Norweigan producer and DJ, Orjan Nilsen came through Seattle recently for his world tour. The tour which currently surrounds his new album, “The Devil is in the Detail”, took place at Ora Nightclub and couldn’t have been a better venue for him to play at.
The intimate stage setting and dance floor combined with Ora Nightclub’s welcoming vibes allowed the evening to be a memorable night for anyone present. No drama, just people with a mutual interest in electronic music looking to celebrate each other.
We caught up with Orjan after his show to dig deeper into what his latest album is about, some of what his past has looked like and what the hardest part about being a worldwide traveling DJ is. Check it out below!
Orjan Nilsen Exclusive Interview
*This interview was edited for clarity*
How have things been since the release of The Devil is in the Detail? What sort of feedback have you been receiving?
The general opinion about it has been this is the most mature album I’ve made. That’s what I was trying to do as well; so it’s been good. Even my trance fans enjoy what I’m doing. I’ve been trying to develop my sound the last few years to make it sound more pure and I want it to be good enough for people in the mainstream to like it, but without disappointing my trance fans.
How long did you work on the project before it was complete?
One year. There’s a lot of struggles with contracts when it comes to adding vocalists and writers and stuff. There’s a lot of licenses going around.
What does the title mean, exactly?
Since I began releasing music people have had a knack for finding out that it’s my track even though it’s a completely different style and someone else is playing it. I don’t know what it is, but they can always pin point it to me. The Devil is in the Detail is the thin red line that’s me inside a track that might not sound like me at all.
Does releasing a new project have you excited to get back in the studio for more? Or do you like to ride out what currently is in front of you?
Coming from a guy who just produced two albums in one year I’m stepping away from the studio. I’ve got 4 shows left then I have Christmas and I’ve promised my daughter I wouldn’t be in the studio.
When you were first starting out as a DJ – do you remember your personal goals? Was it to be on DJ Mag’s Top 100 list?
My initial goal, when I was 15 or 16 was to be signed by a label. That was the only goal I generally had and then I got signed and my next goal was to make a living out of. I realized I hadn’t made any goals, I just wanted to work with music and see where it takes me. I asked my parents for help, I think it was 2010 and told them if I’m not self-sufficient with money and everything within one year from now I’ll go back to school and be a surgeon. One year later I was voted one of the top DJs in the world.
Who has been basically your #1 and #2 musical inspirations?
Armin is my mentor. He took me under his wing and he basically trained me and taught me you have to do this and do that, just go with the flow, do what you want to do, don’t be pressured into anything, stuff like that. Also, listening to a lot of Tiesto live sets back in the day. I think that’s formed a lot of my live sets as well. I like to surprise people in my sets. I can be going from something super trancey to something like house and having the mix is good because it keeps me interested.
Do you think it’s a good time to be a DJ today compared to when you first started out? What are some pros and cons?
I think it’s incomparable, you can’t compare the two. Its two different eras. It’s like saying how would the Beatles survive today? Nobody is selling music, everybody is streaming it so it’s a completely different time. I think there was less gigging before, I think people could actually make a living just selling music, but I don’t think people were as lucky as us to see the whole world.
You’ve obviously done a lot of traveling – when you’re exhausted and you’re due for a show or an appearance and you’re tired, what do you have to tell yourself to keep going?
I hate waiting in line in airports and I hate sitting on a plane for 12 hrs. That is the job part. As soon as I come to the club I talk to people and I like the people, my mindset changes completely so I just get ready. Right now, I haven’t slept more than 3 hours in the past 48 and I still feel pretty good.
What is actually the hardest part about your job?
Lack of sleep and an extremely unbalanced diet because you have no idea when you’re going to eat next. I have this thing where I come to a new place I get some sleep, I get some rest then I just want to get up there. Once I get to a place and get settled into a hotel room and the traveling is done, I get ready. The traveling and in-between kills you, I’m 37 now and I feel it more than I did 10 years ago, but apparently I’m still 25 when I jump on the deck.
What sorts of things would you like to accomplish moving forward? Is there anything in particular that you’re after?
I’m terrible at making goals, I’m more of an in the moment kind of guy and I have started to plan more stuff ahead and I have probably made too many plans for next year, but I have two plans I know for a hundred percent that is going on, but can’t tell you those quite yet.
Orjan Nilsen – Live @ A State of Trance 800
What has been your most fun collaboration that you’ve done so far? Who do you really enjoy working with on a friend level and why?
The first time Armin hit me up to make something that was pretty special. We were sitting over Skype and were discussing it, I was doing stuff and he was doing stuff, on each other’s end and we just sent stuff over then balanced it.
Is there anything that you would like to take on outside of music? It could be for fun or creatively?
I would love to help my community back home get more culture in a bit more concerts get more stuff happening in the city just to keep people there as well. I’ve been thinking about maybe doing some teaching, but we’ll see what happens.
What is a must-see country oversees?
Japan, Tokyo was mind-blowing looking at when I came in. That was pretty cool. I still love Hawaii just because it looks like paradise. And this one random place I played in called Kuching, Malaysia. I went there and you know like Jurassic Park when you see that island, it looked like that, but without Dinosaurs that was really cool.
Do you have anything that you would like to share with readers in the Pacific Northwest?
Most of my family actually moved to Seattle from Norway. They’ve been to my place, but I’ve never met them here so whenever I come here it feels like I’m coming home. I have a lot of friends here and everyone is so welcome and including. I’ve even considered buying a spot around here.
The Devil Is In The Detail – Orjan Nilsen
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