With Niels Mori: an interview with the artist of "O."

Niels Mori (FR) was born in 2011, with the desire to offer an intimistic music, between delicate minimalism, imprinted with repetitions, and a sweet electro music, produced by analog machines. After performing several tours in Europe, from France to Russia, Niels Mori offers us the opportunity to rediscover him with his sixth album, simply called "O."

You are an emerging artist but with different results already achieved, can you tell us briefly what artist you are?

Well, I guess it's always a strange thing to say about ourselves that we are an artist. It's not all about us, but about the audience, and concerning me, especially about the listener. It also depends on what you mean when you are talking about an artist : technically, theoretical, feelings ? I think an artist can be regarded as it when the creation is still living after his creator is gone. An artist is certainly the one who makes your feelings change, who can surprises you, who makes you wonder a lot of hidden things. I always consider as a good artist the one who is able to catch you at specific point, and who leads you to an other one, with few introspection and questions on the way. I guess this is the way I try to be an artist.

What are your influences and your musical references?

It really depends on the music I would like to compose or to play. However, I have a deep affection for the american minimalist musicians, like Steve Reich or Gavin Bryars, and in the same time, I really love the deepness and sincerity of twentieth century composers from east countries, like Rachmaninov, Gorecki, or Arvo Part. But this is more about the influences for the album « O. ». As a pianist, I really like french composers like Satie, Debussy, for example. Very often, I'm deeply touched by a piece of music, and I stake on it, making it growing up in my mind, taking different progressions, and then, I don't listen to it anymore, to compose something new, by myself. I always want to have my inner language, and I prefer to have my own way to talk than to repeat what somebody else already said centuries before me. About classical music the more I listen to it the more I'm interested by older composers, like Bach, and I really love the Palestrina's work too. Since few years, I'm especially interested by works and treatments of sounds, with artists like Basinsky.

How do you compose? Do you feel a musical theme in your mind or is it more based on creating from sensations?

Both. Sometimes, I have a theme in my mind, and it sounds so clear and precise that I first wonder if it doesn't already exist. So, I transpose it for piano, and I play it, again and again, adding rhythmic and melodic variations. In this case, the most difficult is to find the time to write all the ideas I have in mind, and very often, the result is different from the first idea. Sometimes, it's a good thing, sometimes it's not.
In other cases, a theme can born from a particular noise I've heard, and it really could be all kinds of sounds. When it happens, the work is more based on rythms than on melodies. I mean, if it's a regular sound, like an alarm, or anything else of the beeping things we know, I think to work on the rhythm is more instinctive than to try to create a theme on it, just to break the annoying and disappointing noise.

How was your latest album "O." born?

« O. » was born since a long time in my mind, and I started to write the score of Part I, meanwhile I was ending to compose Aftonland. I had to make a choice between the two, and I chose to work on piano, for many reasons. Today, I think it was the good choice, because I think I wasn't ready to compose « O. », psychologically and technically.
I remember I had a theme in my mind, theme from Part I, and some pictures of seas and oceans in my mind. I wanted a throbbing rhythm, repetitive, to draw the waves, moving side-by-side, but always with a little late from the previous one. In a way, it could be regarded as a monotone life passing on.
About the Part II, the idea was to be in the middle of a calm ocean, and let us go wherever the wind will bring us because in the end, we always find the shore.

At what time of the day do you like to compose? Is it an expressive urgency due to an inspiration or do you meditate and plan everything with scrupulous criteria?

I think it's both. Of course, I prefer the night to compose, because the atmosphere is a little different, the world is sleeping, and I guess you feel yourself differently, more sincere, listening to different things. I like to spend some time just playing, hours along, and I trying to catch ideas, or themes, only the fresh feeling. It's could be a king of emergency when there are too much ideas, but because the main thing is only to catch them all, I don't have to spend too much time with one of them. However, it's during the day I organize plans, progressions, variations, and all this stuff. in other words, it's more like a time to work than to create. In this case, I could sometimes feel an emergency, because different arrangements are possible, and I have to chose between several ones, and when you want to try each of them, you don't have to be too long to success.

What would you answer to those who ask you why you should listen to your music?

Well, I don't really know. I think one of the reasons why I could pretend to people should listen to my music is because I always try to do something different with each album. I mean, if you listen to one of my previous albums, you won't find the same music as on the next one. Aftonland, my previous album, is a solo piano album, whereas my new one is a strings album. One of the other reason is that I consider we are living in a too fast and running world, and my music needs to take time to listen to it, to accept to be impregnated by it. In other words, it asks to people to take time, or to take a rest, in a society where everything needs to be as fast as possible.

What is the meaning of music for you?

Music has different meanings for me, but one of the main one is certainly to feel deep emotions I have, and to transpose some of them into sounds and melodies. I feel safely when I'm listening to the music from somebody else, who seems to have the same feeling and meaning as for me. It's a kind of partner versus solitude. You could be disappointed by people, by your everyday's job, or by the today's and even against the tomorrow's world, but never by the feelings music offers you. It's just like to watch the world through an other prism, where nothing is really dramatic, except the things which really are.

Could you kindly anticipate us something about your upcoming projects?

Sure ! I have several and different works in progress, in different music genres, and I try to work on each of them. I'm actually working on a minimalist music album, directly inspired by the american minimalist musicians I mentioned before, with a work based on repetition, variation and progressive themes. I'm totally sure about the instruments to use, but I think the main one will be the guitar. I made some test recordings in the last weeks, and I guess I'm understanding where I have to go with this one. I also work on an electro/glitch album, inspired by bands like Pan Sonic, or Oval, who created a music only with bugs and accidental sounds. It makes sens for me to try to educate those defaults to assemble them into a coherent music. I'm also working on albums built with sound textures and sound designs, like on my first albums. The today's idea is to connect my first way to work to my recent one, and to find something between the two. Of course, I'm also working on new piano pieces. Thanks God, I still want to continue to explore all I can, as long as possible!