Niklas Wandt was born in 1988 and raised somewhere in German Rhineland and virtually got in touch with every household item with a handle on it before his parents had the bright idea to give him a drumset and lessons.
At age thirteen, along came the jazz of Miles and Trane and Mingus, at fourteen, Niklas hit headfirst into Albert Ayler and Brötzmann’s Machine Gun. At sixteen, the first hormones were canalized in a hardcore/punk band and in rap projects.
Wandt moved to Cologne in 2007. After a period of lone woodshedding accompanying his Media Studies courses at the University of Cologne, he founded improvising collective Panzerdivision Copacabana in 2009. In its ever-changing line-ups, the music that they were able to present in quite some wee places in Germany oscillated between synthesizer-driven, motoric Kosmische and acoustic free improvisation.
In teaming up with guitarist Nicola Hein, Niklas found a fruitful partnership that would lead up to a lot of collaborations and present improvising ensembles all over the Cologne and NRW-scene for free improv. (For a list of current ensembles, please check “Ensembles“)
Since late 2011, collaborations have included musicians like Ryan Carniaux, Evan Parker, Paul Lytton, Tobias Delius, Matthias Mainz, DJ sniff, Jaap Blonk, Leonhard Huhn, Tim O’Dwyer, Elisabeth Fügemann, Paul Hubweber, Constantin Herzog, Frank Paul Schubert, Eckard Koltermann, Nathan Bontrager, Matthias Muche, Matthias Müller, Florian Zwißler, Fabian Jung, Joker Nies , Florian Walter, Jamison Williams, Julius Gabriel, Daniele Martini, Hugo Antunes and Thomas Lumley. Formats ranged from duos to up to twenty people, composed and improvised settings as well as settings accompanying film and theatre.
A promising outgrowth of the activites on the young Cologne scene of free improvisers is the founding of he collective IMPAKT in 2013 of which Niklas is a founding member. For its subsequent online label IMPAKT Records, the trio “Anthropophagus III” with Tobias Delius, Nicola Hein and Niklas Wandt saw release in May 2017.
Niklas Wandt feels strong ties to modern creative jazz and American free jazz drumming, to strict, ‘motoric’ rock and extreme metal stylings as well as to more sonically oriented free improvisation percussion styles and tries to combine those influences in his approach, using a little jazz kit, a little box of junk and his voice. The last years have seen a growing interest in traditional West African and Middle Eastern percussion styles on instruments as the Kpanlogo or the Tar framedrum.
As touring drummer for Düsseldorf electronic pop outfit Stabil Elite (2011-2013) and as motor of heavy psychedelic power trio Transport (who just finished recording their first album), Niklas exercises constraint in sober four- to- the -floors and kosmische Motorik. He also upholds a steadily expanding working relation with Düsseldorf DJ and producer Jan Schulte aka Wolf Müller aka Bufiman as a percussionist on record and live in concert. After one and a half years of studio work, their joint debut LP is due in late 2017!
With his band Oracles a playful psychedelic pop is explored since the summer of 2013 and their first public show in May 2014. Oracles released their debut EP to critical acclaim on Hamburg-based label Clouds Hill and played renown German festivals as well as their first international shows in Copenhagen, New York City (CMJ Music Week, Northside Festival), Austin (SXSW) and Brighton (The Great Escape). To top it off, they were greeted with the First Prize of the State-sponsored popNRW competition of 2014. Oracles released their debut For further information regarding Oracles, please click here
Gigging with improvising groups and pop groups has led Wandt all over Germany, the BeNeLux countries, Austria, Switzerland, Serbia, Palestine and Israel (sponsored by Goethe Institut) and the United States. Festivals played include CMJ Music Marathon New York City, MS Dockville & Reeperbahn Festivals Hamburg, Grimmepreis (TV award) 2013, moers festival, c/o pop Cologne, TraumZeit Duisburg, Juicy Beats Dortmund, Altstadtherbst, Open Source and New Fall festivals, Düsseldorf.
Apart from playing music, Niklas holds a Diploma degree in Media Studies and has been writing and talking about cultural matters and musics, jazz and improvisation especially, since about 2009. Intern stations include television, a music festival and radio stations. His words and voice have appeared in online student magazines, Cologne university radio “Kölncampus” and most regularly as a freelance author for WDR 3 radio. In the station’s renowned jazz format, Niklas portraits musicians and venues in Cologne and the Ruhr area.
Recently, years of collecting music ranging from far out improvisation to slickest saccharine pop with a lot of repercussions in between have also led Niklas into the field of DJing (and production) and promoting the diverse interests in this field in an outlet called SMELLS that serves both as label platform and party series for all danceable, “leftfield” matters. SMELLS just kicked off successfully at Berlin’s SameHeads to a sold out audience. More infos regarding DJing and SMELLS here and here
Besides playing, djing and authoring, he’s recently getting started as a freelance voice-over and voice-actor. Listen under “Stimme”.
Niklas is now based in Berlin.