He was a graduate of jazz studies at Trøndelag Conservatory of Music 1986–88. In Trondheim, he joined several groups that arose out of student life at NTNU, such as Close Enough (1987–88) and the Pentateuch (from 1989, later called Blix Band). Since 1992, he has been a regular member of three major orchestras:Farmers Market, Frode Fjellheims Jazz Joik Ensemble and «Storytellers», and has also had guest appearances with numerous other bands, such as «Veslefrekk», «Embla», Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and with Ståle Storløkken. Since 1991 he has contributed to dozens of recordings, with among others Farmers Market, Blix Band, «TINGeLING» (Tinkerbell), «Dingobats», Transjoik (here also as a composer and producer), «Køhn/Johansen Sextet», Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, «The Core». He has led his own trio with Harald Johnsen (bass) and Sverre Gjørvad (percussion). Johansen has been a guest professor at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus, at the request of Django Bates. His distinctive vocals and guitar playing, ever with elements from the Finnish and Eastern European folk music, make Johansen an easily recognizable artist. Johansen has been, along with Stian Carstensen, one of the profiles in the band Farmers Market. It impresses him with virtuosity and humor. He made notable by its collaboration with Sigurd Køhn in Køhn/Johansen Sextet, a collaboration that ended in 2004, when the tsunami struck Thailand, where Køhn was on vacation. In 2005, he became a permanent member of the Anglo-Norwegian band Food. In spring 2012, Johansen vent to India and the Jazz Utsav-festival with his own quartet put together for the occasion. It is a band consisting of the drummer Thomas Strønen, bassist Ole Morten Vågan and saxophonist Knut Riisnæs in addition to Johansen.
Μια live εκδοχή του εξαιρετικού «Bye Bye Blackbird» από τον Κύριο Farmers Market, Nils-Olav Johansen:
Ντεμπούτο του Nils-Olav Johansen, του ταλαντούχου βιρτουόζου κιθαρίστα από την Νορβηγία, ο οποίος διασκευάζει, με την ξεχωριστή αισθητική του, 10 popular jazz κομμάτια, που έγιναν γνωστά από τους σημαντικότερους ερμηνευτές του swing και της mainstream jazz των δεκαετιών του 1940 και του 1950 (όπως Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald,.Η Jazzaway σε ολοκληρωμένες μουσικές προτάσεις…
«My Deal«, your deal!! Από την Recordisc στα πλέον ενημερωμένα δισκοπωλεία της χώρας!