“I think a lot of people are left feeling empty and isolated, with a loss of meaning and purpose. That’s something I felt the need to write about." Myrkur tells the story of Spine

(Image credit: Gobinder Jhitta)

Danish musician Amalie Bruun, beter known as Myrkur, told Prog all about her new album Spine back in early 2023, an experimental affair full of contrasts that takes the listener on a journey through motherhood and bereavement.

 The journey into motherhood can be a tumultuous one. Combine that with losing someone close and you might find a strong need to redefine yourself in a brand-new era of your life. Just ask Myrkur, real name Amalie Bruun, who is returning with her fourth studio album, Spine

“I had a child [since the release of Folkesange] which is about as big a change as it can be,” she says. “I had to find myself in that new life and that new role, and I went through a long period of not even wanting to play any music.” 

Bruun speaks of the adjustment to motherhood that saw her struggling to connect with her music – she didn’t write anything new for over a year. “I went through a lot of changes and growth,” she explains. “That led me to feel inspired to write Spine and that became a healing process for me.” 

Prog speaks with Bruun openly and frankly about the difficulties of becoming a mother, of intertwining your life before with your new life, and maintaining your self-identity – to which she nods knowingly. “Someone told me that if your life before becoming a mother had very little to do with the concept of being a mother or attending to somebody else, then it can be even harder,” she explains. “I’ve just always been kind of a loner, you know?” 

She elaborates further and explains that before having her child, she would only really worry about her music. “That’s why it was an even bigger change, creating a life and then being entirely responsible, and all I can think about is this new baby. That was a really tough change for me to find my ground to stand on after that.” 

It’s not just motherhood that Bruun has had to adapt to, though, as she sadly also lost her father between releasing albums. “A lot of big things happened in my life that sent me on this hurricane, whirlwind trip, but in order to grow and reach the next level you need to become a new you in a way. That’s always painful, but worth it.” 

Myrkur: Spine

(Image credit: Spinefarm)

This huge shift in Bruun’s personal life is reflected throughout Spine, which is far more personal than its predecessor. “It differs in every which way possible,” she shares, a claim that would be outlandish to deny. Where Folkesange was an acoustic folk record, Spine blends folk, dark metallic traits and Bruun’s personal touch to offer something intricate and unique. This shift is not only audible but thematic too, as Folkesange focused on tradition and was very much rooted in the past, whereas Spine looks to evolution: the future and stories yet to be told. 

“I don’t think I could have written Spine without doing Folkesange,” Bruun explains. “It was written in a fever dream I barely remember because of the state my head was in at the time.” 

There’s a grit and a darkness on Mothlike, for example, that feels even more intimate and insightful after learning about the writing process. 

“With that particular song, it was based on my personal experience at the time, which was a mix of complete insomnia and just this fever dream,” she says. “It was a very physical experience of having no peace, just feeling so uneasy all the time, and trying to adapt to being a mother.” 

The personal journey Bruun embarked upon began to be reflected in physical manifestations, too. 

“We had, all of a sudden, a lot of moths in our house, so quite literally I was living with moths in the night. I almost wished I was one of them: I felt this spirit, this compatibility.” 

This representation of Bruun’s mental anguish has stuck with her ever since: “They’re out all night looking for that light, flickering around, and I felt that, too.” 

Opening track Bålfærd takes its title from the word for a Viking funeral, and her personal life continues to manifest into Spine’s title track. “I put a close to the chapter of Folkesange,” she says, “and went into my new chapter of my own mythology, if you will.” 

The album is deliberately left open for the listener’s own interpretation. “I don’t really have a desire to over-interpret or tell people what to feel, but what went through my head was a lot of feelings of isolation and trying to reconnect with the human world, the human race,” she says. 

Myrkur in 2023

(Image credit: Press)

Bruun explores the rise of artificial intelligence and “this kind of bionic, new, weird race” that we’re becoming a part of. “I don’t know what this is. We’re moving away from what makes a human being human, and the human experience, at such a high speed that I don’t think people realise the lizard brain hasn’t been able to keep up.” 

She’s referring to the rise of technology and the tech giants that she says have been “saluted as the heroes” for decades now. There’s hope in her voice when she speaks of the way the human race is realising that this process has been on fast-forward, but believes there’s still a narrative at play that states that “anything new and progressive is good” while maintaining that a lot has been lost during that development period. 

“I think a lot of people are left feeling empty and isolated, with a loss of meaning and purpose. That’s something I felt the need to write about, but in a hopeful way. I think this album is hopeful, and not muddy and blurry.” This reflects back in her lyrics: ‘Talk to me like humans do,’ Bruun says, felt like something she “really needed to say”, and links it to the theme of the human experience. 

Although the Danish singer-songwriter says Spine is her “most personal work yet”, she hasn’t always wanted to be associated with Myrkur as a project. In fact, in the beginning she tried to remain completely anonymous. “I didn’t really have a long-term plan with Myrkur,” she says. “I just wanted to send out one demo EP, but it came out right away.” An eagle-eyed fan put two and two together after Bruun let slip about creating new music in an interview. “Then I didn’t see the point in trying to keep hiding it,” she says. “I grew into the project, taking more and more ownership of it.” 

After emphasising the intimacy and the personal experience she drew from to create Spine, Bruun concludes: “That’s the first time, to this extreme degree, that I have been honest and needed to write something personal. It was a way of healing from everything I was going through at the time.”  

Cheri Faulkner

Cheri Faulkner is a journalist focusing on metal and alternative music alongside gaming and technology. After graduating from university with a degree in English and Journalism in 2012 she created her own outlet, Invicta Media, which has evolved to become a musicians' services provider alongside music reviews and galleries. As well as contributing to Prog, she also has bylines at NME, the Metro, The Loadout, PCGamesN and Tech Radar. She's thoroughly passionate about progressive metal, Irn Bru and cows