Niklas Åman (aka Niklas Aman and Niklas Aaman) is a Stockholm based composer, guitarist and electronic musician that primarily makes instrumental music. He splits time between doing self-released albums and production music for other labels. Having done mostly bespoke work to films and production music in the past (for more info see Film/TV cred), his song Wings got placed in the intro to movie Meet Bill (2007) – which raised a lot of interest and was the main reason to release a first album back in 2008 also named Wings. He started his own publishing and label Brusbox Music in 2010 and has since then released new albums on a regular basis.
Niklas mainly plays guitars but he also like to add piano, synths, bass and various percussion to his sound palette. Over time he has particularly worked on finding atmospheric sounds and warm clean tones on the electric guitar – something that can be heard on the recent albums The Accelerated Expansion of the Universe, Lake Themes and Electric Expressions.
Born 1968 in Södertälje, Sweden, named Kurt Niklas Åhman (later the “h” got removed to just Åman) he moved around a lot the first years between cities, before family finally decided to settle down in Vollsjö, a small village in the south of Sweden. Living there on the countryside, well there weren’t too much to do besides sports… but when saved up and got his first guitar at age 14 things really started to bloom. He started a band with his friend Mikael who played keyboards and they started to write songs.
Listening to a lot of different music and guitarists he passionately practiced as much as he could. Early influences were bands like Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, Saga, Van Halen and later on guitarists like Allan Holdsworth, John Scofield, Mike Stern, Pat Metheny and Paco de Lucia. It all resulted in joining and forming various bands like “AcropoLiz”, writing songs, rehearsing, doing gigs and forming a local music community. During this time he studied to become an engineer, but decided to quit school since he was only interested in making music and guitar playing. To pay the bills (and gear) he worked at various local industries, then after a couple of years he got a great opportunity (thanks to bandmate and bassist Lasse) as stand-in guitar teacher for a term at Kristianstad University.
Shortly after the guitar teaching gig he got his first job as a professional guitarist back in 1992 – in a small drama/dance ensemble called “Kärnteatern”, Malmö. He then moved to Stockholm and got the opportunity to write music for and perform in various drama-performance-hybrids, projects like “Skräck i Sommarnatten” (1993), “Variete Vauduvill” (1994) and experimental pop/phoetry-project “Blue Orange” (1994).
In 1995 he met his wife Nina (they got married 1997) and they decided to move to Varberg (Swedish town on the west coast). There he did music to and also co-produced the exhibition “Salt & Hägringar” – an exhibition about signs and symbols, together with Nina in 1997. He continued to develop songwriting, doing instrumentals mostly and also joined experimental free-form group “Powder” – whose concept was all about improvisation. In parallel he picked up the guitar teaching again, starting guitar courses for small groups. After a couple of years that had grown into a half-time job, he then also initiated and led a multi-cultural project called “Kvalen” – giving unemployed a chance to try new things like art, music and crafts. Later on in 1999 he started his first music production business called “Blue Spot”, doing bespoke music for video spots, short films, promos and ads.
A year later, Nina got a great job opportunity working as a city planner in Huddinge, Stockholm, so they decided to move back to Stockholm. Shortly after, Niklas got introduced to Match Music – BMG (all thanks to Christer – a film editor on previous work in Varberg) and this resulted in doing production music on two cd’s called “Drama Toolbox” and “Stings & Audio Logos”. After a few publisher ownership changes the albums can nowadays be find under the Universal Music umbrella. The tracks were very well received with numerous placements in tv and films. For example did “BAFTA Awards” (BBC) use his sound design the whole evening back in 2003 (from “Stings & Audio Logos”).
Having done a couple of string arrangements on the “Drama Toolbox” album he wanted to learn more about arrangement techniques, so in 2002 he took a 1 year university course in orchestral arrangement (Växjö Högskola, now Linnaeus University). He liked studying and the university atmosphere a lot, and continued with an introduction to Philosophy (Södertörn, Stockholm) and Musicology (Stockholm University). Enriched by these studies and the experiences from the past projects he felt he wanted to do a lot more, especially on the experimental side of things and since that didn’t equal a steady income, he got a part-time job working as a music mentor at Maria Fritidsklubb, Stockholm (a youth recreation center). It was perfect conditions, having an afternoon job and the mornings/noons all free for musical experimentation.
