The grandjean* story – so far
Initially the story about Nikolaj Grandjean is one of adaptation. Of a life with contrasts. Dealing with a heritage of fitting in, growing up in an environment, rather different from the others’, keeping peace, makes the kid bicultural. Making music and insisting on staying honest, have later become and essential aim. Insisting on telling his truth. However simple or weird it may seem. This is now. Obviously many things lead to this.
Parents’ divorced and their fates crossed that way. Growing up Nikolaj mainly lived with his Mother. This was a life in various collectives, around politically active, womens liberation and such, with a strong creative and holistic vibe. Regular visits with Dad, who chose to go in a radical different direction, obviously made a mark and that contrast very much defines the man today. Trying to fit in. And still believing strongly in the ‘truth’ of being humane and open to differences.
Grandjean early on found that it made great sense, playing around with words and making music. An undeniable playful talent that fulfilled many needs pursuing. As a kid he wrote songs for birthdays, for the attention. In school he enjoyed writing and making up games. He started playing drums at an early age and he wrote raplyrics before he started playing the guitar as a teen. Unlike the other kids he instantly began writing his own material, instead of learning how to play known songs.
Grandjean played in various rock bands, but never really enjoyed having to share the song writing with others. Grandjean joined with Danish singer, Tanja Thulau and producer Per Vibskov, on a quest to ‘conquer the world’ with great pop music, and they signed with Sony. After working on an album for 3 years, the album was dropped by the label, and Grandjean proclaimed, in equals parts of anger and disappointment, that he would from now on be just a song writer.
Grandjean went on to write songs for various top 10 Danish artists and in the beginning of the millennium he is nominated for a Danish Grammy. It feels nice to be inside and get some recognition. And then again, not really. It’s too much work that doesn’t pay off and with Tanja Thulau he forms the band ‘Luke’ with young brilliant jazz musicians, making rather dreamy electronic sounds.
Being a songwriter, guitarist and co lead singer in that setup really puts Grandjean to work. The next period of time is a rich learning experience. Luke releases three albums, ‘Luke’/2003, ‘Nurse and Amaze’/2005 and ‘Guaratiba’/2006, and achieves another Grammy nomination for best Danish new act in 2003.
During recordings with Luke on a mountainside in Brazil, Grandjean gets quite handy with the recording devices and with close friend, opera singer Mikkel Lomborg by his side, he decides to start recording his material himself as a proclaimed singer. This partnership defines a radical change in Grandjeans life and career. A shared vision of the belief in nearness and playfulness is put into music and label man, DJ, producer and recording artist, Kenneth Bager picks up on the idea from the first rough recordings. The result is the solo debut, ‘Carrying Stars’, released in 2008.
For a while Grandjean toured around the world, playing more than a hundred shows, in big and small venues. Once again insisting on bringing the truth, keeping everything close and alive with a minimalistic setup. Several songs was used in film and TV and Grandjean made an original improvised score for the Swiss/Italian film ‘Summer Games’. He toured playing his songs with the Danish National Radios Girlschoir and he wrote and produced entertaining educational childrens music with friend Mikkel Lomborg (who went and became a very popular tv character). Lomborg was essentially part of the Grandjean DNA, the liveshow and such, but later on left to pursue his own thing.
In 2013 German label Embassy of Music picked up on Grandjeans new recordings and the album ‘Together’ is released in 2014. After touring in Europe with a new lineup, Grandjean started writing and recording material more so inspired by traditional American songwriting. This work is in progress. And so the story goes on,..