Travel News

Nils Frahm: how I travel

The German musician on crossing borders, the “emotional plane effect” and wanderlust.

By Georgie Meredith
Nils Frahm.
I didn't do a huge amount of travelling as a kid. I grew up in Hamburg in the north of Germany. If we went on holiday, we would always drive. As a family, we usually visited Italy or Denmark and I remember driving for hours, sometimes up to 12, just to get there. We visited Portugal once, which was definitely one of my favourite trips. I don't know what made it so special for me, but I just remember feeling so excited by it. Our car died a few times along the way, which was entertaining, to say the least.
I also remember having one amazing holiday in the Czech Republic. It was just after the wall had come down, so discovering the east was like discovering a completely different planet. We weren't used to that side. It was all so different.
When I travel nowadays, it's usually for work. I do have a place in Spain, which is my escape. I can go there to rest and relax. It's a tiny, remote spot in the mountains and it's the perfect place to balance the intensity of Berlin, which is where I live now.
The last time I came to Australia to perform, I travelled with around 50 cases of music equipment. It had to be shipped because it's such precious and heavy cargo. So when we arrived in Sydney everything was already there.
I don't like listening to music while I'm travelling, and I never watch the films they show on planes. Being so high up can play tricks on your mind. I call it "the emotional plane effect", where all your senses are heightened. I don't want to be blubbering when I come off the plane, I want to keep myself together and be feeling fresh.
I'm inspired by places where I'm separated from music and instruments, like the mountains that surround my house in Spain, or when I'm hiking somewhere remote. Listening to music affects your desire to make music. When you're surrounded by nature or silence, it makes music much more fascinating and it drives you to create. Travelling changes and inspires you, and all the places I've been to have had an impact on my music, some directly and some indirectly.
I'm a maniac about getting stopped at the gates at the airport. I absolutely hate it, so I try and travel with as little carry-on as possible. The buzzer has gone off on me too many times and it's the most frustrating thing. I basically only carry some extra clothes for one day and hardly any toiletries. I've also lost my checked baggage about 50 or 60 times. It's always a nightmare trying to get it back because by the time they send it back I'm usually somewhere else.
I'm longing to visit Tasmania. I have this strange calling for it. In German, you would call this "fernweh" which is almost like the opposite of homesickness or nostalgia. It's a longing for places you've never been to. Tasmania seems magical and I can't wait to go there.
Israel really caught me by surprise. It was so strange. Don't get me wrong, travelling there was a great experience – the people were so friendly and the food was incredible, as was the hospitality. But to me, it felt like a place of pain. I think the places that surprise you are where you form a truly meaningful travel experience.
  • undefined: Georgie Meredith