Born 1961 in Boston, Massachusetts; lives in New York, New York
DJ Olive the Audio Janitor (Gregor Asch) applies his skills as a DJ and turntablist to create atmospheric multimedia events that broaden conventional definitions of listening to music. Delivering both danceable bass-heavy sets and quieter, ambient soundscapes to large audiences in clubs, warehouses, and music festivals, Olive’s musical aesthetic features layered and looped urban noises reﬂecting the chaotic character of his Brooklyn, New York, home base. He uses computers and turntables to appropriate and combine incongruous audio clips—ranging from street sounds to previously recorded world music, drum ‘n’ bass, hip-hop, and dub—into songs that contain trancelike, melodic, groovy logics.
As a musician who composes, produces, distributes, and performs his collaged sound projects, Olive sees his events, which incorporate visual elements such as light shows and video screenings, as “voyages” that are at once performance art and positive, community-building political actions. His projects unfold on massive scale, transcending the typical club environment by harnessing the transformative powers of sound through colossal— and in at least one work literally global—takeovers. In 1997, as part of their opera Quark Soup, Olive’s collective Multipolyomni offered participants The Solar Drama: a view of the sun perpetually rising, broadcast live from 127 consecutive locations during one of Earth’s rotations, as seventy-seven performers and artists hosted a gigantic sound installation.
Olive’s visionary approach to entertaining developed during the 1990s as he pioneered an electronic music scene centered around what is now called roof music. For the 2002 Whitney Biennial, Olive organized Roof Music: Sunrise on a Rooftop in Brooklyn, a sound installation that sought the cultural unification of all participants. Complementing the throbbing dance music, he alternately held “sleeping pill” events—quiet, sonically ambient sleepovers—to promote relaxation. Olive has written a new sleeping pill composition for the 2008 Biennial, to be played inside an installation offering viewers a cozy space to close their eyes and kick up their feet. Equating these soft, soothing sounds with medicinal healing, he seeks to provide comfort and stress relief to his audience. Though his complex sampling still reflects a tension implicit to city dwelling, Olive’s music grows more hypnotic as he becomes increasingly interested in uniting people. TRINIE DALTON
Dj Olive at Marina di Gioiosa Jonica Italy '06. Photograph by David Binney