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The project of Danish singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, model, and actor Amalie Bruun, Myrkur embraces everything from black metal to traditional Scandinavian folk. Named for an Icelandic word for “darkness,” Myrkur’s 2015 debut, M, was produced by Ulver’s Garm and included other personnel from that band as well as horns and strings. Bruun added traditional folk instrumentation to 2017′s Mareridt, and she expanded that direction with 2020′s Folkesange, where her vibrato-less vocals evoked deep-rooted ancestral memories and spiritual associations in the album’s story-songs.
Born in Copenhagen in 1985, Bruun is the daughter of musician/producer Michael Bruun and professional lyricist Mette Amtoft. She made her recorded debut in 2006 with a self-titled album of pop songs written with her father. Two years later, she wrote the motif for the Danish edition of the documentary opera Paradise Hotel entitled “If You Give It Up.” In late 2009 she relocated to New York City, joined the band Minks, and continued her solo career with 2010′s “Branches.” She left Minks to join Ex Cops a year later. After the 2012 solo single “Siren,” she focused on Ex Cops for a time. They released the albums True Hallucinations (2013) and Daggers (2014). Bruun also worked as a fashion model and starred in a Bleu de Chanel ad directed by Martin Scorsese.
In early 2014, Bruun created a new identity and undertook a radically different musical direction: black metal. As Myrkur, she signed to Relapse Records and issued her seven-track self-titled debut EP in September. Given the unusual production, mysterious title, and intense music, it naturally drew media attention, which resulted in her true identity being revealed in an interview with Bandcamp, where she also stated that Norwegian black metal bands Darkthrone and Ulver, as well as classical composer Edvard Grieg, were among her influences. Bruun produced and played all instruments but drums on Myrkur. The EP was followed by the demo single “Skađi” in December. In August 2015, Myrkur’s second album, M, was released by Relapse. Recorded in Oslo, Norway, the set was co-produced with Ulver’s Kristoffer Rygg (aka Garm) and featured contributions from members of Mayhem and Nidingr, as well as horn and string players. Her first-ever live performance was headlining the “black stage” at Denmark’s Roskilde Festival. On the one-year anniversary of M, Myrkur released Mausoleum, a live recording from the Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum in Oslo, Norway, accompanied by the Norwegian Girls Choir and former Ulver guitarist Håvard "Lemarchand" Jørgensen. The set offered stripped-down acoustic reinventions of seven songs from the previous album, a Bathory cover, and one new track. Having worked on fresh material the previous year, Bruun went straight back into the studio in early 2017 and enlisted producer Randall Dunn. She wrote songs that mixed folk instrumentation into her melodies, including nyckelharpa, violin, mandola, folk drums, and kulning. The results were the full-length Mareridt, which Relapse released that September. Following her marriage to American death metal drummer Keith Abrami (Artificial Brain, Shredded) in 2018, Bruun returned to Denmark and gave birth to a son in August 2019. She then entered the studio with Christopher Juul. Though she had introduced and indulged her love of traditional folk music on earlier recordings, Myrkur opted to forego heavy metal altogether on her next project. Issued in March of 2020, Folkesange was a refined, far-reaching evocation of pagan folk music; it offered ancient songs and modern originals composed in the vernacular and played on period folk instruments. ~ Thom Jurek