Phil Elverum has been churning out records for 13 years, from his early work as The Microphones to his most recent project, an album called Clear Moon and released under the name Mount Eerie just this week.
We’re big fans of Elvrum’s gorgeous, moody work and moody, gorgeous attitude, so we decided to ask him a few questions.
You used to perform as The Microphones and now you’re Mount Eerie. For fans who might not know one part of your career, what’s the difference between the projects if there is one at all?
It’s just a name. If there is a difference it should be audible. I don’t know. he Microphones is pre-2003, so it’s just the old name. No big deal. (A note for future interviewers who might be reading this one: please stop asking me about this.)
Clear Moon is one of two records you’re releasing this year. How are they related?
They are counterparts. Two different angles on the same idea, kind of. The songs were recorded at the same time. I was just amassing recordings and then divided them into the two groups later in the process, as a way of showing the two sides of this idea. Clarity vs. fog. You recorded this album in a new space—one you built yourself.
What made you decide to fashion your own studio and how do you feel it’s affected your sound? [Note: We meant built out a studio, not built the actual building.]
To be clear, I didn’t build it. I’m not sure where this rumor started. I am renting an old church. It became available and a friend and I combined our recording equipment and moved in. It’s an amazing sounding giant wooden room. It totally affected the sound of the albums. I was deliberately trying to capture the feeling and sound of the space. Resonant empty wood.
The first line of the the first song on the record is "misunderstood and disillusioned," but the album doesn’t feel sad overall to me. What are you trying to say with these songs?
I am not sad. Saying "misunderstood and disillusioned" does not mean sad to me. I guess that’s an example of me being misunderstood. It is just a realistic description of the point at which I begin saying my thing. As for what I’m trying to say with the songs, I can’t sum it up. The songs themselves either convey something or not. I can’t tell you my point in a few words.
Being Mount Eerie, can you share with us the eeriest thing that you’ve experienced lately?
The studio where I record, The Unknown, is haunted, I’m pretty sure. There are many weird noises at night, and the upstairs door always unlocks itself. I had to stop recording after sunset because I always work alone and being in a big dark building got to be too much.