Myrkur

In last month’s Black Market, I wrote a long essay about how metal bands catfish their fans — and how metal fans are especially apt to be catfished by bands — and I closed it out with a section on the new musical entity called Myrkur, whose self-titled debut EP is out next month via Relapse. As I said there, I like Myrkur’s music a lot, but I don’t like the degree to which her backstory feels, to me, like an act of catfishing. The backstory is this (verbatim from Myrkur’s press materials): “Hailing from Denmark, carrying a distinct sense of Nordic isolation, one-woman black metal project Myrkur combines the rawness of second wave black metal bands like Ulver and Darkthrone with a natural sonic, ethereal beauty.” That’s it — take from that what you will. After first writing about Myrkur — displaying equal parts skepticism and enthusiasm — I got a handful of private message from friends sharing with me some rumors about the artist in question, some of which I later confirmed. After some consternation, I finally decided it wasn’t my place to publicly identify an artist who didn’t want her identity publicly known, which makes it hard for me to write about Myrkur now: I still like the music, but at this point, I feel like the shadowy authorship is part of the story. So you’re left with this. Today, the second single from Myrkur was released; it’s called “Latvian Fegurð.” Along with the track, Myrkur also released a short video created for the project. In the video, Mykur is speaking … Danish, I guess (with English subtitles), which theoretically backs up the whole “hailing from Denmark” thing. Myrkur’s face is obscured enough to make it impossible to tell if the woman in the video is the same person as the woman on the album cover or if that’s BS. In any case, you should (1) listen to the record because it’s great, (2) watch the video because it’s pretty cool, and (3) accept my apology for writing this half-assed stuff because I’m backed into a corner and I’d rather cover the music than ignore it.

Myrkur is out 9/16 via Relapse.

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Comments (20)
  1. I really love both songs, and have already pre-ordered the EP. I’m used to the whole black metal anonymity angle, so initially didn’t care as to her true identity (just assumed it was some unknown). However, the Black Market and now this piece are serving to stoke my curiosity. Does it matter who it is? Well, it didn’t, but now it seems to me that this is becoming a “big deal” and something that “matters”. I really enjoyed the Black Market essay Michael, but now I just feel you’re fanning these flames of “catfishing” more than the artist or anyone else really is. I get where you’re coming from, but does it matter that she might be someone we’ve heard of, as opposed to say, Papa Emeritus from Ghost is really this guy who’s in this other Swedish band?

    • It only matters if it matters to you! I guess it matters to me, so I wrote it this way — I don’t feel like it’s my place to simply repeat the info in the bio, nor is it my place to identify the person/people behind the project. I will admit, though, that covering it in my neither-here-nor-there fashion is decidedly suboptimal!

    • It matters because Relapse have made a point to hide the authors’ identities because they knew nobody would support them otherwise. Authenticity matters a lot to the metal world. Metal fans want to feel as though their passion for the music is shared by those creating it and not manufactured like commercial music. Since the people behind Myrkur are pop musicians with the backing of a PR agency and the project has no history or real reason for why it would be signed to Relapse, we can only assume that this is a product, not art. Relapse Records is deliberately misleading consumers.

      • Sometimes what you call “product” has more artistic merit than what you might call “art”. This music is very good. It shouldn’t matter that it was made by a Danish model living in Brooklyn or that she used to be a pop singer. Authenticity doesn’t matter if the music isn’t any good. I’ll take good music made by “inauthentic” person over bad music made by someone who you would deem authentic enough.

  2. Fuck this bullshit. Her name is Amelie Bruun. She’s a model living in Brooklyn, she’s a pop singer. Here’s an article about her band Ex-Cops song premier from Vogue. http://www.vogue.com/culture/article/ex-cops-premiere-black-soap/. Relapse are deliberately trying to market this as something it’s not.

    • maybe they’re marketing it this way because they believe the music is good (as it is) but knew assholes like you would ignore it because of the woman’s non-metal background.

