Mads Emil Nielsen

Mads Emil Nielsen is an electronic musician/composer based in Copenhagen,  DK. He works with basic sound sources,  often combined with short percussive and orchestral samples,  real sounds and an amplification of machine produced errors. In 2014 he founded arbitrary,  the label and artistic platform on which he released FRAMEWORK (graphic scores + audio), a reissue of PM016 (Plant Migration, 2014) and Percussion Loops. Tracks from these releases were featured on The Wire Tapper 37 and 39 (The Wire Magazine,  2015). In 2015 he worked as guest composer at Elektronmusikstudion (EMS), Stockholm,  received a Léonie Sonning Music Foundation scholarship and completed his studies at RMC in Copenhagen.


1: Keep it simple
2: Be critical
3: Favourite color: orange, fan of Verner Panton


1.What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
I have a very visual approach to music, and the biggest inspiration probably comes from architecture.
I’m from a family of architects and artists, so I grew up with this focus on simplicity and raw material. Also find lots of inspiration in the basic sounds heard in early electronic music,  and from early 1970’s futuristic jazz/funk works.

2.How and when did you get into making music?
I started by playing piano and a Casio keyboard – one of the newer, large ones that came with sounds (Bass, Organ,  Orchestra hit, Helicopter..) which could be recorded via midi. So i basically listened to a lot of music and tried to find similar sounds in there, sequenced them etc. I then switched to drums at age 12 and spent countless hours on playing along with funk, soul and jazz records.

3.What are your 5 favorite albums of all time?
Herbie Hancock – Thrust (or Headhunters.. or Sextant)
Björk – Vespertine (especially the tracks co-produced by Opiate)
Masayoshi Fujita & Jan Jelinek – Bird, Lake, Objects
Scientist – Rids the World of the Evil Curse of the Vampires
Oval – Systemisch

4.What do you associate with Berlin?
Diversity, individuality, KW, mastering, good music, interesting and special artists & labels, der Imbiss and Biomarkt.

5.What’s your favorite place in your town?
The lakes in Copenhagen – five giant lakes & green spot in the middle of city.. And the latin quartier, known as “Pisserenden”, around Studiestræde. In Berlin I appreciate Auguststraße with its galleries, KuLe Theater a.o., and the northern part of Prenzlauer Berg around Schönhauser Alle.

6.If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Work as an architect or photographer

7.What was the last record you bought?
Bullitt soundtrack (1968)

8.Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Some interesting collaborations are in the pipeline, really looking forward to these.. Stay tuned.

9.What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
It’s hard for me to name the best one, but as a spectator I really enjoyed the performances during Hanno Leichtmann’s “LETRA / TONE” Festival at Radialsystem V in 2014 (Andrea Neumann, Thomas Ankersmit, others). Also, the first time I experienced Fujita and Jelinek’s collaboration at Festsaal Kreuzberg in 2011. As a performer, I think one of the best experiences so far was at Closer in Kiev, recently (May 2016) very nice place, people and sound system – and /or at Wundergrund Festival (Copenhagen) in this beautiful transparent cube next to the harbour, Dome of Visions, in 2014. 

10.How important is technology to your creative process?
I’m very interested in technology, in terms of how it makes me think, work and react – for me, who’s very often working alone, I really enjoy working with strange, somewhat rand om synthesizer modules, granular samplers etc. And I’m constantly trying out new things, changing my studio setup, experimenting with effects & machines to see how sounds can be transformed and come to life. But to me that’s the process, and the work should never be about the technology. In the end/final stage it doesn’t really matter.

11.Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career?

Our favorite: Buchla Sketch | serie 033 | Percussion Loop_Unfold
Link: Website | Facebook /  Picture by Jørgen Hvad