DMC met with two of Sweden’s fastest rising stars, Oliver Nelson & Tobtok, to chat about their latest collaboration – a rework of the 90s house classic ‘Outrageous’ by Stix ‘N’ Stoned. We’ve also bagged the premiere of this infectious, fresh edit of the 1996 Positiva hit. With a collective 500+ million streams between them across Spotify, YouTube and Soundcloud, it’s clear why they’re tipped as the next-gen of Swedish talent. Read on to find out about their serendipitous first meeting, their approach to studio collaboration, and most annoying habits. Cherry tomato anyone?
Welcome back to DMC Tobias, and a welcome for the first time, Oliver. Can we set the scene, where are you both in the world right now?
Oliver: At the moment I’m in my home town Uppsala working on some new productions.
Tobias: I’m currently in London doing a few sessions and hangin’ out with my managers.
Let’s start from the beginning, how and where did you first meet? How did that transition into producing together?
T: So here’s how it went down! We met through SoundCloud, I reached out to Oliver about a possible collaboration after getting a tip from a friend. Oliver had just signed to a new management and forwarded it on.
O: My manager, Adam Griffin at Perfect Havoc, saw the potential and decided to sign Tobias. We talked about meeting up for quite some time and after a couple of months of chatting – and quite randomly – realised that we lived in the same city. The first time we met was at a local pub where we both accidentally hung out at that night without orchestrating it.
T: The first collab we did was of ‟Naughty Boy – La La La” which made us realize that our styles worked well hand in hand. Since then we’ve been working closely in different aspects and have been helping each other out on separate projects which has grown into a very great and close partnership!
Where did the idea to rework Outrageous come from?
T: Our manager Adam. He loves the old “Stix ‘N’ Stoned – Outrageous” and he really wanted us to give it a try and rework it.
It marks a clubbier, more dancefloor-ready sound than your previous nu disco productions. Will we be hearing more of this style from you this year?
O: We like the idea of being versatile, so we’ll definitely do more clubbier tracks such as Outrageous. But of course I will be releasing nu-disco vibes as well!
T: I’ve leaned towards a bit more of a clubbier style with ‟As I Sleep” last year and seen what effect it could have, so we want to apply that to our joint brand.
Collaboratively speaking, how do you work together, does one of you take the melody, the bassline? How do you bring your ideas together to create one piece of music?
O: We always try and sit together when we’re working on stuff we release together. I wouldn’t say we have different roles when it comes to specific types of sounds such as basslines or melodies, we try out everything together. Of course there are certain things that I think Tobias is better at, such as more clubby-vibe stuff, and he knows I can deliver a certain type of nu disco vibe when it comes to drums etc, but we still do it all together.
T: When me and Oliver work together we are very much on the same page, almost like our minds are connected in a way haha. There have been a few moments where we’ve been thinking about the same thing without even saying it. I think that’s why we are a natural team. We have our strengths and weaknesses but are usually involved in everything together. But naturally we have to split some things up when we are not together or if we need to pull a sound from Reason that I usually work in whilst Oliver uses Ableton.
You’ve worked together on several remixes and original tracks for the likes of Lematire, Albin Lee, and on 99 Red Balloons and Jealous. What collaboration are you most proud of?
O: Im very proud of the remix we’ve done for Albin Lee Meldau and the Anti Gravity ft. Oriel Poole remix. Especially the Anti Gravity remix, I personally think we nailed that one!
T: I agree with the above but I’m also really proud of what we’ve got coming out this year, not to forget about Outrageous which got us out of our comfort-zone a bit!
You toured the USA last summer playing all over at Output (NYC), U Street Music Hall (Washington), The Standard (LA), Love & Propaganda (SF), and No Vacancy (Portland). What were your standout gigs? Do you get on well as travel companions? That’s a lot of time to spend together!
O: All of them were fantastic gigs, but what stood out was Output in NYC. It was my first time in NYC, and I don’t know why, but for a Swede, going there is like the biggest thing you can do hehe. Every time Tobias is with me I know I’m gonna have a great time. We work very well together when it comes to nearly anything. Doesn’t matter if it’s a couple of days or weeks. Love having him with me and I hope he feels the same haha.
