Tales From The Crypt: The Funereal Music Of Myrkur Danish musician Amalie Bruun grew up playing classical piano and violin — but her passion is black metal. She discusses her debut album, M, parts of which were made in a real mausoleum.
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Tales From The Crypt: The Funereal Music Of Myrkur

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Tales From The Crypt: The Funereal Music Of Myrkur

Tales From The Crypt: The Funereal Music Of Myrkur

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(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SKOGEN SKULLE DO")

AMALIE BRUUN: (Singing in foreign language).

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

That lilting, ethereal voice is that of Amalie Bruun. She's a Danish-born musician who grew up playing violin and piano. But this may be a bit of a bait and switch because her passion is black metal.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SKOGEN SKULLE DO")

BRUUN: (Screaming).

MARTIN: Amalie Bruun's band is called Myrkur and her first full-length album, "M," is out now. She joins us from Oslo. Welcome to the program.

BRUUN: Thank you.

MARTIN: We're so happy to have you. So I want to start in the past, and I guess I'm wondering what it was about metal that first attracted to you? Do you remember the first time you heard something that fell into that category?

BRUUN: Well, I heard classic metal and death metal when I was very young, as a child.

MARTIN: How old are we talking about when you say very young?

BRUUN: Probably 5, 6 years old.

MARTIN: Five?

BRUUN: (Laughter) Well, you know, I have a big brother and...

MARTIN: Yeah.

BRUUN: ...I just heard it and it was on the radio more and more, you know, like Slayer, Metallica, Mercyful Fate. And then the first time I heard black metal was later on when I was in my teenage years. The black metal that I liked a lot is the Norse, the ones that kind of focus on traditional Scandinavian culture and nature worshiping and things like that. And composition-wise, the reason black metal speaks to me is the same reason that classical music speaks to me. And I do like thrash, death metal, that gives you a different feeling. But when I heard black metal, I always say that I couldn't really believe that something could be so ugly and so beautiful at the same time.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SKOGEN SKULLE DO")

BRUUN: (Singing in foreign language).

MARTIN: There will be people out there who hear you say classical music and black metal inspire the same thing in you and that there are connections. And they will hear that and say, this lady is crazy because these two genres...

BRUUN: They already say that.

MARTIN: (Laughter) ...Because these two genres are so different. So where do you see similarities?

BRUUN: I see it in many ways. I started playing the violin when I was a child and even down to the technique of the bow, you know, of this like tremolo picking and stabs and things like that, there's similarities in that and the guitar playing. And then there's a lot of contrast, you know. If you take a composer like Tchaikovsky, there's absolute beauty and very fragile moments, and then there's just absolute brutality and dramatics. And I think, for me, black metal also has those elements in it.

MARTIN: It finds its way onto this album. Let's hear a little bit of a track called Nordlys.

(SOUNDBITE OF MYRKUR SONG, "NORDLYS")

MARTIN: But it's interesting to have that in our minds and realize that it's the same woman who also does this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NORDLYS")

BRUUN: (Screaming).

MARTIN: Wow, where does that come from?

BRUUN: Yeah, that comes from anger and hate, to be honest. Putting this music out is an outlet for me so when I scream, I really do it from the inside, you know, to get something out. And I don't know, it actually comes almost as natural as the other style of singing. And I love, you know, these contrasts.

MARTIN: But I have to ask you, anger and hate, that - those are big feelings.

BRUUN: Yeah.

MARTIN: Is that a result of anything specific?

BRUUN: It's a result of a lot of different things. I would like to think that the music is, you know, cathartic but it isn't. And I like to face those dark sides that my whole life I've been told I should - not to have, you know. But now I am - now I can celebrate them.

(SOUNDBITE OF MYRKUR SONG)

BRUUN: (Singing in foreign language).

You have to act according to certain rules, especially as a woman and sometime I just decided not to. And I act according to my own rules and what feels natural to me instead of everybody else.

MARTIN: Was it OK to be a young girl who was into metal when you were growing up?

BRUUN: I didn't really have the chance to explore it so much because I wasn't part of - you know, metal is very much a community, and if you're not in it, you're very much outside of it. But, yeah, Denmark is very open-minded, very free. My mother has never put up any restrictions for me whatsoever in that department, so she didn't think it's weird that I want to, you know, play violin and then go scream somewhere.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

BRUUN: It's not something that she thinks, oh, you shouldn't do that (laughter).

MARTIN: What was her reaction when she first heard you scream like that?

BRUUN: She was there at my very first show. I've only played two shows. I'm about to play my next one. But she was there my first show and she said to me, when I came up, she said, that was 100 percent you. That's the woman I know. So she really felt it.

MARTIN: Are there many women in your world? I mean, it's been written that it's really a male-dominated genre. Is that true?

BRUUN: It's who you want to work with, really, and I only want to work with the best so I don't really think about gender in that sense. And I don't want people to think about gender for me, either. They should only listen to it if they think it's good, you know? But do I meet a lot of female metal guitar players? No. But I think they're there. I just haven't met them yet, but I want to.

MARTIN: You said you're about to play your third show ever. So you haven't done a lot of performing?

BRUUN: No, I'm about to play in a burial chamber.

MARTIN: Whoa, really?

BRUUN: Yeah, which is also where we did the vocals for my record (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VOLVENS SPADOM")

BRUUN: (Singing in foreign language).

MARTIN: In a burial chamber?

BRUUN: It's a mausoleum, yeah. So it's this artist, Emanuel Vigeland, he designed his own grave and his ashes are in there as well, I believe. And there's no windows, you know, it's a tomb. And it's dark and there's paintings on the wall of dead people. And - but the beauty of this room, besides the feeling of death, is that it has 11 seconds of natural reverb.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VOLVENS SPADOM")

BRUUN: (Singing in foreign language).

Yeah, so I've rearranged my whole record into choir and acoustic. So we're going to go, five choir girls, me on piano, some of the songs and a classical guitar player.

MARTIN: Well, it has been such a pleasure to talk with you. Amalie Bruun is Myrkur. Her new album, "M," is out now. Thanks so much for talking with us, Amalie.

BRUUN: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MYRKUR SONG)

BRUUN: (Singing in foreign language).

MARTIN: We talked with Amalie Bruun on Thursday, and Friday night, she played her third and fourth shows in that tomb. You can see a short video from that event on our Facebook page, but I'm looking at it right now and I got to tell you, it's pretty dark because, you know, it is a tomb after all.

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