Exclusive Interview With Swedish Wunderkind Tobtok

Exclusive Interview With Swedish Wunderkind Tobtok. Long time friends and multi-million streaming Swedish producers Tobtok and Oliver Nelson have recently linked up to create the soulful French-filter house cut, ’Alright’.

Both hailing from the city of Uppsala in Sweden, Tobtok aka Tobias Karlsson, and Oliver Nelson have been studio partners for well over 10 years. They both burst onto the scene with their nu disco productions and remixes, with Tobtok signing his debut EP to the French music house, Kitsuné, while Oliver Nelson was a key artist in the boom of Soundcloud where his official remixes are still regularly clocking millions of streams.

Under the stewardship of Perfect Havoc – the independent label that launched the career of Joel Corry – together Tobtok and Oliver’s hits include ‘Something Bout The Music’ and ‘Nothing But A Heartache’, a modern revival of The Flirtations’ Northern Soul classic, signed to Decca Records.

As a solo producer, Tobtok has generated over 600 million streams globally across remixes and productions for Joel Corry, Robin Schulz and Karen Harding to name a few. His original work includes ‘Fast Car’ – double platinum in Australia – ‘New Levels’ – BBC Radio 1 ‘Tune of the Week’, plus quality signings across Soave and Selected, with a list of supporters that includes Sam Feldt, Sigala, and Tiësto.

We caught up with Tobtok to discuss this latest release, streamlining his workflow and juggling work and his newfound fatherhood.

Hi Tobias, welcome to the site. How’s life been treating you?

Very well thanks. I’ve been blessed with my first child this year. It’s a little girl named Viola – she’s named after the flower. She has been a great source of joy and inspiration to my life, so I feel like I’m in a happy place.

You and Oliver Nelson have just dropped another corker of a release in the form of Alright. What was the creative process like on this record – how did it come together and what was it like being back in the studio with Oliver?

Actually, this started out as a pitched demo sent to me and it has a very different vibe. It was more like a Stutter/indie house kind of record – I really liked that feel but I felt it needed to be a bit more disco. It felt like a great opportunity to work with Oliver again as we collab so well together, and it all came together after a couple of days in the studio with him.

Working with Oliver is like working with your brother. We know the ins and outs of each other, and we also go on each other’s nerves – almost like an old couple haha. But we are also very in sync with ideas. For example, when I suggest something but don’t quite know how to put it into words, he usually knows what I have in mind. I guess this is what happens after collabing for 10+ years.

The pair of you have released many tunes together over time. When and where did you first meet?

I first discovered Oliver via Soundcloud and we talked about working together. Little did I know that we actually lived in the same small city (Uppsala) and it actually took 6 months before we met. I don’t think he was as excited to meet me as I was him haha.

I believe the first time we randomly bumped into each other was at a local infamous pub called Palermo. It’s like the place you go to for cheap beers after all the good places have closed, and there’s often 50 people queue to get in, if you don’t know the doorman…

Exclusive Interview With Swedish Wunderkind Tobtok

Last year you released an EP with farfetch’d where we saw a more experimental side to your production. Can we expect any more music from you in similar vein?

I had so much fun making that EP with Jerry. I deffo think it has kind of made me more keen to get out of my comfort-zone in general and just do music in the moment that makes me inspired and happy. I think that EP had a bit of everything in terms of genres so you will definitely hear music in similar veins as some of the tunes there.

Speaking of different styles, your last release on Selected ‘No Sense’ with STO CULTR sounded unlike anything you’d produced before. How do you adapt your production style when working with different vocalists and genres?

I think I always have a filter that sound like me, and that filter is full of different ideas, and inspiration from various genres. I do think that ‘No Sense’ does sound like me in a way. I always try to make things sound lively, organic and vintage. I love saturation, background noise, atoms and dirt, but at the same time I’m a bit of a mixing geek and want things to sound balanced, so I guess it’s about finding a middle-ground.

I worked with STO CULTR before on Signals. I think they are sick and super talented. I actually had an instrumental with some voice-notes as ideas (like following the guitar as a hook) and they executed it perfectly.

Have you made any exciting purchases for your studio lately?

I’ve actually sold a lot of my outboard mixing gear. Ever since I moved studios, I barely used any of it and couldn’t be bothered to plug everything in because it’s bit of a hassle to use to be honest. I find myself wanting to have a more efficient workflow and get results fast, especially now when I have a newborn and time is limited.

I’ve upgraded computers though and got a Macbook M3 Max which is insane. I can have a full-on heavy project in Reason and I’m only working at about 20% CPU usage – and the fan doesn’t even go on!

When was the last time you actually went clubbing or to a festival that you weren’t playing, and who did you see?

I honestly can’t remember which is worrying haha, too long, I guess. Although this month I’m going to see Chromeo here in Stockholm with my best friend. We used to listen to them a lot in like 2010-2014 and thought it would be a fun little nostalgic trip.

Exclusive Interview With Swedish Wunderkind Tobtok

We know you’re busy being a new Dad – congratulations! Does that mean touring is off the cards for 2024?

I don’t have anything planned this year but I’m open for DJing if something cool comes up, she can always join!

How are you balancing your workload plus family commitments?

I’ve made my workflow quite efficient recently. I’ve kind of let go of my ego a bit and try to not overthink things. I usually overmixed everything to the point where it sounds better without anything on haha.

My fiancée is on paternity leave this whole year so it doesn’t really affect my work that much, and I’m also currently working from home, so I can help her out when she needs it, and I don’t miss any big moments which is a very luxurious situation!

We see you’re often posting pics of your cute miniature poodle on Instagram. What did he think of the arrival of a new baby?!

He was very stressed out the first couple of days and was sniffing her like crazy. He’d get very nervous when we did anything with her, especially changing diapers. He would join and stand next to the changing table and moan or bark like crazy whilst the baby was crying. After a week or so, I think he adjusted to the situation and now he is super calm and cute around her. Phew!

Looking ahead, what can fans expect from Tobtok in terms of new music, upcoming collaborations, and live performances?

More experimentation with cool live instruments and random genres and also more collabs with Oliver Nelson! We are working a lot together this year.

Many thanks Tobias, we hope to see you out on the road soon.

Cheers, thanks for having me!

Tobtok x Oliver Nelson ‘Alright’ is out now on Perfect Havoc.


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Exclusive Interview With Swedish Wunderkind Tobtok

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