would you attribute the changes to?

I would say my music’s gotten more dense, skewed and meticulous over the years. I seem to need longer and longer to finish a piece of music now. I think it’s gotten harder to surprise myself and I’ve never really been interested in getting stuck to a certain format or recipe. But the new stuff I’m working on has a very loose feel as many things revolve around improvised structures. 

Who have been some of your greatest musical influences?

Too many to mention – but some classic records for me were “Live at Birdland” by John Coltrane, “Feed Me Weird Things” by Squarepusher, “Motion” by The Cinematic Orchestra and “Thought For Food” by The Books. Contemporaries I really love are people like Hudson Mohawke, Dimitri Grimm and Jameszoo

What inspires you outside of music?

The social interactions that I partake in every day, that random documentary you end up watching at 2 am after an hour-long Youtube-binge, Elizabeth T.Spira, Web-Art, the “Wayback Machine“, Indian Food, friends and family. 

We really enjoyed the video of you performing your latest single, ‘Toothbrush’. Where did you get your inspiration from for it? Can we expect you to use any more unusual pieces of equipment (like the toothbrush) in the future?

Haha, I don’t think so. Feels like a one-off, that one. Even though I’ve got a fair share of self-built percussion instruments from weird sources. With many of these loop-videos, I tend to try and break down the track into layers and try and imagine what the most simple way I could reconstruct it could be. In this case, I didn’t really need much more than a drum computer, a synth and a toothbrush. It’s been really nice to see how people react to that video. 

Would you say that emotions have an impact on your style of music and what you might choose to create at a given time, or is it mostly cerebral?

I’d consider myself a very emotional person and have always seen that as the source for everything that I do creatively. I guess often people see the synth-playing/my technical approach as something that’s more connected to thought rather than feeling, but it’s quite the opposite. Playing an instrument as a teenager pretty much saved me from overthinking and getting lost in rumination.

Your latest release ‘Toothbrush’ / ‘Booth Thrust’ is out on Brainfeeder. How was this relationship established and what is it about the label that attracts you?

I’ve known the people over at Brainfeeder for quite a long time (10+ years maybe?). And used to play keys for Flying Lotus‘ live band back when he was touring the Cosmogramma album. So whenever I finished new music I would pass it on to him as I always really rated his opinion. Looking back it feels like releasing music with them was bound to happen at some point.

What’s in the pipeline for you for the rest of the year? Any other upcoming releases we should know about?

Some live shows in autumn and winter around Europe together with my good friend PRCLS who put together a beautiful AV-Show for me based around 3 USB-Cameras. Other than that, working on the next album as I type!

Famous last words?

“No One Knows Enough To Worry” – Terence Mckenna

Upcoming Events

Club GRETCHEN in Germany – 30 September 2019

VEGA in Copenhagen – 1 October 2019

Concert Hall Schüür in Switzerland – 6 October 2019