Well I initially started Mur as a proper musical “entity” back in the winter of 2012. At the time I was really drawn to the more honest, kind of emotionally heavy black metal being put out at the time – stuff with more emphasis on a holistic approach of hope and hate – agony and ecstasy. I was living in a really claustrophobic studio apartment in the city, it was a long winter as usual, and I wanted to try and take that sound and infuse it with some air or negative space around the music to sort of free myself a little bit. That turned into a three-song EP that was more cynical, raw, and hateful than intended but basically came from the space my head was in all winter into spring. That creative purge was so total that I really just let it fall by the wayside and lay dormant until more recent months when I felt the need to walk that path – again towards the end of a long Minnesota freeze.
2. Recently you have released a new album, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording?
The new album, Athabasca, is definitely a more refined statement. There’s really no wasted space – every moment is the way it is to carry a specific emotional burden. The doom, drone, and Americana flavors in the mix are also a lot more developed and accentuated and I think make more sense in this album’s context. I wanted to really focus on quality of the sound in relation to the concept – focusing mainly on esoteric imagery or obtuse emotion rather than a certain “tone” to guide the sound that came out in the end.
3. The lyrics on the album have a concept to them; can you tell us a little bit more about them?
During the last year my fiancé and I have been in the process of moving out lives away from the usual life trajectory in the kind of manufactured/hollow/endlessly cyclical urban world to a more rural/agrarian one. For a more thoughtful, real, and focused one in line with natural rhythms. The natural landscapes and relationships in Minnesota began to feel more real and significant for me after we started the process. I kind of rediscovered them and they moved me again and again. I wanted them to really inform the themes in the new music but I wasn’t interested in the done-to-death typical naïve, vague, and overly romanticized notion of nature in a lot of black metal has today.
The complex ecological relationship between the Northern grey wolf (Canis lupis) and the American bison (Bison bison) is symbolic of this place and I think has a lot more personal resonance with people as a focused concept. This specific ecology also acted like a lightning rod for the writing process – inspiring much of the album in a very short time. The lyrics basically examine this natural niche through abstraction and minimalistic symbolism.
4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Mur'?
The name’s appearance and sound just fit the atmosphere and inform the journey. Obscured by simplicity.
5. With this musical project you record everything by yourself; do you feel this is a better way of achieving what you want with your musical style?
Not necessarily, I just want to convey something very personal but also universally understood on a very primal level. At some point when people create together or collaborate, the message usually gets completely formed over time. Compromise needs to happen between people too so I think the concepts and ideas behind the music can sometimes get watered down or changed.
There’s nothing like making meaningful music with other people, and there’s also nothing like making something absolutely personal that other people connect with just as much.
6. Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
Yeah I think if it was the right label I would definitely want to get together with them. And if something happened it would be great, but I‘m not really trying too hard to square that all away right now. I’ve got a lot keeping me busy in the near future, but the music will surely keep coming and I’m open to anything that happens to cross my path.
7. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of black and doom metal?
It’s been better than I could expect honestly – there’s been a lot more feedback than I thought there would be. I’ve also been surprised as how many people have told me how much they’ve been affected by the album and how much it’s moved them down deep – a really healthy percentage of people who have bought/downloaded the release since it came out. It’s inspiring me into working on new stuff even as we speak!
8. Are you also involved with any other musical projects?
Other than Mur I play guitar in Hymnal – a two piece with a drummer. It’s more in the vein of heavy, drone-influenced Americana. It’s kind of like heavier Neil Young on a Quaalude binge. A lot of tone, American melody, and cyclical progressions.
9. Where do you see yourself heading into as a musician in the future?
Continuing everything I’m currently involved with hopefully.
I’m planning to do some splits with other like-minded people in the near future and probably come out with another Mur release in the next year or so – pushing that sound further as I go.
10. What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
In the metal realm I was mostly influenced by certain atmospheric black metal (Drudkh, Winterfylleth, etc., lots of others), some funeral doom (Ahab, Bell Witch, Loss, etc.), and some more avant-garde/drone stuff (Blood Of The Black Owl, Botanist, Earth).
But I’ve been listening to mostly non-metal these days and I think their influence helped add some fresh air into the mix too. There’s a lot of music that I would call heavy without being “heavy” if you know what I mean – carrying significant emotional weight and power - American Primitivism (John Fahey, Kottke, Takoma Records in general), some modern folkie-types (Wooden Wand, Will Oldham, Smog/B. Callahan, Mount Eerie), and just some more experimental/Avant/drone stuff (Swans, Barn Owl, Brian Eno). Lots of weird shit.
11. What are some of your non musical interests?
Well currently my fiancé and I are in the process of beginning some sustainable farming on a family farm in rural Minnesota and we’re also building an off-grid solar tiny home out of a Bluebird bus to be at said farm. Basically just trying to create a lifestyle with a lot more freedom than the typical city-dweller/modern American.
12. Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
A sincere thanks to everyone who’s taken an interest in this album and the music so far and thanks for the chance to talk about it – keep an eye out for more to come!
SPLIT THE GOLDEN HERD!