      • Except this has nothing to do with her background and everything to do with a record label deliberately misrepresenting their product in the pursuit of sales. That’s a big problem in the metal world and even more so when it comes to black metal.

        • Thank you J. Smith for letting the cat out of the bag.

          For myself I’ve liked the music, but this gimmick does seem like a lame attempt at creating authenticity. I personally would of preferred if they were straight forward about where they were coming from.

  3. maybe its lana del rey

  4. Well I guess it’s Amelie Bruun (or maybe not), but beyond that there’s a few things in this video that struck me as this not being quite what it seems. The end of the video credits a publicity company and people from NYC. Also that shot of here in the wooded hills, that looks far more Appalachian than anything in Denmark.

  5. Oh, it’s the girl from Ex Cops? That’s cool, they’re pretty good, if a little robotic. Both of her bands are pretty good, I don’t see what the big deal with this “mystery” is.

    • If anything, this mini mystery fiasco thing inspired me to check out the Ex Cops. Pretty good stuff. I suppose I get the fear of NME style hype seeping into extreme metal, though admittedly I’ve only been paying attention for a couple years. This might be more common than I realize. Anyway, this wouldn’t be the first indie-friendly release Relapse has had this year (see Guilty of Everything). Followed up on that outraged guy’s “outing” of the artist and found this, so it’s not super obscure I guess:

      http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/2013/01/ex_cops_brian_harding_black_metal.php

      Let’s see one of the kids from Pains of Being Pure at Heart form a viking metal band. Yeah. That’d hit the spot.

      • Not to labor the point, but Nico was a model, an actress, and she sang Serge Gainsbourg penned songs and standards before she got in with VU and did her own bleak solo stuff. And I’d argue that Nico was more an early standard bearer for what would become 2nd wave BM and its obsessions than Sabbath or Priest. I know it’s a bit of a stretch (comparing anyone, even incidentally, to Nico is always a messy business). But seriously, can you imagine how soul-crushingly awesome it would be to hear Ruins of Beverast or Mgła cover this?

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuNv6UkDbsU

        Crap, I’m getting too into this business! :-)

        • FWIW my own consternation is not related to the “other lives” of the person/people behind Myrkur but the fact that Myrkur’s label has put anyone covering the music in such an odd position: Regurgitating the bio is perpetuating a lie (or, more generously, an encouragement to spread misinformation based on absence of facts), but on the other hand, no one involved is being upfront about the truth, which leaves us with nothing really to write about at all. I assume that’s at least partly why this second single got covered in so many fewer places than the first one.

  6. I’ll just ignore the backstory for now, because the vocal bits are darn pretty. I work with a friend who half-jokingly considers himself the “Foremost Shoegaze and Dream Pop Authority of the Fox Cities”. I’ve been trying to convert him to the dark side with the kinda-sorta-not-necessarily recent rash of black metal + shoegaze crossovers. He got into the Alcest and Lantlôs albums this year, but those don’t really count. This might be a nice first step for him.

    Word of advice: if you’re trying to get a shoegaze fan into black metal, don’t start with Immortal’s “The Sun No Longer Rises”. He looked suspicious for the first 50 seconds, and I thought there was some hope, but that just turned to a grimace once the vocals kicked in. It earned me the nickname “Popeye the Grim and Frostbitten Sailor Man”. A-ca-ca-ca.

  7. I guess Relapse wanted to avoid the whole “more hipsters jump on the black metal bandwagon” tag. The interesting thing is that when people at odds with what we expect in black metal circles make black metal it can be pretty awesome. I’m guessing that is because they are more concerned with pouring their talent into the work than ticking boxes that make them KVLT and therefore allowed to make this style of music. I for one am glad that she is signed to Relapse so the monies she generates will get spent on other less well connected metal bands. I’m sure Matador or some other “Indie” label would have happily signed her.

  8. The film is a bit much. If the point is to be anonymous then why make a film teasing the identity of the artist. It’s a hype gimmick. Either way, the music is cool but I’m curious: if this is a one-woman project, is she also playing all the instruments and did she write all the songs? Can anyone answer this?

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