Interview with Felix from Murmuüre, September 2012

Murmuüre is the name chosen for an album that was based on an one hour guitar improvisation recorded in November 2006. The distorted guitars buried in this album make it prone to be categorized as Black Metal. However, with a much more organic sound than any traditional Black Metal band this album is a multilayered cinematic experience that resists being easily categorized. Felix, the man behind Murmuüre reveals how the sound of a 500 year old astronomical clock made it onto the album and tells us about the instinctive process of making it. Finally, he also revealed some good news for people eagerly awaiting more music from him...

Felix from Murmuüre
(photo: unknown)

R.: First of I wanted to ask you something about your personal background. Where are you from? Did you have a particular musical upbringing?

Felix: I don't feel yet like I belong anywhere at all, but I've spent most of my life in the south-west of France.
The only "musical upbringing" I can remember is learning how to play "Seek And Destroy" on guitar, haha, so that sums it up to nothing. I'm self-taught and don't know much about music theory, I'm learning things in that field, but very slowly.

R.: What was the initial idea behind Murmuüre? What’s the history behind this record and what are the core ideas behind the music?

Felix: In the early 2000's I played in a hardcore punk band (doesn't matter which one), it was fine until I got aural damage on tour in Germany and grew utterly disgusted and bored with the scene and genre, even with the whole guitar/bass/drums thing. From then on I tried doing strictly electronic music (in a field close to what was once labelled "glitch" music and has since faded away), but eventually it ended up being pretty boring and sterile as well. So Murmuüre was almost an instinctive, animalistic reaction, a return to some sorts of "roots". The whole guitar improvisation the record is based on must carry some of these years of musical frustration, breaking free from it. The original idea was to make something suffocatingly organic, that would literally feel like having your mouth full of earth ; I think the desire emerged after I watched that movie, "Begotten". Then the thing evolved and I added more colors, more coldness and more structure. I played around a lot of ideas: the cycle of seasons, the cycle of life, the earliest archetypal gods, etc… and did all sorts of experimental sorcery inside and around the record. It's a mess, I don't want to stick too much definitions or restrictive concepts on it, you have to figure it out for yourself.

Murmuüre cover artwork

R.: Where does the name Murmuüre come from?

Felix: In the "Goetia" book of demonology there's a demon called murmur, or murmuur. Since I thought there were probably 15 metal bands with that name already, I added an "e" (murmure is french for whisper) and an optional umlaut just to make sure, and to annoy people (I smile whenever I see that someone bothered typing the umlaut). That's a stupid and uninteresting story ; I guess every metal band should have one attached to its name though.

R.: What is the meaning of the phrase "Que les masques tombent" in the context of the album?

Felix: To make it short, it means nothing in the context of the album, and everything in terms of life in general.

R.: Could you please elaborate on that? What do you think it means in terms of life in general?

Felix: I think everybody is living and behaving like a robot ; our thoughts, tastes and reactions are not our own, they are dictated by bad habits and emotions who themselves are almost always useless perturbations. We have no chance of reaching reality and seeing it for what it is, without an immense effort by proven means. What I call "masks" is all the lies we've created to keep feeling comfortable despite our constant contradictions and destructive behaviour. The phrase also applied to the rulers and propaganda of the western world, but I have no illusion left on that part : people get exactly what they want and what they deserve.

R.: I don't think that your album is connected to any particular genre. Others would categorize it as ambient black metal or something like that. What do you think? Does it belong to Black Metal?

Felix: In my opinion it does somehow ; if I didn't want to be associated with that genre I wouldn't have used distorted guitars and that kind of things at all. More than that, doing black metal or at least my own version of it was the only purpose of Murmuure. At the time I was also into a lot of non-metal bands that played with that neo-romantic, pseudo-"anti-modern" aesthetic ; I thought there was something to be done there, that could carry more sunlight, colors and "tradition" than the usual nordic, corpse-paint panoply. It ended up being more deep and personal than just a crossbreed of genres or whatever, I suppose.

R.: Do you think that traditional, Nordic Black Metal bands failed to "grow up"? In a sense many artists who started within this genre that presented something new ended up repeating a formula.

Felix: It's hard to talk about this subject without falling into pointless rants… A "grown up black metal" probably wouldn't be black metal at all anymore… I think naïvety is a good thing, the whole worship of nature and pre-christian things, the almost expressionist aesthetic, all things borrowed to DIY punk, the references to krautrock (Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, etc) that were there "from the beginning" in Norway, all of those things allow many possibilities. But I guess most musicians in any sub-genre of rock are alienated somehow, they always resurrect the same awful formulas, codes and uniforms. There's something militaristic and fascist about shitty music…Most people are content with that kind of things because it's comfortable. They want to stay forever in a loop, in what seems to me like the groovy soundtrack to a capitalist nightmare… Always repeating the past without ever taking any risk, always following the same mental habits and patterns, this is regressive.

R.: On your blog you described yourself as an “ex-punk”. What kind of music do you listen to and what bands or albums do you consider as an influence?

Felix: The only band that I still listen to since 1993 or 1994, and will always influence me, is Coil. Other than that, I don't know, things that I like come and pass. Maybe there's also the David Bowie / Brian Eno thing ; whenever I do something that vaguely reminds me of the b-side of "Low" (their 1977 album), I think "ok, this is good". Someday I would really like to go past all reference to occidental pop/rock though, but I'm not sure it's very realistic.

R.: From the samples that you incorporated on the album I have recognized the opening from Carmina Burana  and the final song by Paul Giovanni from the Wicker Man soundtrack. What other outside sources have made it into the album? What was the reason you decided to use these?

Felix: You're the first person that I know of to recognize "The Wicker Man" extract. One other sample is the bell melody at the very end of "L'Adieu Au Soleil". It comes from a french movie called "L'horloger de Saint-Paul" ; I don't know why I included this one, but the strange thing is that shortly after the album was released, I randomly visited a church in Lyon and the same melody started ringing as I entered. It actually comes from a unique, 500 years old astronomical clock - the very same one that was featured in the film. Aside of that, the reasons for using samples are multiple: symbolic cannibalism, "historical" reference, transmission of images and ideas, and it also has to do with the desire to make a "naive, mentally 12 years old, metal demo tape" - in that state of mind, using recognizable samples was ok. I wouldn't do it the same way in another context.

R.: What do you think of the record today, two years after its release? Since you stated that there won’t be a sophomore album by Murmuüre, do you consider it as a reference point of your state of mind and interests at that time?

Felix: Well, I never felt truly fulfilled by this project, since I always viewed black metal as a quite nerdy and teenager thing, but after I completed it I realized it's the best and most sincere music I've ever done. It opened a lot of doors in my head, encouraged me to be more free and spontaneous, more "spiritual", and to get rid of musical irony and musical trends as a mask. If I ever decide to release something else with Murmuüre, it should be more straightforward and closer to a real metal sound than the selftitled, and feature a few cover songs. Time will tell if it's worth it - I change my mind everyday about it, depending on my mood.

R.: Are you involved in any other musical projects now or will you be in the future?

Felix: I'm working on a one-hour long album since a year or so, in-between problems in my life which is a mess. Hopefully it should carry everything I've been trying to achieve musically since 15 years. It won't have any distorted guitars or metal/hardcore influences in it, and will be released under another moniker. Murmuüre was only an appetizer.

1 Kommentar:

lamuya-zimina hat gesagt…

Very interesting interview, thanks!

It's great to hear that Félix is working on a new project; I hope his problems get solved soon too..!