Niklas then worked with manipulated field recordings for a couple of years, making experimental “sound sculptures” together with improvisation. For instance he made sound design to a washing machine art piece and he got more interested in sound design for film. Slowly things developed and he started to get commissioned work for corporate clients in parallel with the afternoon music mentor job. He decided to kind of re-start his music business with a new name “Brusbox” (noise box in English) in 2005.
Things evolved over the years and primary focus was on making bespoke music and production music adapted for film, published through various music libraries and publishers. During this period several song-ideas were made that would later end up on the first public album Wings.
In 2008 with help from publisher Crucial Music he got a fantastic placement, a 90 sec intro to the movie “Meet Bill”. The song “Wings” was placed just months later once again by the same publisher in another movie “Inconceivable”. All this gained a lot of interest for the song, therefore Wings was released as a single back in July 2008.
2010 was an incredible year with music in movie Last Song, award winning documentary “Talhotblond”, “Spy Wars”, “Cold Case Files”, “Cartoon Network”, “Top Gear” and a “Ralph Lauren” documentary to name a few. In parallel with doing tracks for libraries Niklas also got involved doing music in two short film projects “Biljardkungen”, and “Love Like Hers”. 2010 was also the start of the Full Access Catalogue feat all songs by Niklas available online for film makers, editors and music supervisors. After an increasing amount of requests he also decided to publish selected songs on iTunes albums Wings and Good To Be Here.
2011-2012 was a lot about doing custom music to short films and developing the music catalogue further. Great placements were made in several documentaries such as Lindsey Vonn : In The Moment, The Shadow of the Condor, People in Motion and shorter sports docu portraits and also a long row of tv/cinema ads & promos. Via other publishers a great number of his songs were used in both tv and film. Album Above the Clouds was released in 2011 and the albums Stirred Up, Fly Away the following year and also film music compilation Dis Order (not longer available in stores) from music he’s made to short films. Furthermore there was an increase in supporting non-profit/human aid/for good organizations with music such as Red Cross (Finland), Plan (Vietnam), Global Glimpse (US), the Rumi Foundation and Clinton Foundation (UK/US).
Continuing on the journey mostly within the acoustic, alternative and ambient genres two new instrumental albums RED and The Talks were released in 2013, a year that also been a lot about music in documentaries and bespoke work in various projects.
In 2014 even more focus was put on the expanding the music catalogue. 3 albums were released – Train, Perfect Day and Light and Water, along with that – projects, clients and placements got larger. iTunes/Spotify distribution changed to make it easier for clients to license tracks.
In search of new sounds most of 2015 was about using alternative tools, techniques and exploring new fx, especially on the electric guitars. It all resulted in the albums Fields and The Meeting, both feat sparse, toned down, subdued, minimalist arrangements. Most of them without drums, mainly guitars and piano. Furthermore song Send Receive (from album Train) got quite a lot of attention and a great boost in plays due to being featured in one of Spotify’s own playlists Deep Focus. Due to the increased workload he decided to loose a few “hats”, quitting his part time music mentor job at MFK and put full focus on the music production part.
During the fall he got a great opportunity to do an acoustic album for Primary, EMI Production Music. He spent most of the fall recording acoustic material that got released a couple of months later in Feb 2016 as Reflective Acoustic (PMY 18).
2016 was a busy year with several releases – alternative guitar based album Ante Meridiem, ambient one stem soundscape experiments Scapes Ett under aka Nick Instems and production music albums Neutral Positive Acoustic (PMY 25), Sunny Feel-Good Acoustic (PMY 24). Furthermore he finalized the original score for short film Motus by Oton Bacar (which started as pre-prod a couple of years back due to need of music early for several scenes), for festivals/tv.
Two new production music project collaborations with Primary/EMI were released during 2017 – acoustic Neutral Driving Landscapes and electronic Neutral Positive Sci-Tech Beds. Furthermore his acoustic/electric album C was released in April. mainly built around and improvised on “C-parts”. In October came album Wire Portraits – an homage to Gröndal/Stockholm and a special thank you to his wife, daughter and son, with a focus on electric guitars, arpeggios and chords but also analog synths and occasional acoustic instruments.
