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Exploring ‘Floating Worlds’: An Interview with OLAN

Born in America and currently based in Philadelphia, OLAN is an electronic music artist celebrated for her eclectic blend of melodic house, breakbeat, downtempo, and UK Garage. Her sound, developed through relentless creativity and introspection, merges genres with seamless coherence, creating a unique sonic landscape that resonates deeply with her audience.

OLAN’s journey has seen her collaborate with notable artists and labels, such as QRTR and the .WAVCAVE collective, where she has been a pivotal figure in fostering grassroots communities and innovative music projects. Her latest single, ‘If You Need Me,’ precedes her forthcoming album ‘Floating Worlds,’ a project inspired by the concept of liminal spaces and personal transitions.

With a rich history of performances and a growing base of dedicated fans, OLAN is poised to expand her influence and share her distinctive sound worldwide. EG recently had the pleasure of sitting down with the artist to discuss her new album, the inspiration behind her music, and her vision for the future in the electronic music scene.

EG: Hi OLAN, welcome to Electronic Groove! Where are you joining us today?

OLAN: Hi, I’m currently living in Philadelphia! I moved here back in January.

EG: Your new single ‘If You Need Me’ precedes your upcoming album ‘Floating Worlds’. Can you share with us the inspiration behind this single and how it sets the tone for the rest of the album?

OLAN: This song was written when I was in the flow of writing a full track every day, and that’s how I approached most of this album. I wanted to be as easy on myself as I could during the writing and mixing process. I worked in phases and took long breaks in between. As far as its place on the album, I think it represents a more hopeful resolution to the existential questions I’ve had in the last few years. ‘If You Need Me’ goes back to a sense of pure innocence that we find with love whether it be romantic or platonic. I think both are crucial for our survival when most aspects of life are unknown. I wanted the album to reflect the constant and deliberate choice to find comfort in myself and my connections to other people.

EG: Your music spans across various genres, blending melodic house, breakbeat, downtempo, and UK Garage. How do you maintain coherence while experimenting with diverse styles, and what can listeners expect from ‘Floating Worlds’ in terms of sonic exploration?

OLAN: Even if you decided to work on an album that only fits into one genre, I think it’s important to write a lot more music than you’d possibly need for a project. It’s always easier to narrow down what feels the most cohesive from a group rather than trying to keep writing with a specific theme in mind. You find yourself repeating techniques or using similar sounds during the process, so in the end, it’s just about picking what fits and appeals to you the most. I had friends help me decide which ones stayed on the album in the end. I would say ‘Floating Worlds’ leans more into House than I’d normally present. I just wanted to make sure this album felt uplifting and that all my sounds were talking to each other. Everything has its place and I tried to make sure I didn’t overcomplicate what came up naturally.

EG: You’ve mentioned that the concept of ‘liminal space’ inspired ‘Floating Worlds’. Could you delve deeper into how this concept influenced the album’s themes and overall atmosphere?

OLAN: I know people normally picture infinite back rooms or abandoned malls when they think of liminal space, but I tend to think of it more as a term that means “transitional state” or this unsettling feeling of knowing you are in between phases of your life. I’m still going through this experience, but early on it led me to this book on liminal space that introduces the Japanese word ‘Ukiyo’ which translates to Floating Worlds. It was initially a Buddhist term that refers to the fleeting and unforgiving cycle of life that monks wanted to break out of. It resonated with me because the world often feels unreliable and flakey despite any work you put into it. It can all be taken from you at any given moment. This album was a coping method for me to feel like I was breaking out of my own cycle of pessimism, even if it’s just for a moment.

“I’m excited to make my project less about myself and more about the connections the music fosters with people who choose to listen. A live show feels like the purest way to communicate that”

EG: Collaboration seems to be integral to your artistic journey, especially with QRTR and the .WAVCAVE label. How have these collaborations shaped your creative process, and what do you value most about working with fellow artists?

OLAN: QRTR has been such an important person in my life these last two years. I used to collaborate a lot more but found that I would often be compromising my own artistic vision to accommodate someone else, so I’ve held off a lot more lately. I didn’t want to do any features on this album because I wanted it to be time I spent in solitude. On the other hand, my EP with QRTR last year felt like an honest effort with someone going through the same experience as I am. We decided to revive her collective .WAVCAVE because we both understood that grassroots communities are what helped our projects grow in the most meaningful way. After touring last year we were so exhausted with playing a music industry game that never seems to have its priorities in order. We wanted to give ourselves the opportunity to shape our own experiences even if the growth isn’t happening as quickly. We spend a lot of time encouraging each other to stay focused on what matters to us the most, and I’m really thankful to have her in my life.

EG: Reflecting on your career journey, what has been a standout moment for you, and what are you most looking forward to with the release of ‘Floating Worlds’?

OLAN: Touring with Odesza was easily one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I think it showed me a much brighter side to tour life that felt like a worthwhile goal to work towards. I got to fully lean into my desire to play live and show people more range. I felt safe with their team and it elevated my standards for the experience I want to create with this project. ‘Floating Worlds’ was heavily inspired by that tour and I’m excited to bring it on the road. I’m excited to make my project less about myself and more about the connections the music fosters with people who choose to listen. A live show feels like the purest way to communicate that.

EG: Now, let’s ask some ‘fun’ questions. Imagine you could travel through time to any period. When would you go and why? Would it influence your music upon return?

OLAN: I probably wouldn’t do it, to be honest! Folks in the past seemed like they were really going through it.

EG: You’re stranded on a deserted island and can only bring 3 non-musical items. What are they and why?

OLAN: My Nintendo Switch, a hot plate to cook on, and a generator to power both.

“Touring with Odesza was easily one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I think it showed me a much brighter side to tour life that felt like a worthwhile goal to work towards”

EG: If you could have a superpower related to music, what would it be, and how would you use it?

OLAN: I would make it impossible for venues to tier the volume on opening acts.

EG: Finally, is there anything else on the horizon that you’d like to share with us today?

OLAN: I’m currently working on a new live show and projects to support the album, so I’m stoked to share that soon!

EG: Thanks for the time, and all the best!

OLAN: Thank you for having me.

FOLLOW OLAN: Spotify | Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

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