Artist, producer, multi-instrumentalist and DJ Olè Koretsky has recently ventured into a new chapter of his music. Born in the Soviet Union, Koretsky was raised by his mother in Brooklyn, NY and began making demos on a dual cassette recorder in junior high. In 1994 he upgraded his equipment and began to teach himself guitar and music theory, with some of his demos later reaching the ears of NY producer Mike Dextro. Koretsky met bassist Andy Rourke (of The Smith’s) in 2003 while DJing in Washington DC and the two kept in touch and collaborated over the years on various remixes. In 2009, Rourke moved to NYC and, while working as presenters at NYC-based internet radio station East Village Radio, the two formed the DJ project and band JETLAG. They began to collaborate with The Cranberries’ singer Dolores O’Riordan, Koretsky’s life partner, in 2014 and changed the band’s name to D.A.R.K. using the trio’s initials. D.A.R.K. released their critically acclaimed debut album Science Agrees in 2016. Koretsky also performed with The Cranberries, having recorded and toured two albums with them. Sadly, O’Riordan passed away in 2018 before the The Cranberries’ final album, The End, was released. Following a two year period of self-isolation following the death of O’Riordan, he has gained a new outlook on life and found the inspiration to start writing new music and rejoin society. With his upcoming release of his MMXX EP on July 10th, Koretsky released the first track from the EP earlier this year entitled “The One”, infused with darkwave electronica sounds. “I try not to overthink lyrics,” Olé explains. “The words may reflect feelings of disconnection and isolation that I was dealing with at the time that I was writing the song. Oddly, it resonates again today during this pandemic.” He released an accompanying video for the song that showcases footage taken from a trip to Ireland a few years ago as he drove from Galway to Limerick. “It triggered some memories and emotions when I found this footage and I thought, ‘that’s a really strong visual – I don’t need to make a video if I can use this.’ Adding lyrics and playing with special effects was an afterthought.” He followed the release of “The One” with his second single “Call It A Day”. “Summer 2018 was very hazy… I vaguely remember recording the song,” said Koretsky to American Songwriter (who premiered the single/video). “I forgot about [the track] for a year. Next time I heard it, I was like, ‘Hold up, this sounds intense.’ There was a certain energy there and a kind of subtle grace about it, so I spent aday or two with a good friend and great engineer, Mike Dextro. We cleaned up the demo and sent it off to get mixed.” The video for the song features footage from the past six years of his life, including bits of rehearsals before the last Cranberries tour and some b-roll from the D.A.R.K. EPK. With plans to write more new music and feeling an overwhelming need to create, he feels hopeful and a bit uncertain about what the future holds for him. Seeing music and art in general as a means of escape, creativity is the drug that fuels him. You can follow Koretsky and stay up-to-date with all upcoming news and music, as well as stream and purchase his music, via the following links. His new EP MMXX will be released on July 10th. Photo credit: Ivan Sawyer Garcia.
You will be releasing your new EP MMXX this summer, the lyrics of which reflect your feelings of loss following the death of Dolores O’Riordan. What can you tell me about the EP? Do you feel that writing and releasing of the songs have helped you to heal?
MMXX is four original songs and a cover. I named the project Koretsky instead of using my full name to leave room for it to grow into something else, maybe something resembling a band. I intend to feature various artists and musicians going forward and I want this project to be simpler and more stripped back than things I’ve done before. I played most of the instruments here but I invited two close friends to sing on two of the songs. I think we’re moving in the right direction.
I’m not sure what the lyrics reflect but I am of course working things out internally. There’s no catharsis or ultimate outcome to be achieved, but there is indeed a therapeutic element. There’s fear, discomfort, and doubt along the way. Then you reach a point and just have to let it all go. It’s liberating but it’s also cyclical. There’s no happy ending. There’s no end game at all.
How do you feel that your period of self-isolation inspired your creativity to start creating music again? What can you tell me about your new outlook on life and what it’s been like to release new music during this strange time?
I didn’t find any inspiration in isolation. I didn’t have any ideas or interests and, for two years, there was no desire to be productive. It was a process that I had to get through. It’s a process I’m still going through but, as I gradually regain control of my inner world, I’m starting to become more confident and comfortable around people in the outer world. Of course it’s ironic that as soon I decided to get out of the house more often, there’s suddenly a pandemic, lock downs, and social and political turmoil. I pray that no one else has to die or get hurt.
As far work is concerned, I need to keep things moving for the sake of keeping sane. I try not to be influenced by the static outside my window. I go out of my way to avoid the news and, if I’m writing, I don’t even listen to music. I love reading though and I’m absolutely addicted to my Audible app.
You released a lyric video for “The One” that was footage of a drive you had taken from Galway to Limerick a few years ago. Why do you feel that footage fit so well with the song? You expressed how strong of a visual it was and that you wouldn’t need to make a video if you could just use that footage. Did you have an original idea for a music video before deciding to go this route?
Initially, I was looking for younger commercial content creators and had a great director lined up. My first instinct was to juxtapose the dark and hypnotic track with some slick and flashy footage. I was looking at story boards and almost ended up with visuals that would be something you’d see in a contemporary pop or rap video. I wanted fast cuts and bright colors. I thought it would be a very interesting contrast but there were scheduling conflicts and things didn’t line up. Things will line up next time but in the meantime, I thought I’d at least make a lyric video.
I have a lot of old home photos and videos, random things, trips, goofing around on tour. I wasn’t ready to look at all that stuff for a long time but one day I got very brave and started digging around. That specific driving clip caught my attention because it was so stark and simple. Something about the time of day, the rain, the monotony, and the personal associations really struck me. It had a kind of mesmerizing and haunting effect on me. I felt in my gut that it made sense aesthetically.