Early in 2018 album Pianissimo Drift was released – feat warm, alternative, ambient, relaxing sounds centered around prepared piano, deep bass and guitar. All played very softly, resulting in subtle and subdued sounding album. Later on, most of spring were spent on recording guitar oriented production music album New Hope (PMY 50) released in end of July. In Aug new single Solar Wings was out, celebrating 10 years since first release Wings.
Continuing working with mainly subtle guitar and piano during the fall, a set of new ideas on fundamentals – mostly chords and themes in poly-metric and/or polyrhythmic relations, has been developing into full length tracks, now released on album Elements in Feb 2019. In parallel he also recorded acoustic guitar and ukulele for a new Primary/EMI project Positive Daytime Acoustic which was released in April 2019. While developing more guitar driven music Niklas especially worked on ideas in slower tempos and that led to new semi-acoustic production music project Stargazing Semi-Acoustic released in Nov 2019.
A milestone was reached in October when his song Send Receive crossed 20 million plays on Spotify! Numbers way beyond what he ever could have hoped for, especially on an instrumental track. During the fall he worked on and recorded more guitar driven material, all resulted in new album The Accelerating Expansion of the Universe, released in Jan 2020.
The year starts off with a new collaboration by making the cinematic electronic tracks Momentum Catch and Set Forth for Bibliotheque Music on album Synth Stories Vol 2. The aftertaste was great so he did some more, resulting in single Arcade – a pulsating analog synth build. In May he released ambient album Lake Themes featuring 12 instrumentals made from electric guitars, analogue synths and tonal percussion, once again reflecting on the surroundings and nearby lake in Stockholm. After that he continued to work on another project for Bibliotheque Music during the summer resulting in the orchestral hybrid tracks An Opening, Beyond The Hurdles and We Won out in October 2020 on production music album Transitions: Emotive Builds.
2021 starts off with tracks Keeping Focus, Game On, Alt Reality and Motivator on album Beats: Japan (BIBTQ158), Bibliotheque Music. Then in April a new ambient album Patience was released. Featuring 11 tracks ranging from positive, reflective and poignant moods to quirky experiments. Some tracks were brand new, others remixes and edits of previously unreleased songs.
Just a month later piano based single Finding Space was out on streaming platforms – a first sample of a new album he’s working on, planned to be released in the fall 2021.
End of June the upbuilding and cinematic electronic production music album Synthdrive (TBX109), Bibliotheque Music was released. Feat 12 main tracks plus 36 underscores made with analogue synths, electric guitars and drums. Niklas spent most of the wintertime months composing and recording the music. All in all resulting in a blend of hopeful, upbuilding, driving and cinematic and hope – moods he often return to when doing production music.
After working quite a lot with analogue synths and large arrangements, Niklas felt a scaled down improvisational electric guitar album would be a great next step. He worked on a clean warm new guitar sound and recorded a number of improvisations during the months to come. Mostly first takes, 2-3 stems per song, very light arrangements. He aslo had some unfinished tracks recorded during the fall 2021. Those were made with more distorted sounds, alternate tunings and experimenting with the reverbs (replacing it with field recordings). The result became album Electric Expressions, released 1 July.
A new album took form during autumn 2021 related to the previous single Finding Space. Initially sketches centered around science fiction, fictive space travels and how it would be visit other planets, but more and more things developed to musical ideas derived from thoughts on us, others and things being in orbit. It all resulted in album In Orbit released on 7 Jan 2022. Featuring 12 guitar/piano-based instrumentals varying from lively, upbuilding tracks to more peaceful and calming music.
The last years Niklas has gained an interest in using analogue synths, both alone and in combo with electric guitars and piano. An interest that’s now developed into experimenting with modular synths. During the spring 2022 he spent time learning and investing in selected modules, built his first modular rack, then started to use it in the music production process. In subtle ways the palette of sounds and sonic variations has changed and this can all be heard on his latest album Afternoony released in September 2022.
During the winter 2022-23 Niklas continues to work on a new production music project – 3 tracks made of analogue, digital and modular sound design. This time the music is darker, action oriented, electronic, analogue, more on the glitchy and experiential side, made for filmtrailers in mind. The tracks will be released this spring.
Several new production music projects lays ahead and there are initial sketches being made on what might become the next indie release.