Nils Feldhus invites you to discover ambient and beyond
Known as Planetarium and host of Neptunian on FRISKY CHILL, Nils Feldhus has a deep appreciation and understanding of the universe of chill. His world is surrounded by music, a constant influx of sounds that influence his every day experiences. A visit to his website Helioscope will get you lost in the plethora of music, ready to take you on an epic journey full of emotions and intrigue. A lover of all music, Nils has a special touch with the ambient and cinematic. His March episode of Neptunian has already reached over 5K listens, and the show was in the top 5 of 2016. There is still so much more to come from Planetarium, and I was excited to catch up with him and explore a bit of his universe.
How did you first get into electronic & ambient music?
My father was the key person to introduce me when I was just six years old. He is a gym instructor and regularly played trance music by the likes of ATB, Blank & Jones and Darude. Then I started listening to the commercial compilations in Germany which were pretty new, but already popular. You know, Club Rotation, Future Trance, Dream Dance and stuff. The logical next step were the radio shows like Trance Around The World and A State Of Trance which I followed religiously. I really moved on from that over the course of the last five years or so, though. I feel like the genre’s original spirit is kind of gone. Innovation can be found in other genres today.
My favourite subgenres of electronic music today are ambient (of course), progressive house of the Hernán Cattáneo and Guy J kind, liquid drum & bass, especially Naibu and Bop, and the stuff on labels like Anjunadeep, Mango Alley and Silk Music.
Ambient music is a pretty new endeavour for me actually. I was born a bit too late for the full exposure from the Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream and Aphex Twin era. The first contact with the kind of music I play on Neptunian were, I guess, Owsey, Hammock and bvdub. Their stuff really blew my mind as it was something I never heard before and instantly liked. I’m a huge Silk Music fan, so the Silk Sofa division led by Gorm Sorensen also helped with getting into the scene.
What is your favorite thing about it?
The way I see ambient music is that its main purpose is to go by unnoticed but at the same time manage to transport you to a different world. When I listen to new releases, I look for those tracks which have a rich soundscape, but don’t clutter up your ears with too many different instruments. They mostly convey a cheerful and serene feeling which does not wear off at the tenth listen of the same track. They can be a simple 1-minute piano piece or a drone of half an hour, I don’t really care.
I’m a big fan of nature photography and ambient music is, in my opinion, the perfect match to that.
Do you think genre distinction (ambient, downtempo, chillout, etc.) is important?
Back then, I was furious about Beatport making no distinction between progressive house and big room, but fighting over genres is a thing which kids in YouTube comment sections do I guess. I was spending hours back in the days trying to tag my library with genres and now I regret that. It’s important to some degree, though. I wouldn’t be able to put new releases into folders for my shows otherwise.
What artists would you recommend to someone just getting into this style of music?
Purl aka Eternell produces some brilliant ambient and dub-techno. It’s his cold, crystal-clear sound which mesmerizes me every time. He sometimes incorporates vocal snippets and distinctive riffs, so I think it’s pretty accessible. Slow Meadow is a mainstay in my episodes, but leans a bit more to the neo-classical. Olan Mill has done some exceptional stuff for a long time. Chasing Dreams aka Need A Name would be my first pick, though. Definitely the most melodic stuff with a hint of post-rock!
What are your all time favorite tracks?
In no particular order:
Lights Dim with Gallery Six – Echoes of the Ongoing Riot: I’ve never done a roadtrip through the United States, but I imagine this track to be so perfect to accompany one as a soundtrack. It’s a totally underrated gem which brings the summer to your home regardless of where you are.
Mango – Tokyo 7am: One of the first Mango tracks I knew and I still don’t know how Alex managed to pull this off almost 10 years ago. Tokyo 7am still sounds fresh to this day.
Bonobo – Terrapin: I finally got to see Simon Green live in Berlin this year which was nothing short of amazing. I own all of his albums as CDs and Black Sands introduced me to his stuff. However, one of his earlier works is my favourite of his.
Ólafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm – 20:17: This is one of my more recent favourites. Two of the most prolific pianists alive collaborate live in their studio for 40 minutes and the result is breathtaking. I fell in love with the first track of this recording.
Who are some new artists we should be listening to?
What is your purpose or message you create through your music?
On my FRISKY CHILL radio show Neptunian, I choose the brighter and happier side of ambient music and arrange them in a particular order that tells a vague story, a journey through sound. It does not really matter if it’s purely electronic or analogue, if it’s piano-led or orchestral, I just want to make sure it is emotional, soothing and dreamy.
If you have a bad day, a Neptunian episode makes you forget all of your sorrows – at least I hope it does, haha.
However you’re feeling, let the music transport you now: