Travellin’ Light

DJ Olive
Answers 20 Questions About Life on the Road

DJ Olive
DJ Olive                                                                    Luciano Rossetti©2007

DJ Olive the Audio Janitor (aka Gregor Asch) is a Brooklyn-based turntablist who has worked with a stunning array of composers and improvisers, spanning Luc Ferrari and Kim Gordon. PoD readers are probably most familiar with Olive’s work with Uri Caine and Dave Douglas. Olive is also credited with coining the term, Illbient, to describe a pan-stylistic turntable-centric music. Detail information about DJ Olive can be accessed at:

What is the most difficult airline to deal with in terms of instruments and equipment?

All of 'um. They give you only 20 kg to check so you have to smuggle the weight in your carry on. How many times do I have to pick up my carry on and pretend it weighs nothing when its a billion pounds all full of cables and FX boxes and books and shit?

Which airline has the worst economy seating and food?

All of 'um. Can’t eat the food ever. Bring cheese and bread or tempura. I get ribs from the Polish meat market. Once this fat woman was oozing over into my seat the whole time and her forearm was all over on my side and she stank and she kept saying " I know I’m really fat and smelly sorry" I would get spurted out into the isle and then get hit by the freight train refreshment trolleys; but anyway I had my ribs.

Which airport is craziest for making connecting flights?

All of 'um. Heathrow is wicked nasty. You can walk like fuckin’ biblical miles between gates, hay! To have anything more than one carry on spells doom. I had to beg for them to see my mixer as an "instrument". An instrument is allowed as a second carry on through Heathrow. All airports seem to pack their flights together so its rush hour or dead nothing. You always seem to be in a huge line no matter what time so, hay, why shouldn’t they treat you as cattle? It’s like being an extra in a disaster movie.

What is the most important thing you ever forgot to pack?

Food and water. I went to play at the Burning Man Festival and it took me 24 hours to find my friends and the dome venue they built inside a 35,000 punter camp city in the desert with over 5,000 sound systems. No money is allowed. You can only barter. I had to trade cigarettes for food and water. When I tossed my cigarette butt down on the dry sandy playa this dude wandered over stooped down and picked it up walked over and handed it back to me and said, "I think you dropped this."

What is your worst lost baggage story?

I had this old battered brown case that held oil paint tubes and brushes. I was at a small cafe in a train station in northern Italy and the case was behind me on the floor. It was ragged with duct tape reinforcing. Some how, as I had my cappuccino and read my newspaper, I migrated up the bar a bit and away from my old brown case. I finished my coffee and looked around for the case and couldn’t find it. Two cops had it out on the platform and they were getting ready to blow it up...eek!

What country hassles musicians the most at customs and passport checks?


Which city has the worst cab drivers?

Stockholm. Cabbie dude caved in Drew Gress' bass when shoving it into his cab when we weren’t looking. Not good. In Roma on the way to sound check, our ride ran out of gas on the freeway.

What is the best hotel that a presenter has provided for you?

Venice Biennale. Beautiful place on St Helena Island with three rooms each and wicked breakfast.

Do you travel with a laptop or a PDA? If so, how many times a day do you check your e-mail?

I do Internet cafes. I only need a few minutes a day or a few more every second day. Hotels seem to charge way too much. Like as much as 15 Euro for 24 hours so it’s better to pop on for 1 Euro in a cafe and spend 14 Euro on pasta and a Grappa. Like Ralph Alessi, I’ve been known to walk around the streets at odd hours with my laptop open looking for an open network.

Do you listen to music on the road? If so, what device do you use?

I like to bring an all frequency radio and just search the dial randomly. I like to listen to languages I can’t understand. Or random regional shit.

Do you do your own laundry on the road?

A few things in the bath. Sox can by dried overnight on the backside of the mini bar fridge. Pack your own line for big loads, a Joey Baron trick.

What is your most nightmarish sound check to date?

At the opera house in Munich they told me union rules said no mixers on stage...or in Miorca...they only had like super cheap light weight toy turntables. When I asked, "Where's the SL1200's?" the soundman said, "a turntable is a turntable ok" I said "errr….sure but" and "um …watch" then gave the toy turntable one hard scratch. It flew off the table and across the room landing in a heap at the end of its cables upside down. Oops.

What is the scariest food that has been laid out for you backstage?

After a sound check in Hong Kong, these promoter dudes were trying to get us to eat chicken feet from a pile on a huge platter. They were all rubbery and the skin would stretch from the promoter’s teeth and snap off the chicken bone foot leaving them holding a small bone claw as they slobbered and swallowed. I thought I would die.

What are your three favorite venues?

ISSUE Project Room NYC out on the Gowanus canal in Brooklyn;

The Cooler NYC – OK, I know it closed a few years ago – and The Stone, NYC East Village

Which cities have the best restaurants for late after-gig meals?

Paris. Barcelona. Taipei. NYC. Mexico City. Lisboa. Melbourne. Montevideo.

Which cities have the best after-hours sessions?

Berlin. San Francisco. Wellington, NZ. And some place we don’t know.

What is the best city that closes down too early?

Marfa, Texas.

What is the best locale to have a day off?

Any day off is so good, hay! But I always like the sun and sand and waves and good coffee and a single malt or a grappa after a wicked down home cooked meal and maybe some laughs with locals over something typical.

What is your cure for jet lag?

Never drink anything but heaps of water. Take Echinacea and pack your own food. Overnight flights to Europe always land in the am Euro time. Sleep three hours get up walk around in the sun. Don’t have coffee, but have full dinner and drink heaps of red wine and pass out by 1am. Drink heaps of red wine the second night so you can pass out before 4am. Yes, red wine's the cure. Showing the bare back of your knee to the sun helps to reset your body clock I heard, whatever. If you’re coming back home, make a cocoon and take some water and DVDs in there for a few days.

What is your best tip for the novice?

One that gets you out of this tiny country called the United States and takes you out onto the big grand world. If you can get a gig in Africa, go! If you can get a gig in Asia, go! If you can get a gig in Antarctica, go! If you can get a gig in Yemen, go! If you can get a gig in the Canadian Rockies, go! If you can get a gig in New Zealand, go! Just keep your eyes open and don’t believe any hype bullshit anyone told you, including me.


Jazz Visions Photo/Graphics

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