PLAYY. Mix #180 – OLAN

OLAN often wonders, “where do I fit in?,” and this question feels essential to her practice. Her eclectic blend of instruments and genres makes categorization tricky. Raised in church choirs, her youth in Columbus and Atlanta nurtured her love of music across bands, songwriting camps, and listening to Paramore. She honed her bass, guitar, vocals, and production while co-writing hits. At 21, OLAN dove into Las Vegas’ electronic scene, merging DJ sets and live guitar shows – alluding to the singular sound she would go on to refine as her own, a merging of her skills as songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. Following her 2022 debut album on label Anjunadeep, Contra, and a stint supporting Odesza on an extensive world tour – OLAN is once again in a process of questioning, or perhaps more accurately – rebecoming. We caught up with the multihyphenate to see where she is at creatively, and OLAN provides us with a guest mix that serves as a window into her current creative process. 



Set the tone for us. Where is OLAN currently at creatively? 

I’m currently working on my second album! It’s something I knew I wanted to do before the tour started with Odesza, but I think I needed to go through some character building before I started that process. I’ve spent the last two months capturing as much as I can by writing every day and going back to consistent reading habits that inspired me as a kid.


What sorts of sounds, concepts, or aesthetics are you finding yourself inspired by at the moment?

I’m currently revisiting Existentialism with more depth than I did with my first album–at least on an internal level (I honestly can’t expect anyone to get that interpretation from the songs themselves). A lot of Contra was purely inspired by the game Outer Wilds and I only stuck to that. I’d say it limited the scope of what I could explore and translate into music. I had a lot of emotions brewing but couldn’t articulate it well with others at that time.

I think a lot of people have been inspired by Rick Ruben’s “The Creative Act” since it came out, and I definitely fall into that category. Some other books include ‘House of Leaves’ by Mark Z. Danielewski, ‘The Tao Te Ching’ by Lao Tzu, and a handful of other books pulled from Japanese literature like ‘Kusamakura’. 

My journey with this album started with wanting to explore the concept of liminal spaces, which led me to dig back into classic western Philosophy. I went from wanting to describe feeling stuck in a transitional phase to knowing that my feelings and experiences this past year are not an isolated incident at all. As heavy and dark as the exploration has been, I’m actually finding comfort in knowing that there are people much smarter than I am putting out beautiful pieces of work that help all of us have more productive conversations. 

I’ve returned to Outer Wilds with that new perspective in mind, and I’ve also been playing another game called ‘Manifold Garden’ that’s influenced heavily by ‘House of Leaves’. The soundtracks for both are incredible and I revisit them all the time!

As far as music is concerned I’ve been loving Ford, Nasaya, Orion Sun, Cella, SBTRKT, Tems, and Model/Actriz just to name a few.


How does this mix speak toward OLAN’s current direction?

This mix has a couple of album demos, and mainly speaks to what my influences have been for a really long time. I just wanted to make sure it had songs that made me feel good and didn’t think much further beyond that.


Your track ‘Control’ was recently given the remix treatment by Alex Banks and Lau.ra. How does experiencing your work from a different perspective help fuel your creativity?

Alex is someone that I’ve looked up to for a very long time, especially when it came to broken beats and layering more textured sounds when I was crossing over from playing in live bands to producing electronic music. The remix he made wasn’t something I expected, but it’s so exhilarating to listen to and still can’t believe we had the chance to get his take on the track. 

Lau.ra is someone I resonate with deeply since she is just as much of a songwriter as she is a producer. I feel like a lot of us struggle with making sure the identity we strive for is truthfully represented, and  I’m just happy she had an opportunity to show off her skills as a multi-talented artist.


What can we expect from OLAN as we move further into 2024? Are there any projects that you are particularly excited about? 

I’m mainly working on the album and making sure there’s plenty of songs to release in the meantime without putting too much pressure on myself about outcomes. I usually wait to design my live show until this process is done, and that is something I plan on developing even further after having such an encouraging experience with Odesza. I’ve also been writing a lot of music under two other aliases to keep myself feeling fresh and releasing more frequently. I’m not entirely sure if I want to include a label or anything more formal in this phase of my life, but I am excited to share my new songs and a much deeper insight into my process with anyone who wants to spend their time with it


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