1 May, 2018
“Myhr leads listeners through a kaleidoscope of musical emotions that is immediately engaging and remains so indefinitely” - Fluid Radio UK
Kim Myhr is one of those rare musicians that transcends genres, instruments and expands our expectation of what music can look like in the 21st century. Take a moment and immerse yourself in his world...
MIJF: You have been an active voice in the creative music scene in Norway for a number of years - both as a composer and guitarist - what sparked your interest initially?
KM: I think from when I was quite young, I was keen to be a musician. At age 12 my mind was set that I wanted to study music, and I kind of followed that plan from there. I grew up with a lot of Neil Young and Bob Dylan in the house, and my Dad played the guitar at home as well. The folk-influence has come back to my music recently, especially with the use of 12-string guitar.
MIJF: Who are your biggest musical influences or a moment that played a pivotal moment in your career?
KM: What I listen to and what influences me changes all the time. I’m an intense listener in the way that I get deeply into something for a while, listen to it over and over again, and then at some point I move on and start listening to something else. Discovering Morton Feldman’s music on a bus between Montréal and Boston in 2004 was a big pivotal moment. The piece I listened to, Piano and String Quartet, I must have heard it at least 500 times. I listened to it every morning and every night for several years, but I can go several years now between listens.
MIJF: Both of your MIJF performances - with Peter Knight and the Australian Art Orchestra - will be highly experimental, what is it about playing this style that you love so much?
KM: I’m not sure you can call experimental music a style, as so many different kinds of music is experimental in very different ways. For my own sake, experimentation is an important process in discovering your own ways of building your music. My main instrument these days is an electric 12-string guitar, tuned in a very different way to normal guitar tuning. That creates radically different possibilities of sound, and that process is very exciting to me. Not necessarily with a goal to create something entirely new, like a novelty, but arriving at places from a new angle. I don’t think experimental music needs to be difficult to listen to.
MIJF: What musical performance are you most proud of?
KM: Hard to choose between quite a large number of concerts the last years. Each concert is different obviously, but I guess there are some experiences that stick out. My solo performance in Belgrade in 2014 felt very good. And playing solo in beautiful evening light at the Turrell stage at Mona Foma in Hobart in 2016 was a trip! The premiere concert with my piece for singer Jenny Hval and Trondheim Jazz Orchestra at Ultima festival also was also a special experience.
MIJF: In your opinion how has electronica shaped contemporary music?
KM: I think electronic music has opened our ears to sound in many ways. From Pierre Schaeffer’s separation of object and sound object (the sound of the violin is a different object to the violin itself), it has perhaps shifted our focus away from the instruments to sound. At least in my case.
MIJF: Do you have any pre-show rituals that help you get into the performance headspace?
KM: I don’t have any conscious routines before a gig, though I think subconsciously I’m preparing a lot. There’s the typical pre-gig fatigue, where the body is just preparing. I don’t even control it, somehow it just happens. I like to keep things pretty casual beforehand to help with this. If I’m playing where there are several other performers before I go on I like to hear what the others are doing to let it inform my own set. Knowing what the audience has heard can be helpful. In the way that your music can respond to the general dramaturgy of the evening.
MIJF: What’s something we may not know about you?
KM: I must confess I'm a big fan of Masterchef Australia - I think I've watched the last three seasons in their entirety!!
MIJF: Who’s on your music shuffle at the moment?
MIJF: What are you most looking forward to about coming to Melbourne?
KM: I actually lived in Melbourne for about a year in 2009-2010, so I know the city quite well. I think Melbourne is the city outside of Norway that has felt most like home. I have lots of friends there and it's always really nice to be back and I’m also excited about the food!
Kim Myhr is performing two performances at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival at The Substation:
Kim Myhr & Peter Knight
Friday 8 June 8:00pm
Kim Myhr & Australian Art Orchestra
Saturday 9 June at 8:00pm
Presented by The Substation and the Melbourne International Jazz Festival.