Meet Nicklas, a twenty-year-old Hadsten native, but Aarhus-based, singer-songwriter with a bright future that has already begun. At least, that is what we think at the office. Therefore, we decided to have small chat with him, in connection with a feature in our Local Spotlight series, inspired by our pals in Sound Of Boston; a series set up to give you a chance to dip your feet into some bands and artists that we feel are doing a great job and deserve a listen.
So who is Nicklas? Well, in short, Nicklas Sahl is a young guy, who is creating catchy tunes. He might be young, but actually, he has already done more than most of us will ever do. He has performed with Mads Langer in front of 30.000 people, forthcoming support gigs for Ida Corr, and written songs with American music producer Kendrick Dean. More on that later.
Brew a cup of hot, steaming coffee, press play on his latest release “Masquerade”, and dive in the life of Nicklas Sahl by reading the interview below.
Firstly, can you tell us a little about yourself, and how you started up as a musician?
I’m 20 years old, and right now, I’m finishing my last year of high school while I’m writing songs for my solo artist project, which might be ready to see the light of day later this year.
Music has always been a huge part of me. I think it’s inborn, really. Nobody’s ever played much music in my family, but the interest has always been in me somehow. My parents have told me stories about how I drummed on everything in daycare, and how I loudly sang while playing my heart out on a small plastic guitar until I was old enough to have a real one. When I was about 7 years old I had a schoolteacher who played guitar and sang, and I was absolutely enchanted. My parents bought me a guitar and I got into the local music school, where I started having guitar lessons, got into bands and played concerts. I think it was just about then I decided that my dream was to become a rockstar, and that’s never changed.
What have been the most memorable moments on your musical journey, so far?
There have been a lot of memorable moments along the way! A special highlight was when I played some of my own songs at a sold-out concert at Bremen Teater in 2015. I remember how everybody in the audience gave my band and me several long applauses.
Another highlight was when I played on stage with Mads Langer last summer at Grøn Koncert in Aarhus in front of 30.000 people. That was really crazy!
I’ve also had some great experiences as a songwriter. The international songwriting camp in Aarhus called “Aarhus Calling” is, for example, a very important happening on my musical journey. I’ve met so many super skilled people there, and my two appearances on the camp have helped me grow a strong network of people in the music business. Recently, I wrote a couple of songs with a guy I actually met at Aarhus Calling named Kendrick Dean, who has written songs for Mariah Carey, Chris Brown, Usher and many others of that caliber. It’s incredible how much you learn from working with people on that kind of level!
It’s really a motivation for me to strive for more of these kinds of experiences. Not surprisingly, the more I work, and the better I get, the bigger the experiences seem to get in return.
Tell us about the creation of one of your songs – where does the inspiration usually come from, and how do you work it out?
I mostly write with the producer and songwriter Birk Storm. We have a great social and musical chemistry, which makes us work really effectively together, and at the same time it’s always a lot of fun. We’re both deeply perfectionists and very serious and ambitious with our work – the sky’s the limit for every song we do!
We wrote this song recently, where I had just read the lyrics for Tracy Chapman’s classic “Fast Car”. I was inspired by how that one object, the fast car, covers the whole theme of the song of wanting to get away fast. Birk and I started discussing how we could write something with the same kind of idea in mind. We came up with the word “masquerade” and the concept of how anonymity can help people lose their inhibitions. Metaphorically speaking, a masquerade can be like a facade you put on to hide the ‘you’ from reality. Many of us (if not all of us) try to escape from our realities now and then – I’d say you could call the social media the biggest masquerade party ever thrown.
We’ve got to be careful not to get stuck in our facades, cause every masquerade ends at some point, and when it does so, we’ll have to take off our masks and face the real world.
If you were to describe your music to our readers without using genre labels, how would you describe the sound of Nicklas Sahl?
I’d say my music is a combination of an emotional nerve, and an edge and musicality, inspired by artists like Frank Ocean, John Mayer, Troye Sivan and James Blake – just to name a few. An important thing for me is that my music feels authentic, so I always write songs about something I’ve experienced or felt, whether if I write on my own or with others. In a way it’s basically “just” songs about how it feels to be 20 years old.
So, if you had to invent a genre for yourself – what would it be? Go on – dream big and feel free to use whatever mental picture you want.
Well, I guess you could say that it’s pop music with a twist of Nordic melancholy and a desire for experimenting. Maybe we could call my genre a kind of Scandinavian Pop Hybrid or something like that.
What are the future plans for Nicklas Sahl – a release soon? Shows?
I have 3 shows coming up as supporting act for Ida Corr on her tour and I cannot wait to get up on those stages. On Feb 23 at Pavillionen in Grenaa, Feb 24 at DR Koncerthuset in Copenhagen, and on March 2 at Train in Aarhus.
Right now, I’ve just come home from 5 days of intense songwriting in Stockholm with Birk, and the songs we do, keep getting better and better, and I’m looking forward to share them with the world when time is right!
If you should recommend a couple of local bands or artists, that people, in your opinion, should check out – which bands or artists would you recommend?
I hear the song “Cracks” by Soleima a whole lot at the moment. It’s urban, cool and edgy, and the melodies are really hooky! I love the way she entrances the first verse with a discrete mouth noise. I feel like that tiny detail introduces her whole attitude in a split of a second.
I remember her from the former band “Flødeklinikken” where she was the singer. At my time on Mellerup Efterskole, we heard their music so much, so her voice has a very nostalgic effect on me.