John Travolta played Tony Manero in 1977. The Paradise Garage opened in 1976, Mancuso’s Loft in 1970 and the first article about disco was written in 1973 in the Rolling Stone Magazine. Disco is not a new force.
Todd Terje has been DJing for quite some time now and has been at the forefront of a resurgence of interest in the genre for all the right reasons. However, it wasn’t until his edit of Michael Jackson’s ‘I Can’t Help It’ reached Gilles Peterson and was played on his Worldwide Show in 2005 that Terje became a more recognizable figure.
Essentially Todd Terje, whose moniker is a Norwegian play on the legendary American house DJ Todd Terry, has gone from empty-ish dance floors to headlining probably the best party in the world in just a few years.
However, he is incredibly modest about the remarkable form his career has taken: “I’ve never been a headline DJ and any career is never a straight line, there’s times when you have lots of gigs and times when you have not so many gigs. I am more of alternative DJ, I’m not usually the headliner but recently I have been for some reason.” The reason is the Norwegian is fast becoming the ultimate remixer in club-land. He is responsible for two of the biggest dance floor hits in club-ville for quite some time: his Turkatech remix of Simon Baker’s ‘Plastik’ and his unbelievably addictive edit of ‘I Want Your Love’ by Chic.
The truth is Terje, real name Todd Olson, is a good DJ, but is an amazingly talented remixer and producer. “If it wasn’t for the production side I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing now. Releases are what get you recognized; it is unlikely that I would have been booked by in Japan if I hadn’t released material for example.” Arguably Terje’s biggest hit; the Chic edit was also named the Kenny Edit after Kenny Dixon Jr. aka Moodymann, who chopped and streched elements from the very same Chic song for his classic track ‘I Can Kick This Feeling When It Hits‘. However, I wouldn’t have guessed Moodymann to be that big of an influence on Todd’s music, which he quite honestly divulges. “I feel very average on my Kenny knowledge. I like the way he digs out old disco classics and makes them dirty and suitable for basement clubs, but he has many sides and I prefer the more commercial side. Moodymann is one of those DJs who has some very dedicated fans around the world who can get quite protective, I just quite like the commercial stuff.”
The question is: Where does Terje get his musical inspiration? Is it disco classics or is there more to the story? He quite abstractly replies: “I am really inspired by Arthur Russell’s ‘Tree House‘. I wish the song could be a whole genre of music, I know it can’t. If I say I am into Arthur Russell or that he inspires me, I would be lying because he produces so much music, but that one tune is probably my biggest inspiration. I have dreamt of a type of music that doesn’t really exist, its called proto-minimal. It is like minimal but better, I mean I don’t really like minimal but proto-minimal has all the properties of Minimal and Disco combined, complete with FX’s and interesting sounds.”
I suggested to Todd, maybe during this interview we could coin the phrase proto-minimal, he could pioneer the genre and we could make history together. It could be the new techno, Todd the new Juan Atkins; the Godfather of proto-minimal and I that enigmatic journalist (whose name no one remembers), who wrote that first article coining the word Techno.
Todd replies: “No, please don’t.”
Todd’s new release is on Munich’s Permanent Vacation label. The album is a compilation of Todd Terje’s finest remixes, featuring moments of genius, reworking the likes of Shit Robot, Jose Gonzalez, Chaz Jankel, The Juan McLean and Reverso 68. The album also features a cover by Chuck Norris of Ace of Base’s ‘All That She Wants’, which is much better than it sounds.