Myrkur talks new album Folkesange and turning her back on black metal...
Drastic changes in direction are nothing for a lot of musicians, in the case of Danish singer Amalie Bruun, her move is a particularly drastic one.
Bruun has performed under the name Myrkur since 2014 and has released two LPs, which combined punishing black metal and darkwave sonics with Bruun's ethereal vocals and classic folk influences.
Two albums have been released, 2015's M and 2017's Mareidt, and Bruun has quickly become a critical and fan favourite.
Now though, she is leaving one part of her sound firmly out. For new album Folkesange, metal and the heavy guitars and pounding percussion that go with it are gone.
Her new LP is recorded entirely with traditional instruments like nyckelharpa, lyre, and mandola, and is split between Bruun's reinterpretation's of traditional Scandinavian folk songs and originals in that style.
Recorded with Heilung member and musical collaborator Christopher Juul, it is a long way from her debut album, which kicked off with a track titled 'Skøgen skulle dø', or 'The Whore Had To Die' in English.
We spoke to Bruun about making the album and why it is such a deeply personal project...
Your earlier albums have blended folk with black metal, but this is a traditional folk album, why did you decide to do that?
“I wasn’t looking for a big change, but I knew I wanted to commit traditional songs to record and it just didn’t make sense to do an album that was a mixture.
Half the album is traditional songs and half are original, did you write the original in the style of the traditional songs? Or is this just how they came out?
“It’s how they came out, but this is how I write songs. These are the kind of arrangements I wanted to do, so it wasn’t like an impersonation.”
You’ve used lots of traditional instruments in the making of the record, how was that? It must be a bit different from working with heavy guitars?
“They are difficult to get right and not everybody can record them. They don’t have a sound that can be replicated electronically so you have to work with somebody who really knows what they’re doing and how to set up a room to make it work. Fortunately, I was working with Christopher.”
It’s a 12-track album, did you record more songs or just the ones that made the record?
“There were more. We actually had to cut one that I’d thought was an ancient folk song and it turned out the man who wrote it was very much alive! He was hard to reach. He lives at the top of a mountain. He did give permission in the end, but, by then, we had made the vinyl…”
When did you decide on Folkesange for the album title?
“It literally translates as folk songs, so it really felt like the only title I could use. It’s what I’ve called this project from the beginning.”
Where did you find that cover picture?
“It’s a painting in my house, it was given to me by my grandmother. I was looking at it one day and I thought it would go so well with the songs. We tracked down the artist and he was very happy to give permission.”
How are your live plans coming together? You’ve just got a couple of summer festivals this year...
“I want to, but I have a new baby boy, so it will be a while before we put any plans together. I’m really not ready yet to go out on the road yet.”
What will you do for those two festivals, assuming they are able to take place?
“Those will be metal sets. Trying to play this album in those kinds of settings, I just don’t think it would be a good idea…”