Jazz Plus Picks 031: Nihilism

Nihilism have cropped up on our radar, with an intriguing lineup of sax, violin, keys, bass and drums. They are appearing alongside some of our favourites: the great PYJÆN and a super promising saxophone player who played at our first ever gig in 2016… Chelsea Carmichael. Go and check it out at the Roundhouse on Friday 18th October.

We caught up with the Nihilists to see what influences their music has grown out of…

Saskia Horton (Violin)

Shostakovich String Quartet no.8 Mvmt 2

The pure raucous energy of this track perfectly reflects the beautiful chaos that makes up Nihilism. It’s not just in the name haha. I feel like our sound embodies so many conflicting & interesting styles of music & characteristics. So its music similar to that – like this track-that inspires the way I play – also as a violinist in this band.

King Kong – (Original Version) – from ‘Make A Jazz Noise Here’- Frank Zappa

The HEAVINESS of the groove which is some weird-ass retro funk/reggae vibe – that somehow makes you comfortable whilst being juxtaposed with the super complex, constantly developing melody to me is parallel to how we, as a band make music.. It’s the ethos of this track more than anything that I think is so similar to our ethos as well, which is just having fun, and not taking ourselves too seriously! Skip to 5mins12 to get a lil bit of storytelling from Zappa – which is really similar to what Deji does if we hand him the mic on stage sometimes!😅


Christopher Luu (Bass)

Hiatus Kaiyote – Sphynx Gate/The World it Softly Lulls (Live in Revolt EP)

HK reimagining their own music in such a breathtaking way was one of the things that pushed me to not be afraid of adapting or tunes and giving them completely different feels even years after they’ve been written.

Waldo’s Gift – Seesaw

This track by our peers Waldo’s Gift is fully improvised yet comes together so well, which is the result of all three of those musicians locking in which each other perfectly. Listening to this motivates me to keep developing our sound as a band and getting even more in sync with each other.


Benjamin Appiah (Drums)

Stevie Wonder – Superstition

Helped me understand how to groove and keep pocket.

Snarky Puppy – What About Me

Gave me an idea of how to experiment and play around with other musicians.


Deji Ij Shakin (Sax)

Joe Henderson – U.M.M.G.

It influences my mode of composition because the melody lines outline the harmony in a poignant and yet direct way.

Sonny Rollins – St Thomas

It influences my playing as it reminds me to pace myself when I’m soloing and not to give everything away at the start because there can always be so much more of a story in solo when there are clear peaks and troughs.


Lorenz Okello-Osengor (Keys & Synths)

Soundgarden Beautiful – Black Hole Sun

Captivating songwriting and arrangement that touches me at every listen. Timeless record!

Nyeusi – Fyfo

The Groove slaps so hard. The synths and sound choices are dense. Have this on repeat on a regular when I need a cheeky bop.


Nihilism are playing alongside PYJÆN and Chelsea Carmichael at the Roundhouse on Friday 18th October.