Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Finn Bjarnson, in his Pleasant Grove studio on Thursday, was nominated for a Grammy this year.

PLEASANT GROVE — The music industry within the U.S. has always been centered in New York and Los Angeles, but for the past eight years, a Utah Valley man has somehow made a name for himself while in the confines of his Pleasant Grove home.

Finn Bjarnson might not look the part of someone who is making waves within the music industry, and if you asked him, he probably wouldn't even admit it. But behind the humility lies a creative music writer and producer who has gone from producing local Deseret Book artists to having a number one single on the Billboard Dance Charts.

"I am definitely the oddball out," said Bjarnson. "I had a friend tell me that Utah Valley needs me. I think that's a little presumptuous, but I definitely have a unique career choice for around here. I have a dentist, a doctor and all the typical people I live with in my neighborhood, and a lot of them are always asking me, 'Now what is it that you do again?"'

Since 2000, when Bjarnson began working with then-University of Utah student Ryan Raddon, the two have collaborated to make Raddon, or DJ Kaskade as he is known on stage, one of the biggest dance/electronica artists in the U.S.

Besides being a very successful touring act in this country, Kaskade is also very popular overseas, where he fills clubs with fans who are there to hear the music he and Bjarnson write and produce.

This year they were even nominated for a Grammy for their work on the song "Sorry (Dirty South Mix)."

"I co-wrote and sang on it, interestingly enough," said Bjarnson. "It didn't win, but it is awesome just to be nominated because a Grammy nomination is not something that happens every day."

Bjarnson's success as a production partner of Kaskade, as well as several other groups he is involved with that are big overseas, has opened many doors. One of those opportunities, which he calls his "bread and butter," is remixing songs for some of the industry's biggest names.

Bjarnson just finished remixing Britney Spears' latest single and continues to be approached by record labels to remix songs for a more dance sound, in order to be played in clubs.

"People say, 'Oh, you're on the top of the charts, so we want you to do our remix,"' said Bjarnson. "So I have done Nelly Furtado, Seal, Justin Timberlake and a bunch of others. In the dance market, if they see you are doing well on your own, they want you to put your take on their thing."

Bjarnson has also worked on soundtracks, video game music, and is currently working on music for upcoming ad campaigns for Coca-Cola and The Truth Against Tobacco.

He would tell you that his career has been a steady rise to where his is today, and thanks to technology he is able to continue working in the recording studio in his Pleasant Grove basement.

"I am not looking for the spotlight and that is why I am here," he said. "The hardest part about it, is trying to explain what I do to people. It is a whole different world, but people are always intrigued by it."

Seeing some of the lifestyles that many people within the industry have, Bjarnson is happy he can stay in the quiet city where he attended high school as he watches his three children grow up.

His wife, Tracey, who is pregnant with their fourth child, worked full time while Finn honed his skills in the music industry. Now, she would be the first to point out all that her husband has accomplished.

"I am glad for him because I know that he would not be happy doing anything else," she said. "I think it's wonderful, and he doesn't always think he is as talented as he truly is. Finn is much happier being the guy behind the scenes, but people in the business know what he brings to the table."


E-mail: [email protected]