Nils Frahm

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Nils Frahm
Nils Frahm (2015)
Frahm in 2015
Background information
Born (1982-09-20) 20 September 1982 (age 37)
OriginHamburg, Germany
GenresContemporary classical, ambient, electronic
LabelsErased Tapes
Associated actsNonkeen, Peter Broderick, Ólafur Arnalds, Anne Müller, F.S. Blumm

Nils Frahm (born 20 September 1982) is a German musician, composer, and record producer based in Berlin. He is known for combining classical and electronic music and for an unconventional approach to the piano in which he mixes a grand piano, upright piano, Roland Juno-60, Rhodes piano, drum machines, and Moog Taurus.

In addition to his solo work, Frahm has released collaborations with such notable performers as Anne Müller, Ólafur Arnalds, F. S. Blumm and Woodkid. With Frederic Gmeiner and Sebastian Singwald he records and performs as Nonkeen.[1]


Frahm had an early introduction to music. His father, Klaus Frahm, was a photographer who also designed covers for ECM Records.[2] He grew up near Hamburg, where he learned the styles of the classical pianists as well as contemporary composers.[3] At school he used mixing boards and was very interested in the quality of recorded sound.[4] He studied classical piano for 8 years under Nahum Brodsky, the protégé[citation needed] of the protégé[citation needed] of Tchaikovsky, who lived in a neighbouring village. In 2006, rather than pursue an orchestra career, Frahm moved to Berlin as a jobbing technician.[5]

Frahm's earlier solo piano works Wintermusik (2009) and The Bells (2009) gained him attention, but it was his 2011 release Felt that was met with critical acclaim. It was his first studio album on Erased Tapes, which has released his music since. It was followed by the solo synthesizer EP Juno; and by Screws (2012), recorded while Frahm was recovering from a thumb injury, and which was offered as a free download to fans on his birthday.[6] His follow-up to Juno, titled Juno Reworked (2013), featured guest reworks by Luke Abbott and Chris Clark.

Frahm's album Spaces (2013) was made of live recordings from various venues spanning two years.[2]

In December 2013, Frahm released his first music book, Sheets Eins (Sheets One), published by Manners McDade.[7] In 2016 the follow-up Sheets Zwei was released.[8]

In 2014, Frahm announced his new piano "Una Corda", specially designed and made for him by David Klavins. It weighs under 100 kg and has one string per key.[9] (Standard pianos have from one to three strings per key.)

His album Solo (2015), an improvised single take with no overdubs, was later recorded on the "Modell 370", a 370 cm high vertical piano also made by David Klavins.[10] It was one of 19 records nominated for the IMPALA Album of the Year Award.[11]

A condensed version of Frahm's single "More" was featured in the trailer for the video game Assassin's Creed Unity gamescom.[12]

In 2015, Frahm composed his first original film score, for the German film Victoria, a 140-minute continuous take directed by Sebastian Schipper.[13] He also collaborated with Woodkid on the critically acclaimed short film ELLIS[14] directed by JR which was released in October 2015.

In the same year, Frahm created "Piano Day", celebrated on the 88th day of the year (due to the standard piano's 88 keys). The event's first project was the construction, with David Klavins, of the Modell 450 piano, the successor to the Modell 370.

In February 2016, Frahm released The Gamble, followed by its companion release Oddments of the Gamble in August 2016.[1] Pitchfork described the album as "charmingly patched together and messy as it is well-paced and dynamic".[15] The material was recorded over eight years while the artwork was produced by Frahm's father.[16]

In 2016 Frahm curated Possibly Colliding at the Barbican Centre in London, featuring a weekend of music, art and films.[17]

Core attitudes[edit]

Frahm has said "I’m interested in how human beings react in certain situations, and what music does to people’s emotions. How we can change people’s attitudes with tones. After I’ve played a good concert, people leave the room happy. This is something we can give back to the world. When people feel down and like it’s all going to shit, at least we can give them some music and change their attitude so people don’t think it’s all shit... That’s my religion."[4]


Nils Frahm and the Una Corda (front), Roland Juno-60 (behind him), Fender Rhodes (under the Juno-60), Roland RE-501 (on top behind the Juno-60), Moog Taurus (on the floor behind him) and other equipment.

