Exposure: Múm

This article is from 2009.

Exposure: Múm

Múm - Sing Along to Songs You Don't Know

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Múm are an icelandic band whose brooding, yet beautifully delicate electronica have been greatly revered far beyond their homeland over the years. Adopting arguably more accessible structures and melodies this time round, Múm return with their fifth album proper, Sing Along To Songs You Don't Know, a somewhat folkier affair but one that retains the hushed beauty and bittersweet ambience (not to mention the canon of unusual instrumentation) of previous efforts.

Currently on tour to support the album's release, next month will see Múm play Glasgow's Oran Mor, but until then, here's the band's Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason to get you better acquainted.

For those as yet unaware of your presence, can you tell me how you first started the band?
Me and Gunni (Gunnar Örn Tynes) met while playing in a rock band about 12 years ago. We soon got bored and wanted to make more music, we learned that we had both been making electronic and computer based music since we were kids so we gathered some samplers and synthesizers and started banging away. Since then the group has expanded and contracted like a heart, beating in every strange way possible.

What inspired Sing Along To Songs You Don't Know - both musically and lyrically?
Let me see ... fish, voices, Moravagine by Blaise Cendrars, love, water, Valerie and her Week of Wonders by Vitezlav Nezval, fire and light, food, girls, the end of the world, parents, friends, coincidence, prophetic dreams, sing-alongs, Chris Isaak hurting in Wicked Game and Elvis' falsetto in Blue Moon and a bunch of other things. A whole big bunch of other things.

What do you feel sets it apart from your previous albums?
It's the simplest and calmest album we have made.

Do you have a song you would consider to be your favourite?
My favourite song to play right now is the opening song of the album, 'If I Were a Fish'. It's very different live than on the album, acoustically dynamic and sad and uplifting at the same time.

What would you like people to take away from the live show, or hearing your music for the first time?
We love playing to people, but we rarely put too much expectation into it and leave the outcome up to the listeners.

What would you say is more important to you when writing your music, pleasing others or pleasing yourselves?
Pleasure is maybe not on the very top of our list, but we like surprising ourselves and surprising the listeners, letting us explore all kinds of different hidden feelings as well as letting listeners explore these feelings.

Do you prefer to take risks rather than concede and settle for a formula?
The day we fall into a formula is the day we fall asleep and don't wake up. We will definitely be taking our chances with music. We have found it is the correct path for us, walking around without a map. We won't please everyone all of the time, but that’s the way it has to be.

Has there been a show of yours that you feel has been extra special?
Well... yes, it's hard to say what makes shows special. We had this one show in a castle in Italy a few years back with the Dirty Three - this one has always been very special to me. It started raining, so the show got cancelled, but none of the audience left, so both bands played acoustic sets for them under some arches. It was magic. The last two shows we have done with our new songs have had an amazing air around them, the new songs are extraordinary to play.

What are you plans for the rest of the year?
Release our album and travel around the world to play for people who want to listen.


Múm play Studio 24 in Edinburgh on Sat 15th August

The Edge

The Edge is the contemporary music strand of the Edinburgh Festival, this year's line-up includes Faith No More, Biffy Clyro, Enter Shikari, David Byrne, The Stranglers, The Streets and many more. Concerts take place at various venues across the city from a range of artists.

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