A Spotlite on ANDY ROURKE and
By Lori Zimmer
Olé Koretsky’s hairless Sphynx cat, Giovanni, has started sprouting fur. His face is that of a regular cat, as are his paws, but then the rest of his body appears as if he suffered third degree burns, with black spotty naked skin. I’m focused on the cat, attempting to ease Olé‘s nerves. He is about to share some new tracks that he and musical partner Andy Rourke (of The Smiths) have been perfecting over the past few months, under the name Jetlag. He fiddles and fumbles with the sound system, nervous and excited to share these well-guarded tracks with someone other than Andy. He wouldn’t even email them to me; I had to come to his apartment to take a listen, not that I mind.
Olé is my only “Myspace friend.” A few years ago, I was writing for a now defunct free New York arts listing site, he was submitting his DJ events, and they weren’t getting posted. He contacted me on Myspace asking what the problem was, so I began posting his events myself, and eventually made my way to one. I hadn’t realized at the time that this was Olé’s second run at music in the nightlife scene. He’d had a prolific career during the late 90s and early 2000s club music heyday in New York, playing at seminal clubs like Mother, Downtime, the Bank and Pyramid. Being a DJ in New York means having access to any drug one desires, and Olé got caught up like anyone else did. Having a preexisting case of social anxiety, the camouflage of narcotics caused him to fall a little deeper than he would’ve liked to for a few years.
Meanwhile, Andy, post-Smiths, was still writing and making music, playing bass for Sinead O’Connor, Morrissey, The Pretenders, Killing Joke, Badly Drawn Boy and others; and then decided to foray into DJing. His first DJ tour of America along with former Smiths drummer Mike Joyce, brought Olé into his life. It was 2003, and Andy and Mike had finished a gig in DC. Olé and his girlfriend had escaped Brooklyn for a weekend, and rolled into town as bars were closing. They followed a gang of kids back to a hotel for some after-partying, where he befriended a smooth talking Brit. Smelling chlorine at the hotel, the two new friends decided they must locate the source and find that pool! It was only after some time hanging in the pool did Olé’s new friend mention playing with PIL and the Buzzcocks, and Olé realized he was hanging out with Mike Joyce.
It was probably Olé’s obliviousness that lead Mike to sending him to Andy’s room at the hotel for some Valium, that Andy reportedly had to help him when flying. It was nearly 7 am when Olé knocked at Andy’s door, fully clothed, yet soaked to the skin, save for his DJ bag. Eyeing the bag, Andy let him in, and the two ended up chatting about Olé’s music ideas for hours. Olé backed himself up, playing a hip-hop track he was working on which sampled Sinead O’Conner and Eartha Kitt. Andy loved it and asked for the disc, along with Olé’s contact info.
When the tour ended in New York, Andy rang up Olé, they met up and shot the shit for a few days. At that point, Olé was too wrapped up in his own addictions to see the meetings as a “business opportunity”–not that he would anyway, being a pretty straightforward and genuine person. Their time together got Olé excited about making music again, Andy’s encouragement started Olé down the track of thinking himself a musician. Having dealt with the commonality of drugs in the music industry himself in his 20s, Andy saw a lot of himself in Olé and so took him under his wing. With Andy’s influence, Olé focused more and more on music, and less on partying. Coupled with a timely arrest, Olé finally entered into rehab, cleaned up his act and got back into writing.
Acting like a good big brother, Andy would try to get Olé on the bill when DJing in New York. Slowly a routine formed, Andy would fly in, Olé would pick him up from the airport, and jet lagged, they’d work on music in Olé’s modest home studio before DJ gigs. They’d experiment, layering Andy’s epic bass lines over Olé’s loops and samples. During these jam sessions, Olé realized what a phenomenal musician Andy is, his deep and complex understanding of song structure and its influences on the Smiths.
In summer of 2009, they scored a weekly residency at Beauty Bar. Forced to come up with a name, Jetlag seemed only natural. Continuing to write music together, they’ve composed and recorded dozens and dozens of songs under the same moniker, with Olé’s impeccable programming complimenting Andy’s exemplary instrumentation.
Which brings me to the present. Olé has finally figured out the sound system. Giovanni and I are now friends, and he is curled up in a raw chicken-looking ball on my lap. He plays the tracks for me. They seem easy, and by that I mean on the first listen I am already into them. I can detect a hint of Andy’s musical past, of Olé’s love of New Order, but nothing too obvious. I am shocked to find out that shy Olé is the smooth vocalist on the tracks. I had no idea he could sing, he uses his voice in the same way as he does instruments, not outshining, but making it as equal in the composition as the basslines. His lyrics are really personal, but he writes mostly about animals, hiding behind the metaphors rather than spilling his guts outright. It just sounds good, good enough that I think about the tracks long after I leave.
I think they are ready, but their perfectionism is holding them back, tweaking each tune until there is nothing left to tweak–this is their debut of the fruits of their labor, and they are meticulous about it. Perhaps there will be a small sampling on Andy’s East Village Radio show, or something more grandiose. Either way, the music is good, despite my affinity for the Smiths or my friendship with Olé. Jetlag plans to release an EP sometime this year.
Andy Rourke is a Manchester-born musician, best known as bass player for the seminal British band, The Smiths. He currently lives and works in Manhattan with his girlfriend.
Olé Koretsky is an Odessa-born musician and DJ based in Brooklyn.
Jetlag is their current project.
Written by Lori Zimmer
Photography by Jonathan Grassi
Design by Marie Havens
(L) Andy Rourke and (R) Olé Koretsky, at 2A, Manhattan, NYC, June 2011, Photography by Jonathan Grassi
(L) Olé Koretsky and (R) Andy Rourke, at 2A, Manhattan, NYC, June 2011, Photography by Jonathan Grassi
Andy Rourke, at 2A, Manhattan, NYC, June 2011, Photography by Jonathan Grassi
Olé Koretsky, at 2A, Manhattan, NYC, June 2011, Photography by Jonathan Grassi