FM4 Soundpark Act of the Month: Nihils

Nihils (c) Alina Raducea Patricia Narbon
Nihils (c) Alina Raducea Patricia Narbon

The FM4 Soundpark is a web-platform, community, and radio show for Austrian musicians. Every month, one act is selected to be highlighted both online and on air. The FM4 Soundpark Act Of The Month.

Photos, videos and encounters during trips to Australia, Bali and Portugal were the inspiration for the new EP of the Austrian band Nihils. With “Am/PM Pt.1” they are our Soundpark Act of the Month for September.

Electro-pop that reminds us to live in the moment

Many people know this: One dreams of another life, another place where everything is better. And one forgets to pursue one’s goals here and now and is chasing a dream that usually will never be realized the way one’s imagination wants it to be.

The Austrian band Nihils has packed this danger of losing oneself and one’s goals into a beautiful electro indie song. The soft vocals, the flowing beats and synthesizer melodies embrace you, wrap you in cotton-pop and despite the dreamy feeling the song evokes, it is a warning not to lose oneself in illusions.

“Lost in L.A.” is a song from the new EP by Nihils who have gone a long and winding way to get there.

Shared experiences turn into songs

Actually, the three musicians Ramon Riezouw (vocals, guitar), Thomas Lackner (drums), Florian Nothegger (guitar) are from Tyrol. In 2014, when Dominik Brunner was still with the band on bass, Nihils released the single “Help Our Souls”, which currently has over a million clicks on YouTube. Three years later Nihils had an incredibly touching and dancing indie hit with the tune “Breathing”. Again perfectly produced and arranged. Powerful, strong, without unnecessary flourishes and with a very catchy, funky soul flair in the chorus.

Meanwhile the trio is in Berlin, has played at America’s big South By Southwest Festival, opened shows for 30 Seconds To Mars and persistently took one career step after the other. However, Nihils have always given themselves enough time to develop their very own style.

Nihils AM PM EP Cover
Nihils AM PM EP Cover

The new EP “AM/PM Pt.1” by Nihils was released on August 14, 2020. The beautiful cover is an oil painting by the British painter Rex Southwick, which he created especially for the band.

This also included taking time out and going on trips. Singer Ramon went to Australia for a few months at the beginning of last year. Florian was on the island of Bali and Thomas in Portugal. All three absorbed the culture, the countries, the nature and the encounters of that time, to return to Berlin inspired and full of energy to write new songs.

Ramon: “I think we all feel the same. We are inspired by the encounters we made, the nature and the places we have been. When you go someplace new, you might already hear a new song in your head, take notes and photos and then bring it all back to the band. In Berlin we exchanged photos and videos, shared our experiences with others and then worked on these song ideas. It was a very nice process.”

Unfortunately, the Corona pandemic thwarted this nice production process and the three of them had to finish the recordings separately in London, Berlin and Vienna. The first part of these tracks can be found on the new EP “AM/PM Pt.1”. Five songs that wander between melancholic downtempo pop and hymnic indie electronics. From songs you like to listen to when getting up (the “AM songs”) to songs you like to listen to when you put your feet up at home after a long day (the “PM songs”).

Between inability and moments of happiness

The new songs of Nihils also revolve topically around opposite poles. The track “Can’t Give”, which starts with soft beats and a penetrating voice, and then develops into a dancing, driving track, is about the inability to fulfill notions of oneself and of others.

Ramon: “The song is about the feeling of being inhibited. Whether it’s in your job that you feel you can’t realize your potential or in a relationship that you would give more of yourself to your partner but feel blocked by your own fears. Or like in our case, that you would like to make music as a band or as a single person, but that you just can’t do it or maybe you can’t find the right words. That was also the difficult thing about our traveling time, in that we couldn’t go straightaway into the studio to write songs. I think we are reflecting that in this song as well.”

On the other hand, a song like “I got it” stands for all the beautiful moments in life when you have the feeling that everything is going well. The song came into being almost by itself during the summer months of last year, when the trio was full of happiness. It’s also a reminder to yourself that there are those moments in life when you feel that you’ve already moved further along on your path of life.

Unity of feeling, body & mind

“AM/PM Pt.1” is a very consistent EP that despite the thematically different points of view has a musically stringent, contemporary sound. Dancing beats stand next to swinging rhythms, two-dimensional synth sounds slide over each other, flashes of a funky guitar show up in a hypnotic sound picture and everything is held together by the smooth and unexcited voice of Ramon Riezouw. It embraces us and lets us participate in the singer’s emotional world.

In order to be able to write and produce such music, the conditions under which the songs are created are very important. This does not necessarily mean the external circumstances, which have changed drastically for many due to the pandemic. Rather, it is the inner posture and the attitude towards the creative process.

Ramon: “I am learning right now that the only task you have is to get yourself out of the way, often. That you just let the things that are inside you come through and don’t work with your head so much. But work more with the moment instead, the feeling and with the body as well. That’s what we will do when we are going to write and produce the second part of ‘AM/PM’. Just approach it in a way that’s not so intellectual.”

If Nihils continues to focus on its unity of feeling, body and mind and works on new songs with that unity, “AM/PM Pt.2” will be an equally coherent and exhilarating work.

Andreas Gstettner-Brugger

Translated from the German original by Julian Schoenfeld

FM4 Soundpark Act of the Month
Nihils (Facebook)