Myrkur speaks about her Scandinavian influence, purifying nightmares, and thoughts about online hate
As Carl Jung so eloquently put, the mind is made up of two layers: the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. The personal layer comprises of forgotten and somewhat suppressed memories while the collective is made up of archetypal images portrayed in art, sound, mythology, and experience. This, in Jung’s perspective, is how we dream and have the occasional nightmare.
But for the Danish black metal/dark folk multi-instrumentalist Amalie Bruun, it wasn’t just the occasional nightmare. During the writing process of her latest album Mareridt, she was disturbed by insufferable nightmares and sleep paralysis occuring close to every night.
“I would have them every day and wake up screaming and sweating,” Bruun says from her home in Denmark while trying to start a finicky fire. “It reached a point during the process of writing this record where I felt I couldn’t go on.”
To cope with these night terrors, Bruun wrote them down in her journal and eventually used them as inspiration for the second full-length album Mareridt (Danish for “nightmare”) for her one-woman atmospheric black metal project Myrkur.
“I love the record and I think it’s the best music I’ve done, but I’ve also set it free with the nightmares,” Bruun says.
Being an avid follower of psychological theory, Bruun dove into her nightmare notes and picked out certain recurring symbols and tried to link them to her everyday life.
“What I love about Jung and his theories of dream analysis and the collective unconscious is also the spiritual aspect and the symbolism and archaic, esoteric knowledge associated with dreams,” she says. “So diving into my own dreams has been kind of mind-blowing. I recommend everybody does that.”
Only the worst of Bruun’s nightmares made it onto Mareridt. Songs like the title and opening track have Bruun singing in her Danish tongue about a demonic stag breaking her chest while she lies helpless on the floor of a wooden cabin in a black-green forest. The song is relatively quiet and atmospheric with quivering strings and synthy drones leading Bruun’s angelic voice. The song then bleeds into “Måneblôt,” a more traditional atmospheric black metal piece containing darkened hummingbird guitar riffs, blast beat drum fills, and Scandinavian-inspired strings from Sweden’s national instrument, the nyckelharpa.
Like every one of Myrkur’s works, Mareridt is also filled with stories about nature and the arcane properties it possesses.
“If you take the most eastern European black metal stuff, then maybe it’s less focused on nature and more about Satanism, but where I grew up listening to it in Scandinavia, it’s more about nature worship and paganism,” Bruun says.
Myrkur has been a polarizing name in the metal world ever since the release of the self-titled EP back in 2014. A few people immediately classified the sound as “not true black metal,” even though Bruun never said she was black metal.
“Maybe people got annoyed because I was working with certain people [Garm of experimental black metal group Ulver] that they considered ‘true black metal’ and they didn’t like that those people wanted to work with someone they thought was shit,” Bruun laughs. “It’s funny with these American men that claim to know what true Scandinavian black metal is. To be honest, in Scandinavia, we just laugh at them.”
The Myrkur EP was originally released anonymously, but it didn’t take long for listeners to realize it was Bruun. This was harmful to her due to the fact that some viewed her as a “black metal poser.”
Over the course of a few months, she received online hate mail and a few death threats. Now, however, she keeps to herself in a location where only the closest of her friends can reach her.
“I’m not really in the scene at all, so I don’t really know what the vibe is surrounding Myrkur now,” she says. “People have all the right to say whatever they want about me even if it seems a bit juvenile and elementary school. I think I have to just keep making music and people can react however the hell they want.”
Sat., Mar. 3 (6 pm)
Enslaved, Wolves In The Throne Room, Myrkur, and Khemmis
$32.50 via Ticketfly.com