T: I love touring with Oliver, to the extent if we’re in the same country we meet up if one of us is finished with their gigs and the other one isn’t! In San Fran, after we both played at Perfect Havoc Disco, Oliver joined me at a block-party in Sacramento and a pool-party called Splash House in Palm Springs, which was lovely. On the recent trip I followed Oliver to Vegas for his show at Marquee Dayclub at The Cosmopolitan after having a gig by myself in Portland with about 1.5h sleep – the things you do for a friend hey?! I personally really enjoyed The Standard in LA as it was my first time in the city and fell in love with the city. We also met a lot of cool and chatty people on the roof which made the gig intimate and special.
Oliver Nelson, Tobtok - Outrageous
There’s a lot of chat right now about independent artists being able to earn a living from Spotify. You both have impressive streaming figures. How important has Spotify been for your careers in terms of establishing you on a global scale against internationally renowned artists?
O: When I started producing and when I built my name, Soundcloud was the biggest thing out there. Now it’s Spotify. As long as Spotify is one of the main platforms people can reach my music it’s always gonna be very important for me.
T: Both Spotify and SoundCloud are special as they’re both Swedish companies. I think Spotify has been very generous in supporting people that aren’t necessarily top-tier artists with great curated playlists. For example I got a track signed to a Toolroom-compilation off the back of Spotify, the track was just supposed to function as an intro, and it’s racked up 3.5 Million streams which is amazing exposure.
Any b2b DJ sets on the horizon? How do you operate in this setting – do you pre-plan your sets or just vibe off one another? Who decides who gets to drop your favourite tune at that particular time?
O: We are producing alot of new stuff at the moment and are focusing on that before heading out again, but we will be out and about again soon.
Ts: When we DJ we don’t pre-program, we just naturally vibe in the moment. In terms of feel, I like a bit more high-energy than Oliver but we switch it up.
We hear your relationship extends beyond the studio. Aren’t you both fans of role-playing video games??
O: This made me laugh. To be honest we’re in a period of playing alot of PUBG (Player Unknown’s Battle Grounds), but I don’t know where you got role playing video games from haha. I’m more of a single player guy myself.
T: We also play a really silly mobile-game called ”Mobile Legends” which is basically a copy of the famous ‟League Of Legends”. It’s very nice when you have to clear your head and have a break or if you just have some time to kill on the john.
Tell us each other’s most annoying habit. ..
O: Tobias can hear a word he thinks either sounds funny or is funny to say, and it can stick with him for a long while, like months. Take “Cherry Tomatoes” for an example. He just bursts out “CHERRY TOMATOES!” every 3 minutes for 2 months, like a tick. Very annoying but lovely in the same way, that’s what makes Tobias “Tobias” I guess..
T: What I hate most about Oliver is how obsessed he is with his coffee-mugs. He never lets me pick the ones I like just because he thinks the coffee is gonna taste worse, which doesn’t make any sense for me. He also prefers ones without any handles which is madness.
And best attribute?
O: Tobias is very genuine and would never hurt me or let me down (intentionally). He is one of my dearest friends and I know for certain he will be for the rest of my life.
T: On a professional level Oliver has his own sound which in the modern era is quite special. On a personal level Oliver is super-honest and I really trust him.
When was the last time you argued and why?
O: I can’t remember exactly but I might have been when he was over last time and spilled my coffee. To quote Laurel and Hardy ‟It was another nice mess he got me into”.
T: I thought it was the other day when we where playing ‟Mobile Legends”. The worst ones we’ve had are definitely when we are gaming haha. That’s pretty much the only thing where it can really get heated. Oliver takes it too seriously and I’m a bit all over the place.
What’s next, post Outrageous – what other releases, tours do you have coming up?
T: “Yellow”, our second track of the year is coming out on February 22nd. In our opinion on our pop-tip, it’s by far the best thing we’ve ever done.