‘Melodic Nordic Jazz’ | Interview with Nikolaj Hess

Ambient, peaceful maybe with a hint of hidden sadness. ECM Country is the beginning track of the Danish composer’s new album Spacelab and Strings.

Read our interview with the artist below.

Describe your sound in three words please!

Melodic Nordic Jazz

Where do you mainly draw your inspiration from? And who is your favorite pianist?

Main inspirations that especially relate to this project are Ravel, Duke Ellington, Debussy, Herbie Hancock, Beethoven, Bill Evans. My inspiration is also drawn from nature and other art forms, particularly paintings at the moment. My favourite pianist might be Bill Evans, but also Herbie Hancock, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Jan Johansson and Horowitch, Richter and Argerich are extremely close to me. 

You Interweave a classical string quartet with a piano trio. Do the world of Jazz and the world of Classical music ‘speak a different language’? Would you like to tell us more about your approach?

I think it is all music from the same universal stream of inspiration, and at the same time it feels like there is a special sound awareness and melodic quality that the strings and classical approach add to this, and a likewise special intensity in the rhythmic phrasing, groove and not least improvising approach from the jazz side. 

Your music feels like it could work perfectly as a movie theme. If you were asked to rescore a film, which one would you choose?

Wow, thanks what a nice idea, I have done a few scores for films I really admire, and should I rescore, I would probably chose either Amadeus, which is one of my favourite movies, but obviously of course already has genius music in it, or maybe Dogville by Lars Von Trier, which could have many interesting possibilities for other shades, even though it is perfect in its minimalism already. 

Some pianists when you ask them ‘if it wasn’t the piano what instrument would you be playing?’ give you a blank stare. Is it the same with you? Is there another instrument if it wasn’t for the piano?

I played violin as a child, and was seriously considering that as a direction, with the classical conservatory as a serious consideration, so I think that could definitely be an option, but another option today would rather be being a conductor, where the whole orchestra is the instrument.

If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?

Here I might go to me and my brothers old motto to make the fine arts more popular and the popular arts finer, which could be interesting to look more into from a business perspective. 

What do you like to do when you are not making music?

Spend time with family and friends, have fun, read books, watch movies, discussions and debates with friends, be in nature, yoga and meditation, travel and explore new things, chess and other games.

One last thing we should know about you?

I feel lucky to get to make and play music.

Thanks Nikolaj Hess!

Follow Nikolaj Hess

Listen to our Spotify Playlist Metamorphosis feat. Nikolaj Hess

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