Amalie Bruun had lost in­ter­est in mak­ing mu­sic… un­til the bad dreams be­gan. Sec­ond Myrkur al­bum Mareridt is a doc­u­ment of her ter­ri­fy­ing vi­sions, and it’s set to tran­scend the un­der­ground

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Contents - WORDS: DOM LAW­SON

How Dan­ish mu­si­cian Amalie Bruun made one of the most cap­ti­vat­ing al­bums of the year.

“Mak­ing the record was like an ex­or­cism” WHEN AMALIE FACED HER DEMONS, THE NIGHT­MARES STOPPED

“Iwas in this build­ing, like a ware­house, and some peo­ple were af­ter me. I was with a group of peo­ple that I know in real life. My mother was there, too, but then she sud­denly had a scor­pion hang­ing from her up­per lip. Some­one in the group punches her in the face to make the scor­pion fall off, but it falls into my leather boot and I can’t get it out. It’s sting­ing me re­ally bad and I’m scream­ing, ‘Help me get this out!’ but they’re all laugh­ing at me…”

Two years ago, Amalie Bruun started to have night­mares. Not just the weird and oc­ca­sion­ally un­set­tling dreams that have long haunted her slum­bers, but the kind of har­row­ing un­con­scious hal­lu­ci­na­tions that caused her to scream her­self awake. The dream she’s re­count­ing to Metal Ham­mer to­day, she ex­plains, isn’t even one of the bad ones. It’s just a re­cent dream for which she hasn’t yet reached a sat­is­fac­tory ex­pla­na­tion. In fact, Amalie has re­cov­ered from that pro­longed spate of dis­turbed sleep but, in the form of her in­creas­ingly revered al­ter-ego Myrkur, the Dan­ish mu­si­cian is about to re­lease an al­bum that prom­ises to drag us all into her dark, sub­con­scious depths.

“I definitely think that your sub­con­scious is pro­cess­ing ev­ery­thing that goes on in your life, but I do be­lieve that it’s deeper than that,” Amalie ex­plains. “I be­lieve in a col­lec­tive sub­con­scious. I think there is an en­ergy and a uni­verse that, if you can tap into it… well, I don’t know if you be­lieve in psy­chics or peo­ple hav­ing vi­sions, but I think that dreams have that el­e­ment in there too, that for some peo­ple they become an al­most spir­i­tual and mag­i­cal thing.”

Myrkur’s rise to promi­nence in an of­ten snooty un­der­ground metal scene has been one of the more in­trigu­ing and sat­is­fy­ing things to watch in re­cent times, not least be­cause Amalie is plainly a unique and sub­tly con­trary an­ti­dote to just about ev­ery­thing else that’s hap­pen­ing in heavy mu­sic. From the in­ti­mate fe­roc­ity of her epony­mous de­but EP to the

more ex­pan­sive, but no less in­ti­mate, full-length al­bum M in 2015, her mu­si­cal evo­lu­tion has al­ready been fas­ci­nat­ing enough to turn an oth­er­wise un­der-ther­adar en­ter­prise into one of the coolest names to drop in metal cir­cles. On a su­per­fi­cial level, all of this new­found at­ten­tion and promised suc­cess should have en­abled Amalie to forge ahead hap­pily. In­stead, as she re­cu­per­ated af­ter a long pe­riod of tour­ing in sup­port of M, the night­mares be­gan…

“Af­ter the de­but al­bum, we toured a lot, and ev­ery­thing be­came about cre­at­ing a live show, which

I re­ally didn’t want in the be­gin­ning.

I didn’t want

Myrkur to be a live project at all,” she states. “But we did it and that took so much en­ergy from me, and other peo­ple, to make that hap­pen. I was so sick and tired af­ter it. I hadn’t even picked up an in­stru­ment vol­un­tar­ily for months, let alone writ­ten a song. I was com­pletely un­in­ter­ested in it. I think that’s pretty clas­sic, maybe? I wasn’t feel­ing great ei­ther, on a per­sonal level, but then I had all these night­mares for about two years. I’ve had night­mares and bad sleep my whole life, but this was re­ally bad.”

Amalie goes on to ex­plain that the bad dreams were ab­so­lutely re­morse­less and in­tense for

many months, dis­rupt­ing her sleep ev­ery sin­gle night and mak­ing life ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for her then boyfriend, who was rou­tinely wo­ken by the sound of Amalie’s scream­ing.

“It was hor­ri­ble,” she re­mem­bers. “So I went into Jun­gian ther­apy and then, when I be­gan to write down the night­mares, it started to become an al­bum.”

It seems safe to say that no one read­ing this will hear a more idio­syn­cratic metal record in 2017 than Myrkur’s sec­ond al­bum,

Mareridt (which, as you might ex­pect, means ‘night­mares’). A fur­ther step into brave, wildly imag­i­na­tive ter­ri­tory, it show­cases the blos­som­ing of an ex­tra­or­di­nary and highly in­di­vid­ual tal­ent. With mo­ments of vi­cious ag­gres­sion punc­tu­at­ing eerie, ly­ser­gic sound­scapes and gen­tly per­verse folk in­stru­men­ta­tion, it’s as sur­real and dis­arm­ing as you might ex­pect a glee­ful plunge into a sen­si­tive artist’s trou­bled psy­che to be. Sung pri­mar­ily in Amalie’s na­tive Dan­ish, English and Nor­we­gian, it’s an al­bum that uses her voice as a guide through psy­cho­log­i­cal land­scapes and amor­phous, whis­pered hor­rors, with ev­ery­thing ren­dered in vivid shades of mono­chrome by pro­ducer and col­lab­o­ra­tor ran­dall Dunn (Wolves In The Throne room, Sunn O))), Earth).