Frahm is known for using vintage gear on his songs and live performances. This is a list of some of his main equipment:[18]


Solo albums[edit]

  • Streichelfisch (2005, AtelierMusik)
  • Electric Piano (2008, AtelierMusik)
  • My First EP (2008, AtelierMusik)
  • The Bells (2009, Kning Disk, Erased Tapes)
  • Felt (2011, Erased Tapes)
  • Screws (2012, Erased Tapes)
  • Spaces (2013, Erased Tapes)
  • Solo (2015, Erased Tapes)
  • All Melody (2018, Erased Tapes)
  • All Encores (2019, Erased Tapes)


  • Wintermusik (2009, AtelierMusik)
  • Unter/Über (2010, Erased Tapes)
  • Juno (2011, Erased Tapes)
  • Encores 1 (2018, Erased Tapes)
  • Encores 2 (2019, Erased Tapes)[19]
  • Encores 3 (2019, Erased Tapes)

Compilation albums[edit]

Soundtrack albums[edit]

  • Music for the Motion Picture Victoria (2015, Erased Tapes)
  • ELLIS (2016, Erased Tape, with Woodkid)


  • Dauw (Split) (2009, Dekorder, with Machinefabriek)
  • Music for lovers Music versus time (2010, Sonic Pieces, with F.S. Blumm)
  • 7Fingers (2010, HUSH, Erased Tapes, with Anne Müller)
  • Mort Aux Vaches (2011, Staalplaat, with Peter Broderick, Machinefabriek, Romke Kleefstra, Anne-Chris Bakker, Jan Kleefstra)
  • Stare (2012, Erased Tapes, with Ólafur Arnalds)
  • Music for wobbling Music versus gravity (2013, Sonic Pieces, with F.S. Blumm)
  • Life Story Love And Glory (Erased Tapes, with Ólafur Arnalds)
  • Loon (2015, Erased Tapes, with Ólafur Arnalds)
  • Collaborative Works (2015, Erased Tapes, with Ólafur Arnalds)
  • Trance Frendz (2016, Erased Tapes, with Ólafur Arnalds)
  • The Gamble (2016, Durton Studio, with Frederic Gmeiner and Sebastian Singwald)
  • Tag Eins Tag Zwei (2016, Sonic Pieces, with F.S.Blumm)
  • Bergschrund (2016, Mass Appeal, with DJ Shadow)

Theatre collaborations[edit]


  • Sheets Eins (2013, Manners Mcdade/Erased Tapes)
  • Sheets Zwei (2016, Manners Mcdade/Erased Tapes)


  1. ^ a b Simpson, Paul. "Nonkeen | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  2. ^ a b Andrew Male (9 October 2013). "Nils Frahm Flaunts the Imperfection". Mojo Magazine.
  3. ^ Rachel Wakefield (30 April 2010). ""The music I play inspires my life": Nils Frahm". Wessex Guardian.
  4. ^ a b "The Quietus - Features - A Quietus Interview - The Listener Is The Key: Nils Frahm Interviewed".
  5. ^ Jones, Charlie Robin (2016-06-28). "Nils Frahm: 'My music can be quite heavy. Some people faint'". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
  6. ^ Ro Cemm (6 December 2013). "Album Reviews: Nils Frahm - Screws". The Line of Best Fit.
  7. ^ "SHEETS by Nils Frahm".
  8. ^ SHEETS ZWEI by Nils Frahm.
  9. ^ Peter Kirn (16 June 2014). "Acoustic Revelation: Inside the Una Corda, the 100kg, 21st Century Piano Built for Nils Frahm". Create Digital Music.
  10. ^ "SOLO | Nils Frahm". Retrieved 2017-03-08.
  11. ^ "Young labels featured in shortlist for IMPALA Album of the Year Award". sur
  12. ^ "'Assassin's Creed: Unity:' Brand New Trailer Released At Gamescom 2014 [VIDEO]". 2014-08-15. Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  13. ^ "Music for the Motion Picture Victoria | Nils Frahm". Retrieved 2017-03-08.
  14. ^ "ELLIS". Retrieved 2017-03-08.
  15. ^ Cook-Wilson, Winston (9 February 2016). "nonkeen: The Gamble Album Review | Pitchfork". Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  16. ^ "Friends First: An Interview with nonkeen". Retrieved 2016-08-08.
  17. ^ "Possibly Colliding: a weekend curated by Nils Frahm".
  18. ^ Inc., Equipboard. "Nils Frahm's Equipboard". Equipboard. Retrieved 2017-03-08.
  19. ^ "Encores 2 – EP by Nils Frahm on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved 25 January 2019.

External links[edit]

Media related to Nils Frahm at Wikimedia Commons