You started out as a DJ before joining Andy Rourke to form Jetlag and then bringing in Dolores O’Riordan and changing the name of the group to D.A.R.K. What has it been like to create new music as a solo artist? Do you see yourself collaborating with others going forward or will you continue to make music on your own for a while?
I think I was always a solo artist. It’s either that or I was just alone a lot. I started out playing in different bands as kid but nothing stuck. By the time I was a good enough player and writer to call myself an artist, I took a few wrong turns in my personal life and the music had to take a back seat. I didn’t DJ until well into my 20s. I really enjoyed it, it got me through some dark times and If I’m not too old, I’d get back into it. Andy and Dolores brought me back from the brink at crucial points in my life. They’re my guardian angels. Dolores invested a lot energy into building me up spiritually and gave me an incredible amount of confidence in what I do. What is different now is, I cannot share my ideas with her. She can longer offer up a vocal harmony, a key change, or a piece of advice, but I sure hope she’s listening.
I will most certainly continue to collaborate with other artists. Andy and I are still close and he still happens to be one of the best players out there. I included two guest vocalists on MMXX and I will continue to share my ideas with people whether they want me to or not.
You recently released your latest single “Call It A Day”. You said that you did a rough recording in 2018 and didn’t think it was very good initially, but were excited because it was the first thing you had recorded since the previous year. What led you to shelve it for a year and then return to it, ultimately releasing it? What can you tell me about the song?
I wrote and recorded the whole thing in a couple of hours. Technically, it’s not a very good song. There’s nothing particularly interesting about the music or lyrics but there is a certain energy there that I still can’t put my finger on. Because of how fragile I was in 2018, I knew I had to be very careful with that energy. I was afraid to put the wrong kind of vibration out into the universe. I had to step back and make sure there wasn’t any anger or despair clinging to it. I didn’t make changes to the music but, as my general outlook shifted, I was able to take control of what the song meant to me personally. I was able to transform it on a metaphysical level.
What can you tel me about your approach to songwriting? A lot of times, artists have a message they want to convey through their lyrics and a meaning to their songs. You have said, however, that you don’t want to say anything with your music and have never intended a conceptual theme.
A song is usually a placeholder for a feeling that I cannot articulate with words. I find it difficult to explain what a song is about because If I was able to explain, I probably wouldn’t need to make a song in the first place. If there’s something gnawing away at me, I could easily become disoriented. I might start pacing around my flat or I might grab my guitar to calm myself down. The chord progressions and lyrics are like clothes from the mall. Sometimes they’re fancy and sometimes they’re not. I have some control of the musical aspects, but what drives a song, gives it an essence, I have no idea what that is. I’m not a great writer, singer, or player. I’m not special. I allow energy to move through me and just hope for the best.
What can you tell me about your idea to start a YouTube channel to make meditation music. What inspired the idea? What can you tell me about the role meditation plays in your life?
YouTube is a fantastic resource for people that don’t get out much, like myself. There is great knowledge and expertise out there if you know what to look for and I’d love to be a part of that. I don’t have the credentials to contribute to the scientific or spiritual discourse but I can certainly create audio-visual content. I’d like to attempt something with a purpose outside of artistic expression; dual purpose music.
I discovered Kundalini Yoga when I was 19 and the effects were startling and immediate. I’m much more passive with my practice now but there are exercises and breathing techniques that I still find very useful. Sometimes the world can seem crazy and hostile. Meditation is a healthy, non-destructive path toward the emergency exit hatch. It’s wonderful therapy.
Dolores was a very positive influence on me that way. She did a minimum of 50 laps in the pool, an hour of meditation, and a five mile walk daily and she got me in the habit of meditating before performances. Music was a big part of that. To this day my iPod doesn’t have any obvious contemporary music on it. I have ambient and classical playlists, Vedic chanting and Native American chanting, world music, nature sounds, etc… I would just love to be on someone’s meditation music playlist myself.
You have said that music and art in general is meant to be an escape. What are your thoughts on the creativity being generated by artists during the pandemic? What do you think the musical landscape will look like post-pandemic?
I’m not sure I’ve noticed a change in quality or fabric of art because of the pandemic. There’s a difference in delivery methods and how an artist might engage with their audience. Some of these changes might be kind of permanent. There are definitely wild differences in perception and things are shifting very quickly. I can feel it happening but I’m probably not qualified to provide an analysis on that. I think art is an escape precisely because it transcends pandemics, politics, or whatever else we’re dealing with on the ground.
You have called the release of your EP a way to start looking ahead and rejoin the world in a way that makes you more hopeful about the future. What are your plans and goals for the future? What are you hopeful for?
Being able to engage with people in a meaningful way is a blessing. How we interact with one another is very important. The value of warmth and kindness cannot be overstated. With that in mind, I hope to reconnect to the grid and build new neural pathways the way a brain does after an injury. I definitely hope to work and tour. I’d love to do more work scoring and producing audio for film and I’d love to write and produce records for younger artists.
What’s next for you?
I’m trying to stay fluid and avoid making hard plans and predictions. I can say that there is plenty of music that needs to be released and I’ll continue to focus on that. I’d like to get back on the road (I’ve been speaking with musicians and tracking down my touring equipment since late last year). I want to spend more time in South America and I’m considering moving back to Europe. I can no longer tolerate the North East winters and I don’t want to go back to Los Angeles. I really miss the marina but I wouldn’t wanna be out there on my own.