DJ Sessions: From Europe, With Love

Apr 23, 2014

In this installment of DJ Sessions, KCRW’s Travis Holcombe brings us sounds from Norway and France, including Norwegian DJ and producer Todd Terje, Norwegian rock band Tôg, French singer Katerine and French electro rock band Jamaica.

Holcombe tells Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson he enjoys listening to Tog’s album, which is in Norwegian. ”I have no idea what he’s saying and I kind of like not knowing,” he says.

Songs In This Segment

  • Todd Terje, “Leisure Suit Preben”
  • Todd Terje, “Johnny And Mary (feat. Bryan Ferry)”
  • Todd Terje, “Inspector Norse”
  • Tôg, “Når me våkne opp imårå”
  • Tôg, “Ild // Jord // Luft // Vann”
  • Katerine, “Patouseul”
  • Jamaica, “Two On Two”
  • Jamaica, “Ricky”







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Time now for another edition of the HERE AND NOW DJ session.





HOBSON: Travis Holcombe joins us as he often does. He's DJ at KCRW in Santa Monica, California. Travis, welcome back.

TRAVIS HOLCOMBE, BYLINE: Hey. Thanks for having me again, Jeremy.

HOBSON: And even though you are in Southern California, you've got some European music to tell us about. Let's start in Norway with Todd Terje, and the song is called "Leisure Suit Preben."


HOBSON: I can definitely see this being Norwegian, Travis, but who is Todd Terje?

HOLCOMBE: So Todd Terje is a guy that - he's been around for about a decade, but he's mostly known as sort of a dance music producer. He got a start re-editing old disco records by groups like Chic and Bee Gees. And then he started evolving into doing his own productions, and he's sort of been like the underground dance music king, I would say, for like the past four years. He's just have like an incredible string of singles.

And he's pretty much done everything. He's worked with Franz Ferdinand. He's released a whole bunch of 12-inch singles have been huge. And sort of the final frontier for Todd Terje was to release a full-length album, which he just recently did, and the album is called "It's Album Time." And it's sort of threw everyone for a curve a little bit because, you know, he's got a lot more of a lounge and exotic a sound than he - than anyone expect from his full-length.

HOBSON: Yeah. Let's listen to another one from him. This is "Johnny and Mary," featuring Bryan Ferry.


HOBSON: I feel like I'm in the breakfast club, Travis...


HOLCOMBE: It's a very...

HOBSON: ...or listen to Bruce Springsteen maybe, also.


HOLCOMBE: Yeah. I mean, like, Bryan Ferry has got this weathered presence now, it seems like. That song just feels - I don't know. It's just very - it seems like it delves into some deeper meanings than it may have if that was a younger singer doing the Ferry's.

HOBSON: What about the sound do you think catches your ear? What got you into Todd Terje?

HOLCOMBE: Well, he's got this one song called "Inspector Norse" that was sort of like the track that put him on the map. And he's just - I don't know. He's got an ear for really poppy melodies.


HOLCOMBE: You don't have to necessarily be in the house music at all, but it just - it'll just grab you and make you want to move your feet. He's just got a very good pop sensibility.

HOBSON: OK. Well, let's stay in Norway and get to another artist named Tog. And I might need some of your help pronouncing the name of this song. It is "Nar me vakne opp imara," which actually means when I wake up tomorrow, which is funny because they sort of sound like they're the same thing. But let's listen.

LARS CHRISTIAN OLSEN: (Singing in foreign language)

HOBSON: There was a moment there right at the beginning when I thought that the song was in English, but it is most certainly not.

HOLCOMBE: No. It's definitely not. And that's one of the things I really like about Tog is all of their songs are in Norwegian, which, you know, most Norwegian groups choose the, you know, at least the ones that crossover into the states will sing in English. So it was kind of refreshing to be able to hear a whole album in Norwegian. I have no idea what they're singing about. I mean, I know - like you said, the - that song translates into when I wake up tomorrow. But other than that, I don't know what he's saying. And I kind of like not knowing.

OLSEN: (Singing in foreign language)

HOBSON: Well, let's listen to another one from Tog. This is "Ild // Jord // Luft // Vann."


HOBSON: Travis, you have done a very good job in transporting us to some sort of discoteca(ph) in Europe.


HOLCOMBE: It seems like Norway, they either go one way or the other. It's either like you go black metal or you go, like, really fun disco-pop.


HOBSON: Well, let's get to France because maybe we'll get a different sound from France. This is the artist Katerine. The song is "Patouseul."


HOBSON: Travis, who is Katerine?

HOLCOMBE: So Katerine, he's an artist that's been around since the early '90s. But he really kind of broke out in 2005. He had an album that was on the French charts for two years, which is incredible to think about. Like, when you think about American artists that have done that in American charts, it might be like Adele and Katy Perry. So he is like a superstar in France, but he's basically unknown here in the states. And he just released a new album. It's called "Magnum." And it's just full of songs like we just heard, just sort of like disco-pop, fun kind of stuff.

HOBSON: Well, let's hear a little more of that.


HOBSON: OK, Travis. We have time for one more, and it is the Parisian duo Jamaica. Here is the song, "Two on Two."


HOBSON: OK. Overarching question here, Travis: How on Earth do you find this stuff?

HOLCOMBE: I just dig through a lot of stuff. I listen to a lot of crap to get to the golden nuggets in there.


HOBSON: Well, tell us a little bit about Jamaica.

HOLCOMBE: So Jamaica this is their second album. They're, you know, as you heard, they're very - they kind of have a similar sound to groups like Phoenix or The Strokes.


HOLCOMBE: I actually hear a lot of Cars in that - not necessarily in that song so much as some of the other tracks in the album. But yeah, this is their second album, and it's called "Ventura."

HOBSON: Well, are you going to be taking any trips to Paris or Oslo anytime soon, Travis?

HOLCOMBE: I wish I was. No. Unfortunately, no.

HOBSON: You'll just have to suffer in Santa Monica. That must be very difficult.



HOBSON: Travis Holcombe, DJ at KCRW in Santa Monica, thanks as always.

HOLCOMBE: All right. Thanks, J Hob.


HOBSON: Robin, I think J Hob is becoming my DJ name.


I think - well, we call you that around the building, too, just because.


HOBSON: Well, we're listening here to the song "Ricky" also by the group Jamaica. You can find a complete list of the songs we've heard at HERE AND NOW is a production of NPR and WBUR Boston, in association with the BBC World Service. I'm Jeremy Hobson.

YOUNG: J Hob. I'm Robin Young. It's HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.