Barely a month ago, MYRNE released “Confessions (feat. Cozi Zuehlsdorff)”. It’s an absolute stunner of a song and besides extending the lineage of the local producer’s bass-sharpened arsenal of left-leaning hits, illuminates the biggest difference between an exquisitely limb-unlocking experience and the indistinguishable trifles spammed out by EDM’s hype factory. It’s a strong reminder of why the Mad Decent and Monstercat signee has the ample potential to emerge as dance music royalty – and not just in the +65. And earlier than that, there was “JU1Y”, his mind-meet with local sensation Gentle Bones. In its era-defining collaborative merit, the track also functions as a manifesto that pop crossovers don’t have to be pandering or vapid. Big, bold and glorious strokes – that’s how MYRNE came out the gate and as the year winds to a close, he fills us in on how the broad confines of future bass may be too small to contain what he’s got in store for the future.
The last time we spoke, you said, “instead of choosing between DJ or producer, I consider myself an artist. Making your music exclusive solidifies your artistry”. Has your approach changed?
Artistry, for me, has always been producing and writing your own music without any expectations such as using it for others or for the club. Many DJs are performers, so they go into the venue, perform, and get paid. However, a lot my work happens outside the venue. I write my own music, play and showcase it. It’s a whole package.
Do you feel like you are going beyond the future bass tag that is fixed to your name?
Yes, I do. When I was touring around Asia, I noticed that a lot of the acts from America that were playing there played mostly music that you don’t hear outside of a club or festival. Rave music is something different from what I usually write or listen to, so I thought I needed to move away from the traditional dance-only sound and move towards something different. I am also primarily a musician and producer, so I feel that I should create something less purposeful than festival-only music.
“Since I’m an independent artist, I can do whatever music I like without restrictions. It may not appeal to the mainstream audience, but it’s something that I like doing. And that’s enough for me.”
You have a distinct aesthetic. When you listen to music, what gets your attention?
I listen to a lot of non-dance music like Tourist, and Odesza, and also rock bands like The 1975. I also love Herbie Hancock. What really catches my ear is good sound design. I think vocals are important but pop music is at a place now where it’s hard to tell apart the top 10 artists from one another. I like to listen to a lot of instrumentals as well. A good track, to me, is one that makes people without any sort of music education as well as seasoned producers nod to it. An example would be “Run” by Tourist.
Do you ever think about balancing mainstream outreach with retaining an artistic integrity?
To be honest, I don’t. The music that I’m creating now is exactly the same as what I was creating four years ago. For the longest time, I wasn’t worried about not appealing to the mainstream listeners. I think it’s natural for the audience to like this sound. I’ve always had faith in this electronic genre. It’s catchy, it’s melodic, and it’s high-energy. There is no reason why people wouldn’t like it. And since I’m an independent artist, I can do whatever music I like without restrictions. It may not appeal to the mainstream audience, but it’s something that I like doing. And that’s enough for me.
How did “Ju1y” with Gentle Bones happen?
I did two remixes for Joel and we’ve always known each other but he was always really focused on indie-pop, while I was super focused on electronic music. I wasn’t working with anyone from Singapore at all, only with people overseas. But Joel and I met sometime in March this year to work on music and we actually wrote five demos in one sitting. I thought it would be really interesting for him, an indie-folk singer, to sing over an electronic beat. When he sang over it, it actually became more of a pop record. I thought it was a really interesting combination. He has an amazing vocal range as well, so it was an awesome combination. We are working on something more and will release more songs down the line.
Kudos on “Confessions”, too. It’s a fantastic song.
Thanks! I wanted to write a serious yet sentimental song. I was playing the guitar, even though I don’t so very well. The chord progression in the song is very unusual. I just wanted to do something that was within my comfort zone, but I thought everyone uses the same chord progression and it was getting a bit predictable. The idea of moving a note up was really interesting to me and that was what I created in this song. I think it turned out amazing. Cozi killed it on the vocals too; she’s an amazing singer.
Let’s talk about your Fresh Off The Boat tour. What are your thoughts going into it?
I can’t wait! It’s my first ever headline tour in the States. I’ve always been a supporting role on a tour but this tour is different because I’m going to be the main act. First, I’ll be going to Los Angeles to play a few cities in California and then to Denver, back to LA, New York, Georgia, DC, Hawaii, Vancouver and back to Singapore for my finals at SMU! The tour will end on 1 November. After that, I’ll be back in Singapore and maybe a few more regional shows.
And since the year is wrapping up, what are you looking forward to in 2018?
I’m definitely working on a lot of solo material for 2018. It’s going to be super hectic next year because my US visa is approved and that allows me to work in the US for three years. I actually got the highest level of visa, the O-1 visa, which is usually given to people with extraordinary abilities or achievements like the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners.
I also have a lot of projects with local artists because I really want to show people what Singapore can do and what the rest of the world is missing out on. I think many people miss out on Singapore because a lot of local artists only work with other local artists and they’re playing mainly to Singaporean audiences. If I’m trying to bring local music to greater heights, it’ll be great to also bring it to an international audience. Hopefully, 2018 will be a great year for everyone.