Masters of Their Universe


At the heart of the “future of audio” are people – inspired individuals who dare to give shape to their creative vision and artistic imagination. Decision makers who prefer to reach their audiences and customers through great audio. Audio lovers who work relentlessly on innovative projects, who redefine and recreate sound experiences that touch the very souls of their listeners. “People” is dedicated to all those musicians, artists, engineers, producers, decision makers, owners and audio designers who fill and shape our world with sensational sound.

Though they compose for car commercials and army recruiting videos, in their hearts they're hippies. Kristian Nord and Malte Hagemeister, two expats with a thriving career in advertising, have long been in love with California. Now they've formed a band that proves it.

  • Author: Janna Cramer
  • Photos: Christian Brechels
  • Video: Nordmeister
„The meisters proved right: The video got more than 24 million YouTube views.“

„The U.S. army know exactly what they want,” Kristian Nord says. At least commercial-wise: Military men, Nord says, prefer „massive soundtracks, U2-like, combined with scenes out of ‚Black Hawk Down’.” The 38 year old musician from Münster, Germany, and his creative and business partner, Malte Hagemeister, craft that type of score for army recruiting videos. The two men call themselves Nordmeister — a simple conglomerate of their last names, yet that hints, unvoluntarily, perhaps, at their Northern German origins plus the German word for masters of their craft, Meister.

In addition to the U.S. forces, the duo counts car makers, including BMW and Skoda, as well as a coffee making company and a cosmetics company as clients. Composing for corporations, Nord says, is a very peculiar kind of work: „Sometimes, we have to act more like diplomats than musicians.“ Especially when working for large trusts, they say: There are so many people involved (sigh). The sales department has ideas, as do the PR people, and of course marketing companies often have their input, too.

Clients don’t seek mere background noise. Rather, they typically request original songs, ones with authentic melodies and lyrics, hits even, ones that, best case scenario, end up on radio playlists, even top the music charts, and that will be available for sale on iTunes.

And of course, not just anybody should record and perform them: Most clients want superstars. „And when clients realize they are not able to hire those mega stars, then they come to us,” Hagemeister says. He and Nord are no mega stars. However, they have proven they can succeed like them.

For instance, just last December Nordmeister created one of these mega successes: A German supermarket chain had ordered a TV spot for Christmas. The ad agency involved devised a concept of „Kassensymphonie,“ a symphony of check out cashiers. The clip ran like this: In a crowded market — and very much to the delight of shoppers — the beeping of price scanners plays „Jingle Bells”. „The agency,” 41-year old Hagemeister says, „wanted some heavy orchestration, but we argued against it. The melody, and therefore the spot, is most effective when you play it in a really simple way.“

Is there a plan or a pattern to how Nordmeister work together? „Not at all,”, Nord says. „Sometimes I drum a groove on the table with my hand and Malte looks up and says, boah, great.“ They invest a lot of passion and diligence in their advertising job. “It is our daily bread, after all,” Nord says.

Only sometimes they long for more. They want to be creative for themselves, not merely for commercial clients.

Even as far back as when they were young teenagers, they sought the perfect sound, Nord using drums, Hagemeister guitar. Their tireless practice did pay off: They were offered record contracts, went on the road with bands, played with several other musicians. Years later after Nordmeister had become an established brand, they decided it was time to form their own band (and create THEIR own music): In 2014 they formed the aptly named The Great Escape. The new outlet has allowed the men to revive their artistic dreams. „At the bottom of our hearts, we are hippies,” Hagemeister says.

In Blues singer Amie Miriello they found not only a great vocalist but also an apt co-worker. Together the three write cool rock pop songs inspired by the sounds of the 60s and 70s, perhaps particularly by their idols Janis Joplin and the Rolling Stones. Amie’s strong yet raspy voice even sounds a bit like Joplin’s.

The three develop lyrics and melodies together, the men produce them, and the bandmates „work with their hearts and guts,” says Hagemeister. They spend a lot of time in either Nord’s or Hagemeister’s living room, hanging out, polishing and fiddling with tunes until everybody is happy. They are perfectionists; each line must be just right. In October 2014, they put out their debut album, „A Great Escape“. Critics appreciated it, called it charming and lively; one compared it to a „convertible drive”, preferably along California’s coastline. „You can hear the sun shine through,” Nord agrees.

Ten years ago, Nord moved to Venice Beach, California. Hagemeister, who hails from Langenhagen near Hannover, followed a couple of years later. Both love the relaxed lifestyle: They can ride their skateboards to get groceries and enjoy having the ocean basically in front of their homes. „Malte lives two blocks down from me,” Nord says. „I walk over in my pyjamas.“

„Sometimes,” he ponders, „we still feel like these two kids practicing their instruments, dreaming of a life in music. The only difference is that we are now so much more experienced.“

No doubt, these two guys made a great escape.