MorMor | Credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

MorMor on His Debut Album ‘Semblance’: “I’m Always Experimenting”

Semblance is the debut album from Canadian indie-pop musician Seth Nyquist, better known as MorMor. MorMor’s breakout single, 2018’s ‘Heaven’s Only Wishful’, was named Best New Music by Pitchfork and later showed up in many year-end lists.

Heaven’s Only Wishful was also the name of MorMor’s breakout EP, which landed in June 2018. 11 months later, MorMor released Some Place Else, another EP that ran the gamut of contemporary indie pop sounds, recalling the likes of Tame Impala, Blood Orange, Nick Hakim and Helado Negro.

But the initial flurry of activity soon abated, as Nyquist began work on the project’s debut album. Close to three years in the making, Semblance came out in November 2022. The album – which includes the singles ‘Seasons Change’, ‘Far Apart’ and ‘Chasing Ghosts’ – spotlights Nyquist’s melodic falsetto, which weaves around deftly textured beds of instrumentation, comprising guitars, synthesisers and programmed drum samples.

Music Feeds spoke to Nyquist about making Semblance and how studio production has become an integral part of his songwriting practice.

MorMor – ‘Far Apart’

Music Feeds: Did you know after Some Place Else that you were ready to make an album? 

MorMor: Yeah, for sure. Even from when I had done Heaven’s Only Wishful, I had this idea of doing a follow-up EP before doing my debut album. I don’t know particularly why, but it just felt right at the time.

I think I was, in each of those projects, really learning a lot about production and my writing style. So, I felt that it would be a good way to arrive at making a full length record.

MF: In terms of the state of mind and level of dedication required, was working on the album a lot different to making the EPs?

MorMor: Yeah. I’d been initially trying to figure out ways of recording in New York and it just ended up being way too expensive to try to figure out. So, I had rented a place in Toronto, in the West End by our main park, called High Park, and put a studio in the living room and my engineer drove up to help work on the record with me.

With Heaven’s, I engineered pretty much all of it, so I feel like those EPs prepped me for being able to write and record almost alone and bring people in when need be. But I think once the pandemic hit, it really altered my ability to draw inspiration from outside sources. So it became a new challenge entirely, because eventually my engineer did have to go back to New York and wasn’t able to get back into [Canada].

He had initially come in January 2020. So, right before the pandemic. And in that period I had obviously an idea I was going to write an album, but I didn’t really try to, at the beginning, limit myself to where that might go. So I just created, in a couple of weeks, as much music as possible.

MorMor – ‘Heaven’s Only Wishful’

MF: Did you end up having to engineer a lot of the album?

MorMor: All of the synth recording. There are certain guitars that I would engineer myself. After that, recording vocals, but then I was very fortunate, once the restrictions were lifted, I went to London to track most of the lead vocals and overdub certain things. But yeah, all of the synth and drum programming was done prior to that.

MF: And the production is all you?

MorMor: I’d say, like, 80 per cent of it. And then the engineer I worked with [Brandon Bost] got some credits and when I went to London to do overdubs, I was working in Paul Epworth’s studio, so he also has some credits on the record. As well as actually one song I made in LA in 2019 before I got the house – ‘Crawl’ I did with BJ Burton.

MF: Those are some big names, but you’re obviously confident in your own production. Is production a part of the writing process for you?

MorMor: Absolutely, yeah. I’m always experimenting, so I find that what is there at the beginning doesn’t necessarily make it to the end. Even when it comes to vocals, I find that it’s all kind of happening simultaneously and I don’t really treat my voice any different than I would treat a synth line or this texture of sound of the synth.

As far as being a producer, that wasn’t something that I really came out and said, “This is what I am.” I think it was something that I just learned to do and I really appreciated doing and felt that it was all necessary.

I don’t do very well when someone just hands me a production or a progression. I feel like my involvement in the textures triggers my ability to write.

Further Reading

Andy Bull: “You’ve Got to Accept Your Limitations as Part of the Package”

Moreton’s Georgia James Potter on Story and Confession, Memory and Illusion

Please Have a Seat: The Albums NNAMDÏ Can’t Stop Listening To

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