Hailed by critics of classical music as well as amateurs of the electronic genre, Nils Frahm’s talent has brought harmony between the two worlds for the last ten years. Whether he plays on a church organ or a synthesiser fitted with effect pedals, the German pianist is always looking forward, and that’s what makes him so appealing.

He could have become the “King of the bongo”, but fortunately for us, Nils Frahm decided on the piano. The Cuban percussion drum was his first instrument, the one he used to jump in on his father’s jam sessions, a photographer and self-taught guitarist and pianist who designed album covers for the German jazz label ECM Records. “It’s a very simple instrument, with just two notes. I got quite good at the bongo, then I started playing a few notes on the family piano.” The kid was just 8 years old, but upon hearing his first few notes, his parents, very much impressed, decided to nurture his talent and signed him up for piano lessons. They found an “old Russian guy”, Nahum Brodsky, a former student of Tchaikovsky's last protégé. With the arrogance of a child, Nils arrived at his first lesson with his own compositions… Brodsky listened to them and said: “Forget about that, we start over!”. For seven intense years, Nils Frahm explored the depths of classical music, and learnt several movements of the greatest composers off by heart, until his teenage passions caught up with him. At 13 he found out he was allowed to fly a glider and couldn’t get this idea out of his mind. He wanted to quit piano altogether. “My father wanted me to practice even more. My mom was telling me to have fun. When I decided to become a pilot, my father offered me a deal I couldn’t refuse: ‘If you give up this idea, I’ll buy you a keyboard and you can have a band with your friends.’ It was very tempting so I said okay. With my friends, we played Beatles tunes with a saxophone, a MIDI keyboard and a drum. It was awful but that’s how everything started.”

At his secondary school in Hamburg, he quickly became the musical head honcho of his group of friends, the only one capable of handling a mixing table. At student parties, he was the one spinning records; he started recording and mixing local bands, before sending the masters to labels. It was the beginning of his fascination for sound: “It was fantastic to have the first test pressings, which sounded like shit! I was 17 years old and when I listened to Radiohead’s Amnesiac, a million questions were coming into my head; I couldn’t understand how it sounded so good, even on a terrible sound system. It was a transcendental experience, I understood that other people had keys I didn’t yet have. So I became obsessed with wanting to learn everything there is to know about recording sound.” At the age of 24, he decided on a career in music and accepted any job that involved connecting cables, microphones and instruments on a movie or commercial set. He got stuck in and gained valuable experience, which would serve him for the rest of his career. In the winter 2004-2005, he took the time to record his first album, Streichelfisch, in Hamburg's Hammer Versteck Studio, produced in 500 copies and released on the label he had just founded, AtelierMusik. This album would see the beginning of Nils Frahm’s signature “electronic piano” style, a blend of ethereal keyboards and background glitches. Nils Frahm felt he was mature enough to drop his orchestra: he found a job as a technician and tried his luck in Berlin and its famous techno clubs, a genre which was brought to his attention by his brother.