It takes gumption to simply show up at the office of a music company and hope to land a recording contract. Danish singer-songwriter Christopher Nissen, who goes by just Christopher professionally, did exactly that.
The 24-year-old budding artiste, who was still in his teens then, decided to go to EMI in Copenhagen, Denmark unannounced to try his luck. “I felt like I had no choice because I wanted this so badly,” the singer recalls in an interview.
Christopher, who was in Kuala Lumpur to promote his latest album Closer, had considered taking part in reality singing competitions before but came to the conclusion, “I was sure that’s not the path for me. One of my father’s friends who worked at EMI at the time said, ‘Why don’t you just go there, bring a guitar, knock on the door and ask if you can (sing for them)?’ So I did.”
Christopher remembers playing a few of his own original songs and songs from his musical inspiration, John Mayer.
“I was so nervous. I was sweating and my hands were slippery. It was the first time I had to sing for people who knew something about music. Before, I was just performing in the living room for my parents, and my mum was always like. ‘You’re great, honey.’ ”
The effort paid off. A few weeks later, Christopher was signed to the label. “The guy who signed me, and is my A&R manager today, said, ‘You were so bad on the guitar but your voice was crazy,’ ” he says with a laugh.
Today, Christopher has three albums to his name and has been making waves in his home country, with a Danish Pop Album Of The Year win for his sophomore release Told You So at the Danish Music Awards in 2014.
On top of that, the singer’s music has started to reach audiences internationally. “It’s amazing to see my music travel abroad. I remember the day I got the call and was told that my song, CPH Girls, is No. 2 on the QQ Music Charts in China.
“I hadn’t heard about the music chart before and I went to check it out,” says Christopher, who has had three chart-toppers so far on the music streaming and download service in China. He is currently on his fourth tour in China.
“Just being here in Malaysia, on the first day, I heard my song, I Won’t Let You Down, two times. I was like, ‘What is going on?’ ”
It’s not hard to see why Christopher is so warmly-received, what with his swoon-worthy vocals and the fact that he looks like he just walked out of an Abercrombie & Fitch ad.
But with the airwaves already crowded with similar easy-on-the-eyes, pop-tunes-churning male vocalists like Zayn Malik and Nick Jonas, how does the singer stand out?
“I feel like I bring something new to the table just by being me. It’s all about being honest. For example, this album, Closer, it’s personal, it’s my stories. I try to sit down and ask myself what is my story, what do I want to tell people.
“Everyone is different. When you get out there and you’re 100% yourself, you know you’ll be like no one else, so I’m not concerned about that.”
Besides promoting his new album, Christopher spent his time in Malaysia performing on local reality talent series Akademi Fantasia and sampled our beef rendang and banana leaf rice.
When pointed out one of the similarities shared between Denmark and Malaysia – our love for badminton – the singer reveals: “I do play. I’m quite good actually.”
His manager chimes in that Christopher was once on a morning show in Denmark which featured a segment where he played against renowned Danish shuttler Camilla Martin. “I started playing when I was 10 up until I was 17. I still play sometimes,” Christopher says.