Space jam

Oslo's Todd Terje drops his cosmic sounds at two NYC gigs.

Todd Terje

Todd Terje

Prins Thomas and Hans-Peter Lindstrøm, the reigning kings of Scandinavian space disco, have the mad-scientist look down pat, their hair wild and their eyes crazed. One could easily picture them cackling as they flip the giant reanimator switch in their laboratory of aural oddities. But it’s safe to say that neither has the theoretical schooling of their Nordic contemporary Terje Olsen, better known as Todd Terje—the Oslo native, 27, is just one semester shy of a degree in physics.

“I started with music at university, but it was just theory and I wasn’t finding it too interesting,” says the DJ and producer, who’s spinning at the Prime Time party on Saturday 23 and Deep Space on Monday 25. “Then I started thinking, someday I’ll have to be a man and get a real job, so I started with physics, which, of course, is even more theory. I do have plans to finish…sometime. There’s really not much relationship between that and making music, but it’s worked out well: I have learned lots of cool words that I can use to name my music in the future.”

The term space—as in “space disco”—might be one of those words, but Terje refuses to let the sometimes dubby, sometimes baroque neodisco that he creates be dumped under that umbrella. He can certainly understand where the moniker comes from, though—he and his peers were once using it themselves. “We’re all influenced by [fellow Norwegian producer] Rune Lindbaek, who’s kind of the master of sound effects,” he explains. “We started out by doing disco re-edits using lots of those effects, and we were calling it ‘space disco,’ because that’s what we were calling these French disco tracks from 1977 with lots of Moog that we were all listening to at the time. But we certainly never meant for our own productions to be called that. I do find it useful when I go to record shops—I can just go to the ‘space disco’ section to find what I like.”

Terje’s output is uniformly brilliant (expect to see his swirling remix of Simon Baker’s “Plastik” on plenty of year-end lists), but he hasn’t exactly been prolific over the years, with only five tracks and perhaps twice that many remixes released in the past half decade. “When I’m doing a track myself,” he says, “I feel like it has to have a grand idea behind it—and I feel that it has to come out perfect. So that makes it hard to finish things. But remixes are a little easier. I feel like I can just experiment with different production techniques and see if I get a fun result. Basically, I’m just trying to have a good time.”

Todd Terje spins at Prime Time Sat 23 and Deep Space Mon 25.