I discovered Danish musician/producer John R. Mirland by the IDM project Holm/Mirland. That was a way back and he never stopped getting involved with new- and very different projects. Together with Claus Larsen het set up the Electro-Pop formation AM Tierpark, but they’re also releasing productions as Mirland/Larsen and Gusten. Other projects like M73, Negant and Emergency Sequence are more into EBM. Eisenwolf is dealing with Metal and Bitter Distrust has something Punkish. This interview is more focalized on the last Mirland-album “Compromise Is Defeat”. The work sounds more Industrial-like while featuring Trance/Techno influences. The album has been released on Læbel, which is driven by John Mirland and Claus Larsen.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: Tell us a bit more about your music background and how did you finally start to compose your own music and getting involved with all different kinds of projects?
John: I grew up in a home where music was always playing and my parents spooned me everything from The Beatles to Pink Floyd over southern blues to classical masterpieces. So I was brought up with a very broad interest in music. However for many years I didn’t play an instrument myself since I wanted to be a painter or illustrator. In high school I began playing the drums.
In 1994 I met a guy called Zwoo who was part of the C64/Amiga demo scene. He was deep into sampling and sound design and he taught me a lot. We recorded for years as an experimental noise outfit called VHS and released a demo tape at some point.
Time moved on with more bands and in 2010 I finally pulled myself together and recorded my first mini-album “Cerebral Reducing Valve”. Shortly after that I met Kim Holm (currently of Crackdown) and we recorded a series of EPs and an album as Holm/Mirland.
Since then things have been going really fast working with my close friend Claus Larsen of Leæther Strip and a ton of other projects.
Q: How do you make the difference between the numerous projects/bands you’re involved with? And how do you explain your eclecticism, moving from Electro-Pop to IDM to EBM to Electro-Industrial to Metal to Punk…?
John: I’m no musical snob haha! If it moves me it moves me.
I compose in a lot of styles and genres because that’s how I’m programmed. I love obscure Underground-Metal as much as Space-Disco, Industrial-Techno, Psy-Trance or Classical. This is reflected in the music I compose for myself or others. If I feel there’s something I could express in a certain way outside of my ‘home’ genre then I’ll try it out. That’s why I even made a Black-Metal mini-album as Udpint last year. I had an idea and a guitar so why not? But as Mirland I’m mostly in the Rhyhtmic-Noise territory.
Q: What kind of musician/producer are you? Are there specific items in the writing- and production process you put the focus on? And do you have particular references and criteria when composing songs?
John: I’m a restless person and artist. I want to evolve and try new ideas and approaches. I get bored easily, don’t like staying in one place creatively and I’m not dogmatic.
These last 10-15 years I’ve written, produced or remixed more than 200 tracks of which at least 150 have been released. I don’t search for inspiration or wait for a divine intervention. I just sit down at the keyboard or with the guitar and compose a track. I don’t waste time trying to save a bad track since it’s much easier just to compose another one.
My focus is always on the energy within a track. It could be upfront Rhythmic-Noise blasting your ears off or it could be the repressed energy of a moody track slowly evolving. But I hate tracks without a theme, an interesting beat or production. There just need to be something dragging me into the track. A lot of commercial music seem to have forgotten the instrumental part and just focus on the vocals which is incredibly boring.
Q: I should think Mirland must be your most personal project to date. What does it stand for referring to sound & influences and the global evolution of the project?
John: mirland is uncompromising and where I experiment with sound design and different textures and structures. I never have an exact plan for a Mirland track but I know immediately when it is one. It needs to work without vocals and pound the listener into the ground at best. I guess that’s why Mirland is not pure ‘Techno’ but a rhythmic noise hybrid. It started out very minimal and moody but over the years evolved to this machine-like animal.
As for influences I guess that’s a bit hard to state ‘this and that’ but of course since I’ve listened to music for decades the inspiration will always be there as a foundation. I may however be equally inspired by Techno or Metal or even Classical.
Q: What did you try to express by the title of the album “Compromise Is Defeat” and how did you transpose the ideas behind this title into music?
John:The phrase ‘compromise is defeat’ is both an artistic ideal and a provocative statement since nothing good comes from not being able to compromise. I do believe the artist must try to never compromise on the artistic product however some compromises are often needed to actually finish and move on. The phrase is also reflected in Læbel’s credo ‘Total freedom or fuck off’.
The album is my personal vision for a hybrid of Rhythmic-Noise fused with Dark-Trance that is uncompromisingly brutal in some parts while retaining the melodic qualities of Trance in other parts. In my live sets I’m live remixing and reconstructing my own tracks on stage and I discovered I was constantly using more and more percussion and heavy beats with the melodies from the different tracks.
I’m actually not a great fan of vocals especially not in the more brutal styles of Electronic music. Too many tracks are marred by lacklustre vocals with cringy lyrics and lack space in the composition. So as Mirland I don’t use vocals except a few samples here and there. In the future I might compose a track as Mirland with vocals but they would not be the focus of the track. It would still be the music and the beat.
I like my music to be inhuman and distanced. I don’t need a face or to be a character.
Q: Since the ongoing pandemic you have been more prolific and creative than ever before. In which way do the lockdowns have been a ‘bless’ for musicians to compose new music? And what’s the importance of composing- and listening to music in times like these? What brings 2022?
John: I don’t believe the lockdowns have been anything but a terrible mess for musicians and other artists.
It’s been made painfully clear that society views art as a commodity or even a personal luxury for supposedly maladjusted citizens. It says a lot about the lack of cultural understanding at the political level and it says a lot about the current values of society.
Fortunately for me I’ve always kept my daytime job since I believe that not being economically dependent of the music sets me free creatively. But my heart bleeds for those who’ve tried not to compromise.
You see? It’s all about this: to compromise or not and the understanding of the consequences.
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