Born in Moscow and raised in Alaska, Olga Bell is a classically trained pianist, composer, producer and performer based in Brooklyn. Unafraid of venturing into unfamiliar sonic territories, her musical career could be interpreted as an effort to defy cliche’. That’s how her latest album ‘Tempo’ can be portrayed, since it was composed using typical EDM sounds, but the final results is nowhere near that genre. We asked Olga a few questions about her new release ‘Tempo.’
Your new album ‘Tempo” features a very peculiar electronic instrumentation. Has electronic gear been – at least in part – inspiring this record?
Yes, absolutely, although “electronic gear” could mean many different things. I made this record like a lot of people make records today — on the computer, with samples and virtual instruments.
At some point during the creation of the album, did you consciously choose a palette of sounds or the “selection” happened in a more organic way?
I was listening to lots of classic 90s club music while writing, but I thought it might be fun and sort of destabilizing for the album to register as contemporary, maybe a little “EDM” (in the grossest possible way). If the sound side of it read as “commercial”, I thought this would be a cool counterpoint to all my weird melodies and chords.
Spire! I read about Spire on some random forum, bought it (it was kind of a splurge), and went right for the big-room house presets, tweaking them until they became lovable and awkward. My favorite was a preset called “Guetta Bitch”, a stepper that appears in the middle of “Randomness”.
What are the other crucial pieces of equipment in the making of ‘Tempo’?
Teenage Engineering Op-1!!! I love that thing with my whole heart, I’ve had it for years, it’s like a family member.
Yes, all the time. Limitations are key.
What’s the electronic tool that changed your life as a musician? Your ‘first electronic love’?
Was anybody else instrumental in finalizing recording, production and mixing of the album?
I love working with Seth and Keith at Machines With Magnets… this album is the third project we’ve mixed together, and mastering with Matt Colton was amazing as well because he’s worked on so many of the records that inspired this album in the first place.