Name: Liam Mour
Occupations: Composer, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist
Current Release: Liam Mour's "Above" is out via Ode To Youth. It is the lead single to his upcoming new EP to be published on 25th February 2022.
Recommendations: The Possibility Of An Island by Michel Houllebeck; Silent Songs by Valentin Silvestrov
If you enjoyed this interview with Liam Mour, visit him on Soundcloud, and Instagram.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started to compose music at the age of 10 but it was actually just a few piano chords and melodies.
When I was 13 I started to record and produce my own music with some help of my guitar teacher. My Dad had a Yamaha AW2400 which was able to print the music directly on CD. It was perfect to learn how to record and produce and especially how to mix music.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
For me emulating others was always a good way to understand the composer’s idea and to get a deeper insight of the song.
But to be honest, you create the most originality when you stop thinking about anything and just play the instruments that inspire you. It’s as simple as it sounds. I think we compare ourselves too much with other artists and I know the situation pretty well when you think: "Oh, no I can’t play this because that sounds maybe too much like …"
It doesn’t matter if your sound reminds you of someone else’s sound. It always will until you stop thinking about it. And as soon as you stop thinking about it, you’re free and that’s the base of originality.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
My identity doesn’t influence my creativity at all. It’s the other way round. My creativity influences my identity because I am nobody until I get creative enough to become somebody.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
My main creative challenge was always to cut loose the conventions and expectations of the music industry. I always felt like I was in a fight with the music industry and that I have to win that fight. Now I understand that there’s no fight and that music has no opponents.
When I quit my first record deal with a major company and decided to release my own music through my own label imprint I felt like I solved a very important creative challenge.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
It was a very long path.
It all started with a piano and a guitar and the rest came very naturally based on the individual needs that I had. I realized that I need microphones and a mixer to record my instruments. When I recorded them they sounded very dry and not as nice as on other records so I bought some fx like reverbs, delays etc. and from then on it was a whole journey which ended up at Funkhaus Berlin where I have my own studio with lots of instruments and gear.
Somehow I have the feeling that I will sell everything one day and concentrate on a few instruments again.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
You could say that each instrument that you get changes your way of making music. It’s like with clothes. Each outfit makes you look different and gives you another feeling or energy which you express to others.
Once I had an AKAI VX600 which is a wonderful synth but also the only instrument which questioned the way I make music because that synth really screwed up my life. I gave it back after a few weeks.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
I’m looking forward to some really nice collaborations in the future which I can’t talk about yet.
I did once a track with Fink and we just sent tracks back and forth and made some video calls due to the pandemic situation but I prefer to meet in person, having some good conversations and some good wine before playing any note.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
I don’t have any morning routines except having a good coffee and shower. I always have deadlines and plan each day individually based on my deadlines.
Sometimes I don’t really sleep at night but making a few naps through the day to meet the deadline like at my last movie score. It was so intense that I didn’t sleep at night for weeks.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
I think my breakthrough work was my first single "Douro" which I produced 8 years before I released it. It’s a real grower which was hiding somewhere on my hard disc between old projects. When I discovered that track and decided to mix it down I felt the magic that it has.
That feeling was confirmed when Mary Anne Hobbs premiered "Douro" in her radioshow on BBC6. That was literally unbelievable.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
I’m pretty sure that there’s no ideal state of mind for being creative. Everything that has nothing to do with your music distracts you from being creative. Most people need to go to special places, special studios to have special drinks or drugs - for me all of these are foreign bodies in the state of mind.
The perfect situation to get creative would be to sit naked in an empty room without anything but thoughts. From then on I can start to decide which color I choose to paint the picture I have in mind.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
I had experience with both.
Music is alive and it never dies as long as it has the chance to get heard. It can change its attributes like a human being by letting you connect it to different situations of your live. Sometimes they hurt and sometimes they heal. Music can also hurt and heal at the same time as it’s always multidisciplinary.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
I think art has no borders or limits. That’s why art can hurt. We should never forget to respect each individual art because as soon as we stop respecting it can get out of control.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
That a very good question and I’d love to give you a more detailed answer than I actually can but I can only say that I think that all senses are connected in a way and that’s the most inspiring overlap. I also think that we’re not able to understand or even to realize all of our senses. That’s why I’m so addicted to the studies of Gerald Heard and Aldous Huxley.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
My only approach to art is to become myself a piece of art.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
I don’t think that music can express anything about life and death without its interpreter. The information is always in the interpretation of music and not in music itself. The interpreter can change the meaning of music very simply. Like Kubrik in „A Space Odyssee“ where he changed the meaning of a 3/4 waltz drastically.