It’s Personal: 5 Steps With Christian Nielsen
Sometimes all it takes is a push and in this case that push came via the the voice of house legend Kerri Chandler. “You can’t lie to house music”. That’s all what it took for a young Christian Nielsen to fall deeply in love with house music. It didn’t take long before his brand new DJ bag was filled with the sounds of Kerri, Jimpster, Mr. V, Masters At Work, Larry Heard, Moodymann, Frankie Knuckles and many other seminal names. All that was left was another push. This time, the push came from within. With his new Macbook, Christian started his journey that has now resulted into where he is today. Now, after years of producing under several different names, the Danish producer has now come to a point in his career wherein he has decided to take a stand. No more pseudonyms, no more gimmicks – just himself: Christian Nielsen. With that in mind we invited Christian to revisit 4 key moments in his burgeoning career before telling us of his lofty plans for the future.
For me, the kick – in terms of starting to produce electronic music – was a music program I was given for my birthday a few years ago. At the time, I had been DJing for a few years, but I always felt there was something missing, both personally and musically speaking, a void I could only fill, as it turned out, by starting to create music myself.
The tracks I created in the beginning were sent to people I knew, most of whom thought the music I made sounded awful. But that’s where my competitive gene sets in; tell me there’s something I can’t do, tell me there’s a goal I can’t reach, and I’ll work twice as hard to achieve it. From the ages of 6 to 18 I played sports at an elite level. That takes talent, of course, but more importantly it takes determination and support from your surroundings. My parents used to drive me around Denmark to all these tournaments, especially my father who was a great coach. He was extremely supportive, but at the same time he expected nothing but the best from me.
After a while I started laying out tracks on MySpace, which was pretty big back then, and I started getting some positive feedback which motivated me to keep going with my music. One day a guy from Columbia wrote to me asking is I’d any tracks for his label, and I guess that was a turning point for me.
Most of my DJ friends at the time did not produce music, so I felt rather alone with all of it and unsure of where to go next. I produced under the Chris Minus alias and released a lot of deep-house tracks, but creating music using an alias threw me into an identity crisis – do you become your music, or does the music become you, and it became like, well, then who am I at the end of the day?
My tracks were released on some nice labels, but I always felt like I wasn’t completely in sync with the music. Something was off, I didn’t feel whole yet, you might say. That became even clearer to me after I had a top 10 track with Noir back in 2011, I just wasn’t ready yet, neither mentally nor technically. I received a lot of attention, but I was unable to follow up on people’s expectations, and that was hard for my friends and acquaintances as well as for Noir.
Playing It Down
At the beginning of 2013 I got in contact with Jesse Rose from Play It Down, who apparently saw something in me – he chose to coach me and supported me in becoming more honest with myself and who I am. In a way, you could say that he was the last piece to the puzzle. Jesse told me to trust myself, to believe in myself and my music, to do what felt right and last but not least, to start releasing tracks using my own name. It gives you a great sense of freedom to do that, creatively and personally, and it helps you identify with the music you create. But at the same time it challenges you greatly since there’s no running from your music anymore if it’s not good enough.
After my talks with Jesse, I dropped the alias and started using the name I was given at birth, Christian Nielsen, and following a number of demos I managed to create a sort of baseline with the Shades EP, which I had never dreamed would receive the attention it got. I was charted by some really big names and with the success of that EP, I experienced immense pressure in relation to my next release, Get Right. It was released in October of 2013, and now I’ve no alias to hide behind…
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