I'll admit, I don't know anything about flatland or bmx beyond what Pete Olsen has told me. But this is a guy I grew up with and I have never met anyone who has put more time and painful effort into something they love more than him. Pete's been riding since at least high school (if not earlier) and in his hay day would ride in his empty, plywood floored bedroom before school, and then go home right after and basically ride til he went to bed. All summer, all winter. For years. I would guess the guy rode 8 hours a day. He just got sponsored by S+M Bikes and 1664 Bmx and has been featured in a bunch of international bike magazines (recently A.R.T.). He also finished pretty well in an international video competition called 'Groundtactics' which featured a lot of other pros (Pete told me he got 5th which really means he got 4th). Oh and the guy has a pretty cool taste in music. Here is Pete Olsen's Fave Songs.
JH: Ok Pete, it begins.
JH: So you got a list, you wanna do it in any order or whatever?
PO: Nah, there's no order, this is just the way I remembered them.
JH: K what's the first one?
PO: I had Bruce Springsteen's 'I'm on Fire'.
JH: Oh yeah! Such a good one. Have you ever seen the video for it?
PO: Yeah, with the auto mechanic.
JH: It's so good!
PO: I kinda hate how the youtube videos are now, like their ads are 15 seconds long…
JH: I hate how they always run smoothly, and then your video comes up and it's all choppy and has trouble loading it's like fuck, I know you can do it.
PO: Hah yeah.
JH: He's just like the Rocky of auto mechanics hey?
PO: Haha yeah.I guess they just don't show the woman, cause it could be any woman you know? Doesn't matter, he does that with every woman who comes in his car shop.
JH: Hahaha yeah! (scene shifts to smoke machined bedroom/car scene) Now he's in Freddy Kreuger. Such a good song though. I love how it's so short.
PO: Yeah, I like how that whole skit there was like…
JH: Half the video!
PO: Hahah half this video yeah.
JH: And the video is only like three and a half minutes long. It's like a two minute song. When you're picking music for the odd video you put together, how do you pick the songs for that?
PO: I dunno…
JH: Cause you always have like pretty interesting music in your videos.
PO: Yeah like sometimes you'll just be listening to a record and you'll hear a song on it and you'll be like… oh that would be really good, and you just kind of visualize it and go make it happen. And you kinda have it so that people might not know what the music is, like say you have original content in the actual tricks and riding and stuff… it sorta compliments the music if they haven't heard it either maybe.
JH: Ok what's the next one. Number two.
PO: I think I had Tom Waits, 'Come on up to the House'.
JH: AHHH YEAHHH! That is the best! Have you ever seen the video to THIS one?
PO: I haven't seen it.
JH: Whoa! It's so good. I don't know if this is the official one. This is one of my favourite songs too I think. Definitely. Just screams at you hey?
PO: Haha yeah! I think he has a new one out.
JH: Yeah I haven't heard it yet. I bought his uhhh live vinyl he put out.
PO: Oh yeah. … I would probably ride to this song. I've thought about it but it just hasn't happened.
JH: What do you listen to when you're riding? Just whatever you're into or do you have like a certain…?
PO: I dunno just kinda depends on what mood I'm in. If I'm really laid back might listen to some reggae or sometimes I'll listen to like heavier stuff.
JH: When would you say you were listening to this one the most or when did you like, find it?
PO: Ahhh, I was working at Robin Hood (Mills), packing oats, and I was uh working a lot and I remember kinda always wanting to come home to ride my bike and, I just remember working a lot and coming home and would like hear this song and being like… it was just nice to come home and have good music to listen to.
JH: Yeah it's definitely like a take a load off song.
PO: Should I do the next one?
JH: Yeah whats the next one?
PO: Ahh, what is it… Nina Simone 'I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free'.
JH: Nina Simone was always on my list of people I should get into someday.
PO: Ahh, yeah I dunno, between Nina Simone and older Arethra Franklin albums, they always remind me of like the hot summer and like being outside as if you were in the southern parts of the states? That's always what I think about.
JH: It just being so hot.
PO: And I guess I may never listen to this music in the winter or something? You know, I like it, but it's more like, you know, the hot hot summer? Because that's where it originated from?
JH: Yeah it's got a temperature for you.
PO: Yeah totally.
JH: Only when it is 25 degrees, I listen to Nina Simone.
PO: Yeah only when you're like sweating when you get out of the shower.
JH: Haha! Only when you're sweating you listen to Nina Simone. Do you ever ride to Nina Simone?
JH: Ok, number four.
PO: Uhh Townes Van Zandt 'I'll Be Here In The Morning'.
JH: Now a lot of these songs I've noticed are either slower, older or acoustic jams… and your dad and your sister are both folk musicians… did that have an effect on like music that sticks with you?
PO: Yeah I think so, it's always something that's kinda been around, maybe I'm more comfortable with those kinds of music. You know, I don't really like … rock, ya know? Maybe if my family members were more, like my dad was more hardcore rock and roll, headbanger guy, like AC/DC or something I would be more inclined to listen to rock music. The family would probably have something to do with it.
JH: The other reason it sticks out to me is that you have a large catalogue of either down tempo or electronic music or lo-fi or hip-hop or…
PO: I guess part of it is you bring out like a five song top five to a website and I guess I might not opt to bring like 'there's this thing I heard on a thirty second loop on a mix tape like four years ago…', I probably wouldn't put that on there but these are songs that I really like. And I listen to lots of stuff, and I really like lo-fi but I don't know if I would say lo-fi is my favourite ever.
JH: Ok is this the last one?
PO: Yeah last one. I was gonna go with The Band, 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down'.
JH: Do you wish more of those skate/bmx videos had like The Band for their backing tracks, or like, anything different? Or they are just what they are.
PO: I dunno, a lot of the good videos coming out these days generally have really cool music, music I would go out and buy the record to. Maybe some psych rock I would get off these videos. I haven't done that since I was a kid.
JH: Do you know what songs you're going to use in your next video?
PO: I don't know, I don't have any in mind. I guess part of it is I'll have a song I listen to over and over again as I think about how a video part is going to work. So that's what I did with my last one, there was like a song I really liked and like probably for 8 months I was thinking about that song, and like what tricks to put into what order. I don't know what I'm going to do for this one.
JH: When are you planning to put this one out?
PO: I'm gonna probably put one out next month.
JH: You got new tricks?
PO: Yeah. And I got hooked up by a couple companies so I wanted to do like some 'Welcome to the Team' thing, so just like a few tricks and try to make it good.
JH: Cool. Well those are the songs. Good picks, good picks.
I want to end by adding that not only is Pete one of the most passionate and dediated people to their art and craft but he is also one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. One time he lent me his copy of 'Rad' on VHS, and then gave me a VHS player so I could watch it!
Cover photo by Trevor Oleniuk.