He started off with a trombone and ended up at Pole. Niklas Olsson can drive basically any vehicle and has a strong passion for music and sound recording.
Niklas, what’s your title at Pole Position?
I’m a sound designer, recordist and sometimes a composer. Since a while back I’m also a co-owner of PPP.
And recently you started doing audio implementation and mix?
Exactly, I follow our sounds all the way from the recording session to the game. In the past I was working as a live music front of house engineer and learned a lot of how to manage audio gear an packing and maintenance so at Pole I’m the one who keeps our gear in mint condition and ready to bring to a session.
Y ou have a background as a musician. When did you first start playing music?
I started playing the trombone when I was ten. Two years later I picked up an electric guitar for the first time and fell in love.
Are you’re still active today?
Yes. Besides composing music at Pole I’m still active as a musician, producer and artist. I have a metal band called
and at this very moment we’re finishing up an album recording. I’ve always played in bands and being in a band is the very core of my being. It gives me the fuel to keep on doing what I do and keeps my curiosity for sound fresh and vibrant. I also have a solo project called Black Oak with a lot of sound design elements which I do for pure joy and experimentation. None of my musical endeavors are success stories. I do them because I have to do them. Sleepland
How did you first come in contact with Pole Position?
Some years ago, I was involved in a musical tech project called Moodelizer which is a dynamic playback system that lets you control music in real time. There I met Mats who also was composing music on the project. When I left the Moodelizer project I called Mats and asked if he had something for me.
Your background in music, is that an advantage in your current position?
Absolutely. My background as a music producer has really been useful, especially since I mainly worked in the metal genre. Car engines and distorted guitars are very similar in the way they sound so for me mixing engines felt like my home turf right away. Aggressive, mid focused and over the top all the way, which really suits my mixing style. Also, in my music career I never classified music in genres or types. For me everything is always sound.
During field recordings, you are often one of the guys driving the vehicles. How come?
I grew up on a farm outside Stockholm and my grandfather was a farmer and my other grandfather drove trucks for a living, so I was literally born in a tractor or a truck. I remember once when I was like 7 years old and my grandfather and I was out in the fields preparing the soil for sowing when he jumped out of the tractor to go home for milk and cookies. I was left alone in the tractor going back and forth for a good half an hour and I had so much fun doing that. I can’t remember how it feels not being able to drive stuff, that’s something I’ve always been doing.
Sounds fun! What’s the coolest vehicle you’ve driven?
I have driven quite a few, but if I have to pick out a couple it would be a super aggressive Polaris snowmobile, a rally car which was crazy (my favorite motor sport) and a 36-ton heavy wheel loader which I drove in a job for a year or so. None of these where during recording but I’ve driven an Opel Blitz truck from the 1930’s and that truck can be found in our library. It was indeed pure joy driving it.
Is there a special vehicle you’d really like to maneuver?
Someday I would really like to drive a WRC rallycar full on out on the dirt roads. I’m also really curious about driving a big war tank. That’s one of the few vehicles I have left on my list.
You’ve been with Pole Position for 3 years now. When you started here, what excited you the most?
The thing that makes Pole really stand out and the thing I like best about working here, is the wide variety of things we getto do. One day I find myself standing on an airfield in Italy with Ferraris and Lamborghinis swooshing by at 160 mph. The next day we’re building some crazy scientist rig to generate sounds never heard and another day I’m in the studio doing what I love most; sculpting and crushing sounds with a high level of artistic expression and in the end having a small part in telling great stories to people all over the world.
And the most challenging parts?
Working for Pole can be challenging indeed. First, I always have to make sure everything I do meets the high standards PPP has set. Second, it can also be a very physical job. Sometimes we work long hours far from home for instance in extreme weather waiting for a helicopter to finally show up and be ready to do the best recording ever, over and over again.
Of the projects you’ve been involved in at Pole Position, do you have any favorite ones?
I did a game with a lot of dark magical sounds. That was a blast since magic and darkness is two of the things I do love the most in life. Also rediscovering my old interest in engines and vehicles which before Pole was slumbering for a good 15 years.
The perfect project, what would that be?
A project where sound design meets music and the boundaries between the two are swiped away. I also want to do the perfect sounding racing game with engine sound so real and good that you can’t hear any difference compared to reality.
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