We discovered the excellent Mountain Howl through Instagram and were immediate fans of his music. Add to that his passion for one of our favourite countries, Iceland, and we decided we had to chat to the man behind Mountain Howl, his sound, and what he loves about Iceland.
How did the name come about?
I took a trip to Iceland in 2014 armed with an iPad mini and the Korg Gadget app with the aim to make some disgusting techno. We stayed in a friends cabin between 2 mountains in the Geysir area. As much as I tried to construct some dirty, hard dance music, what came out was the polar opposite. I was sampling the crunchy snow and the local stream. I was suddenly creating ambient music, with a beat and as many found sounds as I could find. The mountains were protecting us from the storms that would roll past nightly, and the sounds from each summit sounded like they were howling.
You describe your music as ‘slow burn techno’ how did you fall into the genre and were there any artists who inspired you to get there?
Growing up, I always found myself in heavy bands, playing drums and being very inspired by bands like JR Ewing, Cult of Luna, Sigur Rós. The beat always has a huge identity and the evolution of the song is always building and layering. I went on to discover Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm and I could see the link.
Almost like systems music, the songs will be based on 1 or 2 ideas and will slowly evolve, never straying too far from the original motif, but never losing momentum. As a kid, I’d buy a CD and fish out that one track that the band took a chance on. The one with extra electronic instruments or the slow builder 12 minute epic. I’ve never been one for instant gratification in music.
You have an EP due out soon which you wrote in Iceland – when can we expect the EP?
The new Breyta EP is set to release on the 15th of May, with a single the week before. It’s 3 ambient pieces that I wrote at the foot of Kirkjufell in February using the Teenage Engineering OP1 and a Walkman. I filmed 3 videos to accompany the songs whilst there, which heavily features the aurora.
What is it about Iceland that has you keep coming back?
It’s constant inspiration. I can always take a minimal set up with and being there just puts you right in the zone. I don’t feel nearly as creative anywhere else.
And any favourites spots there?
Iceland has changed a lot since my first trip in 2014. A lot of my secret spots are now floodlit at night and fenced off, with a car park. All I can say is if you ever get an opportunity to visit, just get out there into the wilderness. Visit the small communities in the outer reaches and the paths less travelled.
What have you been listening to, reading, or watching recently during this lock down – any great recommendations?
Well I’ve not really been locked down yet, during this virus. My day job is in the aircraft industry, which hasn’t let off yet. I have a long list of things I need to listen to and catch up on. Firstly, there’s the new Nils Frahm album. Alex Somers soundtrack to Here We Are, Holographic Fields new album, and some new material from my friend in the Netherlands, Winterdagen. I’ve just finished binging on Ricky Gervais’ Afterlife which is incredibly good. Generous with the foul language, will make you cry with sadness and laughter.
Finally, what is your top tip of the day?
I really have no idea how to answer this question. Hahah soz
If you ever want to find out more about Iceland please do get in touch – we have been travelling out there for the past 10 years and are happy to help or answer any questions about this beautiful country.