Nils Frahm – how the composer became a mainstay in Spotify playlists

The playlists the Swedish streaming giant curates itself are by far the most popular on the platform, and Frahm is among several of the most utilitarian. Classic sleep, Atmospheric piano and music for concentration all contain a piece or two of him.

“What about music for plants?” he asks when FRG weekend evokes this, his tongue firmly in his cheek next to the cigarette he takes from time to time.

We check it out, and it turns out that Spotify really is curating a playlist called, “for green leaves, green thumbs, and green ears.” Frahm isn’t one of the dozens of soundscapes featured there, and he’s not upset.

“This name, music for plants, says it all, really. I think most people who use those playlists don’t really listen carefully to your song, when you’re one of hundreds there,” he says.

“Like maybe your song is just played at the plants. Now I love the plants, but they won’t give me good feedback. »

Paradoxically, Frahm says the feedback from a live audience helps him write songs when he’s back at Funkhaus. For the show he will debut during his visit to Australia before touring the world over the next two years, the basic song structures are worked out and some elements pre-programmed, but much of what he superimposes is improvised.

“I can always tell when something I’ve played isn’t quite right, even if no one is giving me direct feedback,” he says.

“I feel like the attention of a lot of people listening helps me write my songs a bit.”

A FRG weekend A review of Frahm’s Sydney Opera House performance from 2018, on the second of his three previous visits here, gives an idea of ​​what to expect from his one-of-a-kind performance.

“Synthesizers bounce, keyboard riffs loop hypnotically, toy piano tinkles, a sampled choir or pipe organ adds drama, breakbeats slip away never resolving into a full club banger,” the reviewer wrote. .

“Frahm can rush between his myriad gear and throw his head back like he’s shredding an epic guitar solo rather than turn a knob, but it’s still music for the listener’s head more only for her hips.”

And their sense of adventure. Frahm’s relentless search for original sounds has seen him play from inside his grand piano with toilet brushes before, but this time his sonic palette will include one of history’s most unusual instruments – a glass harmonica.

Invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761, it consists of glass bowls of various sizes rotating on a motorized rotisserie, from which Frahm will conjure notes by wetting his fingers and rubbing them as they rotate.

“It was removed from all orchestras around 1850; doctors at the time thought the vibrations on your hands were driving you crazy,” he says.

“Who knows, maybe it will make me normal.”

Nils Frahm plays Vivid Live at the Sydney Opera House from June 15and Hobart June 19 Dark Mofo.

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