“I wanted to take the best parts of the de­but al­bum and make them bet­ter, make them more con­cise and punchier,” Amalie ex­plains. “It had to be a punch, not a stroke! It just hap­pened to work out this way, par­tic­u­larly as I was work­ing within this uni­verse of dreams… I wanted it to feel like a night­mare, so it’s all very dis­ori­en­tat­ing, lev­i­tat­ing and float­ing, those feel­ings when you don’t know what’s round the corner, who’s chas­ing you and when can you wake up? ran­dall to­tally un­der­stood where I was com­ing from. I knew he was the right guy for the job.”

The other ma­jor col­lab­o­ra­tion on Mareridt ar­rives on the song Fu­neral, a duet be­tween Amalie and one of her most ob­vi­ous peers, chelsea Wolfe.

Although un­der­stand­ably re­luc­tant to por­tray the team-up as any­thing more than a shared ex­pe­ri­ence with a good friend, it does seem like a match made in heaven, as two of mod­ern heavy mu­sic’s most dis­tinc­tive fe­male voices col­lide.

“I do think the song is a good rep­re­sen­ta­tion of her uni­verse and my uni­verse, and maybe an­other whole other thing, too,” says Amalie. “Be­sides the fact that her and I have become friends, I just wanted us to make mu­sic to­gether, like back in the day when PJ Har­vey and Björk did it. A lot of peo­ple may con­sider chelsea and I to be ri­vals, but this was a great op­por­tu­nity to work to­gether and have fun. Ac­tu­ally, I re­ally want to do a video for the song, but I don’t know if we’ll be able to do it… it would be like a dark, metal ver­sion of Abba!”

Amalie chuck­les qui­etly to her­self, amused by the thought of the in­evitable backlash from the black metal scene if she dared to make a video with even the mer­est hint of cheesy Scando-pop camp to it. But then it’s ob­vi­ous that this ar­tic­u­late and thought­ful 32-year-old has more than enough aware­ness, and self-aware­ness, to ne­go­ti­ate the po­ten­tially up­ward road ahead. A decade ago, Amalie was forg­ing a very dif­fer­ent ca­reer un­der her own name in more main­stream, in­die-pop wa­ters, re­leas­ing a self-ti­tled al­bum in 2006 and min­gling in cir­cles that could hardly be more dif­fer­ent from the humbly grubby metal un­der­ground. But if cyn­ics are won­der­ing why she aban­doned a pop ca­reer to trans­form into Myrkur, there is a clear and un­equiv­o­cal an­swer.

“I just don’t take part in the mu­sic in­dus­try, to be hon­est. I saw what I needed to see and I said, ‘No thanks’, you know?” she says with a shrug. “I didn’t cre­ate Myrkur to become some pup­pet and no­body can tell me what Myrkur is.

It’s so funny, I have all these peo­ple on­line that are al­ways hat­ing on me and say­ing I don’t know what black metal is and blah, blah, blah… I al­ways say, be­cause peo­ple ask me how I deal with it, that peo­ple in the metal scene some­times think they’re re­ally dark, but if you want real dark­ness, go to the pop in­dus­try!”

With that in mind, is there a level of suc­cess you can imag­ine that would set alarm bells ring­ing and have you running for the hills? Is fame some­thing you’d rel­ish, or some­thing that would ruin ev­ery­thing you’ve built so far?

“I think the in­dus­try peo­ple let me live in the be­lief that this isn’t re­ally a ca­reer – it’s just the woods and me!” she beams. “I pre­fer it that way. If I can smell a mu­sic in­dus­try vibe, I want to puke. So I do think it’s go­ing to be a prob­lem for me in the long run, but there’s got to be a way to be able to make mu­sic and not be con­stantly run down and un­able to be in your nat­u­ral el­e­ment. I don’t have any am­bi­tions about be­ing some sort of lady Gaga-level artist. So it’s got to be pos­si­ble to be within metal, folk or shoegaze, what­ever it is that I do, and not be to­tally un­happy, right?”

Per­fectly placed to dis­prove the tired no­tion that ex­treme mu­sic can’t pos­si­bly reach a wide and var­ied au­di­ence, Amalie has just com­pleted work on one of 2017’s most im­por­tant and dis­tinc­tive al­bums. Not just a grace­ful stride towards big­ger and bet­ter things, it’s a fer­vently per­sonal and yet ef­fort­lessly mys­te­ri­ous jour­ney through one woman’s un­know­able sub­con­scious. And yes, the night­mares that plagued Amalie and pro­vided so much dis­qui­et­ing in­spi­ra­tion have fi­nally re­ceded, leav­ing their os­ten­si­ble cre­ator with plenty of questions, a de­gree of clo­sure and a strong sense that con­fronting the dark is good for the soul.

“I wasn’t in any way count­ing on it be­ing any kind of ther­a­peu­tic ex­pe­ri­ence,” she says. “It’s more like an ex­or­cism, like, ‘Here you go, I don’t want them any more, you can have them!’ But

I do feel a lit­tle bet­ter. I sleep bet­ter now, so it re­ally has helped me. I can rec­om­mend cre­at­ing some­thing from your dreams.”



Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.