Todd Terje: Supreme Leisure On The Dancefloor : The Record The producer grew up in a rural town in the south of Norway. He gave astrophysics a try but his DJ career took off, and now he produces underground hits year after year.
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Todd Terje: Supreme Leisure On The Dancefloor

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Todd Terje: Supreme Leisure On The Dancefloor

Todd Terje: Supreme Leisure On The Dancefloor

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Now, great disco may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Norwegian music, but Norway's beats are known among diehard fans of dance music and NPR's Sami Yenigun reports one of the country's best known disco producers has just released his first full-length album.

SAMI YENIGUN, BYLINE: Lindstrom, Prince Thomas, (unintelligible), Strange Fruit, Norway is wellspring of disco producers and one of the hottest right now is Todd Terje.

TODD TERJE: Hang on. Just give me 10 seconds. All right. One minute. There's vomit.

YENIGUN: That's Terje, born Todd Terje Olsen, and his four-month-old son Alf, who has a bit of indigestion. Terje Skyped with me from Oslo. He's got this dry sense of humor. His debut record is called "It's Album Time."


PHILIP SHERBURNE: It's just incredibly fun music, at its root.

YENIGUN: That's Philip Sherburne, who recently profiled Terje for Spin magazine. We'll hear more from him in a bit. Todd Terje Olsen Terje grew up in Mjondalen, a rural town in the south of Norway. It's a pretty little slice of suburbia. You can actually walk through it on Google Maps, two-story shops on small streets, a snaking river and rolling hills nearby.

Not a town known for its clubbing, not even close. As a child, Terje took piano lessons, but he wasn't that into them.

TERJE: I felt like I got into music quite late, to be honest. I remember the first CD or piece of music that I really liked was "Off The Wall" by Michael Jackson, because my brother gave it to me for Christmas.


MICHAEL JACKSON: (Singing) So tonight, going to leave the 9:00 to 5:00 up on the shelf and just enjoy yourself.

YENIGUN: Later on, Terje started exploring house and techno, but never took disco seriously.

TERJE: For most of my childhood, I saw the disco as something ironic, like a ha-ha thing. I

YENIGUN: That all changed when Terje heard Norwegian producer Bjorn Torske's track "Sexy Disco."


YENIGUN: When Terje was 18, he moved to Oslo to study music, but dropped it after a year because, he says, his classes were too basic, he says, so he took up astrophysics.

TERJE: Because I thought I was going to man up and get serious. I had astrophysics for a couple of years.

YENIGUN: But the fun eventually won out when Terje DJ'd a school dance with friend and fellow dance music maker Lindstrom.

TERJE: And then DJ'ing just took off and it was really difficult to make it to that 8 o'clock lecture.

YENIGUN: So he worked his way into the Oslo club scene, a town where the bars closed relatively early and the DJs played classic disco records. Terje got into making music by editing those records, adding his own spin to the dancefloor.

TERJE: I started doing edits because I wanted to sound unique when playing amongst the other DJs in Oslo because everyone wanted to say they were eclectic, but really they were just playing the same stuff.

YENIGUN: Here's one example of how Terje edits. This is "I Want Your Love" by Chic.


NILE RODGERS: (Singing) I think of you and I dream of you all of the night. What am I going to do?

YENIGUN: Terje looped the vocals.


RODGERS: (Singing) What am I going to do, going to do, going to do...

YENIGUN: Changed the key, chopped up bits of the bass line...


YENIGUN: And extended the song.


RODGERS: (Singing) I want your love. I want. I want...

YENIGUN: Eventually Terje started composing his own tracks. Armed with analog synthesizers, he cranked out hit after underground hit year after year: "Eurodans," "Snooze for Love," "Inspector Norse," "Strandbar."


YENIGUN: Spin Magazine's Philip Sherburne listed Terje's "Strandbar" as his second favorite dance track of last year.

SHERBURNE: He's just an incredibly kind of catchy musician. He really has a way with a hook, whether it's a bass line or the top line melody, he manages to sort of evoke this sense of sort of supreme leisure, but he's very, I think, naive, springy sort of melody.


YENIGUN: On "It's Album Time" that supreme leisure settles into its deepest grooves on one of its least dancy songs, says Philip Sherburne. It's the cover of Robert Palmer's "Johnny and Mary."


BRYAN FERRY: (Singing) And Johnny's always running around trying to find certainty. He needs all the world to confirm that he ain't lonely. Mary counts the walls, knows he tires easily...

YENIGUN: That's British rock legend Bryan Ferry doing the singing. The two met after Terje had remixed a song for Ferry in 2010. They both liked Palmer's song, and when Terje was in London for a gig, he dropped by Ferry's studio.

FERRY: It's a song that I've always liked. It has a strange haunting quality to the original. We tried to do it in a different way, of course. He's really talented, a very good position musician.

YENIGUN: So what's next for this jet-setting disco producer with an album out, and a cache of hit singles?

TERJE: Mostly just trying to get this baby to sleep.

YENIGUN: Very rock 'n' roll. Sami Yenigun, NPR News.

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