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.
As well as his solo work, Frahm has released collaborations with such notable performers as Anne Müller, Ólafur Arnalds, F. S. Blumm and Woodkid. Together with Frederic Gmeiner and Sebastian Singwald he records and performs as Nonkeen.
Frahm had an early introduction to music. His father, Klaus Frahm, was a photographer who also designed covers for ECM Records. He grew up near Hamburg, where he learned the styles of the classical pianists as well as contemporary composers.
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 been releasing his music since. The album was followed by the solo synthesiser EP Juno and by Screws (2012), recorded while Frahm was recovering from a thumb injury, and offered as a free download to fans on his birthday. 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 over two years.
In December 2013, Frahm released his first music book, Sheets Eins, published by Manners McDade. In 2016 the follow-up Sheets Zwei was released.
In 2014, Frahm announced his new piano "Una Corda", specially designed and made for him by David Klavins. The piano weighs under 100 kg and has one string per key, rather than the commonly used three strings.
His album Solo (2015), an improvisation single take without any overdubs, was later recorded on the "Modell 370", a 370cm high vertical piano also made by David Klavins. It was one of the 19 records nominated for the IMPALA Album of the Year Award.
A condensed version of his single "More" was featured in the Assassin's Creed Unity gamescom trailer.
In 2015 Frahm composed his first original score for the German film "Victoria" which is a 140-minute continuous take directed by Sebastian Schipper.
Nils Frahm also collaborated with Woodkid on the critically acclaimed short film ELLIS directed by JR which was released in October of 2015.
In the same year Nils Frahm created the "Piano Day" which is celebrated at the 88th day of the year (due to the 88 keys of a standard piano) The first project was the construction of the "Modell 450" together with David Klavins with whom Nils Frahm has worked before. It is the successor of the "Modell 370".
In February 2016 Nonkeen released The Gamble, followed by its companion release Oddments of the Gamble in August 2016. Pitchfork.com described the album "as charmingly patched together and messy as it is well-paced and dynamic". The material was recorded over eight years while the artwork was produced by Frahm's father.
Nils Frahm is known for using vintage gear on his songs and live performances. This is a list of some of his main equipment:
- Roland Juno 60
- Fender Rhodes
- Oberheim Four Voice
- Korg PS-3100
- Mellotron M400
- Roland RE-501 Chorus Echo
- Studer A80 Tape Recorder
- Nagra IV-S
- Binson Echorec 2
- Universal Audio 1176 Blue Strip Fet Limiter
- Melodium 42b
- Electro-Harmonix XO Germanium OD Overdrive
- Electro-Harmonix #1 Echo Digital Delay Guitar Effects Pedal
- Moog Taurus Bass Pedal Synthesizer Version 3
- Ernie Ball Volume Pedal
- Moog MF-102 Moogerfooger Ring Modulator
- MFB-522 drum machine
- Streichelfisch (2005, AtelierMusik)
- Electric Piano (2008, AtelierMusik)
- My First EP (2008, AtelierMusik)
- Wintermusik (2009, Erased Tapes, EP)
- The Bells (2009, Kning Disk, Erased Tapes)
- Unter/Über (2010, Erased Tapes, EP)
- Felt (2011, Erased Tapes)
- Juno (2011, Erased Tapes, EP)
- Screws (2012, Erased Tapes)
- Spaces (2013, Erased Tapes)
- Solo (2015, Erased Tapes)
- Screws Reworked (2015, Erased Tapes)
- Late Night Tales: Nils Frahm (2015, Late Night Tales)
- 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)
- Laughter in the dark (2014, with Hotel Pro Forma)
- Sheets Eins (2013, Manners Mcdade/Erased Tapes)
- Sheets Zwei (2016, Manners Mcdade/Erased Tapes)