Olé Koretsky (D.A.R.K) talks about his new solo EP, “MMXX”

Photo by Ivan Sawyer Garcia

After taking two years away from the music business, multi-instrumentalist/producer DJ Olé Koretsky is back with a new solo EP, MMXX. Koretsky had previously been part of the DJ outfit and band Jetlag with Andy Rourke (The Smiths), which evolved into D.A.R.K. when his life partner Dolores O’Riordan (The Cranberries) joined. Olé had also worked with The Cranberries, appearing on two of their albums and touring with them. D.A.R.K put out an acclaimed album, Science Agrees in 2016, but O’Riordan tragically passed away in January 2018.

The five-track MMXX brings post-punk and dark electronic music together into an atmospheric sound that is sure to appeal to D.A.R.K fans. While the material on MMXX was not initially conceived as a whole, the EP feels completely cohesive. Over a phone interview, he discussed the making of it.

How did MMXX come about?

Olé Koretsky: It started with song “The One,” which I made the video for. That song had been there for a couple of years, but I just got to finishing it. My friend’s brother died, and I kind of clicked with her over the lyrics and stuff. It hit her like a ton of bricks when she heard it. I’m like, alright, so let’s record it and let’s make a video. And then I thought about how to put it out. The EP is just a couple of random tracks that I thought would fit together, but it all came together just this past fall.

Could you discuss the process of putting together the rest of the EP?

Olé Koretsky: I haven’t been writing; I haven’t done anything, and I’m still not able. It’s really hard for me. You’ve got plenty of time on your hands. You think, with the shutdown, you’d be able to sit down and do the things your meant to do. Because there’s no option to go running around being busy at the moment with most everything being closed and half the people not working. But it’s just not happening for me. So, a few of the tracks were old, and there are two new ones. I just picked what I thought might make for a cohesive thing. Working with the same engineer helps. I’ve got a fellow to bounce stuff off of, and I’m like, all right, let’s go for these, let’s go for this type of snare sound throughout, let’s give it that kind of half-live, half-LinnDrum kind of snare. In the back of my mind, I pay attention to the technical things a little bit, so that helps glue it together.

What made you cover “Nothing Compares to U”?

Olé Koretsky: I was in the supermarket. I like to do my grocery shopping in the middle of the night because there’s no one around. They play music inside Whole Foods and all the other supermarkets at night; they play pop music. “Nothing Compares to U” came on, the Sinéad O’Connor version, and I just started bawling out of nowhere alone in the milk aisle. I didn’t make a scene or anything, but it was very emotional in the moment. I said, “Geez, I’m going to cover this; I just want to.” I’d done a bunch of covers because I hadn’t been able to write. So I went home the next day and started working it out.

I figured out the chords, and I just laid it down. Because I’m not a great singer, I thought of doing a more Prince-oriented version and maybe disco it out, maybe make it a little more electronic and kind of get away from the Sinead structuring and arrangement. And that way, I could simplify the vocal lines to suit me. I told a friend of mine about it, and he just went ballistic. He said, “I could sing that!” It took him like a minute to find his key, to sing it properly, but he just floored me; he nailed it. He knew all the lines and not one wrong note.

And so I just said, “Come on, Adrian [Spoleti], come in here,” and I brought him into the studio. I put the tempo and the key the way he liked it and told him to sing it. He knocked it out in two takes; I just did a take and an overdub, and I said, “Let me just build the track around it.” He was obsessive about me not taking out the synth in the break. He just wanted it to sound more like the Sinéad version. I told him we’d run with that. So it was really a random afterthought. I just needed a 20-minute package, and I thought that would be a nice fit. I kind of like having other people singing stuff with me. I’m not that confident of a singer, so when people have chops, I get excited. I feel like he did her version some justice.

Do you think you’ll continue to release music like this under your own name?

Olé Koretsky: I’ve never done anything by myself before, without people advising me or a record label or publisher and stuff, so it’s a big learning curve. But now that I did this, I feel like I could do this every year, probably. I’d like to open it up to other musicians, and turn this into an actual thing that I could bring on the road. I kind of surprised myself. I felt it wasn’t that hard, and the feedback’s been kind of positive, so I could keep doing this.

How did you initially get into music?

Olé Koretsky: I just got into a four-track early on and borrowed instruments from people. I taught myself how to play and was in a bunch of bands when I was a kid. When I met Andy is when I got into DJing. He used to come over a bit, and he started DJing in like 2003. He’d get a lot of DJ bookings and stuff, and then he started putting me on. I got really into DJing.

Photo by Carlo Di Caterino

Do you think you’ll work with Andy Rourke him again?

Olé Koretsky: Absolutely. We don’t have any specific plans, but Andy is a constant in my life. So I’m sure what we’ll get around to something going forward. I have a lot of cool musician friends and all, but Andy’s is different. We’re very, very close personally.

Before we started the interview, you mentioned that you weren’t happy with the way the D.A.R.K. album turned out. Could you elaborate on that?

Olé Koretsky: I haven’t heard it since it came out, but some people like it. I dropped the ball on the production, big time, so it’s hard for me to hear it. But hopefully, I’ll get to remix some of it in the next year or two, to give it its due. It was a bit of a mess, and I didn’t know how to reign things in. It was nobody’s fault, just a huge learning curve with the way we worked. It was just learning as you go. A lot of the instrumentals were there already. Some of the stuff I tracked with Andy and some had been intended for another album that I was working on parallel. Delores got wind of that, and she really liked some of those instrumentals as well. We’d write over the phone in the very beginning. She called me up and said, “Oh, I want to chop your vocal here. And I want to sing this.”

And then I’m like, “Okay.” We would do harmonies over the phone and just work things out. But it was a lot of weird stages. I feel like part of the problem was that when we got into rehearsals, getting ready for the tour, we then started becoming like a cohesive band. So I’m like, “Well, now if we went into the studio, we’d make a brilliant record.” But we kind of did it backwards. I have some recordings from rehearsals and stuff that sound better than what we put out, just because we had time to process and work out the kinks. We’d actually gotten into it as a band, with proper musicians and the whole team. So I feel the D.A.R.K. Record was like a patchwork. I’m glad people like it; it’s like a funny little footnote. I’d say it’ll have a bit of a cult following in years to come.

For more info, visut http://koretsky.nyc/.