Letters from musicians: Phil Elverum (Mount Eerie)

As it’s been a whole year under the pandemic conditions, we reached out to a number of musicians to hear about their varying feelings, realities and experiences. From the ones who replied us back, we collected letters. We are publishing these letters one by one. 

How has their personal experiences been in terms of adaptation? What are their demands? How has their work been affected? How has it (if it did) affected their approach to music in general? How traceable is it in their recent work? What is their main motivation? What has this past year taught them? Besides the pandemic, what other key changes had effect on them as a musician? What pisses them off most? Where do they see hope?  

One of the curators of Le Guess Who? Festival’s 2021 edition, Phil Elverum of Mount Eerie replies us below. 

“The insanity of the exterior world seems to be increasing.”

“Even before the pandemic the demands of my particular life were already somewhat restrictive. I am a single parent so the time I have for work is very limited. When the pandemic shutdown began my time went from limited to almost zero. It didn’t feel like a huge change though, I’ve grown accustomed to working quickly and efficiently in tiny windows of available time. I work out ideas in my mind while making dinner and doing the laundry, even while reading bedtime stories my mind wanders. I like it. I like having a secret world of ideas constantly percolating in my brain while I’m walking around doing other things.”  

“The insanity of the exterior world seems to be increasing. I have never quite known how to properly be useful in a tangible political way so I end up pursuing the deeper ideas, hoping to generate sensitivity and generosity in people via music and art that tries to turn the attention inward to older basic ideas of peace. While the world burns and the police murder in the streets, this approach begins to feel silly, but it’s the best thing I know how to do. I am full of despair for the dire circumstances of humans on earth, but I suppose I do find hope in the fact that everything will keep changing unpredictably forever, maybe even for the good sometimes? Who knows.”

This interview is originally published in Turkish in Bant Mag. No: 74, our